Tuesday 2 August 2022

Step one in modern Christian conversion is always... intuitive individual discernment. The only question is whether the convert acknowledges this fact

If we start from the actuality of a potential Christian confronted by "Christianity 2022"; he cannot take a single step towards conversion without making a personal discernment; and this can only be intuitive because there is nothing else it can be. 

(And, as of 2022; all real Christians are essentially converts; and need to remain perpetual converts if they are not to leave the faith.) 

Where does he look, who are the authorities, who should he take seriously? By what criteria should he judge? 

Nothing at all can happen towards conversion until some assumptions are made, and these assumptions are either made by the potential Christian or by... somebody-else - and for it to be somebody-else the potential Christian must have made assumptions about who has the authority to make those assumptions. 

Someone who ends-up as a traditionalist Christian, and who believes that his church is divinely ordained and the prime locus of spiritual truth; and this church has authority to define Christianity; and authority to define theology and doctrine, and to define ritual, and to define and interpret scripture and so on and forth... can only have-arrived at that position by many, many personal discernments that can have no foundation beyond personal intuition.

Once the convert is in the position of subscribing to a traditionalist church - he can point to that church's interlocking authority on all manner of matters to make a coherent case as to why that church is God's ordained church - but the convert cannot get to that position without a hidden history of personal intuitions.    

The traditionalist church member can then decry intuition, can then assert the primacy of His Church over all crucial matters of definition and interpretation - he can then decry 'mysticism' as dangerous, can denounce individualism as evidence of pride, can assert that nothing is more important that to worship and obey in accordance with his church's rules...

But All of this is only reached via multiple-intuitions - which may be forgotten, denied, decried and denounced - but they happened; and continue to happen...

The intuitions continue to happen because the traditionalist Christian can - as of 2020 - only become and remain a traditionalist by discerning as wrong some of what his church leaders tell him; and typically by adopting a minority view within his church. 

Such selections and rejections of the obvious majority and higher authority represent a continuing history of personal discernments, based on intuitions - because the criteria for judgment that is the basis for all such discernments is also an intuitive decision. 

In sum - as of her-and-now; the traditionalist position (whether it is really true, or not) has the structure of a logical tautology. It is a system of circular reasoning - and to enter that circle cannot, in principle, be done by means of already-knowing the validity of criteria and judgment from within the circle - because these criteria are rare and alien to modern society. 

In 2022 in the West; Nobody is be raised to adulthood regarding the within-circle criteria as unconsciously valid and knowing no other. 

This was possible in ancient, medieval and perhaps later societies - it is not possible now. Thus the circularity of traditionalism has been, can only be, entered via multiple intuitions. 

Conclusion. All modern Christian faith - including the mort traditional, orthodox and church-primary - is based-on, rooted-in intuitions - therefore Not in any kind of traditionalist Christianity itself.

This is a universal and necessary fact.

The only difference between Christians is that some are aware of the fundamental role of intuition (i.e. 'Romantic Christians); while others are unaware, have forgotten, are insane and incapable of reasoning; or dishonestly deny the fact. 


David Earle said...

And thus the church has become another instrument of the devil, by stepping in place for one's own intuition and capacity to discern for himself on vital personal matters.

Sure, you're allowed to have your own free thought on things like career, relationships, etc. But matters to do with your own salvation? Better leave the heavy lifting to the church!

The tests are going to get harder. Maybe some of the traditionalists recognized the evil of the birdemic agenda regardless of their churches official stance on the matter (which would gladly lead their members straight towards self-damnation). But the next tests probably won't be as easy. The traditionalist will likely be faced with abandoning their church and "going it alone," or will stop being a Christian all together because their system was unfortunately all-or-nothing, which is the real danger.

It is time we mature out of the church framework. That appears to be the direction God himself is pushing us if we are being completely honest and unafraid.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DE - While I think your arguments probably apply to me (most of the time) - as of now, some churches may still be a great help to some people - as long as the individual maintains discernment concerning the church overall and in particulars.

But discernment cannot be continuous, and in practice people decide on who to trust and what to trust as a kind of package (rather than as a multitude of small decisions).

This is almost inevitable - yet in a world where corruption has been the norm of decades, there must be at least an intermittent use of discernment.

In other words; for many (perhaps most) people the recurring question for personal intuition is 1. choice between churches, then 2. choices within churches (at all the levels of personnel and activities).

Uriel said...

The modern Christian convert - or revert, since there are so few raised with Faith - indeed requires discernment, listening to the Lord. But there are problems with emphasizing the primacy of personal intuition/discernment over all else.

First, my intuition and judgement tell me that both are unreliable. I have often had false intuitions. I have often made bad judgements. I have often rationalized, rather than conforming my reason to Truth. In other words, I am both fallible and a sinner. There are many others who are wiser than I, many more knowledgeable than I, many better friends and servants of the Lord than myself.

Second, my reason tells me, if such primacy of intuition was the intended path that God had set before us, we would see a "convergence" of persons - "real Christians" - throughout history. But we do not see such, or, if we do, we see it in conversions to various Churches, sometimes through several churches in succession before arriving at their final home. Or else, in the patterns of history, we see the various heresies cropping up repeatedly. The same behaviors and beliefs, culminating in Modernism, the sum of all heresies, do recur - but these are not of Christ, they are of the Adversary.

Finally, not all gifts are given to all in equal measure. Not all people have discernment, just as not all people have the ability to work wonders. And if "discernment" or "intuition" is the MOST important aspect of being a Christian, does that make all knowledge or understanding arrived to outside of that discernment useless? If so, why are you teaching? If not - why disregard Tradition? I do not believe that I know what Our Lord meant better than his chosen Disciples, or those whom they taught, or those whom they taught in turn - the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, and that whole body of knowledge called by the name "Sacred Tradition".

I admit freely there are things in Sacred Tradition, in the Magisterium of the Church to which I submit, that I struggle to believe, or face temptation to explain away. Such as, for example, the teaching that those without resort to the Sacraments, those outside the Catholic Church, are almost certainly and to a man damned souls. This is a hard teaching. Perhaps one of the justifications I have concocted to soften this teaching is true. Perhaps one of the ways I can explain this teaching away, so that it does not mean what it means on its face, is in fact the correct explanation. But I am not Christ. I am not perfect. "Tradidi quod et accepi" - I pass on that which I have received. No more, no less, neither adding to nor removing - because I Have NOT been commissioned by Christ to alter what I have received from Him.

I will grant you, gladly, that discernment, that distinguishing what has been received from error and heresy, is now more important than ever, that listening to the Lord is more important than it has ever been before. I will grant, gladly, that we have not had any Christian culture worth the name for almost a century, if not longer, so that men must make their way to God piecemeal, rather than walking together as a community. I will grant you that virtually the whole of the hierarchy in all of the Church has apostatized. But what do you do with the man whose intuition, whose experience tells him that God can be found through only the Sacraments He established while in the flesh? That the sacerdotal priesthood is not only necessary, but the most important occupation of man? That, in fact, "extra ecclesiam nullum salus"?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Uriel - I'm not sure whether you have really grasped the argument here. You have introduced other secondary matters, without mentioning the main point which is that intuition Just Is primary here and now.

I have discussed on this blog, very extensively, the secondary matters you raise - but to say that there are potentially such problems does not affect that everybody (including the most orthodox traditionalist) has built his faith (however badly or well) on personal intuition, and this is unavoidable.

The question then ought to be - how to improve personal intuition to make it more real and solid; and I would say that a first step is to admit and acknowledge it - to bring it to the fullest possible awareness. Only then can we begin to 'work on it'.