The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Catholicity: A Thought for the Day

Of some applicability today, and explaining why I believe we need not just Anglocats but Protestants, not just liberals but conservatives, within the truly "catholic Church" of the Creed:
Every moral reformation within the Church was a protest of the conscience against unworthy views of God; every new Order that was founded was a nursery of moral reformation. Yet every protest against formalism and unreality in religion, every attack on ecclesiasticism and 'priestcraft' in the Church, or on worldliness and laxity in professing Christians, owed its strength to the reassertion of the truth, that in the Christian idea religion and morals are inseparably united.
The Reformation was a moral protest, and its results were seen within as well as outside the Roman communion. The Council of Trent was a reforming Council; the Jesuits were the children of the Reformation; and Roman Christianity in the strength of its own moral revival, even in the moment of defeat, became again 'a conquering power.'

On the other hand, those whose first impulse was a protest in favour of a moral religion and a belief in a God who hates iniquity, have bequeathed to the world a
legacy of immorality, of which they never dreamt, and of which we, in the present day, are feeling the full effects. Lutheranism starts with the belief that God is love: Calvinism with the conception of God as power. With the former, the desire, at all costs, to guard the belief in the freedom of God's grace, led to a morbid fear of righteousness, as if it were somehow a rival to faith. With the latter, a one-sided view of the power of God gradually obscured the fact that righteousness and justice eternally condition its exercise. If the one was, as history shews us, in constant danger of Antinomian developments, the other struck at the root of morality by making God Himself unjust. Forensic fictions of substitution, immoral theories of the Atonement,'the rending asunder of the Trinity,' and the opposing of the Divine Persons, like parties in a lawsuit, were the natural corollaries of a theory which taught that God was above morality and man beneath it.
Rev. Aubrey Moore, "The Christian Doctrine of God," in Lux Mundi (1889), at 78, 79-80.

This is why, although I identify as an Anglo-Catholic, I believe that the Church is best seen as a Hegelian dialectic: to steal from novelist Susan Howatch:
[T]he Protestant from the Low Church wing, the priest from the Middle Way, the Anglo-Catholic. Or, on another level, the Liberal Modernist, the conservative, the mystic. We clash, interlock, interweave, move apart--and then clash all over again in an unceasing engagement which produces the the process of becoming, we're all necessary to each other; we're all interlinked because we all have our part to play in the Creator's grand design.
Absolute Truths (1995) at 399.

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