Saturday 23 July 2022

What is the "Orthosphere debate" (concerning the Altar-Civilization Model) ultimately About?

Francis Berger initiated the debate - and Orthosphere writers JM Smith and Kristor have thus-far responded. 

My attempt here is to try and summarize briefly what I believe the debate to about About. 

In other words - what do I regard as the ultimate question behind the rather complex arguments on both sides.


I think the ultimate question is something like this:

Is The Christian Church (in some sense of The Church) in-charge-of human salvation - or is salvation primarily a matter for each individual.


I think that all sides agree that individuals may err in their discernments and choices, and that such errors and choices may lead to that individual being damned.  

The question is whether The Church (which in practice means My Church, in the way I conceptualize it) can err in an ultimate sense - such that The Church's errors will lead devout and obedient members to damnation. 


My understanding of adherents of the Altar-Civilization Model, is that they are rooted in the conviction that (in an ultimate sense) The Church cannot err on the matter of salvation - whereas individuals can and do err; and therefore The Church will ultimately know better than any individual; and therefore the path to salvation is necessarily via obedience to The Church. 


In even simpler terms: the Orthospherian conviction is that "The Church is Christianity"; and any individual can only be a Christian - i.e. achieve resurrection to eternal Heavenly life - secondarily, by means of The Church. 

Whereas the Romantic Christian idea is (I think) that - however things may have been in the past (and I personally acknowledge that the Altar-Civilization model used to be true); here-and-now each individual Man can and must discern Christian truth and his own salvation...

Including the discernment of which (if any) institution he regards as The True Church, and his own relationship to that Church's authority. 


In the end, at bottom, ultimately; the Romantic Christian idea is that it is our individual discernment (understood as our direct and unmediated relationships with God and Jesus Christ) which is necessary for salvation; and the choice of relationship with any church (or no church) is secondary to that. 

In brief; the individual (not any church) ultimately 'defines' Christianity: i.e. the way to salvation. 

And therefore if, or when, that individual errs; and does not repent, and is damned; it will always be his own responsibility - regardless of whether he was following any church.


Mr Fisher said...

"...and therefore the path to damnation is necessarily via obedience to The Church."

I assume you intended "salvation" here, Bruce.

Nathalie said...

How can this even be a question?
Rome is now led by a malevolent marxist intent on destroying the Church. Open your eyes, look at his face. Open your ears, listen to his intent.
Many in the priesthood will help the irredeemably wicked and the sub-par human, on the premises that they need help the most, whilst leaving the kind souls to die at the wayside (I have seen it).
How could blind obedience to such wickedness lead to salvation?

Bruce Charlton said...

@MF - Ha! Corrected, thanks...

I often have misprints in the posts, because of haste (they are essentially first draft pieces) - and generally sort them out through a couple of re-reads later in the day; so that the majority of readers (i.e. from the USA) don't get to laugh at them, or get confused by them.

Bruce Charlton said...

@N - "How can this even be a question?"

I agree in the sense that all serious Christians actually do make personal discernments - in choosing their church, choosing who is correct (and who is malign) within the churches, in choosing where authority lies in matters of dispute, in choosing how to read the Bible and how to understand what it means etc etc. By my understanding all serious Christians are compelled to make many, many discernments - and more all the time.

Nonetheless, I think that most of the real and best Christians in the world do Not see their faith in this way; but believe that they practice Christianity in a close (as close as possible) a way as their church traditionally preaches.

However, the birdemic provided a great cull of 'conservative'/ traditional Christians; who are now (whatever they think) *solidly* on the side of the Satanic globalist totalitarians - whom they follow in all essentials.

But *that* does Not apply to the Orthospherians! I regard them all as real and solid Christians.

But I see them as R&S Christians but who hide from themselves the fact (as I see it) that they are Only real and solid Christians because of their ongoing personal discernments, and not *primarily* because of their church affiliations.

And this is an incoherence and weakness that is likely, sooner or later, to lead them *out* of Christianity - in order to *stay in* their church.

...Because that is exactly the situation that is being engineered by those who are really in charge of the churches, and whose hidden hand we saw (or should have seen) by the church behaviour during the birdemic and then the imposed peck.

Francis Berger said...

Thanks for this, Bruce. I think your assessment of the ultimate question behind my Altar-Civilization critique is spot on. Moreover, the question trickles down into and permeates all other social, cultural, civilizational (external) concerns.

For me, the end of the Altar-Civilization model indicates the need for a strong internal movement rather than a continued emphasis on restoring, saving, defending externals.

I would even go as far as to say that only the the externals, as secondary considerations, cannot be defended unless the primary, strong, inward movement occurs first.

This does not imply that externals should are unimportant or should not be defended, but I think Christians have reached a point where they must honestly ask themselves if they can fully trust their respective churches to be in charge of their salvation. If not, do they honestly believe they can or need to "fix the system" in order to attain salvation?

xxxx said...


I don't think anybody is advocating blind obedience. In fact, most Orthosphere people would tell you not to follow Pope Francis. Of couse, any Christian applies discerment many times. And, of course, salvation is individual. This is Christianity 101.

The difference is what you base your discernment on. Non-Romantic Chrstians base their discernment on a tradition plus logic and reasoning. Romantic Christians think these things are obsolete. They think their only power of reasoning and intuition is enough.

For example, Bruce had a revelation about there being a Mother of Heaven (not the Virgin Mary, but something similar to the Mormon understanding). This filled him with joy and was enough for him, although he didn't want to proselytize.

A non-Romantic Christian that had such a revelation would say that this is not Christianity and has been unknown for two millennia. So he would conclude that this revelation would be false, produced by the mind or evil spirits, but not by God. This type of Christian would tell you that he relies on what saints and holy men have always said. That the same way he does not want to redesign Medicine or Physics from scratch using only their powers of reasoning without caring about scientific tradition, he does not consider himself the ultimate authority for his Christianity. He criticizes Pope Francis because he wants to do that.

In the end, I see this as the ultimate logical consequence of the Reformation. When Luther said that everybody can interpret the Bible as he sees fit, he didn't really mean it, but he started a proces that could not be stopped. If everybody is the ultimate authority about his Christianity, there is no need for churches. Every Christiam is a Church of One. By the way, Christianity is not needed either. If my conscience tells me that Christianity is false, I can make my own religion. This is the modern world in a nutshell. If there is not truth admitted by everyone, how do we take collective decisions? We vote and anything that the majority wants is done. Relativism.

xxxx said...

By the way, I think that Francis Berger meant well. But his problem is that he included the Orthosphere word in his essay. Of course, Orthosphere guys thought that it was about them and answered, initiating a useless debate.

Orthosphere guys and Romantic Christianity guys will never agree, not in one million years. We can have our separate echo chambers and live in peace. In the future, it is better to refer to traditional Christians, as non-Romantic Christians and avoid Orthosphere or Altar and Throne, which are the names of specific blogs.

In fact, non-Romantic Christians are the vast majority and not limited to these blogs.

Only a tip to live in peace in the future

Alexeyprofi said...

I believe that society will become more egalitarian in a sense that involuntary hierarchies will be replaced with the horizontal relationships, in which people will listen to those who they consider worthy an attention. This goes for religion too.

Bruce Charlton said...


"Only a tip to live in peace in the future"

In the first place we do not want 'peace'! - but mainly you are mistaken if you think this is driven by animus.

I was a co-founder of the Orthosphere blog, the name for which was devised on this blog - and I have been an email correspondent of Bonald, Kristor and Alan for about a decade. JM Smith endorsed one of William Wildblood's books. There is, in short, considerable friendship between the Orthosphere bloggers and the Romantic Christians - which is exactly why such discussions are worthwhile - being concrete and on the basis of mutual respect.

"In the end, I see this as the ultimate logical consequence of the Reformation."

IN a way, but I believe the causality runs in the opposite direction. The Reformation was a partial response to the changing consciousness of Man (Western Man especially). And then the Mormon Restoration was another partial step in that direction.

But both Protestants (Lutherans, Anglicans, Calvinists, Methodists, Baptists etc) and Mormons mostly maintained church organization and top-down authority as primary; and strictly controlled the way the Bible was read and understood.

"Every Christian is a Church of One. By the way, Christianity is not needed either. If my conscience tells me that Christianity is false, I can make my own religion. "

Not sure what you are arguing by this point. I agree that anyone can make his own not-Christian religion; that is, assuming he does Not want to be resurrected to eternal life in Heaven - if he does want resurrection and all that entails, then it can only be achieved by 'following Jesus Christ'.

As I say, we are responsible for our salvation, damnation, of whatever else we choose. But I do observe that those who claim to want something other than salvation seem, in practice, to have chosen damnation. Other choices are theoretically possible, but - as I say - in practice, such people seem (whether actively, or passively and by not-thinking) to have taken the side of globalist totalitarian Satanism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ap - But that isn't egalitarianism - more like the opposite!

I hope you might be correct, in that then people would be taking responsibility for discernment - but I don't see many people doing it, quite the opposite.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - I'm glad you broadly agree.

What you say concerning the implications is quite right - but I do find it difficult to give up old habits. I spend too much effort defending lesser evils, to the point it veers into almost promoting them.

The only communist idea of opposing 'reform' in order to promote 'revolution' seems, in our era, to have some merit. I find myself almost hoping for the most obviously nasty and evil leaders to take control, rather than relatively amiable puppets who make a few mildly dissenting noises like Trump or Boris Johnson - so that more people will be woken up to what they are doing.

I suppose the only way we will get off the track to global totalitarian Ahrimanic Satanism, is by seeing-through to the actual and current net-evil of All institutions and all leaders, managers and media etc. By knowing these, and spiritually rejecting their snares.