Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Discerning truth and goodness from experience of fruits: the example of Mormonism

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In 1830 it was possible and reasonable to regard Mormonism as a covert and potentially dangerous Christian heresy, since all there was to go-on was the theology and assertions of the founders.

But the expectation would have been that Mormonism would reveal its true nature over time.

And so we now have eight generations of evidence, and 'still' no sign (except, perhaps, the early Old Testament-like 'plural marriage' polygamy until 120 years ago) that Mormonism is producing the evil fruits of  heresy - indeed it is apparently the most alive, most devout (e.g phenomenal numbers of full time missionaries) and most decent of the big self-identified Christian denominations in the developed world.

I have read or watched on video many of the modern LDS Church leadership, and overwhelmingly they are honest, forthright and essentially uncorrupted (in stark contrast to the bishops and most clergy of my own Anglican CoE denomination, for example!).

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So (I would argue) that either Mormonism is the best concealed anti-Christian evil heresy of all time (which some people do indeed believe) and this evil will eventually reveal itself, or else it is truly Christian - despite whatever our theoretical analysis may say.

(Because that which claims to be Christian and shows no evil, must be good - since falsely to claim to be Christian would be a heresy revealing itself in evil.)

These may seem stark alternatives. Why should Mormonism necessarily be Christian simply because it is revealed as not being anti-Christian.

The answer is because the LDS church self-identifies strongly and explicitly as Christian, and places Christ at the centre of institutional and personal devotions.

If these claims and practices are false, then they cannot be neutral - since they would be blasphemous, idolatrous etc; and must be evil.

And yet we see no evidence of evil fruits. Quite the contrary.

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The big question here is whether human experience is of any validity in evaluating a religion or denomination.

To reject Mormonism on grounds which were apparent at its foundation (I mean of course specifically to reject the CJCLDS - mainstream Mormonism) seems inevitably to suggest the rejection of human experience as being of importance in evaluating truth.

(Is 180 years not enough? How many years would be needed? If the fruits are still good at, say 300, or 500 years - would that make any difference to evaluations?)

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I believe that we cannot dispense with experience, since human reason is so feeble and corruptible and human knowledge is so incomplete and distorted: therefore we cannot rely purely on analysis but must also take note of experience, of 'fruits' as they become apparent over time.

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(At a personal level there is the crucial matter of one's own informed and prayerful discernment as to good and evil, truth and falsehood - but clearly on this topic individual discernment is divided!)

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One topic that should be addressed in this light is how mainstream Christians/ Mere Christians/ real Christians should regard 'Liberals' (I mean theological Liberals) within their own denominations.

It seems clear that - for example - the minority of real Christians in the Church of England Anglican communion, among Roman Catholics and the Lutheran Church are in practice very tolerant indeed of Liberals in their own denominations (working with them, accepting their authority to a greater or lesser extent); and this tolerance is for Liberals who often aggressively deny or invert central doctrines and creeds, rewrite scripture, make public statements without historical or scriptural basis, introduce major anti-Christian organizational changes etc.

This tolerance of Liberalism is very clear and unambiguous since most mainstream church leaders in the West are Liberals - and these leaders include some of the most extreme anti-Christians. Yet criticism of these is generally muted; real Christians bend over backwards to give them the benefit of any doubt, give them chance after chance to change, go along with their anti-Christian wickedness for the sake of what should be subordinate values.  

It seems undeniable that Liberal pseudo-Christians represent a very powerful and effective anti-Christian force in modern life; yet Liberal pseudo-Christians are tolerated and treated with patience and respect by real Christians in their denominations; meanwhile the same real Christians shun Mormons.

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Am I accusing mainstream real Christians of hypocrisy or inconsistency with respect to Mormonism? You bet I am!

This combination of tolerance of real mainstream Christians towards actively-subversive unbelieving Liberals (the enemy) - indeed active cooperation with Liberals especially within the big denominations, combined with clear, uncompromising and strong anti-Mormonism (rejecting those who should be friends and allies), is something I despise! - indeed, I believe it is Satan's work and must delight the forces of evil.

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I am saying that anti-Mormonism is common among serious mainstream Christians, who persist in treating the LDS church as if it was a set of theoretical ideas, rather than an enduring reality.

I am suggesting that the goodness of Mormonism is hard data which must be taken into account, not argued away.

I am pointing out that most mainstream Christian denominations are currently in a position of de facto inferiority with respect to Mormonism; they are in no position to criticize - on analytic grounds - that which is demonstrably and uncontroversially superior in its current Christ-centredness, devoutness and works.

In doing so, mainstream Christians are implicitly denying the value of actions in discerning the truth - and making Christianity a thing of abstraction, disconnected with observable realities.

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In particular, I am drawing attention to the specific matter of marriage and families; and the fact that very few Christian denominations have sustained the centrality of these to the human condition in the way that Mormons have; and Christian denominations with low levels of marriage and few children have demonstrably gone wrong in some very serious and significant way.

The choice of above-replacement fertility in a church is a crude and simple measure; but is a summary of many other variables including the roles of men and women, leadership, an other-worldly perspective, devoutness; and attitudes to sexuality, marriage, family and children. When denominations chose to have fewer than two children on average, they have become corrupt.

Of course, chosen above-replacement fertility is not evidence of truth! But fertility is necessary to a denomination being essentially true, and net uncorrupt.

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So we must, I believe, use experience in our evaluations.

And experience shows that most mainstream Christian denominations have become essentially corrupt; yet Mormonism has not (or, not yet).

And this understanding is confirmed by many other sources of evidence.

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What is my conclusion?

That the current attitude of mainstream Christians towards Mormonism is unjustified - the LDS church should be regarded with respect by mainstream Christians, and indeed in a spirit of deference - as being demonstrably superior to mainstream Christianity in many ways.

And, for Heavens sake! - real Christians ought not to be so tolerant and deferential to pseudo-Christian Liberals in their denominations!

The strength and goodness of Mormonism is, I emphasize, hard data; and the question posed to mainstream Christians is how to deal with this hard data, and learn from this hard data - not how to explain-it-away.

The potentially lethal danger of Liberal pseudo-Christianity also is hard data - yet the same real Christians who have negative, suspicious, condescending, and aggressive attitudes to Mormons are very prone to assume the good intentions and basic decency of these Liberal pseudo-Christians - many of whom lead the major Western denominations.

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NOTE: I intend to be very selective about publishing comments on this post.  When I say hard data, I mean hard data. Only those who are ignorant (most common) or untruthful or insane argue against hard data. But not on this blog!

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20 comments:

Matthew C. said...

The Mormons are "about something". They are about manifesting God's Kingdom on the earth through righteous example, especially through their family lives.

Mainstream Christianity as a whole has simply lost that spiritual purpose that it had for many centuries. How do real, believing Christians rebuild that Living Church? That is the question. . .

Ron said...

Dr Charlton

If I understand what you are saying, you are basing your judgement of Mormonism solely on the "fruits" it produces. I would agree that this group does produce much good fruit. However, on the question of whether they are Christian or not, I think there is one fair test: does Mormonism accept the tenants, and only the tenants, of the great Christian creeds, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, for example. If they do not affirm these, and I don't believe they do, then I don't see how they can properly be called Christian.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ron - "However, on the question of whether they are Christian or not, I think there is one fair test..."

Yes, of course I know all that - but that was precisely the point of my post.

And are you *sure* that the creeds are necessary in totality in order to be a real Christian - because I am not.

(And which exact version? In totality? - e.g. Does the Filioque matter, or is it trivial? Which translation? Does this include recent rewordings and rewrites by uninspired translators and Liberals?)

The forms of Christianity that used to be possible 1000 years ago, or 500 years ago, or 150 years ago are, alas, no longer possible - at least they don't exist and all the old denominations (in the West) are rotten and getting worse (with the possible exception of conservative evangelicals; but they are not really a denomination, more of a style).

If they/we don't learn from the Mormons, and soon, then I see little hope of averting collapse down to isolated sub-denominational congregations.

Mazzio said...

The following is excerpted from a comment I left in a thread at Lawrence Auster's site back in 2008 concerning Mitt Romney:

[Auster] wrote:
“This striking disagreement in perceptions of Romney parallels the debate about Mormons in general that we’ve been having at VFR: Are Mormons exceptionally together, well-functioning people, or a race of Stepford Wives?”


Of the most plausible Republican candidates, one of them, Mitt Romney, stands out as “exceptionally together” and “well-functioning.” He does not appear to have any sort of “history,” nor does he seem to have fallen for any of the distractions to which so many others of his and succeeding generations (e.g., Clinton & Bush, to name but two) have been so vulnerable. No divorce, no drugs, no kinky sex, no alcoholism, no “youthful mistakes,” etc., etc. (Attach additional sheets as needed). Man, we are given to think, this guy’s weird!


We live in an America where one candidate must apologize for a staffer’s mentioning that her opponent is an admitted former drug user. Naturally, a “middle-aged Ken doll” like Mitt Romney is bound to stand out. While Romney’s manifest character is not a sufficient qualification, the fact that it is no longer seen as a necessary one is very disturbing. The fact that good character seems out of place in a presidential candidate says a lot about this nation in 2008. That the decidedly heterodox Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is one of the few communities where such character is vigorously nurtured and whose members are renowned for being “exceptionally together” and “well-functioning” says more about the decayed state of most other American Christian sects than it does about the supposed “Stepford” nature of Mormonism. To be clean-cut and honorable were formerly considered American traits. Now they are seen, even by Americans, as something alien and suspect.

Arakawa said...

It's interesting that the discussion comes back to the question of discerning the proper Heavenly Order of things and re-establishing an image of it in this life, to the best of our ability. It reminds me of the Byzantine notion of mimesis, though on a smaller scale (family/community rather than Empire).

Byzantium aside, it also reminds me of some of the Eastern worldviews, e.g. the Chinese Empire's idea of the Mandate of Heaven. So, while a particularly personal sense of the concept of mimesis (with a personal God at the head of things rather than an impersonal Heaven) can be one of the side benefits of Christianity, it is by no means the primary, unique idea or goal of it, particularly since mimesis is a doctrine dealing with what we do in the world!

I think the issue is that mimesis as a primary goal is misconstrued because mimesis is already the natural action of the soul trying to survive in a fallen plane of existence. Any time we provide for our household in a hostile universe, and set up reasonable protections against the unexpected vagaries of the future, we are performing a small act of mimesis, turning a chaotic universe into a more orderly one. However, the extent of the mimesis that a soul can bring about is determined by the extent of our relation to, and knowledge of, God or, in historical places and times that lacked the opportunity to know God, knowledge of at least the impersonal ideals that point to Him.

Of course, the primary thing that leaps to my mind regarding mimesis in this day and age is the phrase 'immantentizing the eschaton' (practically a swearword in some circles), but that is a red herring. It refers mostly to movements which, seeking to instantiate some flawed conception of the Ideal, felt themselves free to indiscriminately smash all of the Good things in reality that stood in their way. That some people associate this with all explicit attempts to institute any semblance of mimesis is regrettable, since if you swallow the connection, all that leaves to be done in politics are implicit (hence dishonest) atempts to institute mimesis, and mere expedient interest-group jockeying. And if you swallow the connection, all that leaves to be done in Church, I guess, are either the exclusive pursuit of worldly renunciation and prayer if one is blessed to be able to attain them, or merely therapeutic activities if one is not so blessed. Both of these do not have much effect on the world outside the Church (for entirely opposite reasons!), and the Church that offers only these things will find its laity dwindling.

So any Church whose salvation is still visibly flowing outwards to order the world is a valuable thing.

From what I understand, the difficulties of the Mormon church have to do with a lack of framework for the emergence of exceptionally saintly individuals. If at some point seekers from the Mormon church set out to reach saintly levels of spiritual attainment, it may conceivably (I have no basis to be sure of this) transpire that certain doctrines that did not interfere with the salvation and flourishing of the laity, do interfere with deeper spiritual attainment. In that sense these conflicts may reveal doctrines of the Mormon Church to be in irreconcilable conflict with Christianity, and the Mormon Church may be put into a crisis as it seeks to affirm or abandon these doctrines. But that would be an infinitely better sort of crisis to have than most of the actual ones facing modern society!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Mazzio - Well said. The 2012 Presidential election seems like a watershed to me, with one candidate of proven dishonesty, incompetence, idleness and malign will against another who is an exceptionally fine man. Of course the election was fixed, but this was easy because the margin was tight. That the margin was tight is a decisive demonstration that democracy is (here and now, in practice) evil - and getting worse.

@A - I agree. But there aren't any Saints in the Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches either (I mean no Saints of Holiness - there are martyrs, and RC Saints of good works, organization or scholarship); and Anglicans and Protestants don't believe in modern Saints. Indeed, Fr Seraphim Rose (whom I trust) said there were no true Holy Elders (Startzi) in the Americas.

It may be that in these end times Christianity will be without Saints - which would not be at all surprising, would it?

The Crow said...

It sounds, Bruce, as if you demand 'proof'. That is something more commonly associated with atheists.

Things are. for you, as you witness them. What do you witness? Are you able to trust yourself to witness what is there? Nobody and nothing else can do it for you.

JP said...

there aren't any Saints in the Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches either (I mean no Saints of Holiness - there are martyrs, and RC Saints of good works, organization or scholarship

Sainthood will turn into a "good Leftist" award, if it hasn't already.

B. Shelley said...

One big reason why Mormonism is so successful is because it is based mainly in rural areas (ie. Utah, Idaho, Montana). Rural areas lend themselves to bigger families and other conservative indicators. That influence likely affects assocciated Mormon congregations overseas and also in urban areas, giving an appearance of more effective doctrines, instead being an inclination of current geographic centrality.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BSh - There is certainly something in what you say, in terms of origins and optimal conditions; but I wouldn't push the point too hard. The LDS headquarters is in a city, and Mormons have dominated several 'urban' entities such as Harvard Business School. It's a factor, not an explanation.

Sylvie D. Rousseau said...

But there aren't any Saints in the Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches either (I mean no Saints of Holiness - there are martyrs, and RC Saints of good works, organization or scholarship)...

Please reconsider your definition of holiness. Good works, gifts of organization or scholarship are charismata; they often flow from holiness but are never a guarantee thereof.

There is not a single RC saint who was canonized on the grounds of his works -- or visions or revelations for that matter. The only criterium is the heroicity of theological virtues (faith, hope, charity): this is why a true martyr (=witness) for the faith is automatically a saint, even if he is unknown and will never be officially canonized.

The saints who now are or recently were with us may not be legion (there is not now a very large legion of good Catholics to begin with) but holiness is mostly hidden from the world, which is perfectly normal.

It is perfectly normal too that only a small number of saints are officially acknowledged, the main idea being to set examples. Sometimes saints are unknown to the people living near them for years. The great holiness of Saint Therese de l'Enfant-Jesus (no works, no organization, no scholarship, and this is no exception) came as a surprise for almost all the Carmelites who lived with her the nine years of her convent life.

Steve said...

Mr. Charlton,

I highly agree with your assessment. I have lived my whole life in highly Mormon populations, yet remain Catholic. Christians have much to learn from Mormons. Their fidelity to creating an enclave from the modern (evil) world is notorious. I'm glad to have them as neighbors.

Agellius said...

The LDS Church takes many different kinds of steps to make sure it remains actively present in the lives of its members. This has the effect of perpetuating and promulgating its culture. It causes its members to remain more "active" than members of other denominations. And it does this consciously. (See, by way of illustration, this post [http://www.jrganymede.com/2012/05/07/mitts-core-part-ii-mitt-the-mormon/] on the formative experiences of Mitt Romney.)

I suppose that the Catholic Church for many centuries relied for the continuance of its culture on the fact that in large part, it *was* the culture in the territories in which it lived and thrived (the tattered remains of which we still live in today). It didn't have to consciously think up ways of keeping people active in the practice of the faith, because the faith was universal. There was nowhere where it wasn’t. You were born, lived, married, and died in the faith.

When it reached a stage where it was no longer accepted as the official religion, it hardly knew how to act. In the U.S., in many areas it remained synonymous with culture among, for example, Italian, Irish and Mexican immigrants. But as their offspring assimilated to the culture at large, the cultural influence of the Church on their lives, and the lives of their children, was more and more diluted.

I would suggest that the Church as a whole has never made a studied effort of how to keep itself involved in the lives of its members, in order to keep them "active" and contributing members. Whereas the Mormon Church, from the beginning, has made a studied effort to do exactly that. Just as it makes studied efforts at proselytization and how to do it most effectively.

Take for example the Temple. In order to participate in the most important aspects of the Mormon religion, the temple ordinances, you have to have a temple recommend. To get a temple recommend you have to be interviewed by your local bishop. Your bishop asks not only whether you are living morally, which is something immeasurable and for which he has to take your word (unless, I suppose, he has testimony from others to the contrary); he also has to verify whether you are tithing, i.e. giving 10% of your income to the Church, which is something verifiable and therefore not something you can fake. So it has an objective way of measuring whether members are worthy to participate in the Church's highest and most important acts of worship.

[to be continued]

Agellius said...

[continuation]

Now imagine what might happen if Catholics had to go through this kind of a process before being allowed to participate in the highest act of Catholic worship: the Mass. As it is, anyone can attend a Catholic Mass -- even a Mormon! No one checks to make sure you are even Catholic before administering Communion, let alone that you are in the state of grace or contributing financially. Thus, the Church takes very much a "hands-off" approach. It doesn't get all in your business. It tells you that you may not receive Communion in a state of mortal sin -- and failing to support the Church financially is a sin -- but it doesn't take any steps to verify whether or not you do so.

If the Church required members to have a "Mass recommend" before being allowed to receive Communion, this could change everything: It would give the Church an extremely effective way of making sure its members were actively supporting the Church financially, in order to support charitable and missionary activities; as well as keeping tabs on members to ensure that they remain active.

As things are, the Church simply has no hold on its members. You can come and go as you please, with no questions asked, if that's what you prefer. Of course you *can* get as involved as you want, but no one pushes you or implies that God is calling you to do any particular thing.

In other words, contrary to the liberal trope of the Church being rigid and controlling, in fact it exerts very little control over its members. It relies entirely on people being personally convinced of the Gospel and acting on their own initiative to participate in and support its promulgation and works of charity.

Is this a bad thing? Should the Catholic Church institute a requirement for a Mass Recommend? I don't know. It never has and I suspect it never will. But one thing it could learn from Mormonism is the need to instill and perpetuate a specific culture within a non-Catholic or even anti-Catholic environment.

Bruce Charlton said...

@A - I think the key insight here is indeed how to sustain Christianity in an anti-Christian society - and I agree that Mormons have much to teach.

But the history of Mormonism is that the religion suffered several extreme shocks and changes of direction - yet continued to grow throughout. The key relevant one here was the takeover of the Mormon city of God and nation of Deseret by the US government.

For some decades, the Mormons lived in Salt Lake city and around, under the rule of the Prophet and the Church, independent, in the belief they were inhabiting Zion.

All this was lost, and yet they adjusted with marvelous success to living absorbed into a hostile or indifferent larger society.

The difference was the suddenness, perhaps - but that does not account for the whole thing. I would say that the Mormons have been much better led than the mainstream Christians - the secularization and weakening of mainstream Christian churches has been actively assisted by many of their senior leadership, as a fifth column subverting from within. The same forces were at work in the Mormon church, but were excluded from the centres of power.

Another factor, which you don't mention, is that Mormons do not want to be excluded from the Temple ordinances because these make them happy and inspired. Mainstream Christian churches are reluctant to exert this kind of spiritual power, because people are indifferent to the sacraments etc - and would just change to another church or denomination.

It is not essentially a matter of coercion. Mormonism delivers spiritual (or at least psychological) benefits in this world, and Mormons do not want to lose these benefits - therefore they accept church discipline even when it is inconvenient and demanding.

Agellius said...

You seem to imply that the Mormon territory was forcibly annexed to the United States, but my understanding is that the territory applied for statehood of its own volition. In fact it had applied for statehood decades earlier, but the application was denied because of the practice of polygamy. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

I think you are over generalizing with regard to the degree to which members of each religion value their sacraments/ordinances.

Granted, a large proportion of people who call themselves Catholics are indifferent to the sacraments, and therefore don't bother going to Mass. Although these are technically Catholics due to their baptism, I would not consider that they have anything like real faith. Others with lukewarm faith go to Mass, who possibly would not do so if there were any trouble involved. And others go to Mass devoutly and are quite scrupulous in meeting the requirements for receiving Communion, even though no one is checking up on them. These would do so even if they had to take a test and receive a "pass" to do so.

Are there not also lukewarm Mormons? Of course there are. Like Catholics, there are some who call themselves Mormons because of their lineage or baptism, but are indifferent to the sacraments and ordinances, and don't bother going to weekly sacrament meetings, let alone to the temple. There are others who go to weekly sacrament meetings but don't bother getting a temple recommend for whatever reason. And there are some who attend weekly sacrament meetings devoutly and would jump through any hoop to avoid being deprived of access to the temple and its ordinances.

I submit that the main difference between Catholics who attend Mass, and Mormons who go to the trouble of getting a temple recommend, is that the Mormons have to jump through hoops before they can do so. Therefore, Mormons who go to the temple tend to be more devout, on average, than Catholics who go to Mass. But if Catholics had the same type of requirement for access to the Mass that Mormons have for the temple, that difference would disappear, since the more indifferent Catholics would be weeded out and you would be left with (for the most part) the truly devout.

Again, the ease with which Catholics may access their sacraments, without any interference or verification of their fitness to do so, accounts for the large proportion of more indifferent Catholics who attend Mass. And the existence of affirmative outreach and involvement in its members' lives, I think accounts for numbers of indifferent Mormons staying away from sacrament meetings and the temple: I suspect they would be more likely to avoid such things for fear of people offering to contact them, visit them, etc., whereas lukewarm Catholics have less reason to fear such things. Therefore, you tend to get more actively devout crowds in Mormon churches than in Catholic ones -- though, again, there are plenty of truly devout Catholics mixed in with the lukewarm at any given Sunday Mass.

I agree about liberals being allowed to rise to levels of power in the Catholic Church. But I would also note that the Catholic Church is the only one that has not budged an inch on the doctrines of the intrinsic evils of divorce, birth control, abortion, gay marriage, etc. Granted that rank-and-file Catholics don't always receive that message loud and clear from the pulpit, and that's a problem. But the truly devout, who are well instructed by their parents or schools, or take the trouble to seek out the Church's teachings by reading magisterial documents, are well aware of them and strive to live accordingly.

Personally I don't concede for an instant that Catholics don't get spiritual or psychological benefits from the devout participation in their sacraments, equal to that experienced by Mormons. It's there if you want it; he who seeks finds, to him who knocks it shall be opened.

Agellius said...

An afterthought: I see you are located in the U.K. Perhaps you have not seen the phenomenon of "cultural Mormonism".

Whenever a religion has become the established religion of a territory, such that it becomes an intrinsic part of the culture of that region, you are going to get large numbers of lukewarm and indifferent members, as generation after generation grows up in the faith and begins to take it for granted. The Catholic Church was the established faith and an intrinsic part of the culture of Europe for hundreds upon hundreds of years. And so, while you always had many truly devout Catholics, there were also large numbers of people who were indifferent or even hostile to the Church.

You see this today in Utah, although the Church has only been established there for some 165 years. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people in Utah who come from Mormon families or backgrounds, yet who are completely indifferent to the Mormon religion, and in many cases hostile. (See this article [http://www.abc4.com/content/news/top_stories/story/Number-of-faithful-Mormons-rapidly-declining/rvih3gOKxEm5om9IYJYnRA.cspx] by way of illustration.)

Possibly you have a different picture of the Mormon religion, based on your exposure to it in the U.K., where, unlike the Anglican or Catholic churches, it is nothing like an established religion or an intrinsic part of the culture.

Bruce Charlton said...

Agellius - I'm not sure how much you have read in the Mormon literature. My account of Utah was drawn mostly from Jan Shipps work - which made clear that the Mormon territory was under continual and escalating pressure from the US Federal government. For some decades there was an official state and a 'shadow' state side by side. Joining the United States and being stripped of their unique theocratic government was non-optional and would have been imposed by force if not agreed to; but naturally there were elements of negotiation.

I have been reading Mormon statistics for about five years - indeed that was how I got interested in the religion - because Mormons were just about the only US religion for which you could see that it made a difference to self-identified adherents. Roman Catholicism is essentially undetectable in terms of behaviour.

Utah is about half Mormon, and no doubt many of these are not very devout - yet it is an outlier, far from the other states, in many national statistics (family size, divorce and the like) - and usually in a positive direction.

Roman Catholic doctrine is one thing, what Catholics do is apparently unrelated to this (I haven't checked lately, but Ireland, Spain and Italy had the smallest family sizes in Western Europe). With Mormons, in contrast, the effect of the doctrines is easily seen on average behaviour of adherents - although of course there are many exceptions.

The degree of failure to implement Roman Catholicism in any way that is visible to observation is hard to exaggerate.

For example, the behaviour of faculty and students in 'Catholic' universities is absolutely mainstream - but this does not apply to Brigham Young University (nor to evangelical Protestant colleges like Wheaton or Peppardine) - their students (and faculty) are significantly better behaved than the average.

You may well be correct that this is due to a kind of complacency from having been dominant in some countries, but matters are dire in the UK Catholic church as well (where Catholicism was for a long time suppressed).

Agellius said...

Since my response to your latest is too long to fit in your combox, even in two parts(!), I have posted it on my own blog, here: http://agellius.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/by-their-fruits-you-shall-know-them/

I appreciate having the chance to discuss this with you.

Hyperborean said...

RE: " Should the Catholic Church institute a requirement for a Mass Recommend? I don't know. It never has and I suspect it never will."

That is not quite true. In ancient times, the non-Baptized left after the Mass of the Catechumens and were not allowed to receive the Eucharist. Even today, Eucharist is supposed to be withheld from public sinners, but don't count on it. All that was possible when everyone knew each other, but the tradition is there.