Friday, 28 April 2017

Enforced Uniformity Or Continued Diversity

Religious doctrinal disagreements can be settled neither by reason nor by evidence. Therefore, either an attempt is made to enforce uniformity or disparate denominations coexist indefinitely. We should see more Christian denominations in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization and I think that it is unlikely that the Anglican Church would rejoin the Roman Church after SM Stirling's Change. If I were Anglican, then I would not accept reunion on that basis but my belief and practice lie elsewhere in any case.

1+1=3, i.e., if two churches or political parties merge, then some on both sides join the new organization whereas others on both sides refuse. Result: not one but three. Ninian Smart suggested that, when two traditions meet, 1+1=7! See here.

9 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I argue, however, that the Catholic Church does base its beliefs on evidence, even if that evidence does not convince you. A quick, simply example being how the Catholic/Orthodox belief in Transubstantiation (yes, I know, the Orthodox use a different technical word for the same belief) is based on the texts of the Last Supper accounts where Our Lord declared "This is my body,...my blood," etc.

Nor do I think the Anglican conversion or reunion with the Catholic Church in Stirling's Change books that implausible. Not if most of the surviving Anglicans were High Church or even "Anglo/Catholic." I think any surviving low church Anglicans or "modernists" might have been too few to really matter.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

The original separation of Anglicanism and (Roman) Catholicism was almost entirely political, rather than doctrinal -- Henry VIII wanted a divorce Rome wouldn't grant him, and he wanted to seize the Church's lands. The influence from Calvinism came later, and was never more than one set of threads with the Anglican tapestry.

My family (on both sides) were Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, whose beliefs and most of whose practices were very close to Roman models.

After the Change, the politics change substantially, and as it happens the surviving Anglican authorities are mostly High Church. Tho' of course not everyone goes along; Ulster doesn't for instance.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Again, thanks for commenting. I would put some stress, however, in arguing that the Protestant strain in Anglicanism was not that negligible. Henry VIII's puppet Archbishop of Canterbury. Thomas Cranmer, became a convinced Protestant. And after Henry's death he was able to act more freely, in a Protestantizing direction, when no longer under his heavy boot.

And what you said about your Anglo/Catholic family and the surviving Anglican leaders after the Change bears out my argument that reconciliation with the Catholic Church was not that implausible.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Both,
For me, an insuperable sticking point would be Papal supremacy and infallibility.
Paul.

Paul Shackley said...

Henry VIII wanted not a divorce but an annulment which can be allowable in Catholicism.

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
It is possible to argue that one Church does base its beliefs on evidence but it is not possible to settle interdenominational disagreements in this way.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I believe Papal authority can be defended from both Scripture and logic. I'll stress only the second point here. If you accept that Jesus Christ, as both God and Man, founded Christianity, I think it follows that He would appoint leaders to govern the Church after His Ascension. And Peter was the man Christ chose to be the first of His Vicars.

All that infallibility means is that God will not allow a pope or ecumenical council to teach error. Formulated positively, this means only that when a pope or ecumenical speaks ex cathedra, they cannot be in error.

In fact, I would call papal infallibility a very MODEST doctrine. The analogous Protestant doctrine, private judgment claims any Christian, when guided by the Holy Spirit, cannot fall in to error. But what if A, B, C, etc., all claiming protection by Our Lord the Spirit, teach contradictory doctrines? Catholics say only one man, the Pope, can be infallible, not millions!

It's been a long time since I read a biography of Henry VIII, but my recollection is that the arguments he gave to justify an annulling of his first marriage were eventually found to be without merit. But, the reigning pope, Clement VII, instead of giving a quick, decisive ruling in a reasonable time, dragged matters out for years. Because he was terrified of offending either Henry VIII or Catherine of Aragon's powerful nephew, the Emperor Charles V. So, Clement temporized and pleased NOBODY.

Your last comment. Which is why, if someone is unable or unwilling to believe as the Church teaches, he should be honest enough to go.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
We reason from different premises. I think that Jesus, Peter and Paul expected the Kingdom in their lifetimes. Christianity as a belief in the Resurrection could only have been founded after Jesus' death, therefore could not have been founded by him. Peter proclaimed the Resurrection and thus founded Christianity as a new Jewish movement. Paul, arrested making an offering in the Temple, has started to relaunch Christianity as a Gentile religion but still expected an imminent Second Coming and had to answer questions about why it was delayed. Some of the bretheren had died...
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

True, we reason from different premises, meaning we arrive at regrettably different conclusions.

Yes, I know some of the earliest Christians believed our Lord would come again soon, in their lifetimes. But Christ also said no man knew the hour when He would return.

And Christ did chose Peter and the other Apostles to be his chief disciples. And I believe he did found the Catholic Church after His resurrection, with Peter as the first of the popes.

Sean