Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Antipopery, democracy being a fraud, and more

  • "I am not an antipope." Probably not. Even if Pope Francis is a malefactor as far as the church is concerned, he knows the Pope can't change church teaching. The plan, possibly: appoint dissenters, do as much damage as possible through the media, then nominally do his job as Pope and issue a formal statement repeating our teaching, and thus start a backlash. Much like Humanae Vitae.
  • LRC: Democracy is an incredibly successful long con. It works because of the illusion of consent. People actually believe they are “represented.”
  • RR: Poor people don't have less self-control. Poverty forces them to think short-term.
  • Finished reading Cranmer's Godly Order, Michael Davies' expanded edition of his book, including quotations from Eamon Duffy. Summary: in the 1500s (a few little groups started earlier) some Europeans came up with their own version of Christianity, imagining it was the original vs. the Catholic Church's version, in which Jesus' saving work was all in the past, and the believer is saved by feeling he's saved ("justification by faith"), so no Catholic Church is needed to make Jesus' sacrifice present today (what the Mass is) and to give the Christian grace (sacraments are just symbols; unlike in the church, they aren't and don't do what they signify). (Logically, ultimately in Protestantism you don't need any church.) God doesn't change you when you're a believer; he just covers up your sins. So where these new teachers took over in Europe, they got rid of the Catholic Church starting with the Mass. It happened in England when the king went into schism to get an annulment he didn't deserve, really taking off when he died (he was still sort of Catholic) and convinced Protestants ruled for his underage son. The English liked being Catholic and had armed revolts that were beaten (battles with blood running in the streets, torture and executions, priests hanged from their churches) because they weren't ruthless enough, trusting the king would listen to them and not burning the city of Exeter when they had the chance. (They meant well; they weren't trying to overthrow the government, just have the church back.) The only English people who really liked Protestantism were kings and nobles who stole church property and money, a few crazy true believers such as Nicholas Ridley, and a then-small hipster class of upper-middle-class merchants who, like now, thought the old religion is for idiots. So eventually the new Church of England was literally forced on the country, violently. Of course all the Protestants wrote completely new church services, which historically Christianity doesn't do, in which "active participation" and the individuals doing the service matter; adoration of the Communion elements was evil, missing the point of the service. Davies' point in this, the first in a trilogy: sound familiar? In the 1900s, Catholic liberals basically said they thought the Protestants were right (30 years ago, at a Catholic college, I read and heard them say so) and repeated much of that history in their thought and new services. Anglicanism isn't what I thought it was (part of Catholicism), growing up with it. It's a strange version of the Reformed faith that happens to have bishops and a kind of liturgy.


  1. John, I think that a more balanced view of the Anglican revolt is necessary, one should also mention that had Queen Mary, and her rather dreadful Spanish husband, been a bit kinder England might still be Catholic today. But then again, is France, Spain or even Ireland Catholic today? Doubtful. I read Davis's book when it first came out, actually I was and still am not only fond of his writing style but the issues he brings up, but a more balanced reading of history would be nice. Had Elizabeth not become Queen, which would have been impossible had England stayed Catholic, Philip would have made England into a Spanish colony. Our own history would have been vastly different. No Parliament, no balance of power, I do not know about you, but as beautiful as Spanish culture is, I would not really enjoy living in a former, New World, Spanish colony since North America might have been Spanish instead of English; but it might just as easily have become and remained French (not so bad at all); but it would never have been English. Of course, as Dr Tighe will rightly point out historical what ifs are always dangerous. But history would have been different regardless.

    1. There was no "Anglican revolt" among the English people. Historians now dispute the "Bloody Mary" myth; Protestant propaganda written by the victors of course.

      Davies' point here: to understand Anglicanism you have to understand continental classical Protestantism, such as Cranmer's good friend Martin Bucer.

      I've started on Eamon Duffy's Fires of Faith about the restored Catholic Church in England during Mary's reign; in my opinion Cardinal Pole's a saint.

  2. "Had Elizabeth not become Queen, which would have been impossible had England stayed Catholic, Philip would have made England into a Spanish colony."

    Philip himself was the person most responsible for Elizabeth becoming Queen in 1558. Elizabeth probably was not involved in any direct way in Wyatt's Rebellion in 1554 (although she may have had indirect contact with some of the rebel leaders), but a fair number of her servants were involved in the Dudley Conspiracy of 1555-6:

    Mary, who disliked Elizabeth - Elizabeth, by the way, professed herself converted to Catholicism in early 1554 and conducted herself as a Catholic throughout the remainder of Mary's reign - was convinced that Elizabeth was complicit in the Dudley Conspiracy and was determined to "get to the bottom" of the matter, with probably fatal consequences for Elizabeth, but Philip peremptorily ordered Mary "as her husband" to leave Elizabeth's servants out of the investigation, and with great reluctance Mary did so. Philip seemingly feared that if Elizabeth were gotten rid of the way would be open for the Queen of Scots (who was about to marry the French dauphin) to claim the English throne after Mary Tudor's death. Actually, though, Mary had her own preferred successor, Lady Margaret Douglas (1515-1578), the daughter of Henry VIII's elder sister, widow of James IV of Scotland, by her second husband, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, and wife of Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. Lady Lennox was a definite, if rather "politique," Catholic, as well as the mother of the dreadful Lord Darnley, who later married the Scots Queen.

    Also, once it became evident that Mary Tudor would bear no children, a group of English nobles approached Philip privately in 1555/6 offering to assist him in retaining the English throne after his wife's death (and in contravention of the terms of the Queen's Marriage Act passed by Parliament in April 1554) should he desire to do so, but he refused their offer, and urged his wife in her last illness to recognize Elizabeth as her successor.

    1. The issue would have been Elizabeth's legitimacy, which the Pope, still a major power-broker, which would have demanded excluded her from the throne at that time, and today as well. I think the dislike of Mary's introduction of the inquisition, against the Advice of Pole, is more real than perhaps John wishes to admit.

      Elizabeth by temperament was not Protestant, but very Catholic: but had she remained Catholic after the death of her half-sister she could never have ascended to the Throne. If the people had not turned against the Faith and the Spaniards under Mary, Elizabeth could not have succeeded to the Throne; the Kingdom would have been inherited by Philip; who did attempt to make his claims real in 1588; had it not been for a storm, England would have been a Spanish colony.

    2. "The issue would have been Elizabeth's legitimacy, which the Pope, still a major power-broker, which would have demanded excluded her from the throne at that time ..."

      On the contrary, Dale, the furiously anti-Spanish Paul IV welcomed Elizabeth's accession on the grounds, as he claimed, that she was "a better Catholic" then her late sister. It is not clear whether he had recognized his error by the time of his death in August 1559. There is no evidence at all that "the people" had "turned against the Faith" under Mary, reasonable though such an assumption seems to post-Enlightenment minds conditioned (until recently at least) to hold "religious intolerance and persecution" as an unqualified evil.

    3. If the people had remained Catholic in sentiment and the Pope had supported Elizabeth, then why did she not remain Catholic? I think you are dealing with too many what ifs yourself here Bill.

    4. "then why did she not remain Catholic?"

      Because she was a Protestant, of sorts (and also what Calvin contemptuously termed a "Nicodemite," that is to say, a dissembler).

  3. You might wish to revaluate how you are construing the Protestant position if you are including Lutherans in it, as it seems you are:

    This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness;
    not health, but healing;
    not being, but becoming;
    not rest, but exercise.
    We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way;
    the process is not yet finished, but it has begun;
    this is not the goal, but it is road;
    at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being
    - Martin Luther, A Defense and Explanation of All Articles (AE 32:24)

    1. Davies lumps all the Protestants together while noting Luther's differences such as a belief in an objective presence in the Communion elements, still resembling Catholicism. He explains that Luther was famously inconsistent; the other early Protestants just followed his principles further, more consistently than he did. Davies says Luther kept the trappings of the Mass in order to deceive (or ease people into the new religion, like Cranmer did at first), while taking out what made it the Mass. And wasn't later high-church Lutheranism just Melanchthon trying to reach a compromise with the church? That and Luther's inconsistency are why confessional Lutheranism is semi-Catholic, not estranged Catholics like the Orthodox but our close cousins.

    2. "And wasn't later high-church Lutheranism just Melanchthon trying to reach a compromise with the church?"

      Melanchthon was more "compromising," or at least eirenic, in discussions with Catholics in the 1530s, but from the 1540s onwards his (eirenicism? tendency to compromise?) was directed much more at the Reformed (and especially those among the Reformed who followed Calvin) than at Catholics, and from 1540 onwards (when he composed the "variata" version of the 1530 Augsburg Confession) he tended especially towards some attenuation of Luther's insistence upon the "bodily presence" of Christ's Body and Blood "in, with, and under" the eucharistic elements. Some say that M. was moving towards Calvin's view of the eucharist at the time of his sudden death in 1560, and in any event after his death his followers, the "Philippists," displayed strong Reformed-wards tendencies. So I would say that later, and especially contemporary, high-church Lutheranism owes more historically to Melanchthon's opponents, the "Gnesio-Lutherans," although in many ways (especially as regards doctrinal matters) these Gnesio-Lutherans were just as opposed to "popery" (if not more strongly so) than the Philippists.

      And that is perhaps why high-church Lutheranism has never really experienced anything like the trajectory of high-church Anglicanism to Anglo-Catholicism to Anglo-Papalism, except in the case of eccentric individuals; even the highest of high-church Lutherans (e.g, the Swede Gunnar Rosendal) tended to insist on the genuineness of the Lutheranism, and their aversion to (R) Catholicism.

  4. "Even if Pope Francis is a malefactor as far as the church is concerned, he knows the Pope can't change church teaching" are you certain of this? I am not.

  5. That is the best explanation of the Reformation in three hundred words or less I have ever read!

    Once you ditch holy orders entirely (Reformed) or in substance (CoE), the rest of the content of the faith gets rationalized away to justify the breaking away. Can't say a mass without a bishop? Well, who needs transubstantiation anyway?!. That's idol worship according to my constipated understanding of the OT and backwards interpretation of John 6. In any case, we're the eating the Word everyday by idiosyncratically reading the first few chapters of Romans, which supersedes in authority the rest of Romans, St. James' Epistle of Straw, and all four Gospels. Also, who needs the sacraments and their supposed graces when God has made a covenant that guarantees the salvation of anyone who professes faith in the Lord. The thief on the cross proves it. He didn't need any good works or a baptism. (I rather think it is within the power of the Lord to make a limited exception for someone hanging along side him. How one can think baptism is anything but normative based on the good thief amazes me.).

    You say the Church has always believed in that sacrament mumbo jumbo? Well Constantine invented Catholicism when they added all those apocryphal books to Romans and the Hebrew scriptures. Plus, no one was allowed to read Romans for 1200 years. They kept it secret from the people to protect their works-based religion. (Ancient Aliens is a more convincing account of history. Some modern fundagelicals must be discouraged from reading Encyclopedia Britannica).

    I'm not one to pathologize people who have different ideas than me, but does anyone detect a bit spergieness in Reformed theology in its rigidity, its formulaic approach to soteriology, and lack of nuance? I'll go ahead an pathologize Luther too while I'm at it: he had an anxiety/panic disorder.

  6. Of course I believe Pope Francis is the real Pope. I also believe he is the least theologically astute Pope at least the last 150 years, has sown much confusion for many faithful Catholic and will setback the Church for many years. I also find it troublesome that an almost creepy cult of personality has grown around him. Right before his visit to the US, some of my Facebook friends have stated they will defriend anyone who criticizes anything this he says or does during his visit. Honestly I believe he has been a divisive figure and wish he'd follow Pope Benedict in resigning soon


  7. the Pope can't change church teaching

    Of course not ! Whenever the Pontiff Sovereign says something that at first glance might seem novel, all Catholics realize within the next few seconds that that is what they believed all along, even if they themselves were not consciously aware of it... :-)

    1. Heh heh heh. 19th-century Anglicans were admirably conservative, even though the heart of their Christianity had turned Reformed centuries earlier. They were afraid the Pope had overstepped his bounds so he might innovate away, maybe even changing things such as matrimony or Christian teaching on contraception. 150 years later, the Anglican churches have changed; the church is what it has always been.


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