Tuesday 22 June 2021

Roman Catholics should not confuse evidence of their church taking the side of evil in the spiritual war, with the "Donatist" controversy of the 4th century

When I write about the world-historical disaster of the Roman Catholic Church's response to the birdemic - which (as the largest Christian denomination) by itself represents the biggest and most significant set-back to Christianity since its beginnings. 

Plus, of course, the other Christian denominations have also been just as bad.

Catholics should not imagine that this is some kind of a re-run of the Donatist controversy of the 4th century; which ancient dispute was (apparently) about the validity of sacraments when administered by properly-ordained but corrupt priests. 

The problem here and now, in 2021, is much more fundamental - about as fundamental as anything could be. 

The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church (and nearly all other Christian denominations and churches of any size and power) have joined the side of evil. 

The problem is that, as an institutions, the RCC has enlisted in the army of Satan in the spiritual war of this world

That is the measure of our situation as real Christians, of whatever stripe - including Catholics.

That is what requires a response. 


Bruce Charlton said...

@ captOBV - I don't want this to veer towards inter-denominational disputes. I wish the 'real' RCC well, and greatly regret its decline, apostasy then betrayal.

I am in a minority of one wrt what type of Christian I am; but I recognize real Christians among all the denominations of which I am aware. I want all real Christians to work together. We can argue, but it should be without animus and venom; always aware that it is better to be any kind of Christian than not a Christian.

The Big problem is, there are not many real Christians (as a proportion) in any of the churches at present; since so many 'devout' Christians obey their church leadership rather than using their own discernment; and so few have apparently repented their churches joining the side of Satan - hence themselves becoming evil (because evil is about what side you are on; not about how personally well-behaved or observant you are).

Bruce Charlton said...

"not about how personally well-behaved or observant you are" - assuming repentance, of course.

All Christians have always been sinners - the problem *now* is that devout, obedient church members are *unrepentant* sinners.

Evan Pangburn said...

It's hard to imagine there was a time when priests who cooperated with the authorities, so as to avoid persecution of the torture-and-death variety were considered, by some at least, to be too craven.

I'm not making any particular point here, but the sort of faith Christians had in those days, how serious they were, is something I ruminate on a lot.

Bruce Charlton said...

A recently as 1843, some hundreds of professional Scottish Protestants of the Church of Scotland - ministers, professors, teachers etc - gave up their jobs, houses and status on a point of theological principle -


One does not see much evidence of such courage concerning theology in the Church of Scotland nowadays - or elsewhere.

Francis Berger said...

I agree with your points, but I'm afraid many Roman Catholics deny the significance of what has occurred (as you well know). The following illustrates the attitude I've come across far too often in RC circles in the past year:

"This? This is nothing. Back in Year X during the X of the X the Roman Catholic Church faced far bigger challenges, but it survived, so it will have no problem surviving this."

On the one hand, this can be interpreted as unshakable faith. On the other hand, it can also be interpreted as an utter lack of awareness and discernment.

Most Roman Catholics and other Christians appear incapable of comprehending the unprecedented nature of what occurred in 2020 and what continues to unfold now.

Anonymous said...

A big aspect of the 'problem' (to use that inadequate word) in Hierarchical Churches - Rome, various Orthodox Churches, various Anglican Churches (I don't know about the non-Chalcedonian Churches, and have, however reprehensibly, not yet tried to find out) - is the extent to which Priests are practically dependent upon/limited by their Bishops - if they discerningly push back, they can - and probably will - be quashed - moved, removed, suspended, etc., which (I think) can be a prudential consideration. It is still saddening that there do not seem to be more of the Priests who push back nonetheless (whether from lack of discernment, fear, prudential conclusions).

One hopes there is a lot more going on 'underground' than one is aware of, in the classic 'Church under persecution' ways.

In this context, a particularly egregious thing is the extent to which Church Hierarchs (and their administrative functionaries) variously (often?) go further in shutting down those in their care than the arbitrarily restrictive States in which they find themselves.

David Llewellyn Dodds

Bruce Charlton said...

@DLD - "the 'problem' ... is the extent to which Priests are practically dependent upon/limited by their Bishops"

I call them Episcopal churches - i.e. churches derived from bishops! The bishop is indeed the proper 'unit' of such churches. Only a bishop can make more priests and sustain the church - only a bishop is a Full priest, in that sense.

This is certainly a limitation, but the flip side you only need One bishop to make more priests and begin a new offshoot church - as happened with SSPX.

"One hopes there is a lot more going on 'underground' than one is aware of, in the classic 'Church under persecution' ways."

Yes indeed - but that process will certainly be hindered by resistance to acknowledging the catastrophe that has happened in 2020. Acknowledgement seems like the first step of any positive change.

Anonymous said...

The SSPX is a striking example, praying publicly for the Pope and the Bishop of whatever Diocese they find themselves in, yet, in the current catastrophe, making full use of the scope of State restrictions where and when those are less restrictive than what the Diocese (etc.) imposes, and being free to acknowledge the catastrophe and widely critique restrictions and responses explicitly and emphatically themselves.

David Llewellyn Dodds

c matt said...

I get what you are saying, and don't particularly disagree, but the RCC is not co-terminus with the hierarchy. And in many quarters, the exact composition of the hierarchy is somewhat, shall we say, disagreed. Not unlike the current situation in the US regarding the legitimacy of the Presidency, it is one thing to say the current purported "Pope" and his ne'er do well collaborators are a disgrace (no argument there); but a different thing to say the RCC this or the RCC that. True, the hierarchy (legitimate or not) is a component of the RCC in some way, but not its sum total. Just like conflating the actions of a particular government with the action of the nation and its people - for convenience sake, most people do that in discussions, but there is a significant difference. Same goes for any other denomination.

Having written that, I totally agree - the response to COVID and jettison of vital sacraments without a moment's even half-hearted resistance (if not full enthusiasm) is unprecedented. Can't recall who said it, but summed it up nicely: Sometimes we are called to suffer for the Church; sometimes we are called to suffer from it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ c matt - What you say seems fine to me.

You are saying that the individual Roman Catholic must exercise personal discernment concerning the church (considered as a hierarchy or bureaucracy) - and I think you would agree that this should be active, conscious and explicit, unashamed discernment.

The era for mere generic obedience is past; and it is dishonest (as I believe far too many Catholics do) to discern by choosing who to obey *but* to deny one is doing it.

And when the authorities do wrong, when they sin institutionally (as now); then that should be identified and acknowledged as such.

This seems to me (as an outsider, well-wisher) an excellent basis for the future of the RCC - ideally if it would extend across the priesthood (including at some, or at least one!, bishop) and the laity.

Anonymous said...

On the chance that this is a good post in connection with which to mention it, I have just encountered The Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority, apparently released on 23 June, and with a variety of Church identifications among the 24 "Initial Signers" and even more among the additional "Signers". I certainly found it worth reading and pondering, and you may find it worth posting about, as well.

It has a dot com website with its name of Warrenton Declaration run together without capital letters as site name.

David Llewellyn Dodds