Friday, November 18, 2011

A King but not the kingdom

Rod Dreher's been writing some interesting stuff lately about religion, faith, belief, religious orthodoxy, churches, and the subjective experience of faith to the believer. The latest, and lengthy, installment is here.

I hope to get into the discussion once it gets going (and while I realize how necessary moderated comments are anymore for most public blogs, I have to say the one thing I dislike about Rod's new blog is the whole moderated comments situation; true, comments seem to get approved reasonably quickly, but there's enough of a lag that the more conversational style of Rod's older blogs is sometimes missing). But in the meantime, I wanted to take a look at a section of the post that I honestly found rather stunning (and this excerpt itself is a bit long, I'm afraid):

I bring this up not to argue about Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy, but to illuminate how subjective considerations inevitably affect the choices we make. If you are reading this in a small town in Nevada, the mother of three children and without a spiritual home, and the nearest Orthodox church is 500 miles away, I would question whether or not you should even investigate Eastern Orthodoxy. I say that because I truly and deeply believe that to be redeemed is not to hold the correct ideas, but to submit to the Holy Spirit, and to be changed from within, to become more Christ-like. It’s hard to do that alone, and even harder to help your kids do that alone. What does it avail you to unite with the truest form of Christianity (as I believe Orthodoxy to be) if you will be all alone in the practice of it? You may be called to do this, but I would wonder if your growth in holiness would proceed more within the Baptist church (if a good one was close to you) or within the Orthodox church, which does not exist in a manifest form near you? As I see it, it’s better to know Jesus imperfectly than to not know Him at all. How you unite yourself to a Baptist (or Catholic, or Presbyterian) church when you believe that the Orthodox Church contains the fullness of truth is a difficult problem.

Anyway, this is what I was trying to get at with the “subjectivity” of religious truth — and why I am a lot more open to the view that religion is what people do, not the ideas in their head. Again, I deny that it’s an “either/or” — it’s really a “both/and”. My point is simply that religious claims belong to an order of truth that can only be truly known not by being affirmed in one’s mind, but also must be inwardly appropriated with enough passion to make them change one’s life. This is what Bellah means when he says if you want to know what people believe, look at what they do, not what they say they believe.

There is Scriptural validation for that position. This is also what Thomas Merton was getting at when he said that he thought wrongly that he was truly converted to Catholicism because his intellect was converted. He learned later that until and unless the will is converted, all conversions will be precarious. That’s an important insight, and it speaks directly to the “truth is subjectivity” point.

What’s more, Jesus did not set out a religious system. He gave us a narrative to show us how to behave. He was Truth Incarnate. To unite yourself to Truth required an act of subjective will. You had to love Him. You still do. Rationality, and religious systems, are only true and good if they point to Him, and open the doors to Him. The Church is not an end, but only a means to an end. If you believe in the Orthodox faith, you will agree that the Orthodox way is the way Christ intended to Him, the most efficacious way. If you believe in the Catholic faith, then likewise. And so forth. To believe this is not to deny that people can’t find their way to unity with God through other forms of the Christian faith, and under certain conditions, in other faiths. But it is to recognize, as I think we must, that even forms of the faith that know the way to the Truth imperfectly nevertheless have some connection to it, which is to say, to Him. [Emphasis in original--E.M.]

Why do I find this stunning? Because after discussing orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and in the midst of making a somewhat valid initially if ultimately (I truly believe) misleading point about the role of the subjective in the ability of the believer to grasp and encounter religious truth, Rod makes the amazing statement: "What’s more, Jesus did not set out a religious system. He gave us a narrative to show us how to behave."

Neither Rod's Church, the Orthodox, nor my Catholic Church, teach or believe that Jesus did not set out a religious system--that is, that He did not found a Church. Now, perhaps I'm misunderstanding Rod, or his phrase is unclear; but what does "set out a religious system" mean if it does not mean "found a Church?"

Belief that Christ is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and (as Rod says) Truth Incarnate means that we believe that He knew exactly what He was doing when He selected the Apostles, told them at the Last Supper to "Do this in remembrance of Me," gave them the great commission to make disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and so on. It also means we believe, for those of us who are Catholic, that Jesus saw fully what the infant Church would make of such things as Apostolic succession and that Gospel phrase, "Thou art Peter, and on this Rock I will build My Church." It's not really possible for those of us who belong to the Catholic Church to see these words as merely parts of a narrative about how we are to behave without reducing them to such minimal importance that Christ might as well not have said them at all.

I realize that Protestants don't see things this way. But (if my Protestant readers will be patient with me for a moment) their view, generally, of what the Church is was formed in an essentially negative way. With the Catholic Church fully present in their lives, the early Protestants decided that their notion of Christ's church was, in a very true sense, whatever the Catholic Church was not. Protestant ecclesiology was, I think, in an important way, meant as a negation of Catholic ecclesiology in its earliest formation. So if the Catholic Church said that Christ meant to found a visible Church to which Christians were meant to unite themselves not merely spiritually but sacramentally and actually (as in, accepting Church discipline about such various things as fasting and Sunday Mass attendance), the Protestants in negating those concepts eventually came to see the Christian church as more an invisible and spiritual community of those who had accepted Jesus Christ and His Word.

I know I'm being extraordinarily general here; I don't mean for this post to get into the many various differences in the way different Protestant denominations have developed a theology of the church, but only to point out that Rod's words I cited above, while not particularly startling if voiced by a Protestant, are absolutely shocking when spoken by someone who was Catholic for a decade and is now Orthodox--again, unless I'm completely misunderstanding what he means.

Why? Well, to look at how the Catholic Church sees this, take a look at this portion of Archbishop Dolan's address to the USCCB from just four days ago:

You and I believe with all our heart and soul that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been passed on to us from our predecessors, the apostles, especially St. Paul, who learned that equation on the Road to Damascus, who teaches so tenderly that the Church is the bride of Christ, that the Church is the body of Christ, that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been defended by bishops before us, sometimes and yet even today, at the cost of “dungeon, fire, and sword.”

That truth — that He, Christ, and she, His Church, are one — moistens our eyes and puts a lump in our throat as we whisper with De Lubac, “For what would I ever know of Him, without her?”

The whole thing is worth reading, but I want to point to one more section:

Perhaps, brethren, our most pressing pastoral challenge today is to reclaim that truth, to restore the luster, the credibility, the beauty of the Church “ever ancient, ever new,” renewing her as the face of Jesus, just as He is the face of God. Maybe our most urgent pastoral priority is to lead our people to see, meet, hear and embrace anew Jesus in and through His Church.

Because, as the chilling statistics we cannot ignore tell us, fewer and fewer of our beloved people -- to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith -- are convinced that Jesus and His Church are one. As Father Ronald Rolheiser wonders, we may be living in a post-ecclesial era, as people seem to prefer
a King but not the kingdom,
a shepherd with no flock,
to believe without belonging,
a spiritual family with God as my father, as long as I’m
the only child,
“spirituality” without religion
faith without the faithful
Christ without His Church.
So they drift from her, get mad at the Church, grow lax, join another, or just give it all up.

If this does not cause us pastors to shudder, I do not know what will.
Jesus and His Church are one. It does matter, then; it matters terribly what Church one belongs to. That doesn't mean that I don't fully respect my Protestant Christian brothers and sisters wherever they are on the journey of faith; it doesn't mean dragging out erroneous ideas of what extra ecclesiam nullam salus meant; it doesn't mean that it's my job as a lay person to hurl condemnations and anathemas at every non-Catholic Christian. But it does mean that, were I the fictional woman in Nevada Rod is talking about in the excerpt above, I would be risking my eternal soul to be convinced that the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Christ for the salvation of men and yet choose to remain outside of her (even if the nearest Catholic parish really were hundreds of miles away). To join the Baptist church instead, even if only for the Bible study and spiritual fellowship, would smack of religious indifferentism, and would likely lead one away from the Catholic Church in the long run.

It matters, because Christ and His Church are one. If you seek to follow the King but demand to remain outside His kingdom, in what sense do you really seek to know Him--let alone to love Him and serve Him?


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I have a sense of what Rod is saying, that probably does not play out the way he was thinking about it. I joined a church about ten years ago, which is Protestant, Trinitarian, and administered by bishops. Personally, if I were to design the perfect church for me, it would have a congregational form of government, and be unitarian (small u) in theology.

But, I had been without any regular religious observance or commitment for twenty years or so. I had wandered into this church in the way most people wander into a church they are not already a member of -- I was staying on a friend's living room couch, and on Sunday, asked what his family was doing that day, and decided to go along.

The pastor has not always sustained the level of sermons he was doing that year, but that year made a strong impression on me. Ditto for the choir and the praise team, but they were more than good music, they opened a window on God I hadn't experienced for a long time, if ever. So did the entire congregation. This church made it seem important to be there, every Sunday if possible. It gave me some valuable perspective on ways God was leading me even when I thought I was making decisions, for totally different motives than what ended up being the most important results.

The presence, which was at least in part the presence of God, was more important than the name on the door or the doctrine.

The logic is impeccable that if a given church is The Church, that God, Christ, and This Church are one, then one should not join any other church. But if you have managed the delicate balance of believing that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church, while still respecting your Protestant brothers and sisters as Christians, could it be that this hypothetical woman in Nevada would get more of the presence of God from any church, whereas the mere knowledge that she has committed herself to the one true church and has to manage the divine presence all by herself, might wear rather thin?

Of course, if I were convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is exactly the means by which Christ intended us to unite with him, I would be Roman Catholic. (A Jewish rabbi similarly told me once, "Obviously I don't believe Jesus was the Messiah, if I did, I would be a Christian.") I can feel, very distantly, that to give unreserved obedience to leadership I knew to be entirely trustworthy and omniscient could be quite fulfilling. But I can't separate any church, as an institution, from the men (and women) who lead it -- and therefore it is not wholly one with Christ, not in this world.

Red Cardigan said...

I asked a very small version of my question over at Rod's, and I still don't get it. Will ask more.

Philip said...

Red, it sounds like you and this other person believe many different things. You believe one thing. He believes the rest.

Red Cardigan said...

Philip, explain, please. I'm not sure what you mean.

laika said...

This is why I stick with Buddhism. It doesn't require you believe one impossible thing before breakfast every day.

Adolfo said...

Then I don't think you understand Buddhism, laika

Boz said...

>>I bring this up not to argue about Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy, but to illuminate how subjective considerations inevitably affect the choices we make.<<

Rod Dreher is one of the bloggers whom I read every day without fail. The quote above betrays a certain disingenuousness. He professes to not be interested in theological debate but then goes on to make a claim that eviscerates the claims of religion, any religion, to objective truth. This is only the latest a fairly long train of such comments--some stated openly, others dropped in passing--but, without getting too personal, I suspect that Dreher is still trying to explain to himself his decision to jump from Catholicism. How discouraging.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I think anyone who has sincerely believed in some paradigm of principles, truths, practices, associations, then found it painfully necessary to abandon them, would be trying for the rest of their lives to understand and explain them. That's not suspicious, it is normal.

Although no expert on Buddhism, I second Adolfo's observation. I know just enough to recognize that Buddhism, as much as any religious faith, requires intensive and extensive study to arrive at even a modicum of understanding. Just because Americans with a superficial understanding found the superficiality attractive doesn't mean Buddhism is really superficial.

An orthodox rabbi once told me that Gautama and his associates came closer to understanding the nature of the universe and eternity than any teaching outside of Judaism -- while lamenting that they never considered the role of a divine Creator.

Turmarion said...

One thing you have to remember is that Rod, like Thomas Merton, whom he quotes, is an adult convert (as, for that matter, am I). Moreover, the three of us are a certain type of convert, the intellectual (perhaps overly intellectual) type that "read ourselves into" the Church. The kind who, in the early days, were very much into anything apologetic-oriented, who read lots of Chesterton and Belloc, who couldn't get enough of Papal encyclicals, etc.

For such a person it's all too easy for it all to be in the head. Oh, one might enthusiastically participate, might have emotional experiences, etc., but it's still kind of an intellectual abstraction. You've got a perfect Church in your head and the real one you're in keeps frustrating, keeps failing to meet expectations. You also get a condescending, arrogant view towards others who just fail, in their miserable ignorance, to see the Glorious Truth of the One True Faith.

After you've been in it for a long enough time, been banged around by life a few times, seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, you finally get that in one respect the intellectual part of the Faith, while not un-important, is perhaps the least important. Remember, even the great St. Thomas Aquinas, after his mystical experience, said of the Summa, "It all seems as straw." That doesn't mean he'd become a fideist, but it does mean he saw the intellect and propositional beliefs as not being the end-all and be-all.

As to the hypothetical Nevada woman, I suppose one could say she ought to make the commute if she really believed, or pull up stakes and move, no matter what the cost and sacrifice (kids in school, job, etc.), to be near the right church, etc. I'm not sure I think that God would insist on such heroic efforts as bottom-level, ground floor requirement of a person in such a case. Recall that in the pre-Vatican II era it was considered religious indifferentism to even set foot in a non-Catholic church, and that even in the exceptional cases (e.g. relatives' marriages), one was not allowed to participate at all--not even singing. Even the Rotary Club was viewed as a den of religious indifferentism probably affiliated with the nefarious Freemasons!

The point is that while I think it does matter what church or religion one belongs to, I think perhaps God is a bit more lenient on the issue than we humans are.

Btw, there are one or two Feenyite groups still in existence, and the Church allows them to maintain their own interpretation of extra ecclasia as long as they accept the local bishop's authority and don't publicize it. I personally find that troubling.

This is getting long, so I think I'll have to split it in two.

Turmarion said...

"Christ and his Church are one."

Yes, but....

His Church went almost completely heretical--remember "Athanasius against the world"? His Church had pretty appalling management in the late Middle Ages. His Church had three different men claiming to be Pope at one time. And so on. I think it would be better to say, "The Church is one with Christ, but Christ is much more than just the Church." Remember Paul saying of the pagans, "We are his children too," (Acts 17:28) and Jesus's saying about having "other sheep" in John 10:16.

Especially note John 20:20-22: "Peter looked round, and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following.... When he caught sight of him, Peter asked, "Lord, what will happen to him?" Jesus said, "If it should be my will that he wait until I come, what is it to you? Follow me." (NEB)

If we consider Peter as representing the institutional Church, we can see this as Jesus saying, "Look, don't get up in other Christian's business. That's my problem, not yours. Just follow me and don't worry about it."

Given the periods of horrible corruption the Church has endured, and given the many changes in practice over the centuries, my tendency is to say that while Jesus did intend to found a church, he did it in an oblique way. I mean, he could have revealed several more books of the New Testament--the Book of the Curia, the Book of Church Structure, the Book of Management, and so on--but he didn't. Remember that the New Testament we have contains the words, "the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life". (2 Corinthians 3:6)

In short, I think Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, gently nudged things along but allowed human free will to go along its merry way, even at the price of allowing things to get mucked up--even royally so--in the process. As long as the Sacraments were maintained, and a minimal level of orthodoxy (e.g. the Creed) was functioning, things would be OK in the long run. The rest, while it would have its place, was secondary.

I realize this isn't what Conciliar documents tend to say, nor what is generally viewed as standard, but it seems to me to make better sense in terms of Church history as it actually has been. The alternative is to run the risk of baptizing every fault, every blunder, every managerial mis-step, every evil the Church as an institution has committed, with the divine stamp of Christ's Intentions. That doesn't seem like a good model to me.

It also makes dealing with the post Vatican II changes easier. I've read pretty extensively on some of the issues and the thing is, if you study it carefully a lot of the schismatic Traditionalists actually have the better of the arguments. Extra ecclasiam, for example: this page from the St. Benedict center (one of the reconciled Feeneyite groups), quoting some Papal documents from the past that sure seem to indicate a maximalist version of nulla salus for even non-Catholic Christians.

Examples could be multiplied on various issues (freedom of religion, ecumenical relations, usury, etc.), but the point is that those who accept V II often get into extremely tortured and tortuous arguments trying to demonstrate that modern practices or teachings are not changes but developments. Such arguments often sound like an argument that a cat is really a dog or that X actually means Y.

OK, length again--one more post. Sorry!

Turmarion said...

My point is that I think the Roman Church went the wrong way in trying to define and propositionalize everything. The Eastern Churches do have a concept of infallibility, but it is more vaguely and broadly applied, and is generally in reference to major points of faith (e.g. the Creed, Christology, etc.) rather than with some of the relative minutia the Western Church has tended to want to micro-manage.

Of course, the Eastern Churches have disadvantages and failings, too--I remain Catholic, after all--but I think we could learn from them in some ways. They have a much stronger emphasis on praxis than on doctrine (understood as intellectual consent to officially promulgated propositions), and I think that is a healthier viewpoint. Also, rather than trying to make exact definitions regarding things like other churches or usury or such, the Eastern Churches tend to leave such matters to oikonomia and the judgement of individual churches in the appropriate contexts, as needed.

I think that this, to an extent, at least, is kind of what Rod was trying to get at; and I'd tend to agree with it. Others might not, and that's OK; but hopefully this might clarify some of it.

Hector said...


Thanks for your responses. Those were three really powerful reflections on Christian ecclesiology, and they said some things I've thought before better than I could say them (as well as some other things I haven't ever thought of). I really like your brief exegesis of those verses from John's Gospel, which is an intriguing text indeed.

I'm also an adult convert, in a communion stuck uncomfortably between Catholic and Protestant ecclesiologies, and so I've thought about a lot about what it means to say that the Holy Spirit works within the church, and to what degree I think that the church is a reliable authority. I can't say that I have any answers, but again, your post gives me a lot to think about.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The history of both Old and New Testaments teaches that every time God spoke to man, within a generation, or often within minutes, man got it all wrong. God always allowed man to make a free choice what to do with what God graciously let us know. Since, as C.S. Lewis points out, God does NOT look into the future to see what is going to happen, but sees it ALL as it is happening, unlimited by time, no doubt God knew/knows what was/is/would happen.

I see no reason to think that Jesus had any particular intention that there would be dioceses, or hierarchies, or church councils debating this and that. He may have looked at it all and said "Have I been with you so long..." If the church is the successor to the Apostles, what did he say most often to the Apostles... "Don't you guys understand ANYTHING I've been trying to tell you?"

Henry Newman's response to the doctrine of Papal infallibility (which was announced only after 1,870 years of church history without it), was give the church some time, the conciliar leadership will correct this error in due course. I don't have that kind of patience.

Leo I initiated universal claims that had not been recognized in the first 440 years of Christianity, Gregory VII claimed sovereignty over the whole church in the teeth of the patriarchal collegiality still recognized by the Orthodox, Urban II started a jihad in the name of Christ, and Europe's first pogrom against the Jews, with the cry "God wills it!" Innocent III claimed papal sovereignty over the whole world and imposed the yellow star on Jews, Boniface VIII decreed that every king, indeed every creature, is a vassal of the pope, Paul IV asserted authority over the human mind, establishing the Index, and the Roman ghetto, Pius IX claimed primacy over the council... and I found this enumeration in Constantine's Sword, a book written by James Carroll who is determined, God bless him, to remain a Catholic -- while crying in the wilderness for "Vatican III." In this I am supposed to perceive the kingdom of God, the way Jesus meant it to be? I don't.

On the other hand, on the occasions I have attended mass, generally with an elderly Hispanic friend who needed a ride, I have found it to be a perfectly inspiring service of Christian worship. There's nothing wrong with being Catholic, but there is nothing extra godly about it either. I'm not Protestant because that is The Way To The Truth, but because it leaves me free to seek God without the mediation of flawed human authority.

Turmarion said...

Thanks for the kind words, Hector. An author who has influenced my thinking a lot on such issues, and whom you might find interesting, is the retired Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon. He writes theology, cookbooks, and novels (seriously!) and is not easily classifiable as "liberal" or "conservative". If you're not already familiar with him, you ought to check him out. I'd especially recommend his books The Romance of the Word, his three volumes on the Parables, and The Astonished Heart.

Rebecca in ID said...

I disagree with the statement that the Catholic Church has tried to define *everything*...she has in fact been painfully slow to define the little that she does define, a long process over a couple of thousand years, and nearly every definition has been a response to a long widespread specific heresy. The filioque is only one example. I know an Orthodox woman, on the other hand, who is pretty frustrated with the *lack* of definition in certain areas of praxis within the Orthodox Church--particularly with regard to sexual morality within marriage--and has been asking for information on Natural Family Planning. Finally praxis is the more important, because we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling", but how do you know what to do if you don't know what's true? I love the Catholic faith for its perfect blend of the mystic depths (St. John of the Cross, the Eastern Fathers) and the clear definition (St. Thomas Aquinas--who saw his works as "so much straw" in comparison to the vision of God He was shown--and Christ told him, "You have written well of me". )

Siarlys Jenkins said...

We CANNOT know what is True. We simply can't. We are fallible human beings, living within the limitations of a physical universe. The infinite, the transcendent, the holy, are things we can sense, strive for, long for, reach for, seek, but this side of eternity, we cannot know.

That should make all of us humble about proclaiming this or that authority, certainly about imposing whatever sense of truth we have found on our neighbors (sharing or offering is not the same as imposing), proclaiming our own path to be the one and only, and denouncing others as apostate, heretical, or damned.

There are a few basics that are quite clear, but they can be summarized in a page or less.

Rebecca in ID said...

Well, that's where we differ. The things we can't know, vastly exceed the things we can know, but there are a lot of things we can know. We can know some things with a mathematical type of knowledge, some with experiential knowledge, some with moral certitude, some by faith, which is in a way not knowledge but has a certitude greater than knowledge. If we couldn't know anything about how we are supposed to live or who we are to worship, the verse "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" would be a nonsense verse.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Rebecca, you speak in sufficient generality that it remains unclear where we differ. We can certainly know physically verifiable things with mathematical certainty, at least until we get into quantum physics and find that we really can't, or even consider what my fifth grade teacher taught: there is no such thing as a perfect ruler.

By faith, we can know (or reject) that there is a God who made all that is, seen and unseen, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling precisely because that God is transcendent, and therefore we can only hope we know what God wishes from us, and rely on his grace for what we don't.

Where we do differ, although you didn't say it, is on whether any organized religion can work out with mathematical certainty a detailed body of dogma, ritual, and canon, and tell us with authority that that IS what God expects of us.

If you believe that a church can do that, there is no reason for me to seek to dissuade you. You may be right, and if you are not, I believe God will credit your sincerity and devotion. It is only if you are SO certain that you are prepared to impose your certainty on me that we will have anything to fight over. After all, I am supposed to work out MY salvation in fear and trembling, not at the carnal powers of a church, but at the transcendence of God.

Rebecca in ID said...

Well, you said very emphatically that we CANNOT know what is true, and I'm just disagreeing with you. You're the one making the claim, and I disagree with it. In order to prove you can't know anything, you have to know at least that one truth, that we can't know anything.

As for the Church, She does not declare anything with *mathematical* certitude. I suppose you're saying mathematical because you think mathematical means "most certain"...but mathematical certitude is just a different kind of certitude. What Jesus Christ has taught, we can know with the certitude of faith, which is different from mathematical certitude, is not the same as knowledge, but is more certain because God cannot deceive or be deceived.

So anyway, my original point had to do with Eastern Orthodox vs. the Catholic Church--vagueness is not necessarily more holy, and also, the Catholic Church only defines when absolutely necessary. At any rate, what I am saying is that we can all agree as Christians that there has to be *some* certitude about *some* things--where and how we gain that certitude is a different question.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Indeed, the reason there are many different Christian denominations is because we have somewhat different faith as to what certitude there is and how we gain it.

Now, tell me how you could prove to me that your certitude is THE TRUE certitude, without relying on your own premises, which I do not share? Can you prove to my satisfaction that your premises are direct from God?

If you can't do that, then WE don't KNOW. You have faith. I have faith.

In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln pointed out that both sides in the civil war had prayed to the same God, who could not answer the prayers of both, and may not have chosen to answer the prayers of either. Afterward, he commented that the speech would not be popular, because "men do not like to be reminded that the Almighty has priorities other than theirs."

What God has in mind is of course the ultimate authority. For all I now, everything you believe MAY be correct. If it is, I rely on two points for my salvation: (1) C.S. Lewis pointed out that God (most unfairly, in the view of Our Father Below) credits humans with having believed they were doing right when objectively they were doing wrong, and, (2) Erin is praying for me. If you are all wrong, I expect God will credit the sincerity and devotion of Erin's prayers to her credit, even were it to turn out that Rome is, after all, the "whore of Babylon," which I doubt.

Rebecca in ID said...

You apparently think I'm saying more than I'm saying. I'm not trying to prove the Catholic Church is the true Church. I am way too tired, and probably not smart enough, to get into that with you Siarlys. All I said is that we have some certitude about some things. Is there *anything* we can agree on, that *we* have certitude about, or not?