Thursday, 7 December 2017

Traditional/ Orthodox Church-led Christianity is now impossible - and people are (literally) fooling-themselves to think otherwise

When I became a Christian; I following CS Lewis's advice and went to the nearest branch of the tradition into-which I had been baptised. This rapidly unravelled as I realised that the Church of England was split and at-war, and my local branch was firmly on the wrong side.

After a while of trying to find a (not dying and spiritually-helpful) place in the Anglican communion and Roman Catholic Church - and failing to escape endemic debate and fighting; I tried to avoid this whole arena of dispute by trying to become Eastern Orthodox, which I understood to be based on Tradition. I just wanted to believe and do what the church said - and leave myself out of it...

However, I found exactly the same bitter division and dispute going right through Orthodoxy, wherever I looked. I was driven to use personal discernment again and again...

And gradually I realised that we moderns cannot be orthodox or traditional - for us to live in mere obedience to The Church is impossible - because there is no The Church (without first discerning what that is...), there are only layers upon layers of dispute and disagreement. In All churches and without exception.

We simply cannot escape the requirement to use our own personal discernment again and again...

Then I thought - if this is indeed the situation everywhere and for everybody, there must be a reason. God must have made things this way (he would not leave us bereft). And the reason seems to be that this is our task and duty - we are bred as individuals, and we must be Christians as individuals whether we like it or not.

Orthodoxy and Tradition and self-effacing obedience are only possible when they are taken for granted. Here and Now they are Not taken for granted - and therefore we need to live as Christians by our own discernment, taking responsibility for our own salvation and theosis.

We have-to do this, and we are doing it - all of us. 

And we therefore need to be honest and clear about the fact - and do it well and openly, rather than covertly and in a state of self-denial.

Orthodoxy/ Tradition/ Obedience are not just impossible - they are not even optimal. They have not been possible or optimal since about 1800 - but man has failed to grasp the necessity to remain Christian, and really-real Christian; while becoming a new kind of Christian.

This is Not liberalisation, because it is not an excuse to ditch Christianity and replace it with Radical/ Leftist politics and the Sexual Revolution as life priorities.

We must be Christianly-motivated - honestly so; and we must take personal responsibility for the individual discernment that (anyway) we cannot avoid making: so we should make it a focus, make it explicit, make discernment clear to ourselves: that discernment is the basis of any and all possible Christain lives, here-and-now.

There is no other honest alternative.
 

Note added: To clarify, I am Not saying that the churches are obsolete or should be discarded or that real Christians should leave their churches... I Am saying that real church-Christians actually-are using their personal discernment to evaluate their churches, and to decide what to do, what not to do, which side to take, who is to be trusted, who is a demonic infiltrator and so forth. In other words, real Christians cannot (here-and-now) simply obey The Church, cannot 'passively' be ruled-by The Church, cannot opt-out of using personal discernment again-and-again - in sum, they cannot accord The Church ultimate authority over their personal salvation and theosis. And the same applies (from a Protestant perspective) to The Bible -- personal discernment must and will be used in choosing a translation (or in learning the original language - in discerning the meaing and context of words and phrases), in understanding and interpreting The Bible in terms of history (whose history?); in deciding which scholarship is necessary, which to believe and which to ignore. So I am first making a negative point - and the positive point which follows is that we can and should have faith that our powers of discernment are adequate to this task (because our God of love and power would not leave any single one of his children bereft of true-guidance, and if guidance is not to be trusted in the social or institutional environmment (as is the case), then we can be sure that true-guidance *will* be found by each man who seeks it).