Friday 24 October 2014

Neoreaction is wrong what it says Leftism is a Christian heresy - Leftism is Christian apostasy

Neoreaction is wrong, and is in fact speaking nonsense, when it says that Leftism is a Christian heresy.

What they should be saying is that Leftism is Christian apostasy.

Apostasy means to abandon the faith; whereas heresy means contrary to orthodoxy. That clarification should be enough to show the error of Neoreaction.

Heresy can only be defined from one particular concept of Christian orthodoxy - so a Roman Catholic, a Russian Orthodox or a Calvinist could define some other person or group as heretical - indeed each would define the others as heretical - but strictly there are not generically Christian heretics, because there is no generically Christian orthodoxy from which to define heresy.

If somebody dissents from a generically Christian position, then they are not an heretic, they are an apostate - which is to say they are not merely unorthodox Christians but reject Christianity itself (for example, if they deny that Christ is their savior and Lord, but merely a prophet, teacher or good example).

Some Liberal Christians, who are always Leftist, could be described as heretics from the perspective of other specific Christian positions - but some are apostate since they deny basic, core Christianity.

Neoreactionaries logically cannot define, detect nor ascribe heresy, nor can they describe some person or group as heretical, because they are not arguing from any orthodox Christian position; they are in fact (qua Neoreactionary, and even if they themselves happen to be Christians) arguing from a secular position.

However, although Neoreaction cannot ascribe heresy, because it is neither Christian nor orthodox in any way, Neoreaction can legitimately detect and define apostasy: it can recognize that some person or group has abandoned core Christianity.

Neoreactionaries as individuals can only define heresy if they are doing so from a specific orthodox Christian position - but this will not merely relate to Leftism, but a Calvinist Neoreactionary will then define a Roman Catholic Neoreactionary as heretical and vice versa.

Anyway, enough has been said to demonstrate that the Neoreactionaries 'Leftism is a Christian heresy' meme is not just causally incorrect, it is logically incoherent.

Not just nonsense, but double nonsense!



JP said...

No doubt most neoreactionaries have no idea that there is a difference between heresy and apostasy.

wywialm said...

Actually, Russian Orthodox Christianity is not and probably never been heretical from the point of view of (Roman) Catholicism and vice versa, as schism is something clearly different. What is more, there is Orthodox theology, rite and spirituality inside Catholic church (those Eastern Churches that acknowledge the primacy of the Petrine See).

Also, I suppose it is difficult to operate within any protestant framework and define a heretic, as there is scarcely any authority to do so - no Tradition to refer to or no Ecumenical Council for example.

This certainly does not challenge your main point, which is valid and very relevant.

AlexT said...

Orthodoxy and Catholicism certainly do consider each other heretical. The cease fire since Vatican II has more to do with the heresy of ecumenism than anything else. Historically, they have been very clear on this subject.

Karl said...

after the Reformation most Protestants belonged to established churches that could and did define doctrine and excommunicate heretics. In Geneva in 1553 Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for denying the Trinity.

Leo said...

I agree with the original post that in a religiously fragmented world, heresy is not the appropriate term for most disagreements. Apostasy is generally a better term.

One more thought: It is one thing to excommunicate members for heresy. It is quite another to send someone to the stake over the matter. There are no doubt still a few Christians who would be willing to go to the stake defending the Trinity. The question is how many would be willing to send someone else to the stake for disagreeing with them on the Trinity. Very few, I hope.

Anonymous said...

after the Reformation most Protestants belonged to established churches that could and did define doctrine and excommunicate heretics. In Geneva in 1553 Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for denying the Trinity.

Meet the new boss. Worse than the old boss.

Bruce Charlton said...

Comment from LES: "Servetus was not a Calvinist, so he could not be a Calvinist heretic. He did claim to be a Christian, but he did not recognize the Geneva authorities or the Roman authorities as having the power to define Christianity.

"Servetus managed to elude Catholic authorities, but French Inquisitors asked that Servetus be extradited to them for execution.

"Whether out of personal animosity or to show himself as firm in defense of Trinitarian Orthodoxy as his usual foes, Calvin went ahead with the persecution of Servetus unto death."

Anonymous said...

Most people call Protestantism Christianity, so given that it would be proper to consider it a heresy. Others of us that consider Protestantism an apostasy could agree, but you're splitting hairs as though it's an incredibly significant point.

Bruce Charlton said...

Comment from DYSTOPIA MAX: "A neoreactionary would say that the only difference between a heresy and an apostasy is how well it succeeds at surviving and propagating. With regard to whether they can split the difference, the neoreactionaries are, at least, acknowledging that there exists an actual Christianity to evolve oneself away from.

"Whether out of personal animosity or to show himself as firm in defense of Trinitarian Orthodoxy as his usual foes, Calvin went ahead with the persecution of Servetus unto death."

"Or, it's Calvin acknowledging that there is, in fact, a core set of Christian beliefs around which neither serious Protestants nor serious Catholics would fall. Executing those who deny it while still claiming to be part of the tradition is defense of the essence of the ancient faith against the spirit of the age..."

Bruce Charlton said...

@ap - Slitting hairs? From where I stand, the difference between heresy and apostasy can be the most significant difference imaginable.

Heretics will be saved, *even if* they remain heretics; but apostates will be damned (i.e they will damn-themselves, because they will reject Christ at the judgement) unless they repent.

Wm Jas said...

That heretics will be saved even if they remain heretics is hardly the mainstream view. My understanding is that the Catholic Church views formal heresy as a mortal sin, and Dante devotes a whole circle of hell to its punishment.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas [wrt my comment: ahem - Slitting hairs was a misprint for Splitting hairs - although I suppose they amount to the same thing.]

You make my point for me - I prefaced my comment by "From where I stand" - in order to reinforce the point that Heresy can only *ever* be defined "From where I stand". As I am am a Mormon-believer (although not A Mormon) I have given the LDS view of what happens to heretics. And this is not the Medieval RCC view, nor the Calvinist view.

My point is that there is NO Neoreactionary view on heresy, because Neoreaction is no kind of Christianity at all - not even heretical - it is a secular doctrine.

(That some specific individual Neoreactionaries are Christians is therefore irrelevant.)

Wm Jas said...

By the way, what do you think of the position (common in the Middle Ages) that The Religion That Must Not Be Named is a Christian heresy?

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - I don't really know enough to have an opinion, nor do I regard the question as critical. But that was the view of Belloc, who did know a lot on this subject; and Rodney Stark also. Could be. But to me this looks like a new foundation intended to supersede Christianity and Judaism - as new as was Christianity; and as far as I know, there never was a Christian self-identification.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree it's significant to split these hairs, but you're largely overlooking its semantic nature. It isn't a deep point that determines much difference between you and neoreactionaries.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ap - But that is the crux. From a Christian perspective there is a big difference whether Leftism came from a progressive abandonment of Christianity - due to Leftism being strategically opposed to Christianity (i.e. apostasy) - Leftism subverting Christianity;

or whether Leftism derives-from Christianity by a series of modifications (heresies), from people (heretics) who regarded themselves as better, more devout Christians - establishing a more true church.

If Leftism was primarily heretical then the Leftist heretics would need to be stronger in their faith, more devout than the Orthodox (like the Amish Anabaptists, Southern Baptists, the Salvation Army) - while if it was apostasy then the Leftist apostates would be less strict, 'free-er', would be abandoning much of the devoutness and rigour - like the Romantics and New England Transcendentalists, and sexual liberalizers, and ecumenicists.

Also, the people who say Leftism is a Christian heresy believe that Christianity caused Leftism (by selective growth of certain Christian elements); whereas I would say that Leftism is fundamentally opposed to Christianity, and the causality is that Leftism attacks (in a kind of *rotation*) various core Christian doctrines and practices - strategically breaking up Christianity into small units; then using one bit of Christianity to attack, weaken and subvert another; until there is almost nothing left.

Dystopia Max said...

Moldbug's critique of Richard Dawkins may be the most useful addendum to this post, as he goes into details on what ideological and religious morbidity actually looks like, and covers the difficulty of making distinctions between the levels of parasitism.

So when I hear something like this:

"Heretics will be saved, *even if* they remain heretics; but apostates will be damned (i.e they will damn-themselves, because they will reject Christ at the judgement) unless they repent. "

I would make a simple rebuttal: to say that "heretics will be saved, *even if* they remain heretics" is to say that "murderers will be saved, even if they remain murderers" or "incompetents will continue to work here, even if they remain incompetent" demands a rather more complete response if you don't wish to immediately alienate anyone with any desire of the Good. I and you could quite naturally find examples of such statements in practice today, that would not mean that I would endorse them by any means!

I will say that heretics *may be capable of being saved*, depending on the seriousness of their heresy and their effective recognition that it is, in fact, a heresy, but to simply allow heresy based on that is a gross misapplication of human judgment and an invitation to the more intellectually sensitive readers to disregard much of their previous trust in the source. Our once-simply-heretical, now-apostate enemies have seized and raised the sword of penury, exile, and death against us, and just because the speaking, researching, and living habits of those non-apostates living under this threat have become dissolute and doubtful due to these restrictions.

This does not mean that the enforcement mechanisms themselves are to blame. Death is and will continue to be at the end of all serious human law, the impulse that motivates one to anger and action in the fact of open incompetence and mayhem is indeed a Holy one, and abuse, even when common, does not determine common use.

Leftist thought is the tool of the devil, those committed to leftism will never be able to be trusted in positions of authority, and while they may save their souls despite their twisted ideology, they are not safe to have as friends or to place one's general trust in.

Committed and serious Christians are obviously best, but those openly against the spirit of the age are not too far behind, as they have already completed the major first step toward repentance, and that publicly. They may cause you annoyance with their occasional tics and niggling attention to details you may not want to look at, but they're far less dangerous than those who speak your language nominally but harbor alien impulses and connections with all the loyalty borne of wilfullness and persecution, and have assoicated them with the Christian tradition.

Attacking Moldbug instead of them is a cop-out at best and a signal of meekness and subservience to the "social justice warriors" of the day. But I suppose easy targets are easier.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - Some good points in here, which is why I print the comment.

But when you write "Attacking Moldbug instead of them is a cop-out at best and a signal of meekness and subservience to the "social justice warriors" of the day. But I suppose easy targets are easier. "- I wonder if you mean me?

You writing as an unidentified person with a self-consciously 'cool' adolescent pseudonym, lecturing others online about their 'meekness and subservience' etc; and me being a real person writing under my real name and address with a known history available to anyone who can use Google and can be bothered to spend five minutes on 'research'.

Anonymous said...

You start with the false opinion that there is a ‘true’ Christianity that you can distinguish, say, Stoicism from. Wrong. Christianity is a polyglot religion, and Western Christianity a quite variant tapestry of those elements; often being used by people who have no connexion to the original culture or mythology involved, and thus are running a kind of caricature or mutant variant of some long-dead ‘pagan’ cult.

The book of Acts is plaguirized from the Bacchae, and Christians were often confused with Cynics by both their beliefs and distinctive garbs. Most of the ‘early history’ of Christianity as presented by the church, just like the ‘history’ of the Jews, is mythology cribbed from earlier (and often more coherent) sources.

Leftism might have some existence outside of Christianity proper, and the Right does, too – I think we can agree that Zeus cults and fascist futurism all have distinctly inegalitarian, aristocratic strands, and to this extent it is no more true that Leftism is Christianity than it is that Fascism is Roman paganism. There are lots of intermediaries. However, classical Christianity had many distinctively egalitarian and apocalyptic elements, which were manifested repeatedly by so-called heresies; often lumped under ‘antinomianism’ and later, ‘Protestantism is a combination of these volk egalitarian heresies and the subdued Pauline Gnosticism in it. I do not think that Leftism is a version of Christianity, but Humanism descends from Christianity the same way that Islam does – immediately, directly, but with some admixture and reaction in the process of differentiation and empire building.

Christianity deeply informs leftist moralism and puritanism, and the sorts of less-Christian leftism and Rightism (Communism and Nazism) have always roused more antipathy than sympathy in Anglo-Protestant countries; in fact the divisions of political modernist types along denominational lines gives clear evidence that there is a strong sympathy between the religion of turning the other cheek and the whole slave morality fetish of the West. Our kissing cousins, the Aryans, have many similar religious and cultural institutions, but never evidenced this multi-culti leftist soft-peddled humanitarianism that social gospel types so love. This is because Christianity among them eventually died, and took different forms, and thus the seeds for democratic (Presbyterian!) Humanism were never sown.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Cheimison - I know that no argument can ever change the mind of someone whose mind does not want to be changed - my argument seems absolutely simple and straightforward to me, whereas yours is complex and paradoxical.

The simple fact is that the most Leftist societies - from the French Revolutionaries, through the Societ Union to Mao and now the modern West - are the most anti-Christian.

On the other side, the most Christian societies are not very Leftist. They are not completely non-Leftist, because Christianity is not the opposite of Leftism - Christianity is not a reaction to Leftism; it is older, prior, larger than Leftism.

I think this may be wat confuses neoreactionaries - they are looking for something the opposite of (modern) Leftism - but that could only be a reaction to modern Leftism - i.e. neo-reaction; which is related to fascism rather than Christianity (since fascism was a secular reaction against communism of the mid twentieth century - which is why there several fascisms; since effective anticommunism was different according to country).

A further problem with neoreaction is it has the built in assumption that religions are not true - that none of them are true. Wheras I have become convinced that some religions are true - to different degrees. For example the religion of the Ancient Egyptians must have a great deal of truth in it, because their Empire was extremely religious, and it lasted for 3,000 years - no delusional system would allow that. The same applies to all other long lasting religons that dominated their societies - they must be assumed to be mosty correct, or correct in essentia details.

(This does not mean that they aren't evil! After al evil must be significantly correct in order to be effective and lasting. Political correctness is mosrtly evil, but it is the good bits that make it effective - and PC is presumably unsustainable, net-destructive.)

Wholly delusional systems may last a couple of generations or so (due to the inertia of overlapping generatiosn), especially if belief in them is half hearted and they are not dominant, but not more.

By this account, the evidence is strongly that non-religious societies are not viable. I think it is now very obvious that Man canot function properly without religion - but loses motivation, becomes short termist and hedonic (hence the obsessive focus on sex in modernity), and lapses incrementally into self-hating and suicidal nihilism.

Neoreaction is a blind alley - we must choose a religion.

If neoreactionaries do not want to choose Christianity, they should argue the case for some other religion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - I'm happy to discuss this further - but as it says at the top of the blog - crude comments are not tolerated here.

BTW: When the discussion is at a metaphyisical level, it is just an error to state something like 'magic doesn't exist' as if it was a premise - especially when the statement contradicts the common sense of almost every human that has ever lived, and is currently alive.