Tuesday 30 January 2024

If Christianity is... Then Christianity is already gone and finished

If Christianity is a society - some version of the late-Roman, or Medieval  European, of Calvin's Geneva/ Knox's Scotland, or Eastern Orthodox, or Brigham Young's Deseret... That is; if Christianity is a union of Church and State in spiritual harmony - then Christianity is long since gone, and finished. 

Also; if Christianity is a structure of authority; with a church defining the nature of what Christianity is, what scripture means, what theological concepts are true and mandatory, what traditions are valid and necessary... with Christians being the people who obey what that church says - then Christianity is finished.  

Also; even if Christianity is just a group of people of some significantly powerful size - all agreeing and acting-upon what Christianity is - then Christianity is already finished. 

Indeed: if Christianity is some ideal future situation or state which we should be working-towards, and for which we need to wait before we can be a really-real Christian - then Christianity is finished. 

Unless you or I can be a real and full Christian here-and-now, starting with ourselves as we are, in this situation; and not depending upon any other people or authority to instruct, validate, or cooperate-with us - then there is, and shall be, no Christianity. 

And unless we acknowledge this independence, and therefore take total and personal responsibility for ourselves Being Christian Now - then sooner or later we will Not be a Christian.

(Whatever we decide to call ourselves.)


Francis Berger said...

Many who read this post will file it under “too negative to be profound”; however, if they paused to sincerely assess the current state of Christianity in the external world, they would quickly understand what you have outlined here. If Christianity is contingent upon the externals you have noted, then Christianity is indeed finished.

I suspect most would find the thought unsettling, perhaps even despair-inducing, but it does not have to be so. Christianity will continue, but it will have to continue differently. The challenge of taking total and personal responsibility for being Christian and venturing out into an undiscovered country should inspire and invigorate rather than dispirit and deflate. I am frequently comforted by the idea that God desires the further development of Christianity.

Of course, getting there requires acknowledging that external Christianity is indeed finished (or, if you’re an optimist, very quickly on its way out). That remains a step too far for most, I’m afraid.

Laeth said...

@Francis, it's funny you say that as I am finding myself more and more thinking of some pieces I read as 'too positive to be profound', as in, their this-world and this-society optimism is a sign they aren't seeing the big picture.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - Things are what they are - for each person - and that has always been the case -- After all; how few serious Christians throughout history would have been happy with the society in which they found themselves?

But, fundamentally, I regard it as a matter of faith. i.e. I have (as a rule) no doubt that God (as the creator, wholly good, and our loving parents) will always, and in every single case and circumstance, *ensure* that it is possible for us to Be Christian, to follow Jesus Christ, to attain salvation - and furthermore, so long as we are sustained alive, there is something important for us to learn.

Nothing on earth can prevent this (certainly no politician!) - unless we ourselves choose to collude with it.

As a principle; this seems a matter of certainty (insofar as one can be solidly certain about anything) - the difficulties are practical, actually discerning and Doing the needful, micro-level, the business of everyday living - rather than theoretical.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Laeth - Me too. People write what they assume to be hard-hitting, hard-nosed, tough-minded analyses of a situation - and I want to say: No, things are MUCH worse than that!

For instance; wrt the Fire Nation or Arrakis wars; people write as if the "Western" attitude to these wars is about *winning* them, or gaining some material advantage - and I think - No! These West-initiated wars (and their 'sanctions') are primarily aimed at destroying The West itself, its people, its societies and economies... And "They" are succeeding in doing exactly that - spectacularly.

Or the mass migrations into the West. People who imagine themselves to be pessimistic cynics argue that these mass population movements are motivated by economic gain of the leadership class, or consolidating power by expanding left voters, or even maintaining control by recruiting anti-native militias.

But the underlying and motivating aim of those behind such things is - I am sure - much worse, much more purely destructive than these explanations. It is the annihilation of Western societies and their peoples by *whatever* combination of violence, famine, disease and chaos that will inevitably ensue from massive and sustained mass-immigration.

Any harm inflicted on other people and places is - of course - very welcome to those who provoke and escalate these wars; but the core destructive intent of geopolitics is directed at the peoples and lands of the Anglosphere and Europe - as are their national domestic policies (implemented by their globalist totalitarian puppet regimes).

Daniel F said...

1. "if Christianity is a structure of authority"

One aspect of the Seraphim Rose biography "Not of This World" that struck the deepest chord with me was observing how Rose and Fr. Herman navigated their way within AND around church structure and authority: There was a wildness to their Christianity, but it was always clearly connected to the Vine that is Jesus Christ. I think that some form of structure and authority -- even if it was far away and distant, and only occasionally poked its head in on them -- was still a salutary thing for them because at the very least it forced them into a consciousness of obedience that is still necessary to develop a mature spirituality and it also served to make them really search deep within themselves and their conscience whenever they felt the need to _disobey_ that church authority.

Maybe the following analogy works: If one is in outer space and motionless, nothing can enable one to produce movement and momentum in any direction. A road or a wall, something stationary, even if it is blocking you in some way, is still the thing that enables you to get traction and produce movement, and also to keep one's bearings and an outside point of reference.

The wild but traditional Orthodox Christianity of Rose provided the right balance between freedom and obedience, and he (in my view) successfully navigated and used it to produce real Christian fruit.

2. "if Christianity is some ideal future situation or state which we should be working-towards"

The following quote from the counsels of Elder Amphilochios from the book "Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit", has stayed with me. It captures beautifully the idea that Christianity in action is about "the one thing needful", the _immediate_ attention or care that is owed to God or to the one who appears before you. Christianity, by and large, cannot be "planned"; that only ends up with the chiliastic and utopian approach that is characteristic of worldly Christianity. Anyway, here is the quote:

"I do nothing but sow the seeds of monasticism and of mission, _though without a strategy_." (my emphasis)

This idea of Christianity "without a strategy" strikes me as being at the heart of true spiritual practice. (I think it goes without saying that this does not mean one does not have projects as such.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Daniel - You make some good points.

But further points also need to be considered.

The situation and destiny of Russia is -I believe - different from The West. What works there will not work for us.

The Seraphim Rose experience was forty years ago, and corruption of the churches has been rapid in that time (as was evident in 2020). What was true for the past may not be true now.

The authority structure of the Platina monastery (or skete) worked for Fr Seraphim, but not for Fr Herman - who was the Abbot; since Fr Herman went badly and deeply into unrepented sexual sin and eventually was expelled from the ROCOR.

This emphasizes the relative importance of the individual over the church structure.

Laeth said...


Indeed. I don't understand how the greed motivation, taken in a this-worldly perspective alone, makes any sense for the actions of western bureaucracies (all of them, public or private is irrelevant, another fake distinction in today's world). It didn't even make sense when the West was the big player, it was always more than this-worldly greed, it was a greed that wanted to conquer the stars, that now only exists perhaps in the eastern bloc. This idea of the West is completely gone, not only that, repudiated by the current system, prohibited.

Even with smaller examples, like the way national economies work, or the housing market, or neighborhood policing, none of it makes any sense except as a purposeful act to make things NOT work. And while incompetence and indifference play a part in allowing it to happen so unopposed, it is also policy, and declared too.

A malevolent will is clearly involved, and one that is not satisfied with mere comfort or luxury. What puzzles me most, and what I've tried to understand but have no definitive answer, is the specific hatred of Europe, which is clear. My only explanation is a supernatural Envy, going back to a time before this earth. But why, I have no clue.

William Wildblood said...

Regarding specific hatred of Europe, and even more I would say the English speaking peoples, this could be because these are the people most able to stand up to the ongoing corruption because of their concern with freedom. It's an irony that they are also the ones who are most to blame for the spread of materialism and atheism. But still it is the British and American people who were meant to be the drivers in the new development of consciousness. Hence they are the ones where the attack is most focussed.

Bruce Charlton said...

I agree with William - The English-speaking peoples (the British diaspora) were the dominant race over the period of modernity; and were, I think, destined (or intended) to lead Mankind to its next spiritual phase whereby Christianity was freely and consciously chosen on an individual basis.

(This is what I term Romantic Christianity.)

However, this was not done; instead materialistic and hedonic corruption was embraced; and something almost the opposite was done instead of our allotted task.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, the materialism and atheism, although bad obviously, are the product of the new consciousness. It's just they are the bad or underside and the fact that they started in the West actually confirms that that is where the new developments in consciousness initially took place from where they spread out into the whole world. It's like sunshine bringing forth poisonous weeds and nourishing crops from fertile soil depending on the seeds.