Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Multiplication by division

In mathematics, we say that two quantities are in inverse proportion if, when you double the first, you halve the other; triple the first and you get a third of the other, and so on. You can tell that two quantities are in inverse proportion if their product does not change.

For example, you have £5 to spend on sweets. If the sweets cost 5p each, you can buy a hundred but, if they cost 10p each, you can only buy fifty. Likewise if they cost 25p each you can only buy a fifth of one hundred, namely twenty sweets. The cost of each sweet and the number you can buy are in inverse proportion. Multiply the cost of each sweet by the number you can buy and you will always get the same number - in this case £5.

What's this got to do with anything outside the classroom?

I got involved in a discussion on a facebook page in which a new ecclesial group presented itself. My friend, Ed Patch and I asked a fairly simple, but actually very serious question: given that there is a multiplicity of churches and ecclesial bodies which believe effectively the same thing, what is the need for another such body?

The more we multiply ecclesial bodies, the fewer members can each have. That's simple mathematics. Yet, if we're doing Divinity (as opposed to Theology) the more we multiply ecclesial bodies, the more that we do damage to the reputation of the Church and thus bring the Body of Christ into disrepute.

"Ah!" some will say, "but you're a member of the Anglican Catholic Church. Why did your lot split away rather than seeking to work together with ECUSA of the CofE? Why did you up sticks and leave, rather than accept the Dual Integrities approach that the CofE has set up?"

Of course, the fact of the matter is that the whoever changes nothing is not the one who splits. Those who change the Catholic Faith walk away from the Catholic Faith, and that is the truth. Thus, ECUSA and the CofE have departed from the Catholic Faith and, at the level of institutions, preach another Christ, a hermaphrodite Christ which defies the definition of human nature. If we stay with the same Christ that ECUSA and the CofE used to proclaim at the level of institutions, then we are not responsible for the split. That's simple logic.

We don't accept Dual Integrities because to do so would mean the acceptance that Christ and the hermaphrodite pseudo-Christ are both valid expressions of Christianity. To worship anyone or anything other than the Real God - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - is idolatry, and thus to remain in communion with idolaters is dangerous to the soul. In the CofE, it is also a point of some affirmation of this principle when we see those faithful to the Real Christ prevented from flourishing by those who cry out for the mutual flourishing of those who embrace the alterations to the Catholic Faith.

That's the justification for why the Churches which subscribed to the Affirmation of St Louis exist. There was a good reason that involved only the Catholic Faith which resulted in the separation. The trouble is that there have been subsequent bodies which have separated which have precisely the same principles as the Continuing Churches. Why do they exist, and why have they not sought union with other bodies with the same principles rather than start their own?

That question has been asked, and it is a great joy that this October four Continuing jurisdictions will be closer together than ever in a reversal of our tendency to go our own way. Now that the smoke of the Lambeth Communion's heresy is clearing, we are able to recognise each other clearly.

Many new bodies come into existence ignorant of the Continuing Church's existence. That's okay. Yet we hope, when they discover who we are and whether they share the same Catholic principles as we do, they will enter into discussion with us so that we may find common ground in which to embrace a new relationship and build the Body of Christ.

Yet schisms don't just happen for doctrinal reasons, but rather from the cult of personality. There is an unfortunate "purple fever" where some who desire the office of Bishop too eagerly will change and jump through jurisdictions to get their mitre. As I preached on Whitunday, it is the Church who will recognise the man to become bishop, priest or deacon. There have been too many instances of simony and backscratching which have produced bishops who are in it for the pretty vestments and the ring-kissing. There are whole groups which consist of nothing other than bishops whose only desire is to be recognised, have their own way and do nothing for the furtherance of Christ's Gospel.

There are also those who create schism by a lack of charity or, speaking in the pretence of Charity, insult, mock, or demonise others. Why do they do this? Why use sarcasm when all it will achieve is to perpetuate the divisions between Christians? Indeed, there are many folk who will never return to the Catholic Church because they are so set in their ways, but if they have embarked upon their path because we have mocked them, or shown some cruelty to them, are we not in some substantial way responsible for their distance from the Catholic Faith? Why crack a joke at someone else's expense? What does it achieve save further enmity? We will all have to give an account of our stewardship of the Gospel before the Throne of God. Our self-righteousness will be seen through immediately.

Of course, inverse proportion works the other way too. If the sweets cost 1p, then we can buy five hundred. If the sweets cost a tenth of a penny, we can buy five thousand. If they cost a hundredth of a penny, we can buy fifty thousand, and so on! What if they cost nothing?

The same is true for Christianity. The more united that we are in the Catholic Faith, the more that our ancient, historic, and true faith bears faithful witness to the infinite Godhead. No, we do not unite for the sake of unity. We unite by accepting that great Catholic Faith, pursue it vigorously and, in the commandment to love our neighbour, recognise it in our fellows and see Christ's communion with them as, we believe, it is in us. If they are in communion with Christ, and we are in communion with Christ, then we are in communion with each other, whether we like it or not. If we don't like it, then perhaps we're not ready for communion in Christ. Perhaps we have more growing up to do.

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