Saturday, May 29, 2021

A reply to Dreher

Rod Dreher has responded to my recent post about him and Steve Skojec.  What follows is a reply.  Let me start by saying that I appreciate the good sportsmanship evident in his response.  Dreher has made his own personal spiritual crisis central to his writing about his understanding of Christianity and his reasons for leaving the Catholic Church.  There is simply no way one can disagree with him, however gently, without opening oneself up to the cheap and unjust accusation that one is being insensitive to the suffering he underwent.  Dreher does not play that game, which is to his credit.

In this, Dreher is being consistent with the approach he takes elsewhere.  Our culture is highly emotive and subjectivist.  Defending a moral or political position by appealing to one’s personal experience or feelings, and preemptively dismissing all disagreement as cold-hearted or insensitive, is a routine rhetorical tactic.  Dreher has no truck with such sophistry when it is deployed by Critical Race Theorists, transgender extremists, and the like.  It would hardly do for him to play the “I’m offended!” card when his own views and choices are at issue.  I think Dreher realizes this, and thus responds in a reasonable and civil way despite how personal the issue is for him.

To be sure, Dreher does wonder aloud whether I have personally ever suffered any sort of spiritual crisis.  The answer is that I most certainly have.  But first-person spiritual and confessional writing is not my style.  I have nothing whatsoever against it; on the contrary, I have profited much from such writing.  It just isn’t what I do.  More to the point, it really doesn’t matter for what is at issue, which is whether a Catholic should ever leave the Church, on the basis of a spiritual crisis or for any other reason.  You aren’t going to settle that question by having two writers do a kind of dark night of the soul dance-off. 

Now, I certainly agree that compassion is called for when people undergo spiritual crises and suffering of the kind that Dreher and Skojec have undergone.  But it doesn’t follow that we should agree with, or at least refrain from even gently criticizing, any decision that their suffering led them to make, especially when that decision is itself fraught with spiritual implications.  If some spiritual or other personal crisis led someone to become an atheist, or to adopt Critical Race Theory, or to opt for sex reassignment surgery, Dreher would judge this to be a grave mistake.  He might sympathize with the person and refuse to judge or condemn him, but he would still hope that the person would eventually come to see the error of his ways.  Hence Dreher can hardly dismiss out of hand the criticisms of those who believe that by leaving the Church, he has made an analogous mistake.  If feelings and personal experience are not enough to settle the matter in the one sort of case, they are not enough to settle it in the other case either.

Dreher suggests that it is not fair to judge what he has written as if he were a professional philosopher or apologist.  Fair enough.  I certainly don’t think that every Christian has to be an apologist, a philosopher, a theologian, or even much interested in the sorts of technical questions such specialists deal with.  Far from it.  However, it simply doesn’t follow that non-specialists should be immune from criticism when they make a serious theological error – especially when they may lead others into the same error.

Dreher tries to rebut my charge that his departure from the Catholic Church ultimately had a purely emotional basis that cannot survive rational scrutiny.  But it seems to me that his remarks in fact confirm my original judgment.  On the one hand, Dreher tells us that part of the reason for his leaving the Church had to do with doubts about the doctrine of papal infallibility.  But he also admits that he “didn’t think the case against it was a slam-dunk” and that he was “not… able to reach a conclusion that felt solid.”

He also says that he was moved by the Eastern Orthodox emphasis on the theme that “the point of the entire Christian life is theosis.”  But that too hardly provides a reason to abandon the Church for Eastern Orthodoxy, because theosis is also part of the Catholic tradition, even if it is a part that is too often neglected.  (Indeed, as I have described elsewhere, the theme of theosis and its expression in Church Fathers like St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius had a profound effect on my own thinking when I was moving away from atheism and back to the Church.)

As usual, Dreher’s main emphasis is on how spiritually broken he was and how angry he was at the Church at the time he left it, and on the solace that his Eastern Orthodox parish provided.  But while I believe that we ought to sympathize with what he went through, and that it provides an explanation of his decision, it simply does not provide a justification for it.  Certainly it does not provide a justification for advising others to do what Dreher did. 

As Dreher well knows, an Eastern Orthodox Christian could, given his own circumstances, find himself in as spiritually arid a condition as Dreher was in, and find solace in a good Catholic parish.  Hence the appeal to contingent personal spiritual circumstances is simply not sufficient to justify leaving the Catholic Church for Eastern Orthodoxy (or Eastern Orthodoxy for Catholicism, for that matter).  A theological liberal, who takes matters of doctrine lightly, might regard such an appeal to personal experience as decisive.  But Dreher is not a liberal. 

Stomping one’s foot and decrying how coldly logical, impersonal, and spiritually arid such remarks are (as some readers will no doubt be inclined to do) does not make them any less true.  And again, to sympathize with Dreher and acknowledge the real pain he went through does not entail that one must agree with the decision that it led him to.  It most certainly does not entail that one ought to stand back silently while he encourages others to do what he did.

Nor, in any event, is the accusation of impersonal logicality and spiritual aridity just.  On the contrary, the point of my original post was precisely to remind understandably troubled fellow Catholics of the deeply personal nature of our relationship to Christ and to his Bride, and that this relationship is especially manifest in suffering.  I was urging that we keep in mind always the Christ who was beaten raw and bloody, spat upon, mocked, falsely accused, deserted by his friends, persecuted by religious and political authorities, nailed to a cross, and stabbed, and who suffered agony in the garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of all this.  I was urging that we keep him in mind especially when we undergo suffering ourselves, and that we remember too that our undergoing such suffering is precisely what he predicted for us and asks of us.  I was urging that we remember that he underwent this suffering for his Church.  I was urging that when we think of the Church we ought not to imagine the sinful and disappointing individual human beings who make it up at any particular moment, but ought rather to think of her as Christ’s Bride and our own Mother – so that we do not abandon her any more than Christ did.  And I was urging that we remember that one of the lessons of the Passion is precisely that Christ is at no time as close to us as he is when we suffer.

I do not expect Dreher to be moved by such considerations to reconsider his decision to leave the Catholic Church.  But Catholics who are troubled in the way that Skojec is might be moved by them.  That Dreher was, even if tentatively, recommending that such Catholics follow his own example is what seemed to me to call for a response.

284 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, people will leave the Church in the course of life. We must pray for perseverance. It seems to me that these men did not approach our faith in the right way. Be humble, pray for guidance, read good resources. Go to the Saints like Aquinas argument, Ignatius for discernment. One time I concluded that God did not exist because of emotional reasons, what a mistake that was. We know that you should never make a decision in despair, even in natural life. This is the result of that, as it seems to me.

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  2. This is what I love about being Protestant. One who changes from one denomination to another is not an apostate nor a convert, but more like one who transfers from one department to another within the same company.

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    1. Sounds familiar...

      A paragraph from St. John Henry Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine:

      In one point alone the heresies seem universally to have agreed,—in hatred to the Church. This might at that time be considered one of her surest and most obvious Notes. She was that body of which all sects, however divided among themselves, spoke ill; according to the prophecy, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household." They disliked and they feared her; they did their utmost to overcome their mutual differences, in order to unite against her. Their utmost indeed was little, for independency was the law of their being; they could not exert themselves without fresh quarrels, both in the bosom of each, and one with another. "Bellum hæreticorum pax est ecclesiæ" had become a proverb; but they felt the great desirableness of union against the only body which was the natural antagonist of all, and various are the instances which occur in ecclesiastical history of attempted coalitions. The Meletians of Africa united with the Arians against St. Athanasius; the Semi-Arians of the Council of Sardica corresponded with the Donatists of Africa; Nestorius received and protected the Pelagians; Aspar, the Arian minister of Leo the Emperor, favoured the Monophysites of Egypt; the Jacobites of Egypt sided with the Moslem, who are charged with holding a Nestorian doctrine. It had been so from the beginning: "They huddle up a peace with all everywhere," says Tertullian, "for it maketh no matter to them, although they hold different doctrines, so long as they conspire together in their siege against the one thing, Truth." And even though active cooperation was impracticable, at least hard words cost nothing, and could express that common hatred at all seasons. Accordingly, by Montanists, Catholics were called "the carnal;" by Novatians, "the apostates;" by Valentinians, "the worldly;" by Manichees, "the simple;" by Aërians, "the ancient [chronitai];" by Apollinarians, "the man-worshippers;" by Origenists, "the flesh-lovers," and "the slimy;" by the Nestorians, "Egyptians;" by Monophysites, the "Chalcedonians;" by Donatists, "the traitors," and "the sinners," and "servants of Antichrist;" and St. Peter's chair, "the seat of pestilence;" and by the Luciferians, the Church was called "a brothel," "the devil's harlot," and "synagogue of Satan:" so that it might be called a Note of the Church, as I have said, for the use of the most busy and the most ignorant, that she was on one side and all other bodies on the other.

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    2. Certainly consumerism is more than analogy, esp within the American Religion.

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    3. Well, okay, but your "love" is based, knowingly or unknowingly, on the idea that "the Church" is an invisible association or collectivity of all Christians, or "true" Christians; and that idea of "the Church" was unheard of anywhere among Christians until Martin Luther invented and espoused it in May 1520 in his On the Papacy at Rome, itself a response to an attack on Luther's views by the Franciscan theologian Augustin von Alveldt's On The Apostolic See. I have no idea why a view which is such a johhny-come-lately in Christian thought should have any intellectual or theological credibility.

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    4. Wow, a Roman Catholic accusing Luther of "inventing" a particular point of doctrine? Imagine that!

      What you criticize would be more aptly characterized as Calvinist ecclesiology; Lutheran self-identity has always been as THE Western Catholic Church, only reformed by the Gospel.

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    5. No, it is Luther's invention (read the works I referred to if you doubt it), but most other Protestant Reformers followed him on this (with, in Calvin, a stronger emphasis on the "invisible Church" being the "number of the Elect" (known only to God).

      "Lutheran self-identity has always been as THE Western Catholic Church, only reformed by the Gospel." This is true, but with a big difference. This Lutheran "self-identity" refers to the visible Church, not to the invisible (according to Luther) "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed, whereas for Catholics (as for Orthodox) it refers to the visible Church, that is to say for Catholics the Catholic Church and for Orthodox the Orthodox Church.

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    6. Yes, I hold to the doctrine of the invisible church, one that Michael Pomazansky mentions has some support among Eastern Orthodox theologians. To say that the church of the creeds was definitely a visible church is anachronistic. That question didn't even exist in antiquity.

      https://www.gotquestions.org/one-church.html

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    7. That's quite incorrect. The patristic notion of schism, of which even the earliest Fathers make such a grave point, is utterly unintelligible without a visible and institutional Church. Even the ecclesiology of St. Ignatius of Antioch displays the need to remain in communion with the bishops validly succeeded from the Apostles and presided over by the Roman bishop:

      https://books.google.com/books?id=83JPAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA349&lpg=PA349&dq=the+dublin+review+the+ignatian+epistles+their+genuineness+and+their+doctrine&source=bl&ots=7tPkgjdK3j&sig=ACfU3U2CGcysLL2-SSJLcRypL6H_kbjvcA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAxuWuu7LvAhU4FVkFHWfYDu0Q6AEwA3oECAgQAw#v=onepage&q=the%20dublin%20review%20the%20ignatian%20epistles%20their%20genuineness%20and%20their%20doctrine&f=false

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    8. Besides, St. Hippolytus essentially proposed an ecclesiology of the invisible church during his tenure as anti-pope, before reconciling with the genuine pope, the genuine Church, and the genuine ecclesiology. So the visible/invisible debate is far from anachronistic: it definitely reared its head during antiquity, as can also be seen in studying the history of ancient (and medieval) Gnosticism. For that reason, it's inaccurate to say that Luther "invented" this idea full-stop; it was more like he was reviving the tendencies of his gnosticizing predecessors. We should also be careful to make clear what we mean by Luther's conception of the invisible church:

      https://archive.org/details/SymbolismOrExpositionV2/page/n107/mode/1up

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    9. Of course. It is easy to leave one false ecclesial community for another. You aren't losing the Sacraments or the Grace that the Lord provides nor even the salvation through consuming the body and blood of Christ. You start with christian lite and you just pass over to another burger.

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    10. I imagine myself being an atheist and reading over this ridiculous conversation. You sound more like fans of rival sports teams than people of any serious faith. Thank God for people like Dreher who will draw more to Christ in his doubt than any of you will in your certainty.

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    11. Blah blah blah, this tired old critique. Tell that to the Saints and Fathers, who down all the ages insist upon the great importance of orthodoxy and communion with the True Church for pleasing God and attaining salvation. I suppose you'd say "people like Dreher" draw more to Christ than them too, huh? That they weren't "people of any serious faith?" But at least you point out Dreher's "doubt." True faith is certain, and it is doctrinal, and Christian doctrine necessarily involves Ecclesiology. And bare emotion can't reliably get you to orthodoxy when you're trying to deliberate between different doctrines and churches, you need to employ your reason for that also. Without that, a rational person who is truly honest with himself must be in precisely what you say: doubt.

      And there's no excuse for resting contentedly in doubt. This is another thing St. John Henry Newman talks about in his Essay, while describing the principles of Apostolic and Patristic Christianity:

      "That there is a truth then; that there is one truth; that religious error is in itself of an immoral nature; that its maintainers, unless involuntarily such, are guilty in maintaining it; that it is to be dreaded; that the search for truth is not the gratification of curiosity; that its attainment has nothing of the excitement of a discovery; that the mind is below truth, not above it, and is bound, not to descant upon it, but to venerate it; that truth and falsehood are set before us for the trial of our hearts; that our choice is an awful giving forth of lots on which salvation or rejection is inscribed; that 'before all things it is necessary to hold the Catholic faith;' that 'he that would be saved must thus think,' and not otherwise; that, 'if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasure, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God,'—this is the dogmatical principle, which has strength.

      "That truth and falsehood in religion are but matter of opinion; that one doctrine is as good as another; that the Governor of the world does not intend that we should gain the truth; that there is no truth; that we are not more acceptable to God by believing this than by believing that; that no one is answerable for his opinions; that they are a matter of necessity or accident; that it is enough if we sincerely hold what we profess; that our merit lies in seeking, not in possessing; that it is a duty to follow what seems to us true, without a fear lest it should not be true; that it may be a gain to succeed, and can be no harm to fail; that we may take up and lay down opinions at pleasure; that belief belongs to the mere intellect, not to the heart also; that we may safely trust to ourselves in matters of Faith, and need no other guide,—this is the principle of philosophies and heresies, which is very weakness."

      So perhaps you'll agree with the atheists you speak of in their evaluation of the situation; as for myself, I'll cast my lot with the Saints, Christ's friends who in His good Providence and graces have been set before us as examples to help lead us to Him, and as teachers to help us comprehend His Revelation more deeply.

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  3. The above is all well and good, but I'd also recommend to all Catholics even minimally entertaining such thoughts to as soon as possible consult Unam Sanctum, Mystici Corporis Christi, and Lumen Gentium. Dreher has a really poor understanding of Ecclesiology, not to mention theology and spirituality, for all the theological and spiritual reasons he claims he became a Byzantine Schismatic (he could have become Byzantine Catholic), an all the ecclioslogical reasons he sights, are simply inaccurate and false. For example, the Jesus Prayer as a way or method of prayer predates the schism, it is a very old method of the Desert Fathers, and belongs as much to the Coptics as well as the EO, and to Catholics as well, and is mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and has RC roots in the tradition of devotion to the Holy Name, the teachings on prayer by St. Alphonus Ligouri, and also St. Cassian whose writings are mentioned in the Rule of St. Benedict. The Jesus Prayer is also mentioned in the Catechism of the Ukranian Catholic Church, and a Maronite catechism I read called Captivated by Your Teachings. You can also find it mentioned on prominent Roman Catholic websites on prayer. Again it has roots in the writings of the Desert Fathers which belong to the universal heritage of the Church. The EO don't have a copyright on this, nor do they on theosis as Feser points out, and much more can be said about this. A simple wikipedia search on theosis can make this abundantly clear. For example, this is from the Roman Liturgy: "Per huius aquae et vini mysterium eius efficiamur divinitatis consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps" ("By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity." Again, it's simply Scriptural and Patristic. A good resource for this is Blessed Columba Marmion's classic book Christ the Life of the Soul. One of the main issues with the ecclesiology of Dreher is he thinks the Church is merely a means to an end, it's not, any elementary study of orthodox ecclesiology can very easily show this.

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    1. >has a really poor understanding of Ecclesiology, not to mention theology and spirituality
      Hey he's only a journalist you can't expect too much.

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    2. A rather condescending remark, Anonymous.

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  4. >I am pretty certain that if I had remained Catholic under those conditions back then, I would not today be a Christian of any sort.
    How can anyone even claim to have certainty about things like this? If Catholicism is true God would provide the grace if you ask for it, it's not a question of your emotional state. Getting your skin tore open with iron hooks is a far more serious state but that doesn't mean you might as well just apostatize.

    The whole over subjectification of everything seems to totally undermine God's power and wisdom actually doing anything in the world. If you can't think of how you can maintain emotionally in a state that means even if you have no real rational justification you should flee it because it's impossible God could want you to be unsatisfied.
    I understand emotionally how difficult it can be, my point is really just going from those emotions to saying
    >I am pretty certain that if I had remained Catholic under those conditions back then, I would not today be a Christian of any sort.
    is pretty absurd. That point really turns around the truth of the Catholic faith or not, this is just obscuring it with the emotional aspects. If it is true someone would have been able to maintain, if not they wouldn't be able to.

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    1. I think the statement that the "point really turns around the truth of the Catholic faith or not..." is absolutely true. The Catholic faith is true, but the Roman Catholic faith is another thing altogether. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Church had not only become very corrupt, but it had imbibed many, many errors in faith and practice. But it remained the Catholic Church until it officially and formally condemned the Gospel at the Council of Trent. At the time, all adhering to the deliverances of the Council, under the leadership of the Roman pontiff, formed a new ecclesiastical organization which was apostate. To deny that we are declared righteous by faith alone in the person and merits of Jesus Christ is to deny the heart of the Gospel. Protestantism, for all its many faults, like the late medieval church with its many faults, is the continuation of the Holy Catholic Church. Please do not conclude that this is some 'fundamentalist' who hates Roman Catholics. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am happy to believe that many Roman Catholics are sincerely trusting in Christ alone for salvation, as did the Blessed Bernard at the end of his life when he cast aside all his works as a ground for standing before God. FWIW, I was the Medieval and Renaissance Fellow at Duke University in the 80s, studying medieval and Reformation theology.

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  5. Feser:

    "Dreher tries to rebut my charge that his departure from the Catholic Church ultimately had a purely emotional basis that cannot survive rational scrutiny."

    Dreher:

    "I pored over books making arguments both for and against papal infallibility, and not being able to reach a conclusion that felt solid. I definitely was far less confident of it than before I started reading, but I didn’t think the case against it was a slam-dunk either."

    The latter quote sounds for all the world like an intellectual judgment, in this case that the arguments for papal infallibility are not compelling. In fact, it sounds like, if Dreher had found the arguments for papal infallibility compelling, he would not have gone to the Orthodox, regardless of the other factors he lists, which means that intellectual factors were a significant part of his decision.

    Furthermore, if you don't think the arguments for papal infallibility are compelling, it is, in fact, rather questionable whether you even should be Catholic.

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    1. Seems like you're still eschewing a relevant part of Mr. Dreher's own personal account, which I will quote again: "Of course I immediately set upon myself, doubting my thinking because doubting my motives. You’re just trying to talk yourself into something, I thought. And truth to tell, there was a lot of that, I’m sure."

      So why are you justified in judging that Dreher's decision-making process, admittedly marred as it was by emotional motives, retained some degree of genuine intellectuality, whereas we are not justified in saying that it did not? As far as his words go, it may as well have been the case that the argumentation process was a total farce he used to fool himself into following his emotions, whereas in reality the rational considerations held no independent sway over his decision? So perhaps he didn't find the papal arguments compelling because he actively did not want to, in which case he would've gone over to Eastern Orthodoxy in any event. As in, purely emotional. Let's dispense with this "significant part" stuff. Because you know, there's probably a reason why he seldom if ever mentions the "intellectual" side of his conversion, but almost exclusively talks about the emotional side. And let's just be frank with ourselves, that reason is probably not flattering or even innocuous.

      In this most recent article, Mr. Dreher says: "...stories like Skojec’s are so much like mine, which left me with questions about how we know what we know, that I probably will never answer to my own satisfaction." This makes it sound like he is fine with accepting certain beliefs without giving an absolutely satisfying justification for each. Kind of reminds me of the principle of Authority so keenly laid out by St. Augustine, which tells us that understanding is the reward for believing. In my own experience, I did not initially find the arguments for Our Lady's Coredemption absolutely compelling, but I nevertheless believed because I had the doctrine on good Authority. [And to use Mr. Dreher's words, a person would even be "less confident," even if ultimately still convinced, of the divinity of Christ if he pored over arianizing arguments (as opposed to remaining in a state of blissful ignorance wherein one imagines that no crafty arguments could possibly be generated in response to the orthodox case), but his confidence would be rejuvenated when he leans back on the Church.] Eventually, I came to see the true cogency of the case for the Coredemption, and on independent grounds. But if I had rejected the Authority because my private judgment was not initially satisfied to an absolute degree, it's quite probable that I would never have been brought to see the truth through my own independent understanding, or in any other way, for that matter. So it's simply unreasonable to assert that a Catholic, such as Mr. Dreher, should defect from the Church if their private judgement is not immediately and perfectly satisfied with regard to every single doctrine [see Denz., 1794, 1815]. That simply flies in the face of the whole purpose of Authority, which is necessary for true Unity.

      Nor would Mr. Dreher need to be brought about by considerations regarding the papal primacy in order to identify the Catholic Church as that Authority (though I find it doubtful, to say the least, that a person apprised of all the relevant facts and considering the matter dispassionately could reasonably find the case for the primacy lacking, especially if that person is operating under principles and assumptions which Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians share). For the test of the Marks of the True Church is more than sufficient for that end.

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    2. Hi Ed,

      I don't wish to disagree with anything you've written, but I'd just like to ask you: do you think the arguments for papal infallibility are solid? (Please note that I used Dreher's word "solid"; I'm not asking you whether the arguments are compelling.)

      I think you and I both know that while there is a strong patristic case for papal primacy, the doctrine of papal infallibility was not taught before the fourteenth century. (Sixth-century statements that "in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied" [the Formula of Hormisdas] aren't affirmations of papal infallibility.) Additionally, the list of infallibly defined dogmas is highly controversial, with the number varying between two and fifteen, and there is also uncertainty regarding the status of papal canonizations.

      (I won't bring up the difficulties relating to Popes Liberius, Vigilius and Honorius, as the definition of Vatican I was expressly crafted with these cases in mind, so in my judgment, they prove nothing.)

      Anyway, my point is that belief is as much a matter of the heart as of the head. If you've grown up Catholic, the heart may sustain you, even in a time of severe spiritual crisis. But Dreher didn't grow up Catholic. He was raised a Methodist, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993 (at the age of 26) and left the Church in 2006. His relationship with the Church is very different from someone who was baptized Catholic as a baby. Frankly, I'm not sure what I'd say to him.

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    3. VT

      We have the 27 book NT today because of the Synods of Carthage, Hypo and the Synod of Rome all in the fourth century. The first two Synods sent their findings to "the Church across the Sea" (aka Rome) for confirmation.

      In short we know what books go in the NT because of the authority of the Pope. Even Heir Luther acknowledged that long after his schism.

      The rational case for papal infallibility is solid. The alternate standard offered by the EO is not. After all how do you know what constitutes an Ecumenical Council without the Pope?

      How do you know Chalcedon is a Council and so called Second Ephesus(i.e. so called Monophysite Robber council) is not? How do you know the Arian Synods of Milan or the Arian Councils of Sirmium or Rhimni are false?

      You might say "Well they taught Arian heresy" but that is a tautology. We only know Arianism is false because of the Roman Bishop.

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    4. Over on Shea's blog way before he made the jump at the height of the sex scandal he keep waxing eloquent on how he wished he could just join the Eastern Orthodox Church and get away from Catholic internal politics and bad Catholic clergymen etc.

      So it is obvious this started as an emotional desire to escape & there is no real intellectual basis for his journey. Years later he was shocked there was massive sex abuse going on in the Eastern Orthodox Church and then he resolved not to delve into it least he wreck his EO faith.

      He talked about some pathological fear his sons would be molested by Catholic priests.

      He is not as bad as William Lobdell an ex-Evangelical Christian fallen away Catholic catechumen who lost his beginning Catholic Faith over the sex scandal around the time. I read threw Lobdell's book LOSING MY RELIGION.
      It reads like reading Dreher on the sex scandal only he went father then him. He became an Atheist. Thought when he had a heart attack in a "moment of weakness" he cried out to Christ for help. He lost his daughter to cancer too.

      I feel for him too. His book is a primitive attempt to show how the problem of evil made him an Atheist but it is obvious even thought he was in the process of joining the Catholic Church he had an Evangelical NeoTheist view of God and not a Catholic Classical Theistic one.

      He doesn't have a worthy rational argument in his whole book but his de-conversion was not rational anymore then Dreher's.

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    5. Miguel CervantesMay 31, 2021 at 2:15 AM

      No Vincent, the Catholic faith isn't man made and is not a question of the head or the heart. God's grace is what permits belief, as opposed to knowledge, trust, or feeling. Conservative ideology comes home to roost in these personal crises.

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    6. Miguel CervantesMay 31, 2021 at 2:18 AM

      (Permits Faith, as the Church understands it, sorry. Not all belief is Christian Faith).

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    7. Hi Son of Ya'Kov,

      You are quite right that from the fourth century onwards, it was widely acknowledged that there cannot be an Ecumenical Council without the Pope. But ratifying an ecumenical council's decrees (and thereby making it truly ecumenical) is not defining a dogma; rather, it's confirming a dogma that a council has already decreed. Papal infallibility means more than that. Ex cathedra pronouncements aren't tied to ecumenical councils.

      By the way, fourth-century Synods of Carthage, Hypo and the Synod of Rome did not define the canon of either the New Testament or the Old Testament. The sixteenth-century Council of Trent did that. Long after the fourth-century councils you mentioned, there were Popes (Gregory the Great), cardinals (Cajetan) and theologians (Hugh of St. Victor) who denied the canonicity of the deuterocanonicals, not to mention the Glossa Ordinaria, which was the standard Biblical commentary in the Middle Ages. You can read more about it here:

      https://web.archive.org/web/20170709111635/http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/is-the-apocrypha-scripture/

      (The above article is written from a Protestant perspective but makes some telling points that most Catholics don't get to hear.)

      As for the New Testament, St. Athanasius listed the 27-book NT that we use today, in his Easter letter of 367. And while the Synod of Rome may have closed the NT canon in the West, there's no evidence that it did so in the East.

      I'm not defending the Orthodox Church's criteria for a Council's ecumenicity or Biblical canonicity: frankly, they're a mess, and I think the Catholic criteria make better sense. What I will say is that papal infallibility is an innovation. Call it a development if you like, but it's new and it's relatively recent (about 700 years old). In short: the evidence for Catholic claims is persuasive, but not enough to convince anyone.

      Re holiness: bad Popes and bishops don't disprove Catholicism, but if (contrary to fact) they were all bad, or even mostly bad, any fair-minded seeker after truth would be justified in ignoring Catholic claims. Numbers matter, up to a point. Any credible religion has to show that its members are at least as good (on average) as people with no religion.

      Miguel,

      You are right to stress the role of God's grace. Thank you for pointing that out.

      Delete
    8. "Seems like you're still eschewing a relevant part of Mr. Dreher's own personal account"

      Nope. Neither Dreher nor I have ever said that emotion was not a major motivator for his decision. But the notion that it was "purely" emotional ignores significant parts of his own testimony.

      Delete
    9. "[I]t may as well have been the case that the argumentation process was a total farce he used to fool himself into following his emotions, whereas in reality the rational considerations held no independent sway over his decision."

      It may. A lot of things may be, but really this is just speculation which has to heavily discount a lot of other things Dreher has said about his conversion. Furthermore, the need to make some sort of near definitive pronouncement on another person's motivations is pretty hubristic and arguably uncharitable. But then issuing a more tentative judgment like "one should be cautious when listening to Dreher's advice here, because his conversion may have been overly influenced by emotion" just wouldn't pack the rhetorical punch you need, now would it?

      Delete
  6. “Our charity is not truthful because it is not severe; and it is not persuasive, because it is not truthful ... Where there is no hatred of heresy, there is no holiness".

    -Fr. Frederick William Faber, "The Precious Blood".

    The problem with people living the "church" is the liberalism, the sloth, the weakness in the defense of the doctrine, the effeminacy. It's disgusting. Conversion, as well as devotion, comes from severity and hatred of heresy, as the quote says. When someone leaves Catholicism we have to look at the concrete relationships that individual had with priests, etc. In our days, heresy, weakness, progressivism, apostasy, are rampant. So, we know why people leave the "church": because the "church" was never "The" Church in the first place for that man. And the longer we refuse to see the truth, that this "church" is an impostor, well, this is going to get just worse.

    Yes. Sedevacantism.

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    1. fMay

      Are you on acid or something?

      You say that we know why people are leaving the church - 'because the "church" was never "The Church" in the first place for that man' ( women do not exist in your world it seems ).
      The solution then is to return to tradition and conservatism apparantly, and to abhorr heresy, weakness and progressivism.

      I have news for you f May. The RC church is bleeding members and support and failing to recruit anywhere near enough priests because people are sick of its interfering backwardness and authoritarian nature. Young people in particular see you as embarrassing reactionary dinosaurs. If you doubled down on tradition and conservative positions you would certainly retain a few members who would otherwise have left in disgust, and would carve our a consistant brand or identity for yourself going foreward, but you would just alienate the young masses even more. And as development proceeds in poorer countries so these people begin to have real choices ( starting with cheap and easily available birth control), they will inevitably tell you to go to hell too.

      The game is almost up i'm afraid. The only hope for you is if progressives so transform the church that schism results, with the smaller reactionary rump scuttling off to do its own thing. Where are the RC revolutionaries? You of course believe that they already exist and have been active ( and successful in their endeavours ) for decades.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous

      "The RC church is bleeding members and support and failing to recruit anywhere near enough priests because people are sick of its interfering backwardness and authoritarian nature"

      I'm not sure why you're singling out the Catholic Church here? It's positions (particularly on sexual issues) are commonly held within traditional religions such as the Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and the like. (As an aside, it always seems like it's the sexual stuff that upsets people more than anything else...)

      Delete
    3. Dr Yogami

      My post was a response to f May who was talking about - among other things - people leaving the CATHOLIC church. However, more generally this is a CATHOLIC blog, and the Catholic Church is the single largest and most powerful Christian grouping on the planet. So for all these reasons it is not hard to understand why I focussed on Catholicism, though of course my ire extends to some of the other traditional groupings too.

      It is also not difficult to understand why the sexual stuff particularly upsets us, as it is here that secular and taditional moralities most diverge,and where the faithful are most active in poking their very long noses into our most intimate affairs. I would point out though that many Christian denominations do not agree with the RC stance on all sexual matters, and just about nobody does - including Muslims.-when it comes to their bizarre, interfering and irresponsible attitude towards artificial birth control.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous

      Okay, but you've pointed out that younger generations are less interested in traditional sexual morality or religion. I agree with that (although religious denominations liberalizing their stance on sexual matters doesn't seem to be growing membership either). Still, what that would mean is that this blog combox is mainly composed of a lot of reactionary old fogies out of touch with the modern world. Irrelevant. I would think that would make you LESS interested in it. Yet you seem weirdly obsessed with this dying culture.

      Delete
    5. Haha, unfortunately there is still life in the old dog yet, and it can still cause ( is causing ) a great deal of damage.

      I would concur that those who contribute to this blog combox ( and the blog writer ) are overwhelmingly reactionary and embittered old fogies ( all men ), but there will be some younger elements among the readership ( about 1400 subscribers I think ) and those who occasionally drop by, so it is worth posting just to address them and annoy the reactionaries. And you know, I wouldn't say i'm obsessed with anything - it hardly takes more than a few minutes to knock off a brief post on my iphone!

      So out of interest, why do you come here and mildly criticise my efforts?.You say that you are not a Christian, and indeed come across as a bit of a liberal from what you do NOT say, but you follow a Roman Catholic blog and are muted in your criticisms of them. You have evidently been coming here for some time. What is your angle?

      Delete
    6. "so it is worth posting just to address them and annoy the reactionaries."

      Honestly, this does make you sound like a troll. If you only post here to annoy people, then dialogue isn't really what you're interested in.

      "You have evidently been coming here for some time. What is your angle?"

      I'm more interested in the metaphysics, whether Aristotelian/Thomist or Neoplatonist. I find much in Feser's criticisms of scientism and materialism to have merit. The natural law stuff is less interesting to me and I'm not interested in criticizing it on this blog, mainly because it does seem consistent and you really have to come up with an alternate system. Aside from that, scripture and tradition are pretty clear that homosexuality, for instance, is frowned upon in Catholic dogma so you're just not going to get anywhere arguing on those points anyway.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous,

      If you doubled down on tradition and conservative positions you would certainly retain a few members who would otherwise have left in disgust, and would carve our a consistant brand or identity for yourself going foreward, but you would just alienate the young masses even more.

      It is the ultra-liberal denominations who hemorrhage members, not the conservative ones. After all, why go for Diet Humanism when you can have Humanism Classic?

      Delete
    8. Anonymus: You failed even as a troll. You are a failure. Now go back to your cave to watch your weird anime.

      Delete
    9. The Awesome MuslimMay 31, 2021 at 11:32 AM

      @ Anonymous

      " including Muslims."

      Don't pretend you speak for us kafir. Watch your mouth.

      Delete
  7. I think Feser is here representing a kind of faux-rationalism that I have seen from many Catholics. They just pivot around the unassailable axiom that, "The Catholic Church is the True Church!" For example, the sins of Catholics and clergy don't matter, because "The Church's holiness is not affected by her members." It turns out that the beliefs of such people are unfalsifiable. No argument exists that could disprove Catholicism, even in principle. Yet for people like Skojec and Dreher, who have dropped unfalsifiability, bad experiences with an institution are going to cumulatively erode that institution's claim to be divinely instituted (in much the same way that Christ's encounters with the Judaism of his day eroded and ultimately displaced Second Temple Judaism).

    It's not just that the analytic approach is too cold, but rather that it is a skeleton with no flesh. It is a misrepresentation of human nature to think that intellectual assent forms and corrupts in a vacuum. Newman's "Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent" is much more realistic and true to life. Contra the analytic philosophers, in real life what happens is that people consult arguments as well as experience, for truth is convertible with goodness. And when they write a short, sympathetic blog post, they don't try to definitively solve the infamously intractable historical disputes between Orthodox and Catholics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, the doctrine of the Church's Mark of Sanctity is first established through cogent theological arguments rooted in Revelation, and its nature is defined thereby. This establishes the falsifiable premise; not one concocted to meet some purpose, but one which is successfully argued for. Only then do Catholics successfully argue that the examples you cite do not falsify the premise. So there's no unfalsifiability, no fallacious goalpost shifting, no fallacious ad hoc concoctions.

      See how easy it is to simply ASSERT something? But that doesn't make it so. You have to respond to the actual Catholic arguments first, it won't do to simply accuse them all of unsavory tactics and intellectual habits before proving this to be the case. And by my lights, you're not going to be successful in that endeavor, because the Catholic arguments are sound. (Inb4 you double-down and insist that I only find them cogent because I'm already in the habit of treating Catholicism as unfalsifiable, or some such.)

      You seem to assume that the "analytic approach" is concerned with describing how people really behave "in the real world." In reality, it is simply concerned with getting to the truth, and if a person neglects the means of getting to an important truth, it makes sense to hold him to a higher standard. Experience is not separate from argumentation, it plays a role in argumentation for rational people and must be properly weighted and evaluated. Seems to me that if a person has a "bad experience" with adhering to righteous yet difficult discipline, this would not justify him in departing from it: he would still be obliged to recognize, with his intellect, that this seemingly repulsive thing is in fact good. And the fact that you mention the convertibility of Truth and Goodness in this connection gives the impression that you have a rather tenuous grasp of that doctrine's actual meaning.

      And who's trying to solve the dispute between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy with a blog post, exactly? Surely you don't mean Dr. Feser. If you want to see what an ACTUAL Catholic treatment of this "intractable" dispute looks like, might I suggest you start with Adrian Fortescue's classic book on the subject, supplemented by Anthony Dragani's modern criticism of the same. Or perhaps you'd prefer a third party perspective to help alleviate any concerns regarding partisan bias: try the Protestant Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche, and its English-language derivative, The Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. The Realencyklopädie contains boatloads of information regarding the history of the schism. Particularly interesting is Photius' acknowledgement of the papal primacy shortly before attacking the same, back when he was still trying (and failing) to use Rome to canonically verify his false claim to the patriarchal seat of Constantinople.

      Delete
    2. The Catholic Church is the One True Church. I'm sorry if that truth makes you uncomfortable. The thing is, now She is reduced to a remnant (in an earthly, sociomorphic sense). That's why people can't make sense of what's happening. There is loss of faith and cognitive dissonance, because they are unable to accept that the Church is eclipsed (just like Our Lady of La Salette predicted).

      Also, you are just spewing the Donatist heresy (the belief according to which every member of the hierarchy of the Church should be deposed if they become usual sinners). You are not discovering anything new here. No. Members of the Church get excommunicated latae sententiae, without the need of any official declaration, only if they become, not sinners, but manifests heretics (You can read St. Robert Bellarmine for this). Any member of the Church. Even the Pope. It doesn't matter if he remains dressing like the Pope. It doesn't matter if he claims to be the Pope. It doesn't matter if 99,99% of humanity thinks he is the Pope. He is not the Pope from the point of view of Divine Law. And every rational being can reach to this conclusion, easily. You don't have to be an expert in Canon Law to figjre that out. You just have to be an honest soul.

      There is no Pope since 1958. And almost the entirety of the hierarchy is deposed. It is what it is. The Church survives anyways. There is no need to lose your mind. But what is important is this: the Faith strengthens with the truth, with severity, with well intended fanaticism. People who think that just "pretending" that everything is okay, that this "Pope" will pass, and another will come, they are doing more harm than anyone else. This cancer had been spreading since 1965 because almost no one wanted to accept the truth. This is the result.

      About "Orthodoxy": "Orthodoxy" is not even Christianity. Because Palamism is not Christian. It is polytheism. For Palamas, there is not only the Divine Essence, but also "uncreated energies", which are an addition to the Divine Essence, making God composite. Not to mention, there is no real unity between the different branches of "Orthodoxy". They are not even in communion with one another. They are a false church.

      Delete
    3. @Archstanton "See how easy it is to simply ASSERT something?"

      Yes, you have demonstrated how easy that is. The number of Catholics who actually believe that the Marks of the Church can be definitively established is vanishingly small, and the "ecclesial" motives of credibility simply don't hold up to scrutiny. But test my assertions against yours. In the following years test Catholics to see if their ecclesiological claims are rationally grounded, and you will find that my assertion turns out to be true.

      In the rest of your reply you are off the mark. Neither Skojec nor Dreher had difficulty adhering to a "righteous yet difficult doctrine," and my point about laying to rest Catholic-Orthodox polemics in a blog post was made with respect to Dreher, not Feser, for Feser has been critiquing Dreher for not providing enough argumentation for his conversion.

      (It may be useful to note that, apart from the Russians, Orthodox don't tend to deny primacy. What they deny is supremacy, or primacy as construed by Vatican Council I.)

      Delete
    4. F wrote:” "Orthodoxy" is not even Christianity. Because Palamism is not Christian. It is polytheism. For Palamas, there is not only the Divine Essence, but also "uncreated energies", which are an addition to the Divine Essence, making God composite.”

      This is not correct. When ask for god’s grace, are you asking god to split apart? None of our theologies explain god completely, and anyone who thinks they are even close is just wrong. I assume you agree that god is transcendent, that he acts despite being simple, that his spirit can fill a person at one time, and not at another?

      Palamite ideas are not contrary to Catholic views, it’s just a different way of saying that from our perspective, there is a way in which god can be immanent.

      Delete
    5. A lot of ecumenical groups and Eastern Rite Catholics have tried to "rehabilitate" Palamas so I am not against harmonizing him with Aquinas or Catholic Theology in general.

      >Palamite ideas are not contrary to Catholic views, it’s just a different way of saying that from our perspective,

      That could be true. I would be open to any interpretation of him that reconciles his views with ours.

      But bashing Palamite theology isn't going to get anybody anywhere. Dreher could read Gregory Palamas and attend an Eastern Catholic Church. It is nor hard.

      Delete
    6. "That could be true. I would be open to any interpretation of him that reconciles his views with ours."

      See the works of Fr. Christiaan Kappes of the Archdiocese of indianapolis for starters.

      Delete
    7. @Anonymous 8:31 AM "Yes, you have demonstrated how easy that is."

      If you want to pretend like you missed my point, I'll indulge the fantasy. I'm glad I was able to "demonstrate" this for you, but my obvious meaning was that you needed to look no further than your original comment in order to see this.

      If you had grasped this (ahem), perhaps you wouldn't have doubled-down on your same mistake. The truth is that the vast majority of self-identified Catholics who do not believe in the demonstrability of the Marks of the Church are those who are not even familiar with this concept and its import, or only vaguely. Catholics who actually pay attention to their faith are generally confident of this demonstrability, and for good reason. These folks do tend to supply a solid rational case.

      In the rest of your reply you are off the mark. Firstly, I spoke of a "righteous yet difficult DISCIPLINE," and not with reference to Skojec and Dreher specifically; I was commentating upon your general remarks regarding experience and goodness. Secondly, these two men DID have difficulty adhering to such a discipline: they both speak of the trials they experienced in maintaining communion with Rome, which is a disciplinary point in itself (for which reason we call schism a sin).

      Now, if you made your "blog post" comment with respect to Dreher rather than Feser, this is itself mystifying. Who's expecting Dreher "to definitively solve the infamously intractable historical disputes between Orthodox and Catholics" in a blog post, to "lay to rest Catholic-Orthodox polemics in a blog post?" Surely you don't mean to say that Dr. Feser has expressed this expectation, or any other commenter here, for that matter.

      And perhaps your last aside would've been useful to me had I not already been aware of the purely semantic point expressed therein. As you seem to acknowledge, my language does conform with A conventional usage (whether it be the most popular/universally-employed convention or not). So you'll have to excuse me while I employ the same usage as the commenter named "Thursday" did in the last combox, who seems to have been expressing a sympathetic case for Dreher and Eastern Orthodoxy.

      Delete
    8. And just to be clear, I'm operating under the assumption that you understood I was employing the word "primacy" in the "Vatican Council I" type of sense, as you've called it.

      Delete
    9. @Archstanton Thank you for your assertions. Best of luck with your unassailable axiom.

      Delete
    10. @Anonymous 10:27 PM Aaaaaand that's strike three, you've officially tripled-down on your same flawed tactic of issuing nothing but bald assertions. So for the third time in a row, I'll have to show you what you look like in hopes that, when you see somebody else do it, you'll realize how ineffectual it is - because, you know, SOMEBODY COULD JUST ISSUE THE OPPOSITE BALD ASSERTION. You'd really think you'd learn by now, except that three strikes now brand you as an obvious troll. So I'm thinking you'll probably quadruple-down next, but I'm gonna have to stop feeding you after this. I'm confident bystanders will be able to judge properly, there's really nothing more I need say to expose you as the troll you are. If you want some advice, consider that there's nothing more you need say to expose yourself either, but more would be welcome, even if a bit overkill. Best of luck indeed ;)

      Delete
    11. @Son of Ya'Kov “Dreher could read Gregory Palamas and attend an Eastern Catholic Church. It is nor hard.”

      Yes I agree. I don’t know enough about his reasons, but the fundamentalist “radtrads” are doing significant damage to our church by putting their personal preferences above the authority given by god.

      “ I would be open to any interpretation of him that reconciles his views with ours.”

      I really recommend these two articles;

      https://sensuscatholicus.jimdofree.com/2021/04/18/breathing-with-both-lungs-a-spiritual-phenomenology-of-eastern-western-christianity-1/

      https://sensuscatholicus.jimdofree.com/2021/05/01/breathing-with-both-lungs-a-spiritual-phenomenology-of-eastern-western-christianity-2/

      Delete
  8. Would love to see more said about theosis/deification, especially from a metaphysical point of view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The above wasn’t to suggest Ed should do the saying and links to what other readers find compelling would be interesting. But I would definitely love to hear Ed’s thoughts on it.

      Delete
    2. Here's a standard EO exposition: http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/theosis-english.pdf

      I know CUA Press recently published a volume on the Latin Fathers' notion of thesis, but the precise title escapes me.

      Best,
      Karl

      Delete
  9. It really does seem like he subjectifies religion. It seems like Mr. Dreher would admit that Catholicism "works" for the Catholic saints. But he seems also to maintain that it does not work "for him." Does he really imagine that people are of such diverse dispositions that a St. Philip Neri can spiritually flourish in the life of grace as a devout son of the Catholic Church, whereas Mr. Dreher himself cannot possibly manage to do the same? Did it really not occur to him that his problems were probably localized rather than universal to Catholicism as such? Yes, it seems to me that his intimate knowledge of ecclesiastical scandal was local, i.e. that it stemmed from his particular station in life as a media personality, and from the particular point in history through which he is living.

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    Replies
    1. I find my personal experience in Catholic sacramental life and attending Catholic mass and Catholic community to be beautiful and enriching. If the experience of Dreher leads him to reject the faith, then I have to ask what makes his experience the one that should be followed and not mine? Why not come to the Church on the basis of my Catholic life? If he can leave due to experience, he should return due to experience! If he does not, we are lost in subjective emotions. The experience is not objective *evidence* of the Holy Spirit or lack thereof, but just something that turned his heart away. If that’s the case, then he must pray for Charity and courage, not a path to away from his Mother Church!

      Delete
  10. Miguel CervantesMay 30, 2021 at 1:33 AM

    Another very good post. Dreher is truly clueless, but like so many apologists for "Orthodoxy", glories in it because being closer to God means they've got the essential. The divinisation preached by Palamas is wrong and reminiscent of Protestant quietism.

    I've come to the conclusion that the kinds of cults that attract certain ex-traditional Catholics have more to do with the type of traditional they are, rather than any Catholic malaise. Dreher is representative of traditionalists whose peculiar politics permeates their religion totally. For this reason, they are interested in "going with the strength" that is to say, the Orthodox sects, which are connected of course with the modern representative par excellence of philosophical conservatism, Russia. I know some may not want to hear this, but they might as well get a preview, because that is what these ex-"Catholics" are going to keep hammering (Dreher loses no opportunities in preaching it): just as "Orthodoxy" is the solution for a decadent Catholic Church, Russia and countries like it, will "help" a decadent West.

    It's time for the West to ditch conservatism and embrace the true principles on which it is based, in order to counter this new threat. Conservatism is incapable of answering the challenge, because such regimes are coming to espouse and practise its own beliefs much better than it does itself. "Orthodoxy" is just a facet of civil society in such regimes - that's why it's valued there. Dogma is of little importance to them. What matters is loyalty to anything that is not Roman. Theirs is a problem of the will.

    The incompatibility of some "Catholic traditionalists" with loyalty to the Papacy is similar in nature, which is why they may never feel at home in the Church.

    Their religion is turned towards the civil order, which is not clearly distinguished from the Church. But there is only one spiritual, immortal society that man can belong to and that is Christ's mystical body.

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  11. On many other blogs I have often remarked that Rod Dreher can't help himself but to appear as the older brother proclaiming his superiority to the Prodigal Son. It seems to me that Steve Skojec shares that attribute. He somehow believed, that he (as an undergrad) was more Catholic than the leaders of the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
    I fall into this trap, so I always try to remind myself, "Don't be the older brother". Before my "crisis", I was a sanctimonious self-righteous prig.

    Recently while re-reading and then listening to Henri Nouwen's book on the Prodigal Son, I came to a conclusion that is hinted at in Dr. Feser's post. The Pharisees who tried to entrap our Blessed Lord, the elder son, and the Woke share a mindset.
    Please let me quote extensively from the book:
    >>>
    As long as I stay outside in the darkness, I can only remain in the resentful complaint that results from my comparisons. Outside of the light, my younger brother seems to be more loved by the Father than I; in fact, outside of the light, I cannot even see him as my own brother.
    Outside of God's house, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, lovers and friends become rivals and even enemies; each perpetually plagued by jealousies, suspicions, and resentments.
    It is not surprising that, in his anger, the elder son complains to the father: "But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf." These words reveal how deeply hurt this man must feel. His self-esteem is painfully wounded by his father's joy, and his own anger prevents him from accepting this returning scoundrel as his brother. With the words "this thy son" he distances himself from his brother as well as from his father.
    He looks at the two of them as aliens who have lost all sense of reality and engage in a relationship that is completely inappropriate, considering the true facts of the prodigal's life. The elder son no longer has a brother. Nor, any longer, a father. Both have become strangers to him. His brother, a sinner, he looks down on with disdain; his father, a slave owner, he looks up at with fear.
    Here I see how lost the elder son is. He has become a foreigner in his own house. True communion is gone. Every relationship is pervaded by the darkness. To be afraid or to show disdain, to suffer submission or to enforce control, to be an oppressor or to be a victim: these have become the choices for one outside of the light. Sins cannot be confessed, forgiveness cannot be received, the mutuality of love cannot exist. True communion has become impossible.
    I know the pain of this predicament. In it, everything loses its spontaneity. Everything becomes suspect, self-conscious, calculated, and full of second-guessing. There is no longer any trust. Each little move calls for a countermove; each little remark begs for analysis; the smallest gesture has to be evaluated. This is the pathology of the darkness.
    <<<
    This is a the best description of the Woke, that I have encountered in my readings.
    And it shows why they can't be reached on an intellectual or emotional level.

    The Woke won't be defeated by debating them, ignoring them, using their tactics against them etc. We will win only by loving the Woke, while never denying the Truth. Confront them with brotherly love, with gratitude to Our Father, and trusting the Holy Spirit.

    spudjr60

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  12. Well, as wise ol' Fr. Tank DeCarlo used to say: "Now see here damnit, everyone's got his own bucket of shit to carry."

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  13. People just think way to much about these things. If there is a universal Church, and if that Church is going to say definitive things, you're going to have papal infallibility. You may not want to call it that, but that's what it is. Charles Spurgeon is no less of an infallible pope for eschewing the terminology.

    So the only question is not if there is an infallible pope, but which one.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. TN

      Your list of possibilities is not exhaustive TN. Maybe there are no infallible Popes because your church does not have the kind of authority it claims for itself?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous,

      So my argument was that if you say definitive things, you are, ipso facto, claiming infallibility whether you want to use that term or not. If you hold something to be definitive, you are saying it is infallible.

      So I don't see how your response addresses the argument made.

      Delete
  14. This response was dead-on: especially in expressing the right relationship between subjective (experiential) and objective (doctrinal) elements. Kudos!

    Unfortunately, the zeitgeist today is to think that only subjective analyses are real and compassionate. I'm not sure how we can break through that, but it's still necessary to apply objective analyses and to not play the "either/or" or "well, that's YOUR truth" game.

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  15. "But while I believe that we ought to sympathize with what he went through, and that it provides an explanation of his decision, it simply does not provide a justification for it."

    So does Feser accept that could ever be a legitimate justification for leaving the RC Church?

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    1. No Catholic can champion that view and call him or herself Catholic.

      If Catholicism is false then that would be the only reason you could leave. But that is trivial as that would apply to any belief or disbelief system. Including various Skeptical philosophies and metaphysical views like materialism or naturalism etc.

      Leaving is always objectively evil. Can some people leave and not know it is wrong threw no fault of their own and still be saved by extra ordinary grace? No doubt some can but we can't know who among the schismatics, heretics and apostates falls into that category and even if we could objectively they would still be better off embracing the fullness of truth.

      Also Dreher and Skojec aren't like the bulk of the theologically illiterate masses who might be able to plead invincible ignorance. At best they could plead Vincible Ignorance which would still get them damned.

      I could be wrong since I don't know their hearts and minds like God does. But as I learned in the Navy. Tis better to call a Security Alert and be wrong. Then not call one and be wrong.

      It is better to tell Skojec if he leaves he will be lost and it is better to tell Dreher his is now lost and he should return(& be wrong).

      Then not tell them to continue to embrace the True Church or return to Her and be wrong (leading to their damnation).

      Mind you I know bad Catholics can go to Hell so I don't offer this advice and rebuke thinking I could never be among those.

      Cheers.

      Delete
  16. I am perplexed as to why Ed Feser criticizes Dreher's move to Orthodoxy as irrational. Isn't any assent to dogma ultimately an irrational choice? Religious belief may not necessarily conflict with reason but it is not based on reason. One does not ratiocinate to the trinity or to the divinity of Christ. Religious beliefs are based on emotion.

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    Replies
    1. I think your criticisms of faith work against a fideistic notion of faith and religous belief.

      However, they miss the mark against orthodox Catholicism.

      For Catholics, faith is not "irrational" but rather "suprarational". Reason can tell us that God exists, that God has certain divine attributes (intellect and will, and is omnipotent,omniscient, all good, all loving etc.), and that God relates to creation in a certain way (conserves us in being, moment by moment).

      From that knowledge of God, purely through reason, we see that God is trustworthy. So if it is the case that God reveals himself to us beyond what Reason can know, then we can take those propositions "on faith".

      So not irrational, just as you believing something about your trustworthy spouse (which only she knows) when she reveals it to you is not "irrational".

      Faith goes beyond reason, but (if Christianity is true) would never contradict reason, since both the reality revealed by faith and the reality learned through reason both have their same source in God who is the source of all reality, all being.

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    2. To illustrate, while the existence of God is a truth we can know through reason, the dogmas of the Trinity, Incarnation, and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, for example, are truths known only through Faith. It is the job of the philosopher to show that God exists, and it is the job of the theologian, not to prove these divinely revealed truths (e.g. the Trinity) since we take them on faith as revelation from a trustworthy source that is proven to exist (i.e. God) but the theologian shows that these divinely revealed truths don't contradict reason (e.g. how can God be "one" and "three" at the same time as taught in our Trinitarian theology).

      Now one might ask how do we know that God has revealed Himself (especially Jesus Christ and in Sacred Scripture)? Well that is going to be partly a historical endeavour.

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    3. Kyle-Thank you for the thoughtful reply.It is informative. Feser criticizes Dreher for not being rational. I'm not certain if he means "irrational" or "suprarational". In either case I don't see on what reasonable basis Dreher would decide on Roman Catholicism or Orthodox Catholicism. The basis of the choice would be faith not reason, exactly as was his original choice in favor of Roman Catholicism. At some point one makes a leap not a deductive or inductive conclusion. Thus, religion is different from science which is based on reason.

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    4. jmchugh--

      The Orthodox have a much more convincing way of approaching this question of reason and faith. You should read Byzantine Theology by Meyendorff or contact your local canonical Eastern Orthodox priest. Visit a Divine Liturgy if you can, too. Please-- it's something that truly defines words, and our spiritual formation produces results. That's why I defer you to clergy, even though I would love to fill pages on the question. Praying for you!

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  17. Happily born, raised, and am Orthodox:

    If one looks at a kind of, i don't know how to say this, maybe "scale of faith" where Orthodoxy and Catholicism are about, relatively speaking, as close to scale as two faiths can get (you could throw in Oriental Orthodox here as well), I would hope there would be a kind of dicouragment to the type of conversions and conversion arguments one sees from what Feser's past two articles have pointed out. It's probably bad for not just the individual converts, but the faith and flocks at large. One could be sympathetic to severe abuse and corruption in either Church, but when leaving from one to the other the often best spiritual advice one Chriristian from the other faith could give is to patiently endure these trials. It is not in the nature of a Christian to leave for these reasons, it would be akin to abandoning your whole family because your grandfather was abusive. While some sympathy is warrented, to give in to too much to sympathy will undermine the trials all humans must endure. Ultimatley "quick fixes", like switching something as seriously as one's faith and Her Church, are empty, hollow, and destructive to the overall people and Faith we wish to serve.

    These two Church's have a long, often checkered, history together and doctrinal disaagreeements that can get pretty intense and thorny pretty quickly which unfortunatley ultimatley can't be ignored (to the credit of bothe Church's it is not in their nature to just downplay or ignore important doctrinal issues), but it may help mend some wounds and show a needed and prudent kind of solidarity for the betterment of both flocks to be hesitant about some conversions from one of the respective faiths to the other

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  18. "On the one hand, Dreher tells us that part of the reason for his leaving the Church had to do with doubts about the doctrine of papal infallibility. But he also admits that he 'didn’t think the case against it was a slam-dunk' and that he was 'not… able to reach a conclusion that felt solid.'"

    Why does Dreher or anyone else need to be "certain" that something is not true, to change their mind? In fact, if you think certainty is required to form a justified belief, Dreher's lack of certainty about papal infallibility would then be sufficient reason to no longer believe.

    "Hence the appeal to contingent personal spiritual circumstances is simply not sufficient to justify leaving the Catholic Church for Eastern Orthodoxy (or Eastern Orthodoxy for Catholicism, for that matter)."

    So, if someone said Catholicism did nothing for them spiritually, and in fact caused a negative spiritual effect (likely to shortly lead them to abandon Christianity) you would still recommend they remain part of your tribe (nominally)???

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    1. You're not framing this correctly: If someone said that eating right and dieting did nothing to make them feel good and they felt better eating cheetos and watching TV, one could encourage them not to have a lifestyle of cheetos and TV, and one could also note that the "feelings" involved are misplaced. That you wish to not take the premise of spirtuality, intitutations, and insert incorrect words like "tribe" in will obfuscate what points are being made and what premises are tarting from. Now, if one can't take the premise seriously, or have the ability to frame it in a more intellectualy charitable way, than that is their affair. But what is certain, is if one is incapable of doing that they are best served in other convertions, as this would be pointless.

      If you can take political allegiences, humanties subjects, skill for acompishing tasks or getting jobs, objective scientific or math truths seriously, or ethical claims seriously and undertand that they are not at the whims of subjectivist thought than you have to treat this in the same category, or at leat recognize some do, and understand that i where the premise is based.

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    2. Also recognize that the premise / worldview that the priest and journalist have in common is looking at Orthodoxy and Catholicism as corporate bodies that have universal Truth claims therefore it is even more illutrates incorrectly how you look at this as "self-fulling spirtuality" or tribalism...both views of which are anthetical to the Catholics and Orthodox. Which puts Dreher within a worldview and presupposition of not being in "subjectivist spirtualism", like it or not

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    3. Not framing it correctly??? I basically repeated what he said. Your analogy is specious.

      If you want to use a food analogy, a better analogy would be that he feeling nauseous and sick from eating what Catholicism provides, and doesn't want to feel sick anymore.

      I understand that you feel that your beliefs are universal and objective. I felt the same way when I was Mormon. They made universal objective claims, that I was certain were correct. But the feeling of certainty is not the same as being correct (or universal/objective).

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    4. @God Hates Faith

      This is exactly right. Your analysis is much more sound than Feser's. Papalism is essentially the only thing that separates Catholics from Orthodox. When Dreher converted he was either certain or uncertain that papalism was true. When he left he was not certain it was true, and found it no more plausible than Orthodox ecclesiology.

      When the only issue that separates Catholics from Orthodox cannot be verified, movement from one Church to the other cannot be said to be based on an emotive fallacy. The whole thing is analogous to the reasoning of Pascal's wager. Feser is mistaken if he claims that Dreher has ignored what he believes to be true in favor of what he desires emotionally. He is also wrong if he thinks that Dreher is required to positively DISprove all of the relevant Catholic claims before leaving the Catholic Church.

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    5. Further proof Gnu Atheism is intellectually inferior.

      GHF says:
      >Your analogy is specious.

      No that would be yours.


      >If you want to use a food analogy, a better analogy would be that he feeling nauseous and sick from eating what Catholicism provides, and doesn't want to feel sick anymore.

      That begs the question. Catholicism is true and thus it is always without exception evil to leave the Catholic Church. Dreher didn't leave because of truth. He left for emotional reason only by his own words. I know. I was there. He explicitly said his conversion was not based on reason.

      >I felt the same way when I was Mormon. They made universal objective claims...

      This explains yer Theistic Personalism. Why you would bring that crap to Catholic Blogs is a mystery?


      >He is also wrong if he thinks that Dreher is required to positively DISprove all of the relevant Catholic claims before leaving the Catholic Church.

      Yer friend above is wrong yer an ex-Mormon GHF. Yer whole former religion is based on reading yer Holy Scripture and feeling a burning in the bosom. It is entirely based on subjective illuminism and Fideism(the later is condemned as heresy by Vatican One).

      Our is based on the maximum "reason proceeds faith. One must have reason to believe and motivation for belief."

      Rod is required to give a good reason why the Catholic Church isn't the True Church and the Eastern Orthodox is the true Church. He is required to give reasons why he now doubts the Catholic Church. He hasn't done that and Skojec should not heed his council.

      That Joseph Smith was a fraud can be established by evidence so if that is what motivated you to leave Mormonism that was the correct course.

      >[Mormoms] made universal objective claims, that I was certain were correct.

      But you where not rationally certain. You couldn't be as yer religion taught the heresy of Fideism. This is why Mark or Dr. B and myself pushed back on yer weak objections to Catholicism.

      We are not Mormons here darling.

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    6. Son of Ya'Kov,

      I will ignore all your comments on here, just like I blocked you on Strange Notions.

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  19. This, by the way, is what kept me Catholic for a while after I went down the dark hole of the scandal. By 2005, I had reached a point in which I was spiritually dying inside because I was keeping faith with Catholicism. I was losing Jesus, and all the logical arguments were not helping me hold on to him. Maybe Feser is a stronger Catholic than I ever was, and arguments could have kept him grounded. They weren’t enough for me at that point in the crisis. Plus, after mass one day, my wife came up to me — I remember exactly where I was sitting in our living room, and the quality of light that day — and, crying, said, “I feel like for the first time in my life, I’m losing Jesus.” Her too! This woman, raised Evangelical, who by her own choice abandoned the Protestantism of her youth when she married Catholic me. Now I was watching her cry, expressing fear that her faith was being dragged out of her by this endless crisis.

    Dreher had me very sympathetic and willing to grant him lots of space, until this. He was losin his faith in Christ "on account of the scandal," and his WIFE WAS TOO, and his response was that he would rather lose Catholicism than lose the SCANDAL!!!

    If your eye causes you to fall, pluck it out. If your hand causes you to fall, cut it off. Better to enter into eternal life missing an eye or hand, than to be lost forever.

    "THE SCANDAL", (tm), is not The Truth. Christ is the Truth. THE SCANDAL (tm) is a passing matter, it is here today, and gone in a century. The Church, the one founded by The Truth, is not gone in a century. If THE SCANDAL causes you to lose Christ who is the Truth, then abandon THE SCANDAL and live for Christ. Who is found in His Church, the one He founded.

    Admittedly, Dreher did not leave Christianity in favor of some other form of religion altogether, such as Islam or secularism. (Yes, secularISM is a religion, deal with it.) Admittedly, he came around to believing he was NOT leaving Christ to depart Catholicism for Orthodoxy. But the question is: was he fooling himself when he arrived at that result? Did that state of belief come about on account of responding to grace offered to him to support his Faith, or rather IN SPITE of such grace?

    The problem with subjectivist accounts of belief in Christianity is that ultimately, the belief entails ACTUAL, FACTUAL realities that have to be a certain way in order for such acts to be worthy, and we fallen humans are incredibly good at learning how to make ourselves FEEL like we "should" believe something. The problem is this: in order for Christ to be the Christ who founded Christianity (either as EO or as Catholicism), he CAN'T be the Christ who gives his faithful followers graceful assistance to LEAVE the Church of salvation. Either BOTH Churches are wholly faithful to Christ in doctrine, or ONE of them is. But since they disagree on doctrine, the latter must be true. Which means either Dreher was RIGHT to have become a member of Orthodoxy and was in ERROR to have become a Catholic first, or it's the other way around. He can't leave Catholicism justifiably unless Catholicism is doctrinally WRONG.

    The integrated human person is not meant to be torn in two, with the mind holding one direction, and the will another. The two faculties are meant to be in harmony. But this means that the human person cannot be happy believing in something that he cannot THINK is right. If Rod thought that there was a fundamental error in Catholicism, that's one thing. If he left in spite of remaining essentially convinced it was right, that's a totally different kind of thing.

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    1. "...and his response was that he would rather lose Catholicism than lose the SCANDAL!!!"

      That isn't what he said at all.

      "If THE SCANDAL causes you to lose Christ who is the Truth, then abandon THE SCANDAL and live for Christ."

      So, if something causes you ask questions about your beliefs, you should ignore it? This sort of backwards epistemology is why we have so many religions today...

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    2. GHF

      Yer defense of Dreher is odd considering you are an Atheist?

      Why do you care if he leaves one error for another?

      >That isn't what he said at all.

      It is a proper inference. "her faith was being dragged out of her by this endless crisis".

      That cannot be true. If Pope St John Paul II is deceived by Cardinal McCarrick or the head of the Legionaries of Christ Marcel & as a result fails to lower the boom on them what does that have to do with the truth of the
      Catholic Faith or not? Nothing at all. If Richard Dawkins was deceived by his former buddy and disciple Josh Timonen that has little to do with his valid arguments for Evolution contra Young Earth "Scientific" Creationism or for that matter his shite "arguments" against the Five Ways.

      I've studied Papal Infallibility top to bottom and can find nothing that claims the Pope will always govern the Church prudently or wisely or even merely well at all. He is merely protected from formally & officially teaching error on moral or theological dogma under certain rigorous conditions.

      Pope Alexander VI can have as much fanny has he wants God forgive 'em. But till he formally and officially makes Fornication a Sacrament I can safely say even he was still infallible & the Catholic Church was the true Church.


      >So, if something causes you ask questions about your beliefs, you should ignore it?

      But that thing can only be rational not emotional. I watched for a while as Dr. Bonnette pinned yer ears against the wall over yer Positivist views over at STRANGE NOTIONS and I watch as you responded with emotion not reason or rational counter rebuttal.

      Mark has also taken you to task and I believe you got mad at Michael Flynn (who is ten sound times more polite then moi) and blocked him as well. Ye a text book case for emotion over reason. Please do something about that.

      >This sort of backwards epistemology is why we have so many religions today...

      You still have yer bad habits of making fallacies of equivocation. Not all religions are conceptionally or philosophically the same just as not all versions of Atheism are the same.

      Not all Atheists are kneejerk Positivists (Nagel comes to mind)like you have been in the past always demanding quantitative evidence.

      So here we are....

      Anyway I would like to see what Tony says to ya....

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    3. “Why do you care if he leaves one error for another?”

      I am always in favor of critical thinking. In this case, the questioning of the Catholic church.

      “It is a proper inference.”

      I disagree. It is mischaracterization.

      “But till he formally and officially makes Fornication a Sacrament I can safely say even he was still infallible & the Catholic Church was the true Church.”

      That is interesting since it seems you assume your conclusion that whatever is made official is by definition correct.

      “But that thing can only be rational not emotional.”

      One can question their beliefs for any reason, or no reason at all.

      “I watched for a while as Dr. Bonnette pinned yer ears against the wall over yer Positivist views over at STRANGE NOTIONS and I watch as you responded with emotion not reason or rational counter rebuttal.”

      Interesting characterization. In fact, it seems your characterization is based on your emotions.

      Also, I don’t believe this ever occurred.

      “I believe you got mad at Michael Flynn (who is ten sound times more polite then moi) and blocked him as well.”

      Incorrect. The only person I have blocked on Strange Notions is Jim the Scott.

      “Not all religions are conceptionally or philosophically the same..”

      But religions that rely on the same flawed epistemology are the same (in that way).

      “…just as not all versions of Atheism are the same.”

      Atheism is simply not believing in a deity. There are no versions. If you add anything to that definition, that is atheism plus something else.

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    4. God Hates Faith

      Yakov constantly mischaracterises, misrepresents strawmans and even lies - you were victim of some of that in his recent tirade against you. But sometimes he just does not understand his interlocutors. You see, he is socially gauche and unsophisticated so perhaps we should be charitable and pity him. Did you read the recent obvious joke cracked by Mr Geocon for example, in which he stated that he wasn't an integralist after all but a pretender? Dingbat Yako responded by thanking him for the revelation, saying ' I always thought you were an integralist'! Absolutely true. Even Mr Geocon was rendered speechless and had to declare that Yakov's lack of insight and awareness was a matter of concern. Then of course there are all the occasions when Yako has incorrectly accused people of posing as different characters, most bizarrely when he thought that the learned Catholic Deacon Ghostman waa me!

      We are dealing with someone who is a bit deficient in Mr Ya'kov i'm afraid.

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    5. Yak doesn't always say something the way I would say it, but in this case he is essentially correct. Dreher said:

      This, by the way, is what kept me Catholic for a while after I went down the dark hole of the scandal. By 2005, I had reached a point in which I was spiritually dying inside because I was keeping faith with Catholicism.

      It was, specifically, "the dark hole of the scandal" that was generating the problem. That's what he says.

      In his article he suggests NOTHING IN CATHOLICISM that he found was erroneous, at least by implication: the ONLY thing he points to as doctrinally difficult was his concern with infallibility, and he found neither the Catholic arguments nor the Orthodox arguments were conclusive (to his lights). THAT's NOT discovering your Church is in error. It's finding a matter for further elucidation.

      There is a standard, proper, Christian response to finding some issue that you cannot (now) settle: you hold it in abeyance until further elucidation comes. That might be in the form of new facts (maybe science discovers something that she didn't know), or old facts coming to light (maybe archeology discovers new documents by the Fathers that speak to the issue), or maybe new arguments that nobody before realized applied to this issue. Whatever. The point is, a true and proper Christian, (Catholic or Orthodox) when he runs into something not yet settled, sets the matter aside in a box labelled "to be determined later" and does not abandon the Church over it.

      And Dreher does not say he abandoned Catholicism over it, either. Which is fine. What he indicates is that due to the scandal, he was "losing Jesus".

      If you engaged in a one-on-one conversation with Dreher, I suspect you would find that what he really means by this is that because of the scandal, he was being attacked in his mind and heart, and what he was discovering is that he did not have the spiritual tools sufficient for that fight. And that he needed more/better such spiritual tools. And that when he went searching, he discovered Orthodox parishes (and, to some extent, Orthodox theology, but I think this is secondary, based on his descriptions) offered something he was lacking that gave him a better tool set for the fight.

      The fact is (as has been pointed out above) nothing he suggests in terms of Orthodox theology that helped him was actually specific to Orthodoxy, it is present in Catholicism just as well, and had he looked in the right places he would have found it there just fine. As far as parish life: I dare say he may well have run into some crabbed and bitter traditional people, or even traditional parishes whose more vocal people tended to be crabbed and bitter, so that's what he thought those parishes were like. But he is sadly mistaken if he thought that was true across the board: As Fr. Z has pointed out a thousand times, the up-and-coming demographic of growth in parishes is found in YOUNG FAMILIES who are joining Latin Mass parishes, and doing so with joy, not bitter anger. There is a new dynamic emerging, among young people discovering with delight the treasures of the (Catholic) Church forgotten in Novus Ordo parishes. Somehow, he missed this.

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    6. Catholics do display a fair amount of parish-hopping, and have done so (on a large scale) for perhaps a 100 years. But leaving one Catholic parish for another because the new parish feeds your soul better is NOT LIKE jumping from Catholicism to the Orthodox Church. There are doctrinal differences. Which means one of the two teaches error. And since Dreher DIDN'T ostensibly jump because he became convinced the Orthodox had better doctrine, but because it fed his soul better, that jump represents a CHOICE to prefer to satisfy one side of his life instead of another - the affective dimension, instead of the reasoning powers. But because doctrine is intimately connected to all the rest, i.e. because TRUTH actually matters, you cannot (permanently, and fully) serve one side of yourself and slight the other, without problems. A man is meant to behave as he believes (to be an integrated whole), and if he behaves a certain way long enough, he will MAKE himself believe it in spite of its lack of basis. Neither a Catholic nor an Orthodox Christian has a right to think that the doctrinal differences don't matter. Dreher seems to be implying they don't matter. In this (if that's what he is implying) he is doing a disservice to Orthodoxy and Christianity in general.

      I also think that Dreher is being slightly unfair in saying that he is neither a theologian nor an apologist, and therefore he should not be held to that standard of carefulness in laying out points. But (a) he is a journalist, and (b) he DOES use stories about his own situation to convey a message about rightness. This is, actually, just exactly the status of an apologist. He seems to think that an apologist is someone who has perhaps a bit less training than a theologian but lots, and uses reasoned arguments alone in urging Christianity. This is not what an apologist does. The apologist uses ALL the tools in his belt for conveying truth to others, and often the primary tool available is that of living an upright, love-filled life, with joy. Quite often, it is the coherence and unity of life, i.e. the unity of doing what you say and being joyful about it that makes Christianity attractive to those who do not have the truth. St. Peter says "sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you." But in order to evoke that question in the first place, the apologist has to live in a way that people wonder at it. THEN the apologist gives a reason. But (again), it is a mistake to think this is restricted to only those who have studied much - it pertains to EVERYONE who is a Christian adult who has received the Holy Spirit and, at any moment, may be asked for a reason and will be given the grace to speak well.

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    7. Tony

      You state that 'Yak does not always say something the way I would'. Dear me , how pussillanimous can one be! Yak NEVER says something the way you would, indeed there could not be a greater difference between you.

      You and Mr Gavison are the two people I have been most impressed by on these threads because of the depth and erudition of your contributions and your obvious composure and unwillingness to get embroilled in unpleasantness even if provoked. You both exude a certain authority which inspires confidence and impresses, whereas Yak just winds people up and provokes bad feelings. He is not a good representative for your faith, coming across as he does like a football supporter in adverserial combat with enemy fans.

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    8. Tony

      "THAT's NOT discovering your Church is in error. It's finding a matter for further elucidation."

      He was convinced his Church was true. Then he was no longer convinced. Simple.

      “The point is, a true and proper Christian, (Catholic or Orthodox) when he runs into something not yet settled, sets the matter aside in a box labelled "to be determined later" and does not abandon the Church over it.”

      The problem with this process is there is never a criteria under which one leaves. A process that doesn’t include a way of discovering if you are wrong, is simply confirmation bias. Most religions say the same thing..."don’t leave Scientology, Mormonism, Evangelicalism, Catholicism, etc. simply because you have doubt. Just wait until you stop doubting!” That is at its core an appeal to emotion (you shouldn’t leave just because you don’t believe!).

      “If you engaged in a one-on-one conversation with Dreher…”

      I will let Dreher speak for himself. It seems you are attempting to frame it in a way so you can continue justifying the beliefs he jettisoned. I can understand why it feels like an existential threat if someone has valid reasons for no longer believing what you believe. Psychologically, it makes sense you and Feser are desperate to paint his reasons as not valid. But it seems like you fall into circular logic when you start (and end) with your conclusion, which is that there is no valid reason to leave.

      “it is present in Catholicism just as well, and had he looked in the right places he would have found it there just fine.”

      He disagrees. Catholicism was toxic to him. Orthodoxy was not. Simple.

      “Dreher DIDN'T ostensibly jump because he became convinced the Orthodox had better doctrine, but because it fed his soul better, that jump represents a CHOICE to prefer to satisfy one side of his life instead of another"

      If you are being fed poison, it doesn’t matter if another restaurant serves better or worse tasting food.

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    9. GHF

      >I am always in favor of critical thinking. etc etc.

      Would that you did that with yer own positivist presuppositions when I argued with you & when Dr. Bonnette did as well.....

      >I disagree. It is mischaracterization.

      I note you decline to explain why.

      >That is interesting since it seems you assume your conclusion that whatever is made official is by definition correct.

      It is self evident common sense. As Aquinas said not everything a King says on any particular day is the Law but only when the King is officially speaking as a King and a legislator. A modern example. President Bill Clinton expressing his support for gays in the military didn't make it formal military policy till President Obama formally issued an executive order.

      I realize lolbrow Gnu Atheists like to pretend Popes are oracles giving divine revelation 24/7 in everything they say or do in order to produce an example do "papal Fallibility" but it is nor my fault they would rather make up their own straw man doctrines we don't confess rather then address our actual beliefs.

      It is one of the many reasons Gnu Atheism is clearly an intellectually inferior form of non-belief. There are more intellectually respectable forms of non belief that is not any of them.

      >One can question their beliefs for any reason, or no reason at all.

      But clearly non-rational questioning is nor credible or interesting.

      >Interesting characterization. In fact, it seems your characterization is based on your emotions.
      Also, I don’t believe this ever occurred.

      I seem to remember it differently & so does Dr. B. He and i talk.

      >Incorrect. The only person I have blocked on Strange Notions is Jim the Scott.

      You do realize I am Jim right? Yer boyz whom you upvote over their have repeated it often enough.

      Anyway perhaps it was another who blocked Mike? Its not like you lot can be distinguished in yer arguments. It is all the same boring positivism and demands for quantitative data to answer qualitative questions.

      So limited.

      >But religions that rely on the same flawed epistemology are the same (in that way).

      This statement is trivially true and begs the question. Which religion? Since yer an Atheist they are all wrong. Ergo I still wonder why you care so much about Rod's choice between two "wrongs"?

      If yer gonna question the "epistemology" how is it Eastern Orthodoxy has a superior "epistemology" to justify Rod's move?

      >Atheism is simply not believing in a deity. There are no versions. If you add anything to that definition, that is atheism plus something else.

      That is laughable. Negative Atheism is "lack of god belief". Positive Atheism is "I believe there is no god". There is reductionist and non-reductionist materialist views. Various types of Agnosticism. Metaphysical naturalism, classic Atheist (i.e. I deny yer god not mine) etc...

      To deny different versions exist is like saying there is only one type of Theism believed in the world by people. Which doesn't pass the laugh test.

      >There are no versions.

      Yer entitled too yer own opinions but not yer own facts. The fact scream against you.

      >If you add anything to that definition, that is atheism plus something else.

      There is no such thing as "atheism" unqualified. The word literally mean "no theism" or "without god" which is ambiguous and tells us nothing.

      Even the dictionary definition calls it disbelief or lack of belief. So you can be an Atheist like Harlen Elison who said "I do not believe there is a God because I am no weak minded Agnostic who says maybe." or you can advocate the negative definition of "lacking" belief.

      Claim the definition is unqualified is as silly as if I tried to claim I am a "Theist" without qualification. Do I believe in Ground of All Being or a Magic man in the Sky? Because these two concepts are not alike but can equivocally be called types of theism.

      Cheers.

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    10. PS I note some errors in thinking in yer response to Tony. I will mercifully leave him to answer you.

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    11. Son of Ya'Kov

      "You do realize I am Jim right?"

      Then I have nothing to say to you. Good-bye.

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    12. @Tony

      GHF just informed one of the posters above she is an ex-Mormon turned Atheist. So due note her understanding of religion is based on subjective illuminism "the burning in the bosom".

      Just thought I would inform you. Carry on.

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    13. Yuck. George talking about himself again.
      May 31, 2021 at 11:39 AM

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  20. I don't think this does justice to Dreher's position. The fact is that he can make a reasoned case for leaving the Catholic Church, and he refers to this case in his account of leaving the Church. The case is that the Roman Catholic Church is so corrupt and unfaithful to the central teachings of Christ that it is incredible to believe that this Church is the one true Church of Christ. He could challenge you to come up with a single bishop of the Roman Catholic Church who says that that Church and the one Church of Christ are one and the same thing; and when you cannot produce such a bishop, and he can give evidence of every Roman Catholic bishop that one can identify denying that the Roman Catholic Church is the one Church of Christ, proceed to ask you why he should believe this when all the Roman Catholic bishops deny it. I'm not saying that he is right. I am a Roman Catholic and I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ. But you have to accept that he has a reasoned case that needs to be answered. You cannot say that his leaving the Church because he found the corruption in it unbearable is just an irrational reaction.

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    1. In 33 AD there were 12 Catholic bishops: one of them conspired to destroy Jesus; one of them denied Jesus to a mere maid because he was a coward; 9 of them ran away because they were cowards; and the last one was so young no one even bothered with him.

      You're right! Bishops without backbones is an ongoing problem! Doesn't the Church have a competent PR person for crying out loud?

      The Catholic Church: in deep trouble since 33 AD.

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    2. John,

      Where does Dreher say any of that? Specifically, where does he say it in his recent posts on Skojec, which is what I’m responding to?

      It seems to me that you are constructing an argument that you happen to think would be the strongest argument a skeptic might give against the claims of the Church. But Dreher himself not only does not give such an argument, but explicitly emphasizes that his leaving the Church “was not the result of logical deliberation.” He also, in these recent posts of his, explicitly eschews any interest in doing Orthodox apologetics. Ergo, he was clearly not making the kind of inference you describe. In particular, Dreher made no complaint, as far as I can see, that Catholic bishops are failing to teach the doctrine that the Roman Catholic Church is identical to the one true Church (nor does suggest that their failure to do so falsifies Catholicism). You may happen to be concerned with that issue, but that isn’t something Dreher talks about. His emphasis is instead on the bishops’ failure to respond appropriately to the abuse crisis, and how angry and alienated this made him feel. And he’s suggesting to people (like Skojec) who are having a similar emotional crisis that they should consider leaving the Church for that reason.

      Accordingly, it totally misses the point of these recent posts of mine to suggest ways that Dreher or some other Eastern Orthodox Christian might try to develop an apologetic case. Dreher himself explicitly declines to make such a case. He is instead appealing to the emotions of vulnerable people like Skojec, and so what I am addressing is that tactic. The topic of Catholic/Orthodox debates in apologetics is, of course, important, but it isn’t what Dreher is doing and so it’s not what I’m responding to. I am instead urging Catholics like Skojec not to fall into the trap of letting their understandable anger and alienation do their thinking for them. And I am sure you would agree that anger and alienation are not conducive to making good judgments about pretty much anything, let alone something as momentous as whether to remain in the Church.

      Delete
    3. Dreher has every right to eschew Roman Catholicism for the disgusting and deliberative action it took to bury the child sexual predation by the clergy. Dreher has every right to inform others to leave the CHURCH for the attitude and behaviour towards protecting not the children but the priests that perpetrated such heinous crimes against the innocent young. The Popes and the Vatican attempted to hide the truth, secreted pedophile priests out of the reach of the law and gave them sanctuary in the Vatican. These are not the acts of a decent, ethical, moral and good corporate citizen. These are the actions of a diseased organisation that must be called to account in the International Criminal Court of Justice. These are the actions of an evil organisation.

      Dreher took this action to leave the CHURCH, as tearingly emotional as he says, because the CHURCH left him no other option. They had purposefully and deliberatively took steps to stymy good decent honest folks the right to see justice done. It was only clear after, that the CHURCH was not going to go down the road of justice, while all good judgement had been dashed on the floor, that Dreher acted as he did. There was only the emotional response left to take. And that response, together with the utter despair he experienced along with the anger and alienation, is precisely the CORRECT and BEST judgement a man of integrity could make.

      The evil enablers in the CHURCH in protecting their own is an international travesty, a travesty that must not be forgotten.

      There is no intellectual or philosophical entreaty that can justify the crimes against the innocent as the CHURCH continues to actively pursue.

      "The Catholic Church is the only organisation on record to dispense money from a slush fund set up solely for the paying off of abused children's families. So always remember you cannot judge a man by his collar." (Harvey Fierstein, renowned American playwright and actor) And as I understand it, a Catholic.

      The CHURCH has done irreparable global damage to the fabric of society. It must pay for its transgressions. I applaud Dreher for his decent and honourable stance against this behemoth.

      Delete
    4. Thanks for the assist to Prof Feser Linton.

      Yer post is entirely an emotional argument void of any reason & you went out of yer way to avoid Dr. Feser's specific arguments(a per usual). But at least yer nor like yer friend WCB who thinks Rats can "reason" and be "moral".
      (Yeh good luck selling that over at Cross-examined). Geez if no gods exists Gnu Atheism is for fecking morons and boobs(& I am nor talking aboot the fun kind).

      Also yer an Atheist so as far as yer concerned the Eastern Orthodox still teaches Christian woo. Like the resurrection and the divine inspiration of Holy Writ and the sinfulness of sexual immorality & the wrongness of gayness.etc etc

      So if you where consistent why would you care about Dreher or Skojec choosing to follow another form of woo that is all but 99.9% identical(including funny hats)? Well? Why?

      The answer is you don't care, you just like to shit posting ya silly Kangaroo & indulging yer little fantasy religion is gonna die out. It it nor happening mate.

      >The Popes and the Vatican attempted to hide the truth, secreted pedophile priests out of the reach of the law and gave them sanctuary in the Vatican.

      That is pretty bad but political Atheism has murdered more than 20 million people (& I am being conservative) vs about 3 to 5 thousand people executed during the Spanish Inquisition. Just saying....

      Of course Feser's argument doesn't presume the innocent of any clergy or the individuals running the Church today. Indeed it can presuppose all yer charges as they stand.

      It still wouldn't matter.

      >These are not the acts of a decent, ethical, moral and good corporate citizen.

      No they are the acts of assholes within the Corporate Person of the Church. The Church Herself has the Holy Spirit moving Her and cannot does not will any of this villainy.

      Dr. Feser explained it over and over and like with yer lolbrow Gnu buddies you ignore the argument and repeat yer sad nonsense that has already been answered over and over and over and over.

      >Dreher has every right to eschew Roman Catholicism for the disgusting and deliberative action it took to bury the child sexual predation by the clergy.

      No he doesn't because error has no rights. The only correct reason to abandon the Church is if She is not the True Christian Church. That is the only reason. You never make that case not once since I knew you. You just keep repeating these nebulous argument ad populum nonsense you always do. It has been old for decades.

      >Dreher has every right to inform others to leave the CHURCH for the attitude and behaviour towards protecting not the children ...

      Linton yer not prolife you support murdering children in the womb. Yer in no position to advocate protecting them.

      Atheist prolifers despise abortion because they deny there is an afterlife so this life is all you get. Thus abortion is a horror to them because when you murder a child in the womb you deny then their one and only shot at existence and a life to try to live well. You deny that to them forever.

      So spare me ya silly Dingo. You dina give a shite about the children.

      Geez man here is a quid. Go buy an original argument for once.

      PS I love going the full Scottish!

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    5. Human, all too human, and often at the worst end of that spectrum too. That is the Catholic Church, and it is quite plain to see for anyone not lost to dogma and irretrevably blinded by loyalty to the RC belief system.

      It is more than plausible that an omnipotent deity would not allow his one true church to fall into such a state of kiddie fingering decadance , something that inevitably encourages her rejection on a massive scale. And to retreat as you all do to a position of 'it's always individual people not the church itself as she is the bride of Christ' and ' the Church only claims to have authority when making unfalsifiable claims about faith and morals' is pathetic.

      The one true church, inspired and guided by God himself? Give me a break!

      Delete
    6. Yako 9.33AM

      Another rambling, abusive post from site chimp Wacko Yako, in which he even manages to drag in and misrepresent WCB again who he has been conducting a campaign of hatred against recently. You really cannot let that go can you, you odious little turd? Once again the flames of hell beckon. Then, to cap it all off, you exclaim that you love 'going the full Scottish', so perpetuating national stereotypes and ridiculing your fellow countrymen in the process.

      Hopefully Papilinton will reply to your various inanities. I will let him do so as your oh so loving Christian invective was directed against him.


      Delete
    7. Papalinton,

      So your argument is, essentially, that because some people in the Church did some bad things, Catholicism isn't real? How is that a good argument?

      Delete
    8. TN wrote: "In 33 AD there were 12 Catholic bishops: one of them conspired to destroy Jesus; one of them denied Jesus to a mere maid because he was a coward; 9 of them ran away because they were cowards; and the last one was so young no one even bothered with him."

      Correction. The Church came forth from Christ's side on the cross, as Eve was brought forth from Adam's side when he was sleeping.

      There were NO bishops prior to that, only bishops-elect, or intended bishops, or whatever term you want to use to describe a situation that was inchoate, not complete.

      Christ promised the primacy to St. Peter prior to this, but He bestowed the papacy on St. Peter after the Resurrection. So, the pope didn't deny Christ, despite (SURPRISE!) Internet theology.

      You shouldn't be interpreting this yourself anyway, but if you insist, it would help if you got the basic facts anchored down before you started adding your exegesis.

      Delete
    9. Miguel CervantesMay 31, 2021 at 2:43 AM

      John, some of the comments here show up the glaring and urgent deficiencies of the romanticist conservative ideology and its nature which is has much incompatibility with Christian belief.

      By "reasoned case", do you mean a rational case, or do you mean a case with reasons that are simply false premises but go through the motions - like 2+2=5?

      As Dr. Feser points out, nobody can make a reasoned case for leaving the Church of Christ.
      As to your question of whether there is one bishop in the world who says the Catholic Church is the One, True Church, the answer of course is, plenty! Not only the SSPX bishops and other traditionalists like Schneider etc. I know of several Novus Ordo bishops in Spanish- speaking countries who have no qualms about saying it. Remember only 4% of Catholics worldwide are "Anglo" in culture, and a great deal of the problem being discussed here concerns the Church in these areas, and the kind of traditionalism that often arises in reaction. Some of the "trad" leaders in the US are frankly nasty pieces of work, and I believe they are on their way out, along with Vigano. One may like or dislike traditional Catholics, but if you want to discuss them accurately, it's better to refer to the example (far from unique) of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X.

      Delete
    10. @Son of Yakov:

      You seem to have your own particular troll who stalks you obsessively and rails against every single comment you make. If one cannot wield the weapons of logic and argumentation one has to settle for the next best thing in the unending war for power: disguise your identity and lay hand to verbal terrorism. Son of Yakov, take courage: with such enemies, surely you must doing something right.

      Delete
    11. Grodrigues 3.07AM

      ROFL What absurd hyperbole! The master abuser, slighter and distorter of truth ( also known as going 'full Scottish ), and the breaker and humiliator of men - Ben Yakiv - is being verbally terrorised!

      What you been on man? Must be good shite - can I have some?

      ROFL LOL x 1000

      Delete
    12. "the breaker and humiliator of men - Ben Yakiv - is being verbally terrorised!"

      It is perfectly understandable that you would take it that way, but "verbal terrorist" is actually a, the only in fact, compliment in my comment.

      Regardless, what is indeed completely absurd is feigning shock at "verbal terrorism" and describing it as "absurd hyperbole". But that is your schtick, I suppose.

      Delete
    13. Aquinian,

      Ever feel like technical precision sometimes misses the point?

      Delete
    14. Grodrigues

      ROFL abd piss myself too!

      Awe we lamb.

      Delete
    15. "ROFL abd piss myself too!

      Awe we lamb."

      Your eloquent wit and written mastery of the English language never ceases to amaze this non-native speaker. You are indeed someone I can learn from. Woof woof.

      Delete
    16. grodrigues

      Honestly, I wish Feser would police this combox a lot more strictly than he does, or move to a site where it's easier for him to do this. I know he has a rather lax policy when it comes to this, but anyone who takes a look can see that it keeps getting cluttered up with stupid shit. Feser tells everyone to ignore the trolls, but come on. That just isn't going to happen...

      Delete
    17. Grodrigues

      I think that Dr Yogami just asked why the fuck you keep feeding trolls, despite Fesers clear instructions to desist from this. Ditto for your buddy Yakov and his obsession with WCB and Papilinton too. Care to respond?

      As to my eloquent wit, it is nothing compared to your insufferable pomposity. By the way, I see that your caprine predilictions have now diversified to encompass our canine friends too.

      'Awe wee lamb' is not Enlish my one dimensional mathematical Vulcan friend, but Scottish, as is 'Och aye the noo Jimmy'. Tut tut, get your facts straight.

      Delete
    18. grodrigues

      That I have a troll in whose head I live rent free pleases me. It means I effectively own his arse.

      Might I now take this time to say you sir are a legend! God bless ya man.

      DrYogami yer posts have been most interesting and I send my felicitations.

      I say Feser should get a undergrad with access to the blog to remove and ban idiots so he can concentrate on the greater work of being a philosopher.

      Cheers sir.

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    19. Ya'kov

      You have no claim upon my arse good sir, despite your probably frequent naval backdoor shenanigans. And I say that as someone who has no problem at all in principle with such shenanigans, as long as they do not involve MY arse. So divert your bicuriosity elsewhere if you please!

      You really do not have much self awareness and self knowledge at all do you Yakov? It escapes you that you are a major part of the problem on these threads with your insults, abuse, mischaracterisation, obsessions and attempts to humiliate and belittle people. I agree that it would be useful to have an independent moderator on here, but if we had one and a reasonable protocol was enforced, much of your stuff would not get through. My overwhelming impression is that you are completely oblivious to this.

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    20. The Awesome MuslimMay 31, 2021 at 12:09 PM

      @Papalinton

      The secular world and even Islam has done the same amount of harm to. What should happen to them?

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    21. @Unknown:

      "I think that Dr Yogami just asked why the fuck you keep feeding trolls, despite Fesers clear instructions to desist from this."

      You can always put a complaint to the manager.

      "As to my eloquent wit, it is nothing compared to your insufferable pomposity."

      Save your flattery for someone who cares.

      "'Awe wee lamb' is not Enlish"

      Neither is "Awe we lamb", what you wrote, or the "Aww wee lamb" which is what you wished you wrote if you only knew how to write.

      Delete
    22. You are an Awesome Muslim sir. May God stand between you and harm in all the empty places you must walk and Blessing upon you sir.

      Delete
    23. TN: "Aquinian,

      Ever feel like technical precision sometimes misses the point?"

      No, I don't.

      In this case the issue is whether the Church - as the divinely instituted teacher of mankind - has any point in existing. Skojec is following countless millions in being scandalised by heretics claiming to represent the Church, and your answer was, essentially, hey, the bishops and the pope started off by denying Christ and running away, no problem!

      Well, that isn't true, it is not factual, it is wrong. This is not a question of precision, it's a question of accuracy. But yes, precision in theology is as necessary as accuracy.

      The Church is the mystical body of Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, acts as the soul of the mystical body, and her mission as teacher is to bring SECURELY, and COMPLETELY, the revelation of Christ to every new generation of men. She is immune from error. Please don't wave this away with a political style "oh, that's ultramontane exaggeration" or similar. It's just bog standard Roman theology. It is to be contrasted with the typical Internet theology which maintains that the truth CAN BE FOUND in the Church, but you have to look for it, because ERROR IS ALSO FOUND IN THE CHURCH.

      I know that actually believing the pope is also now considered ultramontane exaggeration, but in case anyone cares, here's Pius XI, Quas Primas:

      "If our Redeemer plainly said that His Gospel was to continue not only during the times of the Apostles, but also till future ages, is it possible that the object of faith should in the process of time become so obscure and uncertain, that it would be necessary to-day to tolerate opinions which are even incompatible one with another? If this were true, we should have to confess that the coming of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and the perpetual indwelling of the same Spirit in the Church, and the very preaching of Jesus Christ, have several centuries ago, lost all their efficacy and use, to affirm which would be blasphemy. But the Only-begotten Son of God, when He commanded His representatives to teach all nations, obliged all men to give credence to whatever was made known to them by "witnesses preordained by God,"[16] and also confirmed His command with this sanction: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned."[17] These two commands of Christ, which must be fulfilled, the one, namely, to teach, and the other to believe, cannot even be understood, unless the Church proposes a complete and easily understood teaching, and is immune when it thus teaches from all danger of erring. In this matter, those also turn aside from the right path, who think that the deposit of truth such laborious trouble, and with such lengthy study and discussion, that a man's life would hardly suffice to find and take possession of it; as if the most merciful God had spoken through the prophets and His Only-begotten Son merely in order that a few, and those stricken in years, should learn what He had revealed through them, and not that He might inculcate a doctrine of faith and morals, by which man should be guided through the whole course of his moral life."

      The problem is real, and we won't help Skojec or anyone else by inventing a new theology that allows for the Church to teach error, as long as she doesn't do it for too long. We could, instead, just call the purveyors of heresy, heretics, and avoid them, just like men did in the Patristic era, when liberalism had not yet been thought of.

      Over to you.

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    24. Aquinian,

      Wow. I pointed out that the Church has always had problems and that our time is not unique and somehow that turned into a tome about ultramontanism and I don't even know what all.

      Chillax. I guess it's something to do with philosophy blogs that makes people think they have to multiply books over the slightest thing. First year undergrad?

      Delete
    25. @DrYogami:

      "Feser tells everyone to ignore the trolls, but come on. That just isn't going to happen..."

      I suppose you mean this as a (gentle) rebuke. My own opinion on the matter is that we are waging war; it is not a war of our own choosing, but a war nonetheless. And since it is a war, there is no good solution to it that does not involve violence (for the idiots out there: metaphorically speaking). To lay down arms unilaterally is to invite aggression, since charity and magnanimity will be exploited instead of reciprocated. To pick up arms is to escalate war, making the the combox life unbearable. What is the best solution? I wish I knew and I am afraid there isn't one.

      Delete
  21. Hi, count me, TAD from NYC, among those who left Roman Catholicism for Holy Orthodoxy motivated solely by rational arguments. I was a begrudging convert, and I gave a good amount up (I even had a foot in the Catholic-intellectual space).

    I gained everything. My intellectual life is thriving now and my spiritual life is absolutely, far and away, the best it's ever been. Please, everyone, come to the Church that Christ founded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous 9.26PM

      I'm sure that it is quite complex, but could you briefly outline the reasons you left Roman Catholicism please?

      Delete
    2. Oh, I really didn't expect any engagement with this. I appreciate the way this question was posed.

      It started with my slow recognition of what I can only describe as the intellectual miasma I was surrounded in. My discomfort rose to a boiling point, and I admitted to myself that it was time to either justify or defeat my own view on the church. I chose the Papacy and ADS as my jumping-off points.

      Papal infallibility is a doctrine that takes a lot of motivated reasoning to accept wholeheartedly. I came away at once disillusioned and disappointed in myself for buying the abridged history taught to me by Catholics. I knew that the bounds of infallibility were a major internal sticking point among theologians/scholars, but I was all too happy to write that off as an administrative question, something for others to sort out. I knew that early evidence for such a view of the Papacy was scant, but hey! Recent evidence was strong: the Pope had dogmatized it! And so on, and so forth. I wasn't trained as a historian in my formative years, but I came away one.

      Absolute Divine Simplicity, however, is the most significant Achilles heel of Roman Catholicism. I am a philosopher, and regrettably, I was on the wrong side of this issue for most of my career. The problems are out there, and every one of my peers with a similar background have confided in me their difficulties. This doesn't mean it's an obviously flawed position (nothing like, say, the indulgence system or the allowance of doctrinal diversity a la uniates and nestorianists and V2 and so on), nor does it mean that people who hold onto this view are necessarily cynical or stupid. However, ADS leads to very ugly conclusions, and God does not show himself only to the best philosophers. We know truth by its fruits, and the average man can discern Christ's church. To think that I closed my eyes to the former fact, and that I blindly denied the latter... pray for me, a sinner.

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    3. Anonymous at 10.33PM from Anonymous at 9.39PM

      Thanks for that.

      It seems logical to me that if the Christian story were true, then God would wish to establish a church with the authority to adjudicate and define over matters of faith, morals and exegesis. Yet the scriptural basis for this is very weak ( certainly as regards any detail about the kind of authority wielded ),even though God would have foreseen the division and acrimony this would cause. That is just one of a huge number of things which together make the Christian story very implausible to me.

      Thanks for your reply , and cudos to you for your intellectual honesty and courage in following your convictions and leaving the Roman Church

      Delete
    4. Anonymous TAD from the other Anonymous again

      Kudos, not cudos.

      You make an intetesting assertion in your original post when you invite people to 'come to the church that Christ founded'. I am very ignorant about Church history, but one of the things that Catholics tell you is that their church goes right back to the beginning, that is to Jesus and the Apostles. Are you saying that this is not so, and that there was some kind of early schism? Please forgive my ignorance here.

      Delete
    5. Hi Anonymous,

      A lot of things seem logical to me, but my track record isn't so great! Somehow, at one point, I got paid for it all. Though, not by much.

      I generally dislike aphorisms, and especially the dumb segues, so I apologize. But the point I make is important: our minds are either under spiritual siege, bound by imperfect hardware, or both. Personally, I think both are true. A lot can change in our read of the world, and I'm sure you don't need me to appeal to more examples to illustrate this. All this to say that while I see the points you make, I hope you keep your mind open and I hope you dedicate an inordinate amount of time to the Eastern approach-- so much time that the people around you get concerned, etc., etc. It doesn't cost me extra to dream big, so I'll go for it.

      Briefly, God did establish a church that is vested with the powers expressed in that very Latin language. Our uniformity on matters of doctrine is profoundly greater than that of the Roman Catholic church. We don't have to brush the differences between Palamism, Scotism, Thomism, pre-V1, post-V1, post-V2, apparitionist, African syncretist, South American syncretist, NO, TLM, liberation theology, Melkite, Chaldean, Greek Uniate, progressive Theology, FSSP, SSPX, et al. under the rug. All of our core theology is consistent, as it has been for 2000 years. This is a truth I never thought would be possible to accept, but the evidence is public and decisive.

      We work as the early church did in determining truth from falsehood. God has given us so many gifts, such as the rich ascetic tradition that in a sense answers your question directly, in that the body of the faithful become God through theosis and in turn produce absolutely miraculous unity, though of course it is a signal derived from a system with variance.

      Division and acrimony is life, but our divisions within the church are brotherly. The worst of our divisions within the church have always been fixed, and the humility of those who were at odds with one another produce some of the best stories I've ever heard. If you are motivated by narrative, study the Orthodox church. You judge Christianity by very Western language, and I can't blame you for that. I'm confident, because we pass all Western tests. The presuppositions need to be sorted out, though.

      As it stands, I am a Christian because of revelation, but I am a happy Christian because of the metaphysical defense of the Eastern conception of the Triune God. Reading great minds in the same vein as Feser himself was formative to my faith in a theistic system, but if it's not working with you, try my recommendations and give it a few weeks. Please, keep going in your efforts towards Eastern Orthodoxy until you either get furious at me for wasting your time, or you meet me in Heaven, of course, according to His will. I still need a lot of time on Earth to heal.

      Can I have your name? Either way, I'll keep you in prayers for a good long time.

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    6. An addendum to my post made just now, in response to, well, I think the same person:

      The Eastern Orthodox church, according to its adherents, is *the* Church of Christ, led and founded by Christ. Importantly, we claim apostolic succession and perfect maintenance of the faith of the Apostles and the early Christians. Heretical groups have left and been excommunicated. In our view, this includes so-called Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholics, among others. They get classier names than Arians and Apollinarians, but are in the same boat.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous (whichever Anonymous this applies too),

      Thanks for the posts. I don’t have an opportunity to interact with Orthodox people often, so I appreciate it!

      You said that Orthodox unity is more “profound” than that of Roman Catholicism. You then list an eclectic mix of groups that represent differing theological views, some of which are flatly condemned by the Catholic magisterium (liberation theology, for example) and others which the RC magisterium says are either legitimate expressions of the one faith (FSSP for example) or differing but legitimate views (Thomism vs Molinism for example). You say that the RC church brushes these differences “under the rug”.

      You then go on to say “Division and acrimony is life” and that there are heresies that need to be condemned, but “our [Orthodox] divisions within the church are brotherly”, you say.

      How is this not special pleading? When disagreement happens in the RC church it’s because of the defective nature of the RC church, but when disagreement happens in Orthodoxy, it’s because the disagreeable party is not really Orthodox. How do you know?

      Special pleading?

      When was the last Orthodox ecumenical council and what issue did it decide?


      Delete
    8. Syncretism and liberation nonsense are examples of doctrines that are not officially licit but tacitly accepted by hundreds, if not a thousand bishops, especially in certain areas of the world. Nestorianism and uniatism are clearer examples of internal doctrinal contradiction. For a faith that styles itself as intellectual and rational, it allows a massively big tent. Many people looking in from the outside would question the motives of keeping communion so fast and loose. Even the famously ecumenical Oriental churches have higher standards!

      As for Eastern Orthodox internal disagreements, they are on lesser issues than theology: church structure, emphasis on fasting, etc. The true church would never venerate "Mar" Nestorius. As such, the answer to your question is that disagreement is accepted to a much lesser extent in Orthodoxy, and we do not encompass a dozen different contradictory "truths" while simultaneously selling it to converts as one truth.

      Also, "the disagreeable party is not really Orthodox, " while a bit of a polemical characterization, is nevertheless basically true, and we know who is on the right side due to the reception of the church, guidance of the Saints, patristic consensus, etc. Heresy has thus far been clearly stamped as heresy, and since we trust in the Holy Spirit, we trust that in time things are made clear. Usually it's painfully obvious the political or personal motives behind heresy. Never is it a virtuous, scholarly disagreement about a fact or principle. As such, there is no special pleading. If we bent over backwards half as far as the Roman Churches, or three quarters as far as the Oriental churches, there would be mass exodus from the church. Our faithful see it for what it is. Hope that answers your question! Still, you should visit a canonical Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy and ask to talk to the priest! We do not look to academics to answer our questions, we look to spiritual fathers and those who have achieved theosis. God bless you!

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    9. “Syncretism and liberation nonsense are examples of doctrines that are not officially licit but tacitly accepted”

      So what we need to do to discover the true church is not look at the official doctrine, but rather we need to make a prudential call on what we think “hundreds, if not a thousand bishops,” might think. Is that what you’re saying?

      “Eastern Orthodox internal disagreements, they are on lesser issues than theology”

      Wow, great! So there has never been any schisms in the history of Eastern Orthodoxy because the Orthodox only fight over unimportant things, not the big stuff. Is that right? What major theological issue has Orthodoxy solved since splitting with Rome? When was the last Orthodox ecumenical council and what issue did it resolve?

      “we know who is on the right side due to the reception of the church”.

      So if one Patriarch excommunicates another, which one is “the church” that shows us who is on “the right side”? How do you know which one achieved Theosis and so has it right? (a purely academic question if, as you seem to say, there has never been any Orthodox schisms because they only disagree on unimportant stuff)

      “Heresy has thus far been clearly stamped as heresy, and since we trust in the Holy Spirit, . . . things are made clear.”

      So suppose some Orthodox bishops in the past said that contraception is immoral, and some Orthodox bishops today said the opposite. Would it be the case that a doctrine like that could flip 180 degrees and that would make it “clearer”? Or would that be an “unimportant” thing that isn’t worth quibbling over? How do you know?






      Delete
    10. Nestorianism and uniatism are clearer examples of internal doctrinal contradiction.

      The Catholic Church condemns Nestorianism as a heresy. As for the Eastern Catholic Churches, I'm afraid you'll have to explain to me how having their own forms of worship and codes of canon law amounts to a doctrinal contradiction, much less a clear example thereof.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    11. Mr. X,

      I'm not understanding what you mean.

      Delete
    12. Hi TN,

      I made it clear earlier that everyone should visit a Divine Liturgy and ask to speak with a priest there. He will do a better job with your questions than I ever could-- no worldview stands or falls with my personal opinions. I myself was once a self-righteous "philosopher," but one audience with an Orthodox priest changed my life. Do not use me as a punching bag, or as a strawman to burn. I am literally a Catholic academic, with only a few years of true spiritual formation to my name. And I walk slowly!

      Out of respect for you, I'll do my best to quickly outline some answers. (Also, to address Mr. X's comments: Sorry, I don't have time to explain that to you. Please visit an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy!)

      "So what we need to do to discover the true church is not look at the official doctrine..."

      I don't really appreciate the tactic of putting ridiculous words into my mouth, but the fact that you asked if they were truly my words redeems it all (somewhat). No, that's not what I was saying! Looking at those hundreds, if not a thousand bishops is certainly not outside the realm of valid evidence in this argument, though.

      All we need to do to discover the true Church is receive God's grace. Praying, reading the Bible, and ideally studying some history would be great as well. We need to do much less than disprove the Roman Catholic church, obviously.

      "Wow, great! So..."

      Ooh, snarky. If you inject all of your presuppositions, you won't get anywhere in learning.

      We have had no major internal schisms, but splinter groups such as Roman Catholics, Pneumatomachians, etc. have gone their own way. Orthodox Christianity does not see synods in the same way as the Roman Catholic church does, but the most recent ecumenical council was 1341-51, if I recall.

      "So if one Patriarch excommunicates another..."

      Well, in the case of the schism of 1054, the one who stood alone and departed from the received teachings of Christ was in the wrong, and so the other side was in the right. It's not a matter of quantifying, measuring, and comparing levels of theosis-- I don't know where you got that idea from (just kidding, of course I do).

      "So suppose some Orthodox bishops..."

      Well, this is misrepresenting this issue, and injecting your own presuppositions, strike three on both counts. Eastern Fathers have had various views throughout the history of the Church, and this disagreement remains today. This is not a dogmatic issue, and in fact there has actually been a consistent position throughout the history of the Church (Thanks be to God): talk to your Spiritual Father.

      Forgive me if I refrain from replying further. I don't want to read too much into the tone of your responses, but please, talk to an Eastern Orthodox Priest about this in the future-- it's easier to communicate respectfully in person, especially with someone who exudes Christian sensibility. And don't poke the "internal disagreement" bear! Not a winning fight; defend ADS and the Papacy. God bless, and again, please visit an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy.


      Delete
    13. @ TN:

      I'm not understanding what you mean.

      That Anonymous' examples of "clear internal doctrinal contradiction" aren't.

      @ Anonymous:

      (Also, to address Mr. X's comments: Sorry, I don't have time to explain that to you. Please visit an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy!)

      It's rather disingenuous to accuse others of heresy and then plead business when asked to back up your accusations.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    14. Addendum--

      We have had no major internal schisms, but splinter groups such as Roman Catholics, Pneumatomachians, etc. have gone their own way.

      I believe that the Russian Orthodox Church still isn't in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, correct? Sounds suspiciously like a schism to me. In fact, I'd say it might even qualify as a major schism, given that Russia and Constantinople are arguably the two most important Eastern Orthodox Churches in the world at this time.

      The Eastern Orthodox church, according to its adherents, is *the* Church of Christ, led and founded by Christ.

      And is *the* Church of Christ in communion with Moscow or Constantinople at the moment?

      -- The original Mr. X

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    15. Anonymous,

      I’m out of time now, so will have to continue later. But here are a few things:

      You wrote: “I made it clear earlier that everyone should visit a Divine Liturgy” . . . “one audience with an Orthodox priest changed my life”

      Change “Divine Liturgy” to “Mormon Stake”, “Orthodox priest” to “Mormon Elder” and you’ve go the argument all the Mormons tell me. Should I believe the Mormons on the basis of their feelings?

      Look, you said you are an “academic” and that your conversion was “based in reason”, I’m asking for reasons, not feelings. I’m sorry if that makes you feel like a “punching bag” but you are here on an academic philosophy blog, so you’ll have to deal with it. Sorry about your feelings.

      Delete
  22. You aren’t going to settle that question by having two writers do a kind of dark night of the soul dance-off

    Roll! Consider that stolen.

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    1. Scott,

      LOL! Careful what you ask for you might get a weird, woke victim Olympics tinged with theological terms.

      Delete
    2. That is too funny. I loved that line.

      Delete
  23. The Awesome MuslimMay 31, 2021 at 12:53 PM

    Re-posted from the previous thread:

    Sigh, it's the death wail of the Boomer new atheists coming here.

    It's fun to see how Millennial Muslims are wiping the floor with these Boomers atheists all over the internet.

    Example: Richard Dawkins hilarious cancellation recently.

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  24. Ed, I don’t know if you’re reading this thread any more but I want to offer an apology for suggesting that you lack love or don’t know Jesus. Those are two things that I can never presume to know and to say so crosses a line that no two brothers Christ should ever dare step over. I ask your forgiveness for that.

    After prayer and reflection I can only say that there is something different between us in our foundational worldview as Catholics. It’s absolutely important to maintain the integrity of the true Church and do whatever we can to keep our fellow disciples within the fold and in communion with Rome. Insofar as that is your aim and intention, to keep the work of reform within Roman Catholicism, I respect that aim and intention.

    At the same time I cannot deny the very real work of Christ in the lives of Christians of within other denominations. I’ve participated in too many ecumenical dialogues and gatherings to deny the Holy Spirit as living and active within certain other communities, especially our Eastern Orthodox brothers as sisters (who have not abandoned the liturgical, sacramental life). I see too often in these conservative, traditionalist circles the fear of eternal torment lurking behind everything that isn’t a narrowly defined understanding of Roman Catholicism and it absolutely infuriates me that their faith hangs so much upon a certain reading of doctrine rather than lived experience that is carefully shaped and held accountable by scripture and tradition. I know full-well the dangers and pitfalls of liberalism, but still I cannot affirm as strict a conservatism as I find within much of this comment section. I don’t want to see people like Dreher and Skojec leave the Church either, but only for the sake of Church unity and not out of a fear that their souls would be lost to perdition. That’s just not the Jesus that I have come to know, and to think otherwise seems to undermine to cosmic nature of Christ’s salvific work on the cross. I cannot settle for a lesser hope or a lesser savior at this point in my own spiritual journey (or whatever term works best for you)

    Best to leave it at that. The Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.

    Best.
    Andyroo

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    1. Many thanks, Andyroo, apology accepted -- Ed

      Delete
  25. While Dreher may not have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, I do not believe it correct to cast his reasons as "purely" emotional, because there is at least an inchoate rational argument, even if it wasn't fleshed out completely.

    1. If the Catholic Church is what it is claimed to be, while it does not guarantee against sins by individuals, it is impossible that it become so corrupted institutionally as to become an evil organization.
    2. But the Catholic Church has become that corrupted, becoming as bad or worse than La Cosa Nostra, enabling and protecting repeat perpetrators of the grave crime of child sexual abuse, which causes tremendous damage, including spiritual damage, to the victims.
    3. Therefore, the Catholic Church is not what it is claimed to be, and if it is not what it is claimed to be, I am free to leave for any reason I deem sufficient just like I am any other merely human organization.

    Skojec's argument would be much the same, except the minor premise would focus on the spiritual abuse he endured at the hands of the Legionaries of Christ.

    Again, the "these are just bad men" defense only goes so far. These are bad men doing evil things under the color of their authority and are not prevented or punished by those with authority over them; nay more, they are often rewarded with plush and even plusher ecclesiastical positions!






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    1. While Dreher may not have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, I do not believe it correct to cast his reasons as "purely" emotional, because there is at least an inchoate rational argument, even if it wasn't fleshed out completely.

      But Dreher doesn't make such an argument, though. Instead, he talks about burnt-out he felt as a Catholic, and how much happier he felt as an Orthodox. The fact that someone could use his reasoning as the basis for a rational argument doesn't change the fact that his actual reasoning was emotionally-driven.

      2. But the Catholic Church has become that corrupted, becoming as bad or worse than La Cosa Nostra, enabling and protecting repeat perpetrators of the grave crime of child sexual abuse, which causes tremendous damage, including spiritual damage, to the victims.

      Again, Dreher doesn't seem to have subjected this claim to much rational scrutiny -- e.g., by considering whether a journalist who spends all his time covering abuse claims has a sufficiently broad knowledge of Catholic activities to make sweeping judgements like "as bad or worse than La Cosa Nostra", or whether the condition of the US Church is representative of that in the world as a whole, etc. Instead, he spent all his time covering the abuse scandal, got unhealthily involved in the topic (he's said on at least one occasion that he felt as if he was personally responsible for bringing each and every abuser to justice), and unsurprisingly got burnt-out as a result.

      And of course, since he didn't just conclude that Catholicism was false, but that Orthodoxy was true, he'd also have to subject Orthodoxy to the same level of scrutiny before concluding that it was less evil than the Catholic Church. But Dreher has said on multiple occasions that he deliberately doesn't do this, precisely because he fears getting burnt out in the same way as he did when he was a Catholic. I think we can take this as a tacit admission that the Orthodox Communion doesn't have less corruption than the Catholic Church, and that, if we consider the Catholic Church too corrupt to count as the true Church of Christ, we'd have to hold the same about the Orthodox Church as well.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    2. Miguel CervantesJune 1, 2021 at 4:40 AM

      There's a need to be more precise: not "the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church in the US, Ireland, Australia. If Dreher had such transcendental problems with the Catholic Church as he knew it in the US, he had only to move to Mexico or the Philippines.

      Delete
  26. Interesting the Gnu Atheists are talking up Rod's wee cause & defending his rebellion against the Holy Church? It is nor a good look when the godless agree with yer "Christian" view and that view is mingin'.

    Just saying....

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    1. We are concerned about the mental health of vulnerable individuals still in the theatre of their abuse and the trauma that perpetuates you odious scumbag.

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    2. Miguel CervantesJune 1, 2021 at 4:36 AM

      How true is that. It's even worse. Some of these ex (and non ex) Catholics with such delicate consciences are making common cause with the enemies of the Church, in practice.

      Delete
  27. David did not kill Saul... a good theme for reflection on such things!

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  28. Dr. Feser, can you truly say that Catholics believe the claims of Pastor Aeternus? Given the utter paucity of any public prayer related to the Papacy (other than the traditional Orthodox understanding of Matthew 16:19 as expressed in the collect of the feast of the Chair of St. Peter), one can only look at the many and varied interpretations and justifications for Pastor Aeternus as a very unsettled issue. Further, the power of the Papacy post Vatican I is the main reason for the liturgical abuses and loss of patrimony in the Latin Rite. From all this evidence, the case could be made that Catholics don't believe in Pastor Aeternus much at all, other than as a stick to club each other when their faction is out of power.

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    1. Stephen,

      What "claims of Pastor Aeternus" do you say Catholics don't believe? What many and varied interpretations" do you see as problematic?

      Suppose someone made this claim: since Christians (including the Orthodox) are sinners, they don't truly believe the claims of their professed religion. Would that be a valid argument?

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    2. to start, "We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the Lord.It was to Simon alone.."

      But in the collect of the feastday of The Chair of St. Peter, Catholics pray nothing of the sort, nor is there much liturgically refering to what Catholics believe about the Papacy. Rather, Catholics pray "Grant, we pray, almighty God, that no tempests may disturb us, for you have set us fast on the rock of the Apostle Peter's confession of faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever."

      To this observer, there exists a great gap between what Catholics pray about the Pope (very little) and what they say they believe outside of their liturgical life (and this varies depending on many things. Pope Paul VI demanded of Arch. Lefebrve full acceptance of the Novus Ordo based on obedience to his, the Pope's, authority.)Now, if Pope Stephen's claim that "the Holy See is judged by none" is indeed both true and operative, by what right would Arch. Lefebrve, or any Catholic, have to reject a ruling of the Pope? ZERO. And that's what Paul VI demanded. By what canonical right do Catholics today have to object to anything Francis says? Oh sure, all kinds of rationalizations are made (the office is suspended, etc.), but again, by making any such rationalization, isn't the Holy See being judged by some laity?

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    3. Stephen,

      So you’re saying that if something is not stated explicitly in the liturgy, it isn’t really believed by the people in the pews. Is that right? Why would that be?

      Suppose someone made this argument: Stephen believes that everything to be believed must be stated explicitly within the liturgy. This principle itself is not stated within the Orthodox liturgy. Therefore, Stephen does not really believe it.

      Would that be a good argument?

      You wrote: “by what right would Arch. Lefebrve, or any Catholic, have to reject a ruling of the Pope [on the reform of the liturgy]?

      None. Lefebvre went into schism. I’m not sure why you think this disproves the Catholic Church.

      You do know, right, that the pope is not a perfect person. He is not always correct in every decision he makes, and Catholic teaching does not say otherwise. Infallibility only extends to rare circumstances in which a doctrine is to be definitively held, not in his day-to-day choices. Papal infallibility does not guarantee that life won’t get messy or that no one can disagree with the pope on anything. It’s not clear to me that you understand what papal infallibility is.

      Delete
    4. "So you’re saying that if something is not stated explicitly in the liturgy, it isn’t really believed by the people in the pews. Is that right?"
      Is not the Eucharistic event the fount and sumit of our life? Why would you think that everything necessary for salvation would NOT be included within the interior life of the Church, without introducing some form of gnosticism?

      Delete
    5. Stephen wrote: “by what right would Arch. Lefebrve, or any Catholic, have to reject a ruling of the Pope [on the reform of the liturgy]?

      TN replied: "None. Lefebvre went into schism. I’m not sure why you think this disproves the Catholic Church.

      "You do know, right, that the pope is not a perfect person. He is not always correct in every decision he makes, and Catholic teaching does not say otherwise. Infallibility only extends to rare circumstances in which a doctrine is to be definitively held, not in his day-to-day choices. Papal infallibility does not guarantee that life won’t get messy or that no one can disagree with the pope on anything. It’s not clear to me that you understand what papal infallibility is."

      So let's get this right. The pope's not infallible except once or twice per century, and everything else he says or does is up for debate. But somehow destroying the Roman liturgy and replacing it with a synthetic hippie liturgy confected in order to avoid offending heretics, is such an untouchable Catholic and Papal thing to do that anybody who declines to agree with it is accused of Schism, no less!

      Your theory makes the Church into a tyranny, in which the pope doesn't teach accurately but his practical decisions are sacrosact, so much so that if you disagree you're out of the Church.

      Did you ever actually think about any of this?

      Delete
    6. Stephen,

      You did a bait and switch: I said “stated explicitly in the liturgy”, but you switched to “included within the interior life of the Church”. But that was my original point: there are things “included within the interior life of the Church” that need not be “stated explicitly in the liturgy”.

      I gave an example too: so is the principle that everything must be stated in the liturgy stated in your liturgy? If not, then it must be a self-refuting principle, no?

      Papal infallibility need not be stated in the liturgy to be believed by the faithful. Your making a non-sequitur.

      Delete
    7. Aquinian,

      “Did you ever actually think about any of this?”

      Yes.

      Lefebvre went into schism by ordaining bishops against the express order of the pope not to do so.

      Whether the Roman Liturgy was “destroyed” is a question begging assertion.

      If you don’t owe assent to the Roman Pontiff on the administration of the liturgy, they why do we owe assent to the mass of 1962, which was published under the authority of the Roman Pontiff? Do we owe assent to the Roman Pontiff, or to your prudential judgements?

      In any case, the reform of the liturgy is not a matter of infallibility, but assent is owed to the magisterium in varying degrees dependent on the gravity of matter. It is not the case that the faithful only owe assent in matters that are infallibly pronounced. This is just basic Catholic theology. I can direct you to some education materials on this subject if you would like to educate yourself.

      Delete
    8. "so is the principle that everything must be stated in the liturgy?" Indeed yes. It is within the interior prayer life of the Church (defined as all things publicly prayed) that provides the greatest transparency, access, consistency and clarity about the faith once revealed by Our Lord, proclaimed by the Apostles and guarded by the Church. All else should be dependent upon what is available in public prayer, and point re-enforce it.

      Delete
  29. Though I have not read all the posts on this thread, I have read many--and I have even made a rare exception to my rule of not reading posts from anyone using "anonymous". I have yet to come across anyone making an argument against the Catholic Church that doesn't reduce to "since the Catholic Church is full of sinners--and because the Orthodox liturgy is so beautiful--the Catholic Church is not true."

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    1. Orthodox would never have let their liturgical patrimony been destroyed by our own bishops the way you Latin riters did. Stalin tried, and failed, for example. We've got our problems to be sure, they don't compare to the very steep price you are still paying for letting your ownership muscles of your liturgical patrimony atrophy by giving all ownership to the centralizing power of the modern Papacy.

      Delete
    2. Stephen,

      So is it your argument that we know the Catholic Church is not the one Church founded by Christ because the pope has made a mess of the liturgy? Is that the argument?

      Delete
    3. How do Latin riters know what to believe if your prayers are a mess, and it was your pontifex maximus who made them a mess? The rule of prayer informs and guides the rule of faith.

      Delete
    4. TN--

      Absolute Divine Simplicity is false, therefore Catholic dogma is false, therefore the Roman Catholic church is false.

      You can interpret words however you like, but this amounts to a fantasy world. This LARP will not get you very far! Devout Catholics are waking up from their dream every day.

      Delete
    5. What is Absolute Divine simplicity? Catholic and Orthodox teaching is God's essence contains no real physical or real metaphysical distinctions. That is it. Obviously that doesn't exclude the mysterious distinctions of the subsisting divine relations of the Trinity.

      Delete
    6. Hi Son of Ya'Kov:

      I am not so sure what you are asking. I don't think you are accurately expressing either the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox view-- I'd direct you, on the RC side, to the Council of Toledo 16, and if you'd like some recent treatments, check out Ed Feser's own "Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide" and Davies in "An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion." As for the Eastern Orthodox view, I would certainly recommend asking to meet an Eastern Orthodox priest at your local canonical parish. I promise you'll have a positive experience-- if I'm wrong, you can attack my name right here! Afterwards, a good beginner's introduction would be "Aristotle East and West" by Bradshaw. God bless you!

      Delete
    7. Anonymous and Yakov

      Anonymous

      Are you a sadist or something? You recommend that Yakov arranges to meet an Eastern Orthodox priest and promises that he would have a positive experience. But what about the poor priest? He bloody well wouldn't!

      Yakov

      You believe in divine simplicity, by which you understand that there are no metaphysically real distinctions within God, but also confess that 'onviously, this does not exclude the mysterious distinctions of the subsisting divine relations of the Trinity.'

      So is God simple or not? Are there distinctions within God or not? Or do you believe two incompatible things at the same time?

      Delete
    8. Miguel CervantesJune 1, 2021 at 12:28 AM

      There's no point Stephen, in having a liturgical patrimony if one has already lost the faith, like the Orthodox. They've lost the race before even getting out the gate.

      Delete
    9. What a moron you are anon.

      God's divine essence contains no real physical nor any real metaphysical distinctions.

      That means God is not a material or physical thing that can be divided into parts. So no real physical distinctions. God's divine essence contains no passive Potency that can be made Act by something already in Act. This is because God is already Pure Act. So no real metaphysical distinctions are in God.

      So no physical nor metaphysical real distinctions. But why can't God then contain mysterious real distinctions that are by definition neither physical nor metaphysical?

      Well? Get yer wee pecker oot of whatever goat yer bonking (as grodigues once justly accused you of doing in yer spare time) and turn on yer brain.

      It is really that simple and if you didn't spend yer time humping wee goats and praising morons who think Rats can reason and have morals you would understand this. It is nor hard.

      >So is God simple or not?

      God's simplicity means no real physical or metaphysical distinctions exist in the divine essence. It does not teach there are no distinctions in the divine essence at all.

      >Are there distinctions within God or not?

      There are mysterious real distinctions such as the subsisting divine relations. But those real distinctions are not physical or metaphysical.

      >Or do you believe two incompatible things at the same time?

      This from a moron who praises another Gnu Atheist nutter who claims Rats can reason and have morals. Rats? Not even higher primates wee rats? Wow you are beyond stupid. Do you need help tying yer wee shoes?

      A contradiction is to claim X and Not X at the same time and in the same sense.

      God is simple in the sense of not containing within the divine essence any real physical or metaphysical distinctions. God is OTOH distinct in a mysterious sense.
      So two different senses of X and Not X ergo no logical contradiction.

      Wow! You suck at this! But you have been praising WCB who poor ladd thinks Rats can think and have morals.

      So yeh......

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    10. Yakov

      Well, what an outburst , and to think that all I did was to make a simple philosophical inquiry, which still goes unanswered. You even manage to drag poor WCB into your answer, who you proceed to mischaracterise and abuse as usual, but then again, he is the obsessive target of your current vendetta. As your colleague Talmud said to you ' just let it go'. You will blow a gasket and find yourself in hell even sooner than I feared at this rate.

      On the philosophical point, of course there are no physical distinctions within God, as he is not meant to be physical, but there can be no distinctions at all as he is meant to be simple. Simply labelling distinctions that you believe to exist as mysterious ones does not remove the contradiction at the heart of your position, ie you believe that God is simple and composite at the same time. You are intellectually disreputable sir for all to see, and not for the first time.

      By the way, did you know that erudite Catholic deacon Mr Ghostman was me all along and that Mr Geocon isn't an integralist after all?

      Finally I have moved on from goats and am now exploring the delights of sealions. It saves on the inconvenience of having to secure four legs in heavy boots lest one is kicked.

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    11. Anonymous @ 9:17

      Question begging.

      Delete
    12. Stephen,

      Thus far I have allowed your assumption that all Catholics are bad and all Orthodox are good. But, this is not true, for one thing, and another thing is that God’s Church is not dependent on baptized Christians be good or faithful.

      Whether the “prayers” are “a mess” is not an unqualified assertion. Furthermore, at one time most Christians were Arians, so if your argument were true, it would show that “the Church” at the time of the Arian heresy was defective, yet I doubt you want to make that claim.

      The claim that the Catholic Church is disproved because it's full of sinners is a non-sequitur.

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    13. I never made nor asserted the false assumption you assigned to me. And, of course, the Church was not defective during the time of the Arian controversy, if only thanks to St. Athanasias. Nor did I try to disprove the Catholic Church. My point is that Latin-riters pray very little about the Papacy, and what they do pray is something no Orthodox would object to.

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    14. And, of course, the Church was not defective during the time of the Arian controversy, if only thanks to St. Athanasias.

      Following the same logic, then, I guess that the existence of groups like the Latin Mass Society means that the Latin Rite isn't a mess after all, in which case I suppose we can all stop arguing about the liturgy.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    15. Mr X (ooo, how mysterious), of course the Latin Mass Society is doing wonderful things, but they are doing them often in spite of and in defiance of their bishops, including the Bishop of Rome. We have wayward hierarchs too, to be sure, but we don't have the additional burden of the innovative claims in Pastor Aeternus in limiting their damage.

      Delete
    16. @Son of Ya'kov:

      "as grodigues once justly accused you of doing in yer spare time"

      For the record, it was not an accusation -- It is not a matter of interest the sexual proclivities and perversions of random internet anonymouses -- but a straightforward inference from what he himself quite joyfully shared, namely, that he liked satanic orgies and offered me his goats to cure me of my virginity. He certainly never misses an opportunity to project on me his weird perversions. I wish he would see medical counsel, as he quite obviously is a very sick dude. And I am sure he said such to shock me (he does not know me from anywhere, but if he did, he would know that it is a pretty absurd endeavour), but if it is to shock me, it must be true. After all, if he offered me his unicorns and leprechauns it would not deliver quite the same punch.

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    17. Grodrigues

      Haha, why offer you unicorns and leprechauns when you already have Roman Catholicism at your disposal, with as many undetectable disembodied intellects to chat to as you could shake a stick at, as well as walking dead people, conceiving virgins, dancing suns and much else. Harry Potter and Tolkien are staid and boring by comparison.



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    18. Anon,

      Perhaps the wee unicorns and leprechauns can party with the reasoning and moral Rats yer boi WCB thinks exists?

      Grodrigues

      The moral of the story mate is dina leave yer goats and sheep unguarded lest a wild band of Gnu Atheist arseholes come over the hill with their wee rational Rat allies and sexually assault them. One wonders if Jerry Coyne will be leading the pack or PZ Myers? I suspect WCB will be in a chest with the gimp from PULP FICTION.

      Delete
    19. Anon the moron writes:

      >of course there are no physical distinctions within God, as he is not meant to be physical, but there can be no distinctions at all as he is meant to be simple.

      That is not the Classic Christian definition of Divine Simplicity which is restricted to no physical or metaphysical real distinctions in the divine essence only.

      There is no Christian doctrine that says there are no real distinctions at all in God. If that was true then God could not be a Trinity.


      >Simply labelling distinctions that you believe to exist as mysterious ones does not remove the contradiction at the heart of your position, ie you believe that God is simple and composite at the same time.

      It clearly does by definition. Since divine simplicity is ONLY a lack of physical and metaphysical real distinctions in the divine essence. It is NOT a complete lack of all real distinctions. It never has been as that would be a contradiction.

      To bad so sad. You have sex with goats. Grod said so and he was right.

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    20. @ Stephen:

      Mr X (ooo, how mysterious), of course the Latin Mass Society is doing wonderful things, but they are doing them often in spite of and in defiance of their bishops, including the Bishop of Rome.

      Much of what Athanasius did, he did in spite of his fellow hierarchs.

      -- The original Mr. X

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  30. Stephen: "How do Latin riters know what to believe if your prayers are a mess, and it was your pontifex maximus who made them a mess? The rule of prayer informs and guides the rule of faith."

    Good question. TN can't answer it, because he agrees with your over-all position on the transmission of the true faith.

    Anonymous wrote: "we know who is on the right side due to the reception of the church, guidance of the Saints, patristic consensus, etc. Heresy has thus far been clearly stamped as heresy, and since we trust in the Holy Spirit, we trust that in time things are made clear."

    TN agrees with that, as do most people who are attempting to keep their faith in the Catholic Church right now, despite it appearing to have defected. The key idea is TIME. They accept that the Church can lead people to hell, but only for a TIME. That the good people will find the truth in the Church, and can be saved, but that this involves identifying that truth from a lengthy prior TIME SPAN. New stuff may not be reliable, so you had better dust off the books and be on your guard, and especially, know that you can't believe your pastor, you can't believe your bishop, and you can't believe your pope, UNLESS AND EXCEPT in the latter case only, he uses the magic formula, which he hardly ever does, in which case you are safe in believing him.

    None of this is Catholic doctrine, it isn't found in the pre-Vatican II books, and it was all invented after Vatican II in order to explain away the horrible crisis we are going through. But if you think it sounds just like Orthodox ecclesiology, with a once-per-century-magic-infallibility-formula tacked on, you'd be right.

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    1. Human, all too human - that is your church. When will you people wake up and realise that your entire life is centred around a delusion?

      The idea that a being of omnipotence would allow its church to degenerate into such disarray and to wield such a dirtied and disfigured banner is clearly highly implausible, and can only be maintained through the introduction of equally implausible ad hoc hypotheses.

      How fascinating and entertaining to be a bystander in the latest installment of the human soap opera that is Catholicism.

      Delete
    2. You believe Rats can reason and have morals. What do you know?

      Delete
    3. Gnu Atheism is intellectually inferior.

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    4. This is, as Ed said, a blip in history, a passing phase. Anyone who thinks the Church to be merely human knows nothing of her astounding, 2000 year history, her manifestly supernatural existence.

      We're not arguing over whether the Church can fail, we're arguing over the best explanation of what we're witnessing, which is not the Church failing, but men abandoning her while claiming to have remained, and to have authority, and therefore both to represent her AND to commit her to their evils. Some want to re-define the Church to make her compatible with these evils, and I and others insist that we leave the definition of the Church alone and reject the claims of the heretics. But both sides retain faith in the Church - our opponents are merely confused. :)

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    5. Aquinian

      You say at the head of this discussion thread that the church can lead people to hell but only for a time, though presumably that time could be a very long period indeed. Now I can see that you are forced to adopt that position, as you wish to retain your belief in the divinity of the church but have to face up to historical reality. But surely you can see how implaussible it is that an institution founded by God in large part to facilitate salvation, and subsequently guided and inspired by him, would ever end up leading people to hell, even for a time? Surely God would not allow this to happen.

      Is there any ad hoc hypothesis so outlandish and improbable that you would not cling to it rather than question your RC faith?

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    6. None of this is Catholic doctrine, it isn't found in the pre-Vatican II books, and it was all invented after Vatican II in order to explain away the horrible crisis we are going through.

      As far as I'm aware, St. Vincent of Lerins lived before the Second Vatican Council.

      "“What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb.

      “But what if some novel contagions try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.

      “What if in antiquity itself two or three men, or it may be a city, or even a whole province be detected in error? Then he will take the greatest care to prefer the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if there are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a few men.

      “But what if some error arises regarding which nothing of this sort is to be found? Then he must do his best to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided always that, though they belonged to diverse times and places, they yet continued in the faith and communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers approved and outstanding. And whatever he shall find to have been held, approved and taught, not by one or two only but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation."

      -- The original Mr. X

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    7. If you think that St. Vincent of Lerins was describing how to disagree with the pope, maybe read this?

      http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=740

      "In the context of the Commonitorium itself, the purport of the rule is simply to state two marks, either of which is sufficient to prove the absolute antiquity, or apostolicity, of a doctrine, viz : (a) the present consensus of the Church, and (b) the consensus of relative antiquity, i.e. as it stood before the controversy arose."

      The point is, if the the living and infallible teacher is proposing that we all believe in religious liberty, then that doctrine is ancient, not new. She can't teach erroneous doctrines. I am not suggesting that one has any right to abandon tradition, quite the contrary, and St. Vincent of Lerins is certainly a wonderful support for that attachment, but he isn't saying that we are to sift the current magisterium for nuggets of truth and reject the rest. He explicitly says the opposite.

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    8. The problem is, religious liberty is contrary to what we are already obliged to hold. Hence the kind of crisis that is afflicting Skojec.

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    9. Anonymous, I am not contending that the Church can lead people to hell, even for a second. I was describing the position that I am opposing. The Church is immune to error, the one ark of salvation.

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  31. WCB writes:
    Son of Ya'KovJune 1, 2021 at 12:42 AM

    "You believe Rats can reason and have morals. What do you know?"

    Don't fear the reasonable, caring rats, Ya'kov.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/jailbreak-rat/

    According to a new study in the December 9 issue of Science, rats are surprisingly selfless, consistently breaking friends out of cages—even if freeing their buddies means having to share coveted chocolate. It seems that empathy and self-sacrifice have a greater evolutionary legacy than anyone expected.
    ...

    In the new study, Mason, Bartal and University of Chicago colleague Jean Decety placed pairs of rats in Plexiglass pens. One rat was trapped in a cage in the middle of the pen, whereas the other rat was free to run around. Most free rats circled their imprisoned peer, gnawing at the cage and sticking their paws, noses and whiskers through any openings. After a week of trial and error, 23 of the 30 rats in the experiment learned to open the cage and free their peers by head-butting the cage door or leaning their full weight against the door until it tipped over. (The door could only be opened from the outside.) At first the rats were startled by the noise of the toppling door. Eventually, however, they stopped showing surprise, which suggests that they fully intended to push the door aside. Further, the rodents showed no interest in opening empty cages or in those containing toy rats, indicating that a break out was their genuine goal.
    ...

    No need to get over emotional about all of this Ya'Kov. maybe try a little reading and try to understand what this is all about. You will in the end, feel much better about it all if you do.

    WCB

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    1. Yep I broke WCB. Wow!

      Anthropomorphic Fallacy. My Atheist anthropology professor and Biology teacher from college would roll their eyes at these conclusions.

      What are Animals? Why Anthropomorphism is Still Not a Scientific Approach to Behavior
      Clive D. L. Wynne
      University of Florida

      http://courses.washington.edu/anmind/Wynne-anthropomorphism-CCBR2007.pdf

      So who is championing faerie tales here again? Not the Thomists and the Classical Theists but the Gnu Atheists like WCB.

      Animals are not rational nor moral in any meaningful sense. God is not a Moral Agent in the univocal way rational virtuous creatures are moral agents.

      WCB and his buddies will never be able to offer any form of rational criticism of God greater than Young Earth Creationism and Magic Old Man with a White Beardism.

      Yep...

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    2. Son of Yakov

      Do you still hold that God cannot ride a bike, and so commit blasphemy by limiting him so much and heretically denying his omnipotence? I asked a couple of Muslims about this at a street stall today, and they said that sure , Allah could ride a bike and they just laughed when I told them that Yahweh couldn't.

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    3. The divine essence per say cannot ride a bike is the correct formula my goat lovin' zoophile friend.

      The Incarnate Word of God Jesus can ride any bike that pleases him. Allah is Yehweh and Allah/Yahweh is a Triniy of Al Ab, Al Ibn and Rual al Gudds. Allah a'had.

      Praise be to Yesua Al Mesin!

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  32. The real issue that is missing here is about social change, an ineluctable change that reflects shifting mores that communities believe best match the existential challenges into the future. Dreher's decision to move to Eastern Orthodox from Roman Catholicism is a move that evinces that cultural/social change. Catholicism now no longer responds to what Dreher believes are the quintessential issues that the Church has failed to address; he cites a number of them. While it may temporarily appease his tortured mind, jumping a sinking ship for another in this instance may not be as satisfying as he might have imagined. As we all know, religion, at base, is a cultural/social phenomenon, a wholly-owned constructed cultural artefact. As societal demographics change so too do the enabling cultural ideas, customs and behavioural imperatives change.

    As a cultural artefact, religion is not immune to those changes. Its continued acknowledgement, acceptance and embedment within that cultural milieu is largely determined by its relevance and usefulness in meeting the needs of that community.

    The declining trend in the role of religion, in the communities we know and understand in the west, is a characteristic indication of that social and cultural change. THIS STUDY by the University of Melbourne looks at that social trend.

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    1. As Papilinton states

      ' As we all know, religion, at base is a social/cultural phenomenon, a wholly-owned constructed social artifact.'

      An interesting book which looks at religion in this light is 'Breaking the Spell- Religion as a Natural Phenomenon' by philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel C. Dennet.

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    2. No Kangaroo boi if there is no God as you believe then it doesn't matter what Dreher does and let us face it you don't really care. You see the whole world threw the eyes of yer boring neo-liberal and leftist lite politics and you don't go beyond it.

      That is fine but it is of little interest to Catholics or Eastern Orthodox or Classical Theism in general.

      If somebody leaves the Utah Mormon Church for the Reorganized Church (their rival) I don't care about the psychological factors. It is just moving from one error to another. I would not even involve myself in a discussion if it. It has nothing to do with me positively believing Joseph Smith was a fraud.

      All the pop psychology gobbldiee goop doesn't change that Kangaroo boi.

      As for the decline of religion. That is debatable.

      Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular

      https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/27/religion-why-is-faith-growing-and-what-happens-next

      So enough of you trying to derail the thread. Go learn some philosophy for once in yer life Linton so you can become a proper philosophical Atheist instead of being all...this.....

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  33. This is a tragic story!

    What if Dreher's actions are a clarion call to the Catholic church to lament the fact that they had not only hurt a brother but also were unable to offer Christ's healing love to a brother?

    How might the Catholic church need to change, what doctrines of the past 2000 years do they need to start living again in the local parishes so that one of their own never reaches the point where their love for Jesus grows cold?

    What does 2 centuries of church teaching instruct church leaders to do who have caused a brother to stumble? (Matthew 18:6)?

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  34. Son of Ya'kov

    In an unhinged rant in the discussion following Ed's previous post ( 'Do not Abandon your Mother' ) Son of Ya'kov quite scandalously stated that I couldn't care less about the welfare of children and never could, as I was a sociopath. This is a vile accusation, so I demanded either an apology from him, or evidence to support his contention. As no evidence will be forthcoming, an apology is required. I am still waiting for it.

    The outburst occured at 12.51PM in the discussion thread started by Anon 1 on May 31 at 9.12AM.

    Are you going to do the right thing now Son of Ya'kov?

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    1. In fact, he said that you all know that I couldn't give a damn about abused children, which in the absence of any evidence at all to substantiate it is an absolutely scummy thing to say.

      Pleaee retract your statement and apologise for making it Son of Ya"kov.

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    2. You only care if Children are raped by Priests you dina give a shite if a secular institution does it or a secular teacher does it. You call for the destruction of the Catholic Church over this but nor public schools which has a big problem with this. Especially in Great Britain as well as America.

      Yer a slime ball who doesn't care if a secular teacher rapes a child. You will call for more public funding of public schools and raises for teacher saleries. If a Priest does it you will lead the AntifaBLM mob to burn down the Church.

      Hypocritical goat humping twat!

      Grod was right about you. Stop bonking goats.

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  35. Anon only cares about raped children if a bad Priest does the rapping. If a secular teacher does it he is Ok with it. He will call for more public funding of Schools in spite of the abuse but if a Priest does it and the Vatican covers it up then the Church must be burned down. Love the double standard.


    https://sputniknews.com/europe/201809131067999786-sexual-violence-harassment-schools/

    "According to police figures in England and Wales, one child is raped in school every day and in primary schools and three sexual assaults are reported to the police every school day."

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