Monday 19 July 2021

Real Christians now need conceptually to divide the Christian 'religion' from the churches - or die eternally

It has been commonplace for at least a couple of centuries in The West for people to reject Christianity (supposedly) on the basis of abuses by and in one or all the Christian churches. 

This stands in contrast to the way people behave in politics; where a convinced socialist (for example) has no problem in remaining an ideal socialist despite the gross failures and corruption of actual socialist governments in Russia, China, Cambodia or wherever. 

People will put great intellectual effort into distinguishing the 'real' ideology from the institution...

But when it comes the the ultimate religious questions, Christianity is abandoned and rejected quickly, wholly and vehemently; and this is justified on the basis of much less gross failure and corruption than those of actually-existing communism. 

This Christian apostasy in The West has been such an extreme phenomenon as to indicate a covert desire to abandon Christianity on any excuse

At the same time, apostate Christians - i.e. those who were in the process of rejecting Christianity - have often pretended (to themselves and others) that they were 'rejecting the church/es in order to be better Christians'. 

Yet in retrospect it is obvious that challenging, subverting, 'reforming' the Christian churches was, in practice, nearly-always just a transitional phase on the way out of Christianity altogether

It turns-out that the frequent claim of leaving church 'to become a more serious Christian' - almost always - was disguising the fact of leaving the churches in order not to be a Christian at all. 

...Or maybe to become the kind of pseudo-Christian who simply follows the lead of the evolving Left agenda while giving it a pseudo-Christian rationale (like the modern leadership of all major 'Christian' denominations). 

I regard this as (by accident or design) a false trail - a misleading association - laid by the powers of evil to discredit in advance what has now become the only way to remain a real Christian: I mean that now all real Christians needs to become spiritually independent of all churches

This does Not means that all Christians need to leave all churches - individual Christians may/will continue to find specific churches to be helpful - but it does mean that all Christians need to regard all churches as (more or less helpful) means to the end of salvation

Even those Christians who regard their specific church as necessary to salvation, now need to regard that church as a means not an end. They need to look upon their own church with a discerning eye, and discriminate decisively within that denomination - to see in what ways denomination churches, or priests and leaders, enable or assist salvation; and distinguish these institutions and individuals clearly from the many/most ways in which that church-as-a-whole is leading its members away from salvation. 

The situation here-and-now is a choice simple and stark: Christianity or spiritual death

And indeed, without real Christianity as a basis - even ordinary, everyday, commonsense living has become impossible - has turned against itself. We live in an unprecedented world of officially-imposed, mass-accepted, value-inversion

To be normal, mainstream, agnostic is thus to make the choice of damnation and death. 

(It was not always so - but it is Now.)

This means that each and every person must now find a way to become and remain a real Christian.

Find a way. There is no signposted path anymore. 

Christianity is primarily about ends, not means; because the means derive-from the end. 

The end is simple: to follow Jesus Christ to eternal resurrected life in Heaven. 

That is easy to understand. The tough thing is doing it; but people do tough things all the time when they want them - they travel long distances to meet family or lovers - or even 'just' for holidays, train - hours a day - for sports; they pursue education and careers over decades...

If someone truly regards eternal life as important; then he will not shirk from work, from searching and suffering, in order to get it. 


Brief Outlines said...

Many thanks

Karl said...

Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

No need for a Church, one or two others suffice

Bruce Charlton said...

@Brief - You're welcome!

@Karl - "one or two others"

Of course, for some people in some situations - gathering two or three other real Christians may not be possible.

It seems obvious to me that God (the creator, who loves us each individually) will not make *necessary* anything which is not possible.

Dr. Mabuse said...

I've read a lot of conservative Catholic blogs over the years, and I've been dismayed by the reaction of 90% of them to the crisis that has overtaken the West in the past 8 years, since the election of Francis the Destroyer. They went from "This is all part of God's plan!" to "Oh, things aren't so bad. They were a lot worse under __________ (forgotten medieval pope here)." Then we got "This statement doesn't count because he didn't say it standing under a canopy with candles around him" (not literally, but that was the upshot of all the careful parsing about what, when, where and how infallibility kicks in). This graduated to "We don't have to pay attention to what he says. Popes have never been all that important, anyway."

But in the last 2 years, as the collapse has reached every corner of the church and the world, the response has been a sheer, panic-filled cry of "Don't leave! Whatever you do, DON'T LEAVE!!!" bolstered by emotional sobbing about how you should treat your mother. The moment it looks like they're on the verge of admitting that the actual substance of the Church has altered, they recoil and fall back on the old prescriptions of going to mass, going to confession, saying the rosary, etc. The things they've been doing all along, but which haven't helped keep the rot from spreading. They keep saying we can just pretend none of this is happening, and be Catholics like we always used to be, but I don't see how this is possible. It would be like a Roman in 500 AD announcing that he and his family are just going to keep on being Romans, even though the Emperor and the Senate and the laws are all gone, and barbarians are running everything. Sure, there are still some physical buildings standing, and some of the native Roman population are still there, but it should be obvious that what actually made Rome *Rome* is gone.

I've become so jaded by the constant surrendering on what I always thought were permanent truths, that I regard this now as an attempt to preserve brand loyalty, and keep people from deserting the franchise. In fact, I'm thinking that that's all it every was.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - "I'm thinking that that's all it ever was."

I don't think so - I think we are seeing a revealing of that cowardice (in all matters) which is caused by loss of faith. It is like a mass mental illness - and indeed that is exactly what it is; since Man cannot live without some religion, but runs mad and (one way or another) ends by slaying himself and others, and dying in despair.

But if we go back four-plus generations it seems obvious (to me) that many Christians (across the denominations) demonstrated extreme courage for their beliefs, and deriving from their strength of faith.

Dr. Mabuse said...

I wasn't thinking of faith in Jesus Christ; I was thinking of the claims to exclusivity that denominations make, particularly Catholicism. I know there are believing Christians inside the churches; there may even be a few priests! But I no longer believe the claim that there is no salvation outside "our" church, which some traditionalists are still making. It was easier to believe several generations ago, when the differences between denominations was evident. But now, when they have all gone insane in exactly the same way, I don't believe it's true, and I think that its purpose all along was to keep the cattle in the corral.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - I agree this claim was always factually false - as is clear from the Fourth Gospel. I think it was a claim of expedience, based on what worked best from the point of view of the growth and power of the church institution.

Yet, we must take seriously the possibility that this was in fact necessary for the survival of Christianity in a world where such claims were probably inevitable, given the way that Men's minds worked and the conditions of the time.

In a practical sense, it may have been correct that there was no salvation outside of the church in the medieval period; in that anybody outside the medieval church would not have been a Christian at all. Not that it was 'impossible' to be a non-church Christian in a theoretical sense; but that Men were not at that time fully independent agents, and were always part of some community from-which they more-passively absorbed their faith.

For a medieval man to leave the community of faith (church) was therefore to leave the faith; and not to be in a community of faith was not to believe.

Sergio said...

"This Christian apostasy in The West has been such an extreme phenomenon as to indicate a covert desire to abandon Christianity on any excuse".
This is something I have felt for some time, but hadn't been able to articulate as well as you.
An example of this desire to "abandon Christianity on any excuse" can be seen in the easiness, even happyness with which some Christians will believe anti Christian líes. Just the other day some female relatives of mine, both Catholic, were talking about the Canadian boarding house scandal. Based on media reports they had reached the conclusion that "there had been genocide". I told them it was all a lie, that the media has an anti Christian bias, and that they were being untruthful or misleading in their reporting. I told them it was not true that the graveyards had been recently discovered, that they once had markers and that, in spite of media allegations of mass murder, the people buried there most likely died of desease.
Neither of my female relatives seemed to ve very happy of what I said. One of them looked at me as if I were crazy, and the other took it upon herself to defend the genocide allegation. It must have upset them that I had cast a shadow on such a great excuse for feigning indignation against white Christians in behalf of poor oppressed natives.

Bruce Charlton said...

MagnusStout has left a new comment on your post "Real Christians now need conceptually to divide th...": edited...

All true.

I resisted this conclusion for many months, but the final sign for me was this: "Refusing to be pecked against the birdemic is a ’sin’ & anti-peckers must spend their life repenting," says Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church recently. Yes, the most "based" of Christian denominations has turned to the dark side. I expected more resistance--a "bang" instead of a whimper--considering their history following the Bolshevik terror. What a disappointment...

The Catholic Church folded, the Greek Orthodox shortly followed (their head in America was proudly marching for MLB antiracism!), but I expected more of ROCOR. A few independent Christian churches are bucking the trend, but perpetual fear-Ops of birdemic varients will eventually shut them down due to "health" mandates. Buckle up, fellas: we're going to experience spiritual turbulence in the days to come....

Of course, Christianity will continue even if openly persecuted. But, if the Bolshevik terror is any guide, these trends mean we are probably looking at around 90%+ of the population to eventually join the dark side (for me: the answer is not just "no," but "hell no.")

On the positive side: ClownWorld--now PrisonWorld--is now so much less appealing that it should make it easier for some to reject it. Maybe this is what some souls really needed to wake up? Reading Revelations again (and still not understanding very much), I have come to this firm conclusion: God's Judgments will be more than fair considering what is now known and what people will witness through Christian persecution in the future. All will be judged. Whatever these earthly Evil authorities will do, think about the Final Judgment and act accordingly.

Joseph A. said...

Re: Magnus' comment about the Moscow Patriarchate . . .

First, I concede that most bishops have managed our Covidian trial poorly. I don't mean that in a mealy-mouthed way, though it may get close to bureaucratese. I would rather say that they have betrayed the faith (especially at Pascha last year!), but that's not my place, especially as I'm aware of my intense pharisaic, critical bent. The parable of the publican and the Pharisee . . . I identify with the Pharisee, and not in the customary Christian humility sense (where the pious always try to see themselves as the worst of sinners). No, I just don't have that charitable knack of true Christians. I unironically feel thankful that I'm not X, Y, or Z all the time. I have my own demons, and I'm relieved not to have more -- especially not _theirs_!

That said, the MP has not preached mandatory vaccinations, much less ROCOR. Metropolitan Hilarion (the MP's chief ecumenist) voiced his personal views about the issue. Of course, that's awful, as he has lent his authority to a wicked path, and the powers that be are happy to run with it for their own propaganda. But, to be fair, the MP hasn't made any such pronouncement (to my knowledge). On the contrary, it has argued the opposite -- that vaccines should be voluntary. Now, given what we've seen around the world, it would not terribly shock me to see the MP support mandatory vaccinations, but that has not yet happened. And ROCOR certainly has not stated such -- and it would shock me to see them buckle. The MP is too much under the thumb of the Russian government, while ROCOR's "lived experience" has inoculated it, so to speak, against trusting the powerful state to do what is good and just.

As for Met. Hilarion himself, I don't trust anyone involved in official ecclesial diplomacy -- like the WCC. They're the sort of folks who run the corporations, the bureaucracies, the NGOs, and the media. In fact, I was very worried about Pat. Kirill for just that reason (Met. Hilarion has the patriarch's former position). Yet, the patriarch has surprised me in a positive way, and even Met. Hilarion may prove less a servant of the Zeitgeist than a defender of the faith, as he is called to be. He's usually pretty solid. You may think it irrelevant, but he's a serious composer. I attended a premiere performance of his sacred music at the R.C. basilica in D.C., and I've heard him talk in lectures there. He is interesting and alive to spiritual reality. However, his job involves political matters, and that has to be corrupting -- in any age. I don't even say that as a criticism. Can anyone blame the Christian emperors who waited until their deathbed to be baptized? Politics is the art of the possible, not the ideal. Worldly leaders necessarily compromise. When Christian bishops start playing the same game, they're inviting danger. It may be necessary for some of them -- maybe the Russian Church has to have an External Relations man. But it must be counter-weighted by uncompromising bishops 100% dedicated to God's truth -- not to mention thousands of fanatical monks who threaten "discord" if the bishops get too comfortable with the princes (Prince) of this world. The secularization of the Churches has involved the entire episcopate becoming like the former (the political game-players) -- damage-controlling CEOs of dioceses rather than shepherds of rational sheep. Yet -- history is full of celebrated, holy pastors who had to condescend to the possible. Even Saint Patrick may have made less than ideal deals with heathen kings and priests for the good of the Christian community. Real life is messy.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Joseph - My contention is that things now are different from the past - in particular, now real life is Not messy; but (from a Christian perspective) on the contrary clearer and simpler than it ever has been.

What makes it *seem* complicated is our astonishment/ horror at the massive proportion of people who have taken the side of Satan. We feel it 'can't' be right that there are so few real Christians, and that surely there 'must' be a lot more people on the side of God.

But if these are recognized as end times (recognizable by the value inversion which is common and mandatory) then it all begins to make sense - it fits with what was expected.

lgude said...

Agree strongly with Bruce that things are different and accelerating even. I see that the institutions are corrupt, but in letting them go, I don't use it as an excuse to drop Christianity. I go further in, into practice - in my case apophatic Contemplative Prayer which has come down to us from the Desert Fathers and St Teresa. I smile when I think of St. Teresa dealing with Inquisition by batting her eyes and saying 'Please instruct me Father, for I am a mere ignorant woman'. Political correctness comes and goes, God endures all things.