Thursday, November 24, 2016

Unity in a post-truth world

I note with a degree of agreement Fr Anthony's rather pessimistic view of the Church. I do agree that the Catholic Church is indeed in a mess and that this mess needs to be sorted out somehow for the sake of the coherence of the Catholic Faith. Fr Anthony might say that perhaps we should forget about coherence, and rather resign ourselves to the mess until the Lord comes again and sorts it out. I think he has a very good point but perhaps I'm more naïve than he. My prayer is that the mess will be sorted out, and I fully expect God to do the impossible. Obviously, He will do it on His own terms and in His inimitable fashion, but I dare to believe that it can and will be sorted somehow.

The problem lies in the fact that we live in this bizarre "Post-truth" society where biological truths such as male and female are doubted and people say that they are one thing despite living the opposite.

The interesting thing is that this is not new. There have even been attempts to force the number pi to be 3.2.

This is the way that some human minds work as an exercise of will over what is true. Some people try to use quantum mechanics to justify holding contradictory opinions. "If Schroedinger's Cat can be both alive and dead, then I can be both a Christian and not believe in God." Yet, modern physics is not conclusive, and there are big questions that still need to be answered, despite eminent physicists claiming that philosophy is dead and its truths subsumed into physics. They maintain that there is no truth other than physical truth. How do they know that that's true? How can it be proved to be true?

The way that the Church can come together is by a concerted effort to discover the Truth. There are too many ecclesial bodies which make extraordinary claims about their identity.

I believe myself, and the jurisdiction I belong, to be properly Catholic in the sense of the Primitive Church. I am not a Roman Catholic, though I love the Roman Church very dearly and have much respect for her values. I long to be in communion with her, but I cannot assent to the idea that communion with the Holy Father defines Catholicism. Neither do the Orthodox Churches. I am an Anglican Catholic, but I am not an Anglican. If I were, then I would have to take a much more dogmatic stance on the theology of the prayer-book. I would also have to be a much more committed Augustinian in my theology.

What I do not do is pretend that I am a Roman Catholic, nor an Anglican, even though trying to explain what an Anglican Catholic is takes a bit of doing. There are groups that do revel in pretense. I notice one group that parades itself as an outfit of bishops identifying itself with Rome. Rome, however, has declared that group as being schismatic and not part of their jurisdiction. Their leader has even blagged his way around various events in the Vatican. That smacks of sheer dishonesty in its intention, indeed in its very foundation. I also notice that they excommunicate each other with an alarming frequency. In short, they make a mockery of the very thing they are claiming to hold. Their grandiose titles, claims of regularity, enormous mitres, and writs of excommunication show them up for what they are.

Another group claims to be Anglican Catholic, has even borrowed our wording from our literature (except the bits they don't agree with) and claims to be "more traditional" than us. Given that this group consists of two clergy, one of whom is female, there is still a dishonesty there. By their fruits shall they be known. If they bring folk to Christ, if they promulgate the generous blessing of God to the World, if they seek to promote true Christian Love, then they will indeed be doing something wonderful. Every Christian group needs to be doing this, but we need to be honest about where we've come from. If we're not part of the Anglican Catholic Church, then at least we should have the honesty to say that.

There are lots of Catholic jurisdictions in existence. I am pleased to be on good terms with lots of these jurisdictions and I value their warmth, goodwill, kindness, generosity, and prayer. They don't pretend to be what they are not. Our different histories mean that we walk apart for the moment, but we do walk parallel. That's just fine for now, but I pray for a more organic unity for the very reason that we are all intending from the bottom of our hearts, with every fibre of our beings, to seek first the Kingdom of God. We all have the same cross in front of us, and we are firm in our intention to simply do His will in true humility.

What is the fundamental flaw in modern thinking is that there is no such thing as objective truth. Mathematics is all about objective truths, and yet even that is being eroded by woolly thinking and opinion. There are those who would say that if you add up every possible whole number, you get the answer of a negative twelfth. That only works if one bends the rules of adding an infinite number of things, but these folk don't tell you that they are bending or changing the rules! Changing the rules is absolutely fine in Mathematics - that's where we get different theories and different structures. Incorporate a number whose square is negative one into your number system and you get something rich. Incorporate two more numbers whose square is negative one, and you get yet a richer number system, but it will be markedly different. One is not more true than the other: they are different systems. However, we have to recognise that they are different systems and not pretend that they are the same.

With fake news on social media, corrupt politicians, and excommunication-happy ecclesiarchs, it's easy to see why people cannot see the truth in the world. Opinions are presented as facts and because no-one checks, these "facts" become true by consensus rather than by objectivity. This presents us with a bit of a problem. Either we trust no-one and spend our waking hours trying to verify a truth using sources we don't actually trust, or we learn to trust something. For the Christian of any stripe, this is easy: we trust God.

We trust God to reveal Himself to us, and therefore we must trust the testimony of the Bible. But we must also trust the Church that collated this Holy Library. We can only trust so far as all Churches accepted the same doctrine, so we have good reason to trust the Oecumenical Councils which put forward that doctrine. Of course, only the first seven were truly Oecumenical. So you see that I have just described the Catholic Faith which consists of the unaltered faith of the Primitive Church. This is where Anglican Catholicism comes from as well as a whole host of good Catholic groups such as the Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholics, the Anglican Catholics, the Holy Catholics, and the Old Roman Catholics, to name but a few. If we all assent to the same thing, then we should be together, and it's my sincerest prayer that we would be. Because I make my prayer in full expectation of a miracle, I sit and wait in hope for God to do something brilliant!

The future will be bright because God will answer my prayer which is the prayer of so many others. He'll do it in His own way, and I worship Him for it!

Come soon, Lord Jesus!

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