Monday, 28 November 2011

If I am a reactionary Christian, and Leftism is incompatible with Christianity, which Church?


This is difficult.

For Christian reactionaries, thanks to the triumph of the Left and the pervasive effects of political correctness, all powerful institutions have been subverted; so there is nowadays seldom the possibility of willing submission to a virtuous institution - a school, college, government department, shop, factories - almost all are perverted away from their proper functions.

And this applies to the institutional Churches.

(This is not merely the failure of institutions to do what they are supposed to do, the failure of schools to educate, of scientists to seek truth and so on; but that institutions are not even trying to do what they ought to do but are pursuing nihilistic Leftist goals such as group preferences, multiculturalism, eco-communism etc.).


I think everybody needs a denomination, if at all possible, not so much of the human institution but via the human to become part of the mystical body of the Church.

Yet we know that Leftism is fundamentally atheist, and fundamentally evil.

This was perhaps not so obvious in the past, but it is obvious now for those with eyes to see (lack of which eyes is one of the greatest triumphs of the Left).

The Left is openly, explicitly, actively trying to destroy the Good (that is seeking out and subverting and inverting truth beauty and virtue).

Leftism is therefore incompatible with Christianity.


Obviously, this has affected the Churches, so that they participate in the warped, and selective priorities and policies of Leftism: this is, indeed, the most obvious and advertized activity in the mainstream Churches.

Such that I think it possible most denominations probably overall do more harm than good to most souls (no matter how much is correct about them - if there be even one fatal flaw it can suffice to turn the whole tendency to evil).

(Recalling that the worst evil is that which most effectively mimics Good. The Nazis and Soviet Communists had many good qualities - yet...)


If Leftism and Christianity are impossible, yet we need to participate in the mystical Church - what then?

Joining any denomination requires discernment and caution, a reserve, a degree of holding-back - yet at the same time this is a direct incitement to spiritual pride. This dilemma is unavoidable, but we must nonetheless act.

So, what are the options?


My idea - currently - is that each person must decide what is the most important feature (or group of features) of the Church, necessary to sustain their own Christian life, and then focus upon that - because it is extremely unlikely that a perfect (or even mostly-perfect) answer will be available.

For instance, if frequent Holy Communion is most important, only a few Catholic denominations offer that possibility, and of these you will be fortunate if any Church is conveniently situated.

Or it may be the words, the liturgy, the music, or the purity of the teaching (sermons), or group meetings, or evangelism are the mainstay of your Christian life.


The situation is so bad for a reactionary Christian that if we can get one, or even two, core requirements to help sustain your Christian life, then we are fortunate indeed. 

We should try to be grateful for what is available - and grateful for the work of so many other people which makes anything possible - rather than resentful at the lack of an ideal Church in our vicinity.  



Gyan said...

I suppose the straightforward way would be to judge the claims of each denomination.

That is, one needs to have a picture of Positive Good, rather than only a Negative Good (Non-Left).

Can one arrive at True Church by merely employing a Left-avoider?
Won't one arrive at Atheist Libertarianism, a la Any Rand?

Shouldn't Christianity be an end onto itself?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - I don't follow your points.

What are the 'claims' of a denomination? And - if there is an official list of claims (like the Catechism in the Catholic Church) are these an accurate reflection of practice in general and in each specific church?

Anonymous said...

Orthodoxy, especially the Russian tradition. I haven't met a single leftist in Church. Staunch anti-communists and reactionaries the lot of them.

Jehu said...

Memetic entanglement largely insures that if you find a church that is close to 50% male, you've also found a church that is not leftist and may even be rightist. Men go where they're wanted and stay where they're well treated.

S. F. Griffin said...

I think Gyan is pointing out that you would look at the arguments for and against any particular denomination being true.

For instance:
Is the Pope really the holder of the keys to the kingdom and is he to be considered infallible when speaking on faith and morals ex cathedra?

If you believe that then you have no choice except to be a Catholic or deny Christ. If you do not believe that you cannot be a Catholic (no matter what church you attend on a Sunday).

Likewise, if you are going to be a Protestant, do you actually believe in doctrines such as sola scriptura?

Obviously, the arguments concerning these claims are way beyond the scope of this comment, but I think that is the gist of what Gyan is getting at.

Does that make his points intelligible? If so, is there anything wrong with this approach?

Bruce Charlton said...

@SG (and Gyan) - it sounds like an obvious argument, but I don't think it is true - since in practice in leads some people to no institutional Church at all.

I think a better approach is more akin to Lewis's Mere Christianity - with both Catholic and Protestant elements.

At least that way the Christian gets some help, rather than trying to do the whole thing by solo prayer (which I think is possible, albeit miserable, but for most people only just).

SonofMoses said...

Dear Bruce,
So glad you’re back with the ‘mini essays’.
I keep a daily scrapbook of quotes from my internet browsing, things which I think deserve further reflection, and this usually includes plenty from yourself.
There has been nothing from you, however, for the last few weeks.
Now, though, I’m finding plenty again.
You are right, the aphorisms didn’t work, but I’m sure you were right to give it a try.
Anyway, now I’m so glad to be getting my daily fix of radical thought again.
There are few other places which give no quarter.
Thank you.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks SoM!

Gyan said...

Christianity is a dogmatic religion, for better or worse (unlike Hinduism for example) and there is no avoiding the questions of dogma.

"- since in practice in leads some people to no institutional Church at all."

What is the meaning of the word "Church"?

And how does the word "institutional" modify the noun "Church" and perhaps a non-institutional Church is a n oxymoron.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - yes Christianity is dogmatic, but (Scripture tells us) the best Christians are simple folk, and simple folk do not know the dogma in any detail. So (I reason) it is a mistake to put detailed theological dogma at the centre of Christianity.

I am drawing a distinction between the institutional Church - the human organization - and the mystical Church - the community of true believers, or 'saints' - dispersed around the world, mostly never having met each other.

I am especially cognizant of the prophecies of the end times, in which it is suggested that the majority of supposed-Christians within the institutional Churches will be apostate, will serve 'the antichrist' (i.e. will serve purposive evil successfully masquerading as Good - in our era in the West this is mostly Leftism/ political correctness).

Gyan said...

Leaving aside the simple folk for the present, you yourself are deciding the question intellectually. So either you choose rationally i,e. by judging the dogmatic claims or irrationally (by any other way)

"I am especially cognizant of the prophecies of the end times"

How do you know these things?. What gives you the confidence that your picture of End Times is not the sheer nonsense (as a Hindu or a Muslim or a Jew might say)?.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - I disagree that it is irrational to consider, and favour, factors other than dogma.

wrt End Times - I receive this teaching from my spiritual directors such as CS Lewis, but especially Fr Seraphim Rose and other Russian Orthodox Fathers - eg. see some of the essays on


Gyan said...

Pls don't mind me saying it, but you seem to have a touch of Leftism yourself. The disdain for dogma and institutional Church is typically Left.

Your authorities CS Lewis and Fr Rose were both members of institutional Churchs. In fact, CS Lewis wrote explicitly that the mere Christianity is just a waiting room, a vestibule from where various doors open to denominations.

In fact, it is not really possible to avoid dogma while being a Christian.

Baxter said...

This is a difficult subject.

I have read Williams and Lewis quite a bit and drawn much value from them. But they had significant flaws. I can't bring myself to really believe that their essential nondenominationalism, which each denomination rejects, works. I realize each complicates and disassociates from the cheap version, but fundamentally they're open to the charge.

I take my thinking on this much from the priest and writer Robert Hugh Benson, who as an Anglican priest held for a while to a theory that wherever Rome, Moscow, and Canterbury agreed, there was the true faith. But of course none of the three believed in this doctrine!

In a very strong sense I would like this to be true however. After all the Catholic church is so weak, and so corrupt in so many of its limbs. It is in the same sense I would like for perennialism to be true. But that mainly draws strength from my instinct to be 'nice.'

But I do believe that some true Christianity is better than none. It's an open question whether any false Christianity is better than none at all though. Lone quietism is probably a recipe for disaster.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - all fair points, and I am sure that I do retain considerable residual leftism from a lifetime of habit and continual social and political pressure.

Of course I am not against dogma - but I am saying that a study of the official doctrine of denominations is not a *sufficient* basis for deciding which denomination to join.

@Baxter - agreed.

This is probably one of those dilemmas where both answers are wrong - in a fallen world this is often so (I am re-reading Pascal's Pensees, which is full of these).

A Church which claims an exclusive path to salvation is almost certainly wrong, yet a Church which embraces diversity is apostate.

The ideal situation is not the situation we are in. My spiritual ideal is Eastern Orthodoxy, but the Eastern Orthodox Church is full of conflict, some of it very bitter.

Fr Seraphim Rose (despite being a monk, living remotely, and a man of great holiness) himself had to spend much time in reacting to and dealing with disputes within the Orthodox Church in the USA. Immediately after he died (reposed), his Abbot seems to have fallen away from the path, and his monastery (skete) descended into chaos.

There is no institution which we can join, obey, and escape these problems, these evils. They are part of our trials in an old world.

Gyan said...

"but the Eastern Orthodox Church is full of conflict, some of it very bitter."

But why would you expect otherwise?.
Entire history of Church, eastern or western, is full of conflicts and this was promised by Christ himself.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - Indeed, but this conflict is schismatic. Many of Fr Seraphim Rose's followers in the Russian Orthodox Overseas church are at present a 'remnant' cut-off from the Russian 'state' Church, (I believe) due to that Church's lack of repentance for the events of the Communist era.

Wurmbrand said...

About finding one's denomination:

Maybe it's better to think, for a while, about confessions rather than denominations. By "confession" I mean "what the people say back to God and say to one another about God."

The New Testament above all gives us what the apostles said to God and about God. Their "memoirs" (as the writings were sometimes called in the early Church, I believe) attest that Jesus said that the Old Testament was about Himself (St. Luke 24:25, etc.). To be Christian is surely to be Christ-centered, and here we see that to be Christ-centered is to be Bible-oriented, i.e. the Bible orients us. In a Psalm it is referred to as a lamp and light to one's feet and path. Its light might sometimes not illuminate questions that interest us, but it gives us the light we need for our pilgrimage.

I am saying, then, that the best confession of faith will be Christ-centered and will express an understanding of what the Bible teaches about Him and, oriented towards Him, other matters about which we need to know for our pilgrimage, e.g. prayer, sacraments, and much more.

I suppose that there are Christians struggling with the good bits that they find in their various denominations, and that these Christians are invisibly united. (You probably have the commentary on the Apocalypse by Archbishop Averky, which was translated by Fr. Seraphim Rose. See the appended essay at the end by Archimandrite Constantine.)

Though this is true, one shouldn't relativize such that one says: Well, then, it doesn't really matter which denomination one's in, since there are Christians surviving in them all. (Not that you are saying this.)

We want to find a denomination that maintains -- not just on paper, as historical documents of the denomination -- a sound and robust confession of faith.

Where today is the teaching of the Apostles to be found?

It will exalt Jesus Christ. It will point to where He may be found: we are to look for Him in the preaching of the Gospel and in the Sacraments because these means of grace have attached to them the promise of God Himself.

Kept and strengthened in the Faith by these means, we will continue our pilgrimage and, by God's mercy, be ready to die.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Dale - thanks for this thoughtful contribution.

Those interested in the Apocalypse by Archbishop Averky can find a copy at:

Wurmbrand said...

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."