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May 23, 2013


Jurgen Liias’s Move to Rome: A Spiritual Autobiography

Here’s another man’s thoughts about his church search. Obviously, I disagree with his foundational assumption which is that Rome’s assertions about its identity as “one true church” are true. If Rome is wrong about that one thing, then it suffers from a level of delusion that approaches mental illness and certainly cannot produce healthy churches over the long term. But it’s not as if The Episcopal Church isn’t delusional either and those who believe the Gospel within TEC are confronted with bunches of decisions about the nature of church, one’s mission within various organizations, as well as a post-Christian country, and countless other choices.

That being said, his is a fascinating spiritual biography. I found the narratives about his early childhood to be particularly enthralling—make sure you read it all. And here’s the T19 thread on his decision as well.

1.Childhood

In a small Lutheran (Evangelische) church located in the city square of Schwenningen am Neckar in the Black Forest Region of post-war Germany, I received the Sacrament of Baptism as an infant in 1948. I was the son of refugees, displaced persons;  my father Arnold Liias, an Estonian but conscripted into the German army during the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe, had been taken from his native Estonia as a wounded soldier, an amputee from a gangrenous leg wound; my mother Ingeborg Schneider at nineteen had been separated from her home and family in East Germany and fled westward away from the Soviet invasion and occupation at the very end of the war.

The poverty and chaos of post-war Germany forced them to apply for emigration and in the winter of 1951-52, my parents and I now with as well my younger brother, their second child, arrived in the United States and were settled into a displaced person camp in Western Massachusetts. My father moved alone to Boston to find work and a new home. Months later we were taken into the Rectory of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlestown. An old bachelor priest, the Rev. Wolcott Cutler, had filled his home - a large five story brownstone situated on the square of the Bunker Hill Monument- with refugees. Though most remained for short periods of time,  we lived in that Rectory for the next ten years, becoming caretakers of the building and even, in the case of my father, the sexton at the church.

Mr. Cutler (as he was called- a deeply committed low churchman he would have been offended to be called Father Cutler)was an extraordinary saintly pastor and a most fascinating character. Though from a rich Boston Brahmin family, he had devoted his entire ordained ministry to inner city work among the poor. He was seen as the Pastor of all of Charlestown, though 90% of the community was Irish Catholic.  He was a zealous activist for peace and justice; the author and publisher of a Christian pacifist journal; an avid naturalist; a historical preservationist; and a most accomplished photographer of urban life. His glass slides are still one of the treasures of the Archives of the Boston Public Library. Mr. Cutler had a profound influence on me as a child; my mother used to tell me that even as a small boy I said that I wanted to be like Mr. Cutler when I grew up. The call to ordained ministry was there as far back as I can consciously remember. Childhood fantasy games often included playing church and of course I was the priest distributing communion.

In 1962, Mr. Cutler retired and a new priest, Fr. Brian Kelly with wife and children arrived. At this point we were required to leave the Rectory, and my parents through intense and diligent work-my father a machinist during the day and my mother working night shifts packing ice cream at Hood’s milk factory-were able to fulfill the American dream and purchase their own home, though just a few blocks away from the Rectory.

Charlestown as already noted was an Irish Catholic working class neighborhood and considered the toughest neighborhood of Boston.  My family and I were not infrequently verbally abused and even on occasion physically abused with stone throwing and gang beatings for being “protestants and naziis.” In the pre-Vatican II sensibilities of the time I was constantly told by my childhood friends that I was going to Hell, spoken often not with gladness but poignant sadness. They were truly sorry for me.  Fr. Kelly-note the title change-was a high churchman; and I remember distinctly the day in Sunday School when he instructed us that we were not Protestants but Catholics; but we were not Roman Catholics, we were Anglo-catholics. Well this was the best news I had ever heard. I was a Catholic too! Perhaps that epiphany was the seed of this journey now.

St. John’s Episcopal Church was the center of my life. Besides being a refuge where we as immigrants were accepted and loved, a kind of extended family, it also was the formative spiritual community of my childhood and adolescence. We had a boys choir –a then common but now rare feature of Anglicanism; I was the lead soprano until my voice cracked somewhere around 14. There was a church Boy Scout Troop, which provided recreation, fellowship, and camping trips out of the city. In high school we had a very active Young People’s Fellowship, of which I was president and because of which I had my first preaching opportunity on Youth Sunday. (The sermon is lost to history). Seminarians from the Episcopal Theological School provided youth leadership, and one in particular, Fr. James Hagen, still to this day a very close friend, solidified my vocation. Already as a senior in high school I met with my Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Anson Stokes . “ Jurgen you’ll make a wonderful priest; now when you go to college, don’t major in religion.  You’ll get plenty of that in Seminary.” He shook my hand and I was a postulant!

2.College and Seminary

In 1965, I went off to college.  I had been recruited by Harvard College but when my mother said I would live at home if I went to Harvard, I swiftly accepted the full scholarship I had been given by Amherst and moved to the Pioneer Valley.  My secondary education had been at the Boston Latin School, the oldest and one of the finest public schools in the U.S.  Six years of Latin and three years of Greek in high school and an interest in archaeology (as my backup career if I were rejected for ordination) directed me to choose Classics as my major (though in my Senior year at Amherst I added Psychology as a second major). Again perhaps there is providence in all my Latin as I journey to Rome.

The greatest providence of college, however, was the meeting on the very first day of Freshman year of a young lady from Smith College named Gloria Gehshan. She would become my wife.  Adding the five years of courtship to our 41 years of marriage, we have been together most of our 64 years of life.

This was the turbulent 60’s and the days of student revolution: political, social, sexual, and spiritual. In high school I had already become somewhat of an activist in the civil rights movement. At Amherst I joined the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the premier New Left organization, and was very engaged in organizing teach- ins, demonstrations, and marches against the Vietnam War. This activism for peace and justice was for me an expression of my faith and Christians like Merton, the Berrigans, Dorothy Day and of course Martin Luther King Jr. were, in their writings, sermons, and witness my heroes. But the underside of this era was also part of my life; sexual promiscuity, drugs, growing cynicism. By the time I arrived at seminary, the Episcopal Theological School, in Cambridge, in the fall of 1969, I was burned out from my efforts to change society; the world it turned out was a much more intransigent place than my idealistic activism understood.  I found myself in a deep depression.

Spirituality had not been a very significant part of my Christian life, but my depression created a quest for inner resources. Though dabbling in Eastern religions and new age philosophies, Jungian Psychology became my new religion. Carl Jung, the great Swiss Psychiatrist, unlike Freud his mentor, was sympathetic to religion and believed in God. I was consumed with reading his works, going to lectures of the Jungian society, and doing dream work with a Jungian therapist. In my last year of seminary I became an Intern at an Episcopal Church on the North Shore of Boston working under a priest who himself was an avid disciple of Jung.  One peculiar feature of this priest and this parish was an interest in Spiritual Healing. Having been well indoctrinated with a biblical hermeneutic of Bultmanian demythologization where all the healing miracles of Jesus had been discarded, I was not sure what these folk thought they were doing, but I dutifully participated in the weekly Healing Eucharist which was followed by a Bible Study and Prayer Group. Though a Senior in seminary I had never participated in a bible study or prayer group before much less a healing service! But these Wednesday morning gatherings became utterly transformational: spiritually, theologically, pastorally. For the first time I began to “experience” the reality of God and the power of prayer. It was the beginning of a conversion to God the Holy Spirit.

3. My Conversion as a Young Priest

I was ordained Deacon at the end of that academic year in June 1972 and began my curacy at a large suburban Episcopal parish in Winchester, Mass.  Though the ethos of that parish was decidedly liberal protestant, I will be eternally grateful to the Rector John Bishop who was a wonderful mentor to me in learning the craft of being a good parish priest. He invited me to share in the full scope of parochial work: leading worship, preaching regularly, editing the weekly newsletter, pastoral visitation, leading a large and vibrant youth group, bringing high school students every week into an inner city church to tutor, teaching adult education and much more. I loved my work; I had no question that this was my divinely ordained vocation and I was, by worldly standards, popular and successful.  But God was doing an even more important work within me.

I continued my explorations in the Holy Spirit.  The charismatic movement was at that time making its appearance in the Episcopal Church.  9 o’clock in the Morning by Dennis Bennett, Gathered for Power by Graham Pulkingham and Miracle in Darien by Terry Fullam were narrations of priests and parishes totally transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit.  I went on occasion to Charismatic Prayer meetings in local Roman Catholic churches. I attended “Renewal” conferences around the country. ”Spiritual Renewal” was the new buzz word in the church; Cursillo, Faith Alive, Marriage Encounter, the Charismatic Movement-all were efforts to bring new life to the church in the face of what was beginning to become evident- decline and decrease in the Episcopal church. The heady days of church growth and expansion of the 50’s and 60’s were over. I was drawn to these movements, not just for the church’s sake, but for the sake of my own very thirsty soul.


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89 comments

certainly cannot produce healthy churches over the long term

Ok, that’s strange. Two thousand years, 1.2 billion souls, spread over all the world. Local as well as international networks of health care, education, family services, disaster relief, church development (evangelism).  So what “healthy”? What’s long-term? Who’s delusional?

In any case,  Rome does not claim to be the “one true church”, but rather, that Church founded by Christ through the apostles, in which the Church of Christ subsists whole and entire. This claim is shared by the Orthodox Churches, which bodies Rome considers to be true Churches, putting paid to that “one” thing. I recognize that this is shorthand verbiage, but if you google “One True Church”, you will find a lot of triumphalism, most of it not from Catholics, and rebuttals to this purported claim of Catholics. This article I found does seem to represent accurately the claims of the Catholic Church:

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/03/the-one-true-church-35

I write all this not because I much care whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the Roman claims, but I find the slur of “delusional” ad hominem, which is not a proper response to theological propositions, and the consequences of there being no Church to be troubling in the extreme.

[1] Posted by Words Matter on 5-23-2013 at 03:01 PM · [top]

Well, I am an idiot, having cut the part of about “no Church” and not pasted it back in. What I meant to say was that if the presence of nut jobs disqualifies the claims of Rome, then there is no Church, since nut jobs have been with us since the beginning and are found in every ecclesial body. If the crazies make the Body of Christ delusional, then we are in serious trouble.

[2] Posted by Words Matter on 5-23-2013 at 03:05 PM · [top]

Words Matter, post 1,
Does Rome (or the Vatican) no longer claim to be “the one true church”?
Many Roman Catholics and aspiring Roman Catholics proclaim that the Roman Catholic Church is “the one true church”, in fact I heard this claim repeated a few months ago.
I know much has changed since Vatican II but I was not aware that this belief of the Roman Church had changed.

[3] Posted by Betty See on 5-23-2013 at 05:31 PM · [top]

RE: “if the presence of nut jobs disqualifies the claims of Rome . . .”

True—but then I didn’t say that, so I’m not certain why you bring it up.  What I said was that Rome’s foundational viewpoint about its own identity is delusional to the point of mental illness.  I made no claims about *individual members* of that organization.

[4] Posted by Sarah on 5-23-2013 at 08:45 PM · [top]

I should add that there isn’t a thoughtful, informed Protestant out there who accepts Rome’s claims about itself and its intrinsic identity—because if they did, then they’d scuttle right over to convert to Rome, as only honor and integrity would demand.

You can’t name yourself the Queen of Sheba without others having opinions about whether you are or are not the Queen of Sheba.

And Rome’s claims about itself are of the magnitude of that—in short, it makes ginormous and grandiose assertions about its identity.  Efforts by some to water down or try to lessen Rome’s claims about itself are transparent in their motivations.

Either the ginormous and grandiose claims about its identity are accurate or they are false.  There isn’t really any “middle ground” there, as I’m confident that devout Roman Catholics will agree.

If those claims are false, than the ginormous and grandiose claims are . . . well . . . just what I said earlier.

[5] Posted by Sarah on 5-23-2013 at 08:55 PM · [top]

Betty See -

It’s not the point of the post nor my first comment. Nevertheless, you asked, so I’ll answer, briefly.

In 26 years a Catholic, I’ve never heard a Catholic, lay or priest, refer to ourselves as “the one true” church. I don’t doubt you, though, because I don’t hang out around people, blogs, or TV channels (think: EWTN) where you are likely to hear that sort of thing. But no individual person, including me, or Sarah, can run around saying something and that be the “teaching of the Catholic Church”. Even the pope, who is constrained by the deposit of Faith to matters of faith and morals, and only then in rare circumstances. If you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches, check the Catechism. I spent some time with it this evening, and I pretty much accurately reflected the Church’s teaching.  I think the article by Fr. Neuhaus gets into some of the in-and-outs of it.  I also spent some time with the Catechism of Trent. You could make the case that the teaching changed, but you could also make the case that the two documents speak to different times and different concerns.

[6] Posted by Words Matter on 5-23-2013 at 09:16 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
I don’t hang out around “people, blogs, or TV channels (think: EWTN) where you are likely to hear that sort of thing” either. In fact I don’t even know what “EWTN” is.
Isn’t the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is “the one true church” one of the reasons why a Protestant who marries a Roman Catholic is required to promise to raise their children in the Roman Catholic Church?

[7] Posted by Betty See on 5-23-2013 at 11:07 PM · [top]

That promise about raising the children Catholic is gone, or so I’m told. Maybe it’s around in some places, I don’t know, but not here.  I’m guessing, but I’ll bet it was a pastoral compromise more than a theological statement.

EWTN , the Eternal Word Television Network is a very pious, conservative Catholic TV and radio network. And FWIW, I did check out one of those blogs tonight. Some of the commenters seemed the type to speak of “the one true church”, but none of them did.

Thanks for pushing me to look astound in places I don’t usually go (the Catechism of Trent?! Heavenly days.  tongue laugh )

[8] Posted by Words Matter on 5-23-2013 at 11:34 PM · [top]

And, if not…

[9] Posted by tdunbar on 5-24-2013 at 12:06 AM · [top]

“The Catholic Church is the church we mean when we say The Church” - attributed to Lenny Bruce

[10] Posted by tdunbar on 5-24-2013 at 12:10 AM · [top]

I should clarify one thing: my use of “nut jobs” referred to the really bad people we have among us, as will as the revisionists, traditionalists who are more catholic than the pope, and clergy like that fellow who just “came out” in time for a new edition of his book about bring a gay priest. I was not making a reference to Sarah’s use of mental illness, which is a different matter.

I also don’t claim that Catholic ecclesiology is different than Protestant ecclesiology and that the difference matters. Obviously, I don’t agree that you can move from that to a claim that Catholic ecclesiology can’t produce healthy churches over the long term. Long term is properly our strong sit.

And for the record, I’ve read that in England, there are “Anglo-papalists” who accept the Roman claims but remain in the Church of England. I don’t understand it either, but there it is.

[11] Posted by Words Matter on 5-24-2013 at 01:07 AM · [top]

Words Matter, You said: “That promise about raising the children Catholic is gone, or so I’m told.”
Who told you this? Was it someone in the Clergy or someone who had authority to speak for the RC Church? Do you know of a Protestant and RC Catholic marriage where the children were raised Protestant with the blessing or permission of the RC Church?

[12] Posted by Betty See on 5-24-2013 at 09:06 AM · [top]

With regard to what the Catholic Church understands itself to be:

Catholic Catechism

816 The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.“267

  The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.“268

Wounds to unity

817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.“269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin:

  Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.“272

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.“274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.“276

With regard to the Catholic Church and individual Christians:

838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.“322 Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.“32

[13] Posted by Already Gone on 5-24-2013 at 05:44 PM · [top]

With regard to the raising of children when one spouse is not Catholic:

Code of Cannon Law

Can.  1125…

1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;

2/ the other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party;

[14] Posted by Already Gone on 5-24-2013 at 05:49 PM · [top]

If anyone is interested in understanding the differences between the Anglican view and the Roman Catholic view, you can find the 39 Articles of Religion here:
http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html

[15] Posted by Betty See on 5-24-2013 at 07:09 PM · [top]

Obviously I was half-right/half-wrong on the marriage promise thing. It is required that the Catholic promise to make an effort to raise the kids Catholic, with attention to maintaining the the peace of the household:

http://tinyurl.com/nz9z2j7

I’m not sure why the interest in the marriage laws, but that’s how it is. Clearly, it’s not about any “one true church” nonsense.

Let me be clear: my interest here is that we live in perilous times. The “(il)liberal” complex of secularists, atheists, and religious liberals are after us at home, and on the global scale, aggressive Islam threatens our brothers and sisters all over the world. Anglicans and Catholics are not enemies. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, with important theological differences. I firmly believe the Faith of the Catholic Church, and I hope that any Anglican reading this firmly believes the Anglican Faith. C.S. Lewis once wrote to a Catholic lady that those at the hearts of their own Faiths are closer to each other than they are to those on the peripheries.

That means that when we disagree, we should do so with accuracy, precision, and charity: accurate representation of that with what we disagree, precise arguments for our position, and a charitable presumption of good will and good faith.

Of course, if we don’t see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, then all bets are off.

[16] Posted by Words Matter on 5-24-2013 at 09:08 PM · [top]

RE: “Clearly, it’s not about any “one true church” nonsense.”

Of course, it is not nonsense at all, Words Matter, as anyone who has absorbed the words of your church’s catechism well recognizes.

“One true church” is a shorthand phrase for precisely what Rome believes about itself, just as the word “Rome” is shorthand for all the churches in full communion with the see of Peter, and just as the word “revisionist activist” is a lovely shorthand for people in America who want society to be forced to pretend to affirm gay sex.

You may not like labels, but I most certainly do, since I love the English language, and the only problem with the phrase “one true church” as a label to describe the gargantuan claims that Rome makes about itself is that it’s not nearly as outlandish in impact as the extensive words Rome itself uses to describe itself.

I won’t be quoting tediously from the catechism every time I want to use shorthand [which is pretty much ever time I speak about Rome] for Rome’s beliefs—I didn’t set out to write an article about Rome, I set out to mention—as will I always—before posting an interesting article of conversion, what Protestants believe as a direct counter to what converts to Rome believe.

Such will always be the case.

Just because you’re annoyed that I recognize and state publicly on a blog the consequences of Rome’s being *wrong* about its self-professed identity doesn’t mean you can waste everybody’s time insisting that everybody quote directly from the RC catechism any time a Protestant writes about Rome.

My acknowledging reality—that is, that Rome makes gargantuan claims about its own identity, claims that Protestants do not accept, and that *if Rome is wrong, as I believe it is*, that the claims amount to a Grand Delusion—also does not mean that I’m stating that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are somehow “enemies”.

This thread is not about your offense that I’ve used shorthand to describe Rome’s claims about itself, and the fact that if Rome is wrong about its claims that it’s indulging in delusion, so please stop making it about that.  Any Roman Catholic of sense and integrity can clearly see the reality that I’ve articulated.  Either what Rome says about itself is true, or it’s not true, and if not true than a ghastly huge delusion has been propagated on its believers.

You’re welcome to move on to other matters on this thread, or simply not comment.  Either way is fine with me.

[17] Posted by Sarah on 5-25-2013 at 09:04 AM · [top]

Thanks, Sarah, for your clarity. Shortcuts and metaphors are, I think, embedded so deeply in any human language (but perhaps especially in English) that meaningful conversation must use them but at the same time remember the associations and connections.
  As you say, “Either what Rome says about itself is true, or it’s not true”, it comes down to that, as many from various prespectives have said (e.g. Noll’s book pointing out the core disagreement was wrt ecclesiology).

[18] Posted by tdunbar on 5-25-2013 at 09:24 AM · [top]

Even though the Roman church has maintained a claim to be the “one true ” church over the years, the emphasis has shifted a little since Vatican II. People once regarded as “protesting” Protestants are now referred to as “Baptized Christians” and “separated brethren.” It is considered a sacrilege to rebaptize a convert who has been validly baptized in another communion. I think the late JPII did a lot to advance this ecumenism.

I also heard a Jesuit priest on Catholic radio counsel someone who was considering becoming Roman Catholic to only do so if their conscience was Catholic. Seems like Jurgen Liia might have undergone a similar process.

[19] Posted by Temple1 on 5-25-2013 at 09:32 AM · [top]

Given the nature of language, there are two major strategies: reduce the amount of ‘slang’ and ambiguity ala lawyers and many philosophers or push human language to the utmost ala poets. The latter strategy requires charity. Folks differ on whether that is a plus or a minus.


Love that’s pure hopes all things
Believes all things, won’t pull no strings
Won’t sneak up into your room, tall, dark and handsome
Capture your heart and hold it for ransom

You don’t want a love that’s pure
You wanna drown love
You want a watered-down love

Love that’s pure, it don’t make no false claims
Intercedes for you ’stead of casting you blame
Will not deceive you or lead you into transgression
Won’t write it up and make you sign a false confession

You don’t want a love that’s pure
You wanna drown love
You want a watered-down love

Love that’s pure won’t lead you astray
Won’t hold you back, won’t mess up your day
Won’t pervert you, corrupt you with stupid wishes
It don’t make you envious, it don’t make you suspicious

You don’t want a love that’s pure
You wanna drown love
You want a watered-down love

Love that’s pure ain’t no accident
Always on time, is always content
An eternal flame, quietly burning
Never needs to be proud, restlessly yearning

You don’t want a love that’s pure
You wanna drown love
You want a watered-down love
                  —Dylan

[20] Posted by tdunbar on 5-25-2013 at 10:07 AM · [top]

The Catholic Church is more architecturally complex than Vatican City.

[21] Posted by tdunbar on 5-25-2013 at 10:22 AM · [top]

Sarah Hey said:  “My acknowledging reality—that is, that Rome makes gargantuan claims about its own identity, claims that Protestants do not accept, and that *if Rome is wrong, as I believe it is*, that the claims amount to a Grand Delusion—also does not mean that I’m stating that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are somehow “enemies”.”

Sarah, no offense intended, but if words mean something, the words you used are what are known as ‘fighting words’ and if we’re not enemies, your words are not conducive to friendship.  Not, at least, to this recipient.

If a Catholic made your ‘Grand Delusion’ statement to you and substituted ‘Episcopalian’ where you use ‘Rome,’ would you not consider that offensive and/or insultling?  Then you say,


“This thread is not about your offense that I’ve used shorthand to describe Rome’s claims about itself, and the fact that if Rome is wrong about its claims that it’s indulging in delusion, so please stop making it about that.”


First, in saying what you said, have you not made the thread about what you say it’s not about?  Is it fair for you, as moderator, to make the remarks you made, then declare a reply from Catholics is not permitted?

Moving on, Fr. Liias was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in my parish in Beverly, MA.  We have become casual friends.  As you noted, he says reading the Church Fathers convinced him the Catholic Church is, indeed, exactly what she claims to be.  So did Blessed John Henry Newman, Scott Hahn, Francis Beckwith and Thomas Howard, also a friend.  These are very intelligent, well educated men.  What is it you know that they and I don’t know?  Is your statement supported by facts or is it just an opinion?

[22] Posted by winslow on 5-25-2013 at 11:14 AM · [top]

It seems to me that those who are intent on leaving behind their Anglican Faith for the Roman Catholic Church should at least educate themselves on what they are leaving behind and at least read the Anglican Articles of Religion and compare them with those things which they will be required to believe and act on as Roman Catholics. 
I am glad that the ACNA proclaims the principles of the 39 Articles of Religion and is willing to defend the Faith. I hope that the way of the ACNA will be open to me if the time comes when I feel compelled to leave the Episcopal Church.
With regard to the Roman Catholic Church, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to me (as it was to the reformers) is the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, because the doctrine is not supported by Scripture and seems to be more in the tradition of the Roman Empire than in the tradition of Christianity… and then there is the problem of recognizing the Pope as infallible, and… but I will stop there.

[23] Posted by Betty See on 5-25-2013 at 12:39 PM · [top]

RE: “if words mean something, the words you used are what are known as ‘fighting words’” —not certain why that is, but if so, then okay.

RE: “and if we’re not enemies, your words are not conducive to friendship.”

Again, not certain why that is.  I think you can grant that informed, thoughtful Protestants do not believe Rome’s assertions about itself.  Or is that also “not conducive to friendship.”  By your standards, nobody can be friends with pagans either, nor pagans with Christians.  Anglicans can’t be friends with free-churchers, and so on and so forth.

Again—if you can’t be friends with Protestants who don’t grant the truth of Rome’s claims about itself, then that’s obviously your choice.  Nothing we can do about that. And once one does *not* grant the truths that Rome claims about itself, then one has to say “my my, Rome believes a falsehood about itself—and a magnificent edifice that falsehood is, too!”

RE: “If a Catholic made your ‘Grand Delusion’ statement to you and substituted ‘Episcopalian’ where you use ‘Rome,’ would you not consider that offensive and/or insultling?”

Not at all!  In fact, if what Rome says about itself is *true*—its claims about its identity are accurate—then of course, Protestants are delusional about their own churches!

Not certain why that would be thought offensive?  It’s a bit like Protestants getting insulted or offended because Rome doesn’t recognize Protestant orders.  Or like KJS getting insulted or offended because Rome itself thinks *she* is operating under a grand delusion about her bishopric!  ; > )

RE: “As you noted, he says reading the Church Fathers convinced him the Catholic Church is, indeed, exactly what she claims to be.  So did Blessed John Henry Newman, Scott Hahn, Francis Beckwith and Thomas Howard, also a friend.  These are very intelligent, well educated men.”

Goodness me, if I trailed after what very intelligent and well educated men believed, I’d have a thousand and one mutually opposing beliefs.  I don’t make my decisions based on what others believe, however intelligent and well educated.

RE: “Is it fair for you, as moderator, to make the remarks you made, then declare a reply from Catholics is not permitted?”

No—but then, RCs *have* replied copiously for a full 36 hours on this thread.  And there has been no further substance added in all the comments.

Both sides have had plenty of time to respond, and nothing fruitful or substantive has been said beyond the very first comment by Words Matter.  So far, the RCs have said the equivalent of “how dare you” and obviously “how dare you” is off-topic at StandFirm, as has been pointed out frequently over the years.

Further comments reasserting Rome’s theology, or claiming that no no no, people have been mistaken about Rome’s theology entirely, or “how dare you” will be deleted.

All that’s been said so far [after vague attempts to muddy the waters and pretend as if informed thoughtful Protestants don’t know what Rome believes about itself] is pronouncements of outrage that I should dare to post what I believe [and many many others believe], and that in itself if off-topic.

This is a warning.

[24] Posted by Sarah on 5-25-2013 at 03:41 PM · [top]

Along the same lines, Protestants please don’t post further along the “Rome’s claims are false” lines.  This thread isn’t meant to get into a discussion about Protestant theology versus Roman Catholic theology.  There have been many many threads for that elsewhere on StandFirm.

So the warning applies to both sides.

[25] Posted by Sarah on 5-25-2013 at 03:46 PM · [top]

[comment deleted—off topic; this is a final warning; also, if you have questions about blogging protocol, you’re welcome to Private Message the SF blogger, but there is and will be no debate about that protocol on an SF thread; and finally, while it’s not any SF blogger’s job to do SF commenters’ research or reading for them . . . see the below, as well as at least thirty more.]
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/29019
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24843
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10649

[26] Posted by Betty See on 5-25-2013 at 09:54 PM · [top]

[comment deleted—off topic]

[27] Posted by Viator2 on 5-25-2013 at 10:56 PM · [top]

Granting ad arguendo that Rome officially makes the “one true Church” claim (though the nuanced language of the Church of Christ subsisting in the Roman Catholic Church, quoted from Vatican II documents, is more precise and accurate), I presume it would not be off-topic to ask, along with Words Matter, for a clarification of this point:

>>If Rome is wrong about that one thing, then it suffers from a level of delusion that approaches mental illness and certainly cannot produce healthy churches over the long term<<

specifically, substantiation of the assertion that this cannot produce healthy churches over the long term (which is well over a millenium by this time, though I would as an Anglican quibble over the two thousand years that Words Matter states).

Or perhaps the assertion is entirely correct, and Rome isn’t wrong about that one thing, given evidence of healthy churches, along with renewal movements and global evangelistic endeavors and works of charity over the course of that millennium.

Or perhaps it’s possible just to be wrong, and not delusional.

[28] Posted by Todd Granger on 5-26-2013 at 12:44 AM · [top]

In order to have healthy congregations or parishes, any Christian communion must provide both essential unity and diverse renewal. In the blog page from which Sarah quoted, Jurgen goes on to say:

“Anglicanism has also asserted a principle of theological freedom and diversity.  One may believe in spiritual regeneration in baptism but one may not. One may believe in the real presence in the eucharist but one may not. One may believe in the authority of scripture, but one may not. One may believe in the sanctity of marriage but one may not. For much of my life as an Anglican, that freedom was a pleasant gift. But increasingly it had become a  source of distress and a profound impediment to my priestly work as a pastor and preacher.”

[29] Posted by tdunbar on 5-26-2013 at 06:01 AM · [top]

RE: “Or perhaps it’s possible just to be wrong, and not delusional.”

That’s an interesting point and one that I’ve thought about long and hard over the years.

Although I don’t know if I’ve ever posted a conversion story from Anglican to RC *without* mentioning my beliefs about Rome—I don’t believe in allowing a post about conversion to Rome to stand, however intriguing, without noting those [please don’t anybody ask me for the posts in which I’ve mentioned either in the body or the comments this objection, but please know that it’s been many many] . . . there hasn’t been a thread about what constitutes the difference between delusion about self identity and “just being wrong.”

I suppose some of my interest in self-beliefs about identity come from my work in business and in my work with organizational communication, which was also one of my favorite classes in grad school.  One of the mistakes that businesses make is in not knowing the truth about itself.  Right now I’m working on a communication package dealing with a new product from one company that may make a segment of its customers Quite Angry.  We’re trying to figure out how to communicate that new policy in the best way possible—but without spin.  “Spin” in my views would constitute a vague blurriness about just how much money this might cost—or *save*—the customer, and then not really communicating that cost or savings accurately.  We also had a discussion about the history of the company—specifically when customers have been outraged over changes to products from the past.  And I also “told the truth” about the category of business in which it works—a category that one of the leaders resisted strongly.

If a business can’t be honest about all of those things then it will be very hard to communicate clearly and honestly and winsomely to the customer. If the organization isn’t honest to itself about its identity, than I can’t help such a company.

So let’s suppose that our company tells me that fully 1/3 of its customers are, say, “conservationists” and a particular new product will appeal to that segment of the customer base.  But upon further research we discover that actually only 1/6 of its customers are “conservationists” and that such a narrow segment won’t allow the company to break even on its new product.

From my perspective, the company was “quite wrong” about its customer base, but perhaps not to the level of “delusional approaching mental illness.”

But let’s suppose that the company tells me that it greatly values “children in the workplace” and that it wants to emphasize that value in its advertising, coupling all of its employees’ children in its ads with its products.  Upon further examination of the company’s policies I find that no children under the age of 15 are allowed into the company facilities, and that the employees are not even given a few hours off to attend their children’s special events like graduations from school or doctor’s appointments.

I would assess that as a “being wrong about its identity approaching the level of delusional” as it is *very* inaccurate AND the company might simply look at its own policies to see that its self-assessment is not accurate.

Or . . . let’s suppose that the company tells me that it is the largest such company on the entire eastern seaboard.

I happen to know that the company isn’t even the largest such company in South Carolina, and I can name 10 companies that are double to quadruple the size of the company right off the top of my head.

That self-belief about identity is so staggeringly wrong that I would label it “delusional.”  If even a novice like me in their industry can promptly name 10 companies that are far far larger than the company that wants to hire me, then the leadership are so very very wrong in their assessments about identity that I probably cannot help them.

We can apply that to human beings too.

*Everybody* is “wrong” about themselves in some way. Some people think that their receding hairlines are actually “simply a high forehead” or that their bald spots “aren’t really noticeable” when they really are.  I might announce that the gray in my hair is really quite insignificant when it actually is quite significant, or that I’m really 6 feet tall when I’m actually 5’10”.  People can wink at such “blind spots” in people.

It becomes more harmful if, for instance, I announce that I’m an expert at dressage, when I am no such thing.  But even then—as long as I never get on a horse and attempt to qualify at the Olympics—it is, perhaps, a “harmless” little self-deceit.  Once I announce that I’m opening a “dressage clinic” it becomes more problematic.  I’m not an expert at dressage and yet I’m now teaching children about dressage—and possibly hindering their future in that sport or even engaging in something dangerous for their safety.

Take it a step further and let me announce—in hushed tones and quite privately “only to my friends”—that I have the ability to see through closed doors and other hard surfaces.  Then it becomes “a matter of concern” to my friends, particularly if I operate based on the assumption that I’m seeing through hard surfaces.  Since I’m claiming something “extra-human” and supernatural, that becomes less of a “harmless self-deceit” and more serious.

And finally, I announce that I am the daughter of the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia—Russian royalty—and I want both friends and strangers to treat me as such.  I dress in the way that I conceive that the granddaughter of the last Russian Tsar should dress, and I expect everyone to stand when I enter the room, speak loudly about “the peasantry” and demand my needlework whenever I’m out picnicking with my servants, as I call my friends.

I don’t believe, however much my friends may coddle my delusory and grandiose opinion about myself, that such a self-belief is healthy. Even if I’m able to function quite well in society and business—[my sense of noblesse oblige and modesty means that I can’t announce myself in the corporate board room or at restaurants]—and even if my picnics are astounding, and various other aspects of my life are functional . . . even if I succeed in capturing a husband who loves me, even with my delusion, and even if my friends actually find my self-conceit “charming” and “eccentric” and “lovable” . . . it is *still* not a healthy self-conception, and my relationships would be based on a lie.  In fact, lie upon lie upon lie as my friends would have to either 1) constantly point out to me that they do not believe that I am the granddaughter of the last Russian tsar, which leads to conflict every time we talk OR 2) take the easier way out and simply not mention that they don’t believe my professed identity and pretend as if they do believe it.  Others of my more gullible friends might even believe me.  After all, I can be quite regal in my public carriage and I certainly sincerely believe my assertions about myself to be true.

Obviously, that last is “delusional”.  However functional I may be and healthy I may *appear* to be—I’m clearly not, and my entire life is fraudulent.

I mentioned this in my post but I think we’re seeing a level of delusion about identity from a lot of TEC leaders, particularly in their grandiose proclamations about the organization’s vitality.

When an organization makes a *massive* set of claims about itself, informed people [as opposed to the vast majority who don’t have a clue] will often “wink wink” and “nudge nudge” amongst themselves about that massive set of claims, and just “agree to disagree” or pretend not to notice. Plus, an organization which makes such a formal set of claims about itself might choose to de-emphasize its conception of its identity in much of its public communication . . . but nevertheless, I think that when the extraordinary pronouncements of an organization or individual are so grand, so very much affecting of others, and, if wrong, so harmful to individuals and relationships that—again *If They Are Wrong*—they rise to the level of delusion, rather than simply a “harmless little self-deceit.”

[30] Posted by Sarah on 5-26-2013 at 08:47 AM · [top]

Jurgen also says: “Anglicanism has sought to maintain a catholic ecclesiology, that is to say an ordering of the body that is organic, universal, and apostolic. Bishops, creeds, sacraments, and conciliarism have been maintained as integral pieces of Anglican ecclesiology –Papal Primacy alone being set aside.”
  which seems to me naive and wrong wrt the architectural complexity of the Roman Catholic Church and also of the Anglican communion.

[31] Posted by tdunbar on 5-26-2013 at 09:04 AM · [top]

tdunbar, it’s comforting to me to know that at least one commenter actually read Father Liias’s autobiography.  ; > )

I did think it very well-written and thoughtful, which was a big reason why I posted it.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but there are plenty of clergy who convert to Rome and then are shocked and appalled if their orders are not recognized, or announce a year later that they just couldn’t believe that Rome actually didn’t believe their sacraments had been valid.  It’s those “conversions” that I’ve just marveled at over the years.  I don’t think Father Liias will offer any such shocked/outraged letters explaining why he’s returning to TEC or ACNA.  ; > )

The story of his conversion to Christ—post-ordination, naturally—was also good to read.

[32] Posted by Sarah on 5-26-2013 at 09:14 AM · [top]

His site didn’t load, for me anyway, in Chrome..I loaded it into Safari instead. and one of your links (early childhood) doesn’t lead where you intend, I think.

Jurgen’s posting intertwinings with various movements/trends, both within Anglicanism and within culture in general is also interesting.

re your last post, just as there are useful reasons to consider a corporation a ‘person’ in legal matters, it is useful to talk of corporate self-identity as more than the perception of any individual.  While among my Anglican friends there are a fair number which participate in bodies that have a productive congregational self-identity, I have difficulty finding any larger-than-congregation corporate body within Anglicanism with a reasonable self-identity.

[33] Posted by tdunbar on 5-26-2013 at 09:42 AM · [top]

Sarah, please allow one more observation:
A lot of Rome’s teachings are “simplicity that exists on the far side of complexity (Patrick Buchanan)” . Personally, my exploration of the body of teaching behind “extra ecclesia…” led me to believe what Rome teaches about itself, not just the claim itself.

Re: “plenty of clergy who convert to Rome and then are shocked and appalled if their orders are not recognized…”,

I am surprised that these individuals would be willing to go through a major life change, including a possible loss of their career, without investigating the Roman church’s teachings more thoroughly.

I know that there are a lot of pockets of revisionism leftover from the 70s, especially in this country, and many Roman priests who “grandfather” converts in, especially clergy, wihtout even making them go through RCIA. As we have all seen, the revisionist “I’m okay, you’re okay, just come on in” mentality does no one any favors.

[34] Posted by Temple1 on 5-26-2013 at 11:06 AM · [top]

RE: “I am surprised that these individuals would be willing to go through a major life change, including a possible loss of their career, without investigating the Roman church’s teachings more thoroughly.”

I think that the issue is that the major life change they *actually* went through—and didn’t deal with properly, if at all—was that they lost their love—that is, the Anglican church [in their minds] and then decided to make one of those decisions that we’re not supposed to make right after dealing with a huge and killing emotional blow.

The “conversion” to Rome was simply one of those things they did while already numb or terribly self deceived about the catastrophic loss they had endured.

That doesn’t mean that all or even most Anglican conversions to Rome are faux or ignorant.  But I think any informed Anglican can name, off the top of his or head, several truly ghastly clerical or episcopal scuttlings back to TEC just from the past 7-8 years or so.

[35] Posted by Sarah on 5-26-2013 at 11:35 AM · [top]

“they lost their love—that is, the Anglican church”

Now THAT makes total sense! Case in point: I have many friends in a local ACNA parish whose last Sunday will be the end of June before they have to leave their building and give it to TEC.  Some of them have been there since the 50s.

We could all get philosophical about it being “just a building”, but it still constitutes a death.

[36] Posted by Temple1 on 5-26-2013 at 03:08 PM · [top]

Thank you for the extensive explanation, Sarah.

However, I’m still uncertain as to exactly what *great* harm (I don’t argue that there is no harm, because simply being wrong can cause harm) has been done by Rome’s possibly erroneous conviction that the Catholic Church (of the creeds) subsists in all its fullness in the Roman Catholic Church, harm to a degree that lifts a possible error to the level of pathological delusion.

Understand that I’m not suggesting that Rome is innocent of any error or harm, but I’m still missing what you think is the great harm done by their ecclesial self-understanding.  Much of the end of your explanation amounts simply to a restatement of your assertion that this self-understanding is in fact delusional (or at most, there is slight description of secondary evidence presumed to match behavior seen in corporate delusional states).  I’m looking for a statement of primary effects, particularly evidence that the Roman Communion hasn’t produced (because it cannot produce) healthy churches.

[37] Posted by Todd Granger on 5-26-2013 at 08:28 PM · [top]

RE: ” I’m looking for a statement of primary effects, particularly evidence that the Roman Communion hasn’t produced (because it cannot produce) healthy churches.”

I don’t think that’s possible.  That would be like wanting “evidence” that the woman who believes herself to be the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia can’t produce healthy relationships.

Unless the relationships melted down in an amazingly public fashion, it would be hard to provide quantitative evidence of such a thing. I suppose you could produce qualitative stories but I don’t think that’s real evidence.

But surely you can’t believe that people who believe themselves to be the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia—and who aren’t—are also capable of producing honest, healthy relationships? They can *mimic* such things, or produce simulacra of such things, but I don’t think you can engage in a massive loss of reality about oneself which is how I have used the word “delusion”—be a “person of the lie”—and maintain health.

I guess if you do, I can’t debate that.  It’s just a matter of different values that aren’t really debatable.

[38] Posted by Sarah on 5-26-2013 at 09:41 PM · [top]

Surely I’m not the only Roman Catholic reader here who LIKES Sarah’s ‘if not true, then delusional’ positional due to it’s making, in a perhaps strange way, a ecclesiological argument closely parallel to C.S. Lewis’ christological argument?

[39] Posted by tdunbar on 5-26-2013 at 10:14 PM · [top]

I am glad that Jurgen Laiis found his way to the Roman Catholic Church, but I also have sympathy for those in the ACNA congregation who expected to be taught the Anglican way, according to the principles of the ACNA, as it identifies itself http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/about-acna
I imagine this experience was quite disillusioning to some of them.

[40] Posted by Betty See on 5-26-2013 at 10:34 PM · [top]

Exactly, tdunbar.  And *if true* then catastrophic for people like me—thoughtful informed Protestant Christians.

Although not as severe as “missing Christ”—which is the great tragedy of life—it is pretty bad to miss The Church, if what Rome claims about itself is true.

RE: “I also have sympathy for those in the ACNA congregation who expected to be taught the Anglican way, according to the principles of the ACNA . . . “

Betty See—I very much agree.  The sooner a person who believes what Rome asserts about itself moves to Rome in keeping with integrity, the better for everyone.

[41] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 06:55 AM · [top]

RE: #37.

“However, I’m still uncertain as to exactly what *great* harm (I don’t argue that there is no harm, because simply being wrong can cause harm) has been done by Rome’s possibly erroneous conviction that the Catholic Church (of the creeds) subsists in all its fullness in the Roman Catholic Church, harm to a degree that lifts a possible error to the level of pathological delusion.”


I applaud your use of the word ‘possible’ in two defining places in your message.

I too fail to see the ‘great’ harm done by the Church and, absenting concrete evidence of the same, will continue to believe the Catholic Church, which is the Body of Christ, can cause no harm at all.

There is a wide misunderstand about the Church, even within the Church herself, due to a failure to make the distinction between the Church and the people in the Church.  There can be no question the Catholic Church is liberally populated by people who are prone to doing harm, sometimes great harm, either through error or behavior.  There is a similar distinction between the pope as a man and the pope as the Vicar of Christ.  It is these distinctions and the failure to perceive their significance which causes many to accuse the Catholic Church of sins which are committed, not by the Church, but by those in the Church who call themselves Catholics, many of whom are not Catholics at all.

[42] Posted by winslow on 5-27-2013 at 08:29 AM · [top]

RE: “I too fail to see the ‘great’ harm done by the Church . . .”

Said the man who believes the claims from Rome about itself.  ; > )

Naturally if you believe Rome’s claims about its own identity then you won’t believe that they can do any harm!

Let’s put it in a different context.

If, indeed, Christ was not who He said that He was—if He was a liar or a lunatic—would our belief in that false reality be deeply damaging to healthy, whole living by human beings?

I believe that it would be.  In this, I’m with Christopher Hitchens and CS Lewis.  If bunches of people are walking about believing in a myth or a fraud, then that is an Immensely Bad Thing and such people who are not living in reality are leading deeply flawed and damaged lives and hurting others to boot by attempting to lead them astray into that false world.

We should all “take the red pill” asap and live in truth, not falsehood:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arcJksDgCOU

I expect that a part of this exchange reveals differences in the way people wish to live and in what they believe about human beings.

Some—obviously—believe that what Rome claims about itself is true.  Obviously they’re not going to think that such a belief is harmful!

Others, though, believe that what Rome claims about itself is *not* true—but it’s just not all that serious that Rome believes something integral about itself that is not true.

That latter is a way of living that I simply cannot understand.  I recognize that people live that way, and believe that way, but I can’t grasp how that’s possible.  In a way, to me, it actually is less respectful of what Rome claims about itself.  It’s not taken all that seriously, and is not particularly consequential to them that Rome claims certain very important things about its identity—and those things aren’t true.  They shrug their shoulders and say “c’est la vie.”

Another context in which to place such an attitude is within a family.  I’ve got many adult friends who have determined that they will not share with their parents some very important details about who those friends are.  They’ve left their parents out in the dark.  Granted, the parents might be shocked or angry or saddened about who their children have become or done.  But not sharing that with their parents—who are admitted to be loving and caring—means necessarily that the adult children will never have a congruent, known and knowing relationship with their parents.

I find that tragic and deeply saddening.

Their parents will live the remainder of their lives believing certain things about their children that are simply not true, and they will be deprived of knowing their children and having the opportunity to *love* them as they are.  They will also be deprived of perhaps learning and growing and being challenged by their children, and their children will be deprived of being able to share some experiences with their parents, and perhaps learning just a tiny bit from their parents’ wisdom and experiences.  Not to mention that the children will be hiding for the rest of their parents’ lives.

Again—that is not the way I want to live.  Though it is hard, and brutal sometimes, I want to live in the truth, and in the Truth.

I do believe that believing something false places us in bondage, but that the Truth shall set us free.

[43] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 08:55 AM · [top]

Just to be clear, you are saying that no healthy churches can come from the Roman ecclesiology. Then with Todd Grainger, I wonder about evidence of healthy churches, along with renewal movements and global evangelistic endeavors and works of charity over the course of that millennium. 

Your business analogy is fine, but delusional businesses lose customers. The Catholic Church continues to grow, although as a percentage of the populations worldwide, it’s actually stable.  Our “customer loss” is mainly to secularism in the west, but a fair few to pentecostalism in the global south, where we are growing anyway.

Second question:  The Orthodox, the Church of Christ (Campbellites), and some groups of Baptists all hold more or less the same view of their status as Romans.  The implication is that they are also incapable of producing healthy churches.

[44] Posted by Words Matter on 5-27-2013 at 10:02 AM · [top]

‘Naturally if you believe Rome’s claims about its own identity then you won’t believe that they can do any harm!’ Now, Sarah, you know better than that!

[45] Posted by tdunbar on 5-27-2013 at 10:11 AM · [top]

More simply:

you have two pairs of possibilities:

The Roman claims are 1.) true or 2.) false

Healthy churches 3.) are determined by 1.) or 4.) are not determined by 1.)

This gives you four pairs:

1.3. The Roman Church and only the Roman Church can produce healthy churches.
To my mind, this is manifestly false.

2.3.  The Roman Church (and the Orthodox and others as noted above) cannot produce healthy churches.  I don’t think the evidence at hand support this contention.

1.4 and 2.4 give you healthy churches in Rome, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, the various protestant bodies, evangelicalism, and so on.  That is what the actual evidence supports.

[46] Posted by Words Matter on 5-27-2013 at 10:19 AM · [top]

RE: “Just to be clear, you are saying that no healthy churches can come from the Roman ecclesiology.”

Just to be clear, I am saying that it “cannot produce healthy churches over the long term.”

I’ll stick to precisely those words and people are welcome to determine for themselves what I mean by the words “healthy” and “over the long term.”

RE: “I wonder about evidence of healthy churches, along with renewal movements and global evangelistic endeavors and works of charity over the course of that millennium.” 

That was already responded to above.

As to growth, I don’t grant the truth or falsehood of an entity’s claims about itself by checking to see if they are “growing” or not.  There are plenty of monster companies out there that grow because they are “too big to fail” and are propped up by all the accoutrements of mass. 

Viruses “grow” but I don’t think we think of them as strictly “healthy.”

And finally, there are actually revisionist activist TEC churches that “grow” in numbers but they are not in any way healthy.

I think the question I have for you, Words Matter, is . . . do you believe that if a person or entity believes a massive falsehood about his or her nature or identity, that that person can, indeed, be healthy and whole while still maintaining an integrally false belief about him or herself?

Do you believe that?

If so, then we’re back to the original objection which is, essentially, “Rome doesn’t believe a falsehood about its identity.”  I can certainly see how a Roman Catholic would believe that—in fact, I’d expect nothing less.

So we’re back to stipulating just what we always have in this thread: Roman Catholics believe that what Rome says about itself is true and an accurate representation of reality.

[47] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 10:20 AM · [top]

Okay, it appears from your comment #46 that you are saying that you do believe that a person or entity can believe a massive falsehood about his or her nature or identity and still be healthy and whole.

That explains a lot.

As per my comment #43, I don’t believe that at all, and it looks as if you and I have antithetical principles there.

Although I can’t comprehend believing such a principle, I accept that you do.

[48] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 10:25 AM · [top]

re: #46.

“1.4 and 2.4 give you healthy churches in Rome, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, the various protestant bodies, evangelicalism, and so on.  That is what the actual evidence supports.”


All the non-Catholic groups you name or refer to are derived from the Catholic Church, which is the Mother Church of Christianity.  We can accept that both healthy and unhealthy churches can spring from the Catholic Church.  That doesn’t mean they are all, or any of them were created under the auspices of the Catholic Church, and it certainly doesn’t mean any of them have the authority of the Catholic Church, which, BTW, does not create churches.  She is THE Church, as affirmed even by, as has been mentioned, Lennie Bruce, a degraded athiest Jew.

Furthermore, all those groups you refer to except the Catholic Church have given birth other entities in the course of doctrinal dispute and revision, which process continues to the present day, as you know.  I don’t know how the allegations made against the Catholic Church, always undocumented and often invented by Protestants everywhere, sit in the face of the sad state of Protestantism today, but there does seem to be a general disconnect in the network.

[49] Posted by winslow on 5-27-2013 at 10:44 AM · [top]

RE: “I don’t know how the allegations made against the Catholic Church . . . “

Yes indeed, it is a great mystery as to why Protestants continue to believe differently from Roman Catholics about both the nature of Protestantism and the nature of Rome, but please recall that this thread isn’t about those differences. As I said above:

This thread isn’t meant to get into a discussion about Protestant theology versus Roman Catholic theology.

[50] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 11:13 AM · [top]

the original objection which is, essentially, “Rome doesn’t believe a falsehood about its identity.”

I never made that objection, although you continue to impute it to me. I have no interest in discussing the truth or non-truth of Roman ecclesiology with you. My objection is that your claims about the grandiosity - ginormousness - of the Roman claims are themselves grandiose and they are your interpretation only.  I rather suspect the Orthodox would agree, although I hesitate to speak for them.

The point is your statement that it “cannot produce healthy churches over the long term.”.  Since you decline to define your terms, that conversation is ended. But yes, I do believe healthy Churches can thrive with or without the Roman claims. I believe that because they do (and they do in Orthodoxy as well as in the other churches I names). But then, Catholic theology is based on the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection, not ecclesiology.

Actually, I would agree that growth, in and of itself, if not a sign of health. Lakewood Church of Houston is massive and growing, but possessed of a prosperity gospel I suspect we both find “unhealthy”.

Winslow, if the churches I named derive from the Catholic Church, then being separated from that Church would preclude health in their communities. Yet, we see a lot of health. From what I read, many ACNA congregations are quite healthy. There is a good deal of health in many evangelical movements as well, along with problems.  But then, if the New Testament is to be believed, problems are endemic in a true body of believers.

[51] Posted by Words Matter on 5-27-2013 at 11:55 AM · [top]

“if the New Testament is to be believed, problems are endemic in a true body of believers. “

How true! Even our Lord included Judas Iscariot with the original Apostles.

[comment deleted—this gets us into an off-topic trail; “This thread isn’t meant to get into a discussion about Protestant theology versus Roman Catholic theology.]

[52] Posted by Temple1 on 5-27-2013 at 12:02 PM · [top]

I don’t think Liass could have come to the Catholic Church if he had not first experienced those truths that she shares with the Episcopal Church.  Things that we may not even realize point to a greater Truth. Liturgy is an example.  For Anglo Catholics it could be certain Marian devotions. 

Churches and our orders of worship should serve as a bridge to heaven. Using earthly elements and our limited human understanding we join in the eternal worship of Heaven when we participate in the Liturgy.  It is not just words.  It is not just Scripture lessons.  It is not just edifying and unifying.  It is about making real to us a greater reality that we can not understand fully yet.  It is about coming to know the Truth.

Now Liass could have remained Episcopalian. He could have held to the truth that exists in the Episcopal church, never needing to explore the claims of the Catholic Church.  God’s grace would not have abandoned him. He would grow fully in his faith outside of the Catholic Church.  But for him it was not enough.

Some people love the truth and seek out its fullness.  Other people are no longer satisfied with one set of lies and seek out lies which give them the self comfort and validation that they want.  The latter I think will look for organizations that are delusional.  An institution that is based on Truth will be too real for them. 

Reading Liass’s autobiography I certainly see no evidence that the man is or was in anyway deluded.  He sought Truth and did not reject it no matter where he found it.  Instead he came to realize that having just some of it would mean a great loss for him. 

If it is delusional for the Catholic Church to make the claims she does, then surely it is delusional for a person to believe that there can be absolute Truths at all.  The absolute Truths are not just about Catholic teaching they are also about the teachings of Scripture and the inerrancy and infallibility of those teachings. 

I may be wrong but I don’t think most Protestants start from a church first, Scripture second argument when affirming what they believe.  I think they come to believe that Scripture is true than seek out a church that best protects, teaches, lives, and preaches that Scripture.  They believe what their church says about itself in relation to God’s Word is true.  If it is possible that the Catholic Church is delusional for what she says about herself the same can be said of other churches.  For they too claim an absolute understanding of what is Truth. 

It is somewhat different in the Catholic Church because there is a greater unity between Church and the Word of God, because we do not believe Scripture is the only Word of God.  It is the only written Word of God, but we also believe in Tradition.  To us Scripture and Tradition make up the Word of God.  We have come to believe the Truth of both and that the Church has been granted the charism to safeguard these Truths.  That she is free from error in these matters by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  If you think about it believing you have the truth because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not a claim unique to the Catholic Church.  What is unique is that she claims it as an institution rather than saying this is just a personal gift shared by Christians. 

If she is delusional then pretty much all Christians are delusional.  I reject that notion, I think Truth can be known and I think claiming so is part of preaching the Gospel.

[53] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 12:10 PM · [top]

RE: “My objection is that your claims about the grandiosity - ginormousness - of the Roman claims are themselves grandiose and they are your interpretation only.”

You think I’ve made too much of those claims, then?  ; > )

Well—okay, but I don’t, and neither do many many Roman Catholics popes and clergy and laity, not to mention many Protestants.

Since it looks as if we’re back to the pretension that Rome’s claims are really quite mild and subtly stated, and that rabbit trail is off-topic, then you’re right—the conversation is indeed over.  I’m pleased that we did discover another key area of disagreement, which is that we radically disagree about whether a person or entity can believe a massive falsehood about his or her nature or identity and still be healthy and whole.

[54] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 12:27 PM · [top]

The Church teaches she is “The Church” because she believes it is through her that Christ brings Salvation to the world.  That Christ established her for that purpose.  She is very bold in making these claims.  Other churches reject this but they all make similar claims to a lesser degree.  They believe what they teach will bring people to know Christ and be saved.  They believe they exist because the true Word of God was corrupted by the Catholic Church.  They believe it is the Holy Spirit that made this corruption known to those who challenged the claims of the Catholic Church.  What they mostly don’t believe is that there is One visible church that can call itself the Church. 

But does Scripture teach there will be a visible Church?  Does it teach that such a thing may exist at one time but then cease to exist?  If it ceases to exist how can we know where to find the Body of Christ?  These are questions that those who come to believe what the Catholic Church claims is true have asked themselves.  That others ask and come up with different answers is understandable.  But if you ask and conclude otherwise to not join the Church would be to say you don’t mind living a lie.  I could not understand that at all.

[55] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 12:33 PM · [top]

RE: “If it is delusional for the Catholic Church to make the claims she does, then surely it is delusional for a person to believe that there can be absolute Truths at all.”

I’m not certain how this follows, Paula. Either the claims that Rome makes about itself are true or they are false.  If false, I don’t see how that means that it is therefore “delusional for a person to believe that there can be absolute Truths at all.” It merely means that Rome is wrong about itself.  Being wrong about one thing doesn’t mean that there is no absolute Truth!

Likewise, this also does not follow: “If she is delusional then pretty much all Christians are delusional.”

If Rome is incorrect in its assessment about itself, that does not necessarily mean that “all Christians are delusional” in regards to that assessment since not all Christians grant Rome’s claims.

RE: “If it is possible that the Catholic Church is delusional for what she says about herself the same can be said of other churches.”

Here I agree wholeheartedly.  As I’ve said from the beginning, if Rome *can be* delusional about its truth claims, various other ecclesial entities can be as well.  In fact, if Rome is *accurate* about its own identity, than various other ecclesial entities are living in a false world themselves concerning their own identity.

[56] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 12:33 PM · [top]

RE: “She is very bold in making these claims.”

No no no no—she is Terribly Subtle and none of the Protestants have quite grasped the sophisticated nuances with which she has stated these facts.  ; > )

RE: “But if you ask and conclude otherwise to not join the Church would be to say you don’t mind living a lie.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  I can’t imagine believing what Rome says about itself and then concluding that one will be spending one’s time within any other ecclesial entity.  It is amazing to me but I haven’t helped but notice that some have done just that.

[57] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 12:39 PM · [top]

PS.  Of course the greatest and for some the most delusional claim of absolute Truth is that it exists in a person, Jesus Christ.

[58] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 12:46 PM · [top]

Sorry about #52, Sarah! Didn’t man to get off topic.

[59] Posted by Temple1 on 5-27-2013 at 12:48 PM · [top]

RE: “PS.  Of course the greatest and for some the most delusional claim of absolute Truth is that it exists in a person, Jesus Christ.”

Indeed—tdunbar above noted the parallel, and I riffed on it a bit at comment #43.

[60] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 12:52 PM · [top]

Sarah, I thought I had made sense.  Now I’ll have to breakdown what I wrote and try to be clearer.  Not sure the old brain pan is up to the task right now.

[61] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 01:23 PM · [top]

Well, it may be based on an idea that Rome is the fountainhead or original expressor of revealed Christian truth [Protestants don’t believe that to be the case] and therefore if Rome is delusional than it’s all trashed.

Or . . . it may be that you were simply saying “any ecclesial entity can be delusional” and if that’s the case I very much agree.

[62] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 01:28 PM · [top]

First I should have written that “To the world Christians pretty much all Christians are delusional”, I wrote in haste and failed to make that distinction.

I do not mean all Christians would be delusional because of their acceptance or rejection of Rome’s claim.  I mean that all Christians (myself included) have a belief in an absolute claim of Truth made by Christ.  So if the Church is delusional for believing what She teaches about herself is true.  Then Christians (as far as the world is concerned) share in a delusion by believing what Christ teaches about Himself is true. 

If I understood what you wrote, it is not that the Catholic church believes something that makes her delusional.  It is that she believes she alone has the absolute truth necessary to make the bold claim that she is the Church.  So it is this certainty, which in your eyes is not supported by evidence, that makes her delusional. 

If it is this certainty; that you can have an absolute Truth and boldly claim it, which is the delusion, then Christians in the view of many non-believers are delusional.

[63] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 01:44 PM · [top]

RE: “If it is this certainty; that you can have an absolute Truth and boldly claim it, which is the delusion, then Christians in the view of many non-believers are delusional.”

No- I think the delusion is in claiming something integral and deeply important as a truth about one’s identity, which is not in fact truthful at all. 

RE: “So if the Church [Roman Catholicism] is delusional for believing what She [Rome] teaches about herself is true.  Then Christians (as far as the world is concerned) share in a delusion by believing what Christ teaches about Himself is true.”

Obviously, I disagree, if my parentheticals are accurate.  But yes, if Rome is incorrect about her own identity, than much of the foundation is indeed torn away for Roman Catholics. 

However, in general, I do agree that thoughtful, informed atheists/agnostics understand Christians as a whole, no matter the ecclesial entity, to be delusional in their beliefs about Christ’s claims about Himself.

I’m not offended by their belief in the least.  Both sides—the atheists/agnostics and the Christians—can’t be right. One or the other isn’t living in reality. One or the other are “people of the lie” and cannot live in health and wholeness.

[64] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 02:04 PM · [top]

Regardless of the claims of Rome, I tend to see Christian Churches in the light of the words of Jesus:

John 15: 5-8
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

[65] Posted by Betty See on 5-27-2013 at 02:40 PM · [top]

I think I need to make clear I believe there is a distinction between being delusional and being erroneous.  Just for you to conclude something is true based on your examination of evidence does not make you delusional if my examination of the evidence cause me to reach another conclusion.  If that was the case I would believe you were making an error by asserting you were right. 

To be delusional one must either start from a point of no evidence at all or to put such a twist on the evidence that your conclusion lies so far outside of right reason that most would reject it as fantasy. 

Does the Church make the claim she does without evidence to support her claim?  Does she take evidence and twist it into a fantastic conclusion?  Is she the lady who was suddenly struck with the fancy that she was Russian royalty?  Is she the lady who found a locket with the photo of Russian princess and saw a resemblance to herself and decided she too must be a Grand Duchess?  Or is she the lady that found a secret birth certificate, traced her family tree, and discovered that she was indeed born to the Purple? 

I believe the Church examined evidence outside of herself and reached a conclusion based on very reasonable assertions.  Central to that understanding is that the for the Church the main source of believing who she is comes from evidence left by someone who could not lie.  Not just one who did not lie.  But one who by His very nature could not lie.  Now a person or church is free to have a different understanding of just how Christ defined “Church” but not what He said about His union with her and His promise to her. 

So is the Catholic Church claim centered in the words of Christ, really that outrageous?  Is it delusional?  So delusional that it presents a danger to Catholic and non-Catholics alike?  If it is then how can we defend Christianity to the world?  We don’t make the claims we do about Christ just from our own imagined evidence.  We too base our teaching about Christ on the conviction Christ can not lie.  We have evidence that supports our thinking.  Though the world may claim we are delusional that opinion is not based on an honest review of why we believe what we believe but on the world’s inability to even admit there can be such a thing as Truth.  Let alone it can be found in the person of Jesus Christ.

[66] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-27-2013 at 02:40 PM · [top]

Sarah, your ability to misrepresent the views of others is awesome. I salute you.

Betty See, you sound like a delightful sister in Christ, with whom I am honored by honest disagreement.  Best wishes in Christ.

[67] Posted by Words Matter on 5-27-2013 at 03:22 PM · [top]

#61 “Sarah, I thought I had made sense.  Now I’ll have to breakdown what I wrote and try to be clearer.”

—-I understood every word of what you wrote, including the ‘delusional’ remark.  And you made perfect sense.

Paula:  “I don’t think Liass could have come to the Catholic Church if he had not first experienced those truths that she shares with the Episcopal Church.  Things that we may not even realize point to a greater Truth. Liturgy is an example.  For Anglo Catholics it could be certain Marian devotions.”

—-The Catholic Church established the truths you mention and Henry VIII retained all of them but one.  The Episcopal Church shed some of them and Fr. Liias simply recovered the discards.

[68] Posted by winslow on 5-27-2013 at 04:19 PM · [top]

#53.  Paula said:  “If it is delusional for the Catholic Church to make the claims she does, then surely it is delusional for a person to believe that there can be absolute Truths at all.  The absolute Truths are not just about Catholic teaching they are also about the teachings of Scripture and the inerrancy and infallibility of those teachings.”

—-Especially ‘...the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.’  1 Tim. 3:15

[69] Posted by winslow on 5-27-2013 at 04:55 PM · [top]

RE: “If it is this certainty; that you can have an absolute Truth and boldly claim it, which is the delusion, then Christians in the view of many non-believers are delusional.”

Sarah:  No- I think the delusion is in claiming something integral and deeply important as a truth about one’s identity, which *is not in fact truthful at all.* 


—-“is not IN FACT truthful at all.”  Once again a declaritive statement about Catholic doctrine with no proof.  I ask you for clarification.  What is the ‘something integral’ you mention and what is your proof it’s not truthful.

Are you and Paula not engaged in a discussion of Catholic theology vs. yours?  How is it you get to discuss theology and the rest of us can’t?  Just asking.

[70] Posted by winslow on 5-27-2013 at 05:08 PM · [top]

RE: “Sarah, your ability to misrepresent the views of others is awesome. I salute you.”

Now now, Words Matter—just because you’re bitter because *our* discussion came to a quite logical conclusion doesn’t mean you can now insert trolling comments on this thread.  This is a final warning.  Think of all the happy RC/Protestant debates you will miss over here at SF just because you couldn’t control yourself on this one trivial thread.

RE: “Once again a declaritive statement about Catholic doctrine with no proof. What is the ‘something integral’ you mention and what is your proof it’s not truthful.”

Sorry Winslow—like I said from the outset there are plenty of other threads at SF where you can toddle over to argue RC doctrine—but it’s not going to be here, no matter how upset you are that a Protestant actually dares to assert something other than the doctrine of Rome and how much you wish to debate her.  Further, I’m responding to Paula’s question about whether it is the thought of “certainty” that I call delusional, or something else.  And I pointed out that I think it something else, and not the “certainty.”

RE: “Are you and Paula not engaged in a discussion of Catholic theology vs. yours?”

Not at all.  Other than both of us stating clearly RC and Protestant beliefs so that we can engage, we haven’t even touched on such a discussion.  We’re discussing the nature of delusion and erroneous thinking and how much an entity can hold of delusion or erroneous thinking, and the consequences of same, as we’ve actually been discussing throughout most of the thread, other than the interruptions of a few irritated Roman Catholics attempting to turn the discussion to theological debate.

RE: “I think I need to make clear I believe there is a distinction between being delusional and being erroneous.”

Hi Paula—I spent a lot of time earlier in the thread explaining my definition of “delusional” and what makes it different from being simply an error.  I can see how we could have different definitions of “delusional.”

RE: “Central to that understanding is that the for the Church the main source of believing who she is comes from evidence left by someone who could not lie.”

I understand that Rome believes it is what it is because Jesus said so.

Of course . . . a whole lot of people and entities believe lots of things about themselves because they believe Jesus said so—and Jesus cannot lie.

But just because a whole lot of people down through the ages have believed they were certain things or should do certain things because they think Jesus said so really has little to do with whether Christians can “defend Christianity to the world” [other than that some of those people are Really Really Bad Testimonies and give Christianity a bad name]. The fact that people believe wrong things—and pronounce Jesus’s blessing upon those beliefs—is fairly irrelevant to our defense of Christianity, I think.

[71] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 10:35 PM · [top]

So far it seems that we have three categories of RCs represented on this thread:
—people who are basically okay [though of course they don’t agree] with my assertion that Rome’s beliefs about itself amount to a grand and magnificent edifice of delusion
—people who are not okay with my thinking Rome’s beliefs about itself are even erroneous and who wish to insist on arguing about it
—people who would be okay with my thinking that Rome’s beliefs about itself are “erroneous” as long as I declare that I think those errors are not all that significant or consequential

It’s the latter category that I find simply mind-boggling.

[72] Posted by Sarah on 5-27-2013 at 10:38 PM · [top]

no big deal, but I’m not in any of those three categories..just curious if you think so or just that i dropped out of thread. Looking back, my only post that might be read that way was #45 and that is due, I think, to the ambiguity re your “they”.  ie I think that while the Catholic church is stating the truth re being the ‘one true church’ (modulo carefulness re subsists and details about porch, etc) and further does not harm in making that claim, she (‘they’) certainly does not claim to be impeccable in all her actions.
  I’m not in the first category because I don’t disagree with your conditional (ie ‘if not A, then B where B is the delusional consequent) tho, of course I do disagree with ‘not A’ and so find more interesting the contrapositive: If the Catholic Church is not a grand delusion, then she is proclaiming the truth when she asserts that the one true church subsists with her.

[73] Posted by tdunbar on 5-28-2013 at 04:37 AM · [top]

Re what it means to be delusional, in general, an interesting modern book is: Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple (pen-name of Dr Anthony Daniels)

[74] Posted by tdunbar on 5-28-2013 at 05:10 AM · [top]

Nor am I in any of those categories, as I’ve said repeatedly.

[75] Posted by Words Matter on 5-28-2013 at 06:56 AM · [top]

And as for RC/ptotestant discussions, happy or otherwise, enjoy the 16th century: I’m interested in knowing Christ, and Him Crucified. Our differences are important, but not so much as the Risen Lord.  As I said before (and you ignored), the enemy is secularism.

[76] Posted by Words Matter on 5-28-2013 at 07:09 AM · [top]

Hi tdunbar, I would have placed you into category 1, because of your comment #39.  Though you don’t agree that Rome is in error or delusional, nor do you think that it’s harmful that Rome says what you believe to be the truth, you can see the aptness of “if not true then delusional.”

My Dad is a huge fan of Dalrymple, and they love that book.  I’ve read parts of it and really appreciate his insights, though I find it a bit depressing.  : < (

[77] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2013 at 07:15 AM · [top]

RE: “And as for RC/ptotestant discussions, happy or otherwise, enjoy the 16th century . . . “

Yes, because I’ve always said that Matt’s and David’s theological debates with Roman Catholics on countless threads over here were all about ear cropping and flaying alive and burning at the stake!  ; > ) 

Seriously, Words Matter—one of the wonderful things about words is that people can use them quite fiercely with no actual violence occurring at all!  It’s a charming thing about language.

RE: “As I said before (and you ignored), the enemy is secularism.”

No, I didn’t ignore it.  I pointed out that one can believe that Rome’s [or for that matter, Protestants] claims are monstrously, delusorily wrong without deeming Rome [or Protestants] “the enemy.”  Just because *you* wish to focus on “the enemy”—secularism—doesn’t mean that the quite valid and significant differences between Rome and Protestants most defined and thrown into focus by the 16th century don’t exist.  It’s just that *now* we can be all civilized when we recognize them.

I have you in the third category, since most of the thread you’ve been outraged over the word “delusion” and/or the notion that entities or individuals who live in said delusion can’t live healthy, whole lives.

Just one example of that is this quote right here:

“I write all this not because I much care whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the Roman claims, but I find the slur of “delusional” ad hominem, which is not a proper response to theological propositions” . . .

If I just believe that Rome is slightly in error—but not all that much—and that Certainly Those Errors Don’t Cause Anything Significant or Substantive to Go Wrong, then it’s all a-ok and you can be satisfied, since after all, secularism is “the enemy” and nobody can really differ wildly about significant issues without becoming “the enemy.”

That’s been the gist of the flow of your comments, with emphasis placed on the word “delusion” in the first half, and emphasis placed on “health” in the second half.

I’m perfectly fine with your thinking you belong in another category entirely, though I think there are plenty of reasonable people who could read this thread and your comments and say “yup, he’s in the right category.”

At any rate, I doubt that much new or different will be said on this thread—we’re at the point of repeating ourselves—so I’m toddling over to some others.

[78] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2013 at 07:35 AM · [top]

Winslow: I do not believe that the assertion you made in comment 68 is historically correct.
The Catholic Church established the truths you mention and Henry VIII retained all of them but one.  The Episcopal Church shed some of them and Fr. Liias simply recovered the discards.
My understanding, (and that of many other Christians) is that Jesus brought us the Truth and that he commissioned His Apostles to bring these Truths to the world. As I understand it these Truths include both the Old and the New Testament. The Apostles conveyed these Truths through preaching and epistles to those who would believe them in many countries not just to the Roman Church and we have access to these Truths through the Holy Bible.

[79] Posted by Betty See on 5-28-2013 at 09:49 AM · [top]

Winslow, I saw your assertion at #68 and naturally fed it through my “RC dogma filter” and smiled and passed on, choosing solely to respond to other assertions on your part about which I was not indifferent [as I am to standard-grade RC boilerplate].

Betty See has not smiled and passed on, but rather asserted differently, as Protestants often do when RC dogma is asserted, and as RCs often do when Protestant dogma is asserted. 

Rather obviously, Protestants, and particularly Anglicans, don’t grant in the least your historical/theological assertion above.

Both of you—I simply won’t allow debate about the differences between RCs and Protestants on this thread.  Further debate or comments from either of you about those differences will be summarily deleted, and I will consider revoking either or both of your commenting privileges.

I’ve been very very clear.

[80] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2013 at 10:41 AM · [top]

Thanks for clarification Sarah.

Re ‘depressing’, in a small group of my wife’s Anglican congregation, we’re reading thru Jeremiah and i gather that most are finding it similarly depressing.  In my opinion, on the other hand, if things are terrible in truth, it is encouraging to hear them acknowledged as such.

[81] Posted by tdunbar on 5-28-2013 at 12:21 PM · [top]

[trolling and off-topic comment deleted; blogging protocol isn’t up for discussion; this is a final warning—you will not be warned again on this blog;
further, “boilerplate” has a variety of definitions including “a steel plate used in making the shells of steam boilers” and “inconsequential, formulaic, or stereotypical language”—I’m guessing everybody knows what definition of boilerplate I used this time around]

[82] Posted by winslow on 5-28-2013 at 04:05 PM · [top]

[comment deleted—off topic; feel free to Private Message any questions you may have; I’d advise waiting on a post about RC/Protestant distinctions and entering in there]

[83] Posted by winslow on 5-28-2013 at 06:23 PM · [top]

I admit to be totally incapable of following this thread as I I have been struck with the galloping stupids.  I apologize if I steered the discussion towards rocky shoals.  It was not my intent to disobey any blogging guidelines.

[84] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-28-2013 at 07:06 PM · [top]

I appreciated your comments, Paula, very much.

[85] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2013 at 09:06 PM · [top]

Thanks Sarah, I enjoy our discussions even when I find my moron light flashing.

[86] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-28-2013 at 09:14 PM · [top]

It was nice to see some comments that dealt with the article eventually. Some more would be nice.

[87] Posted by Ed the Roman on 5-28-2013 at 09:16 PM · [top]

I think Sarah is certainly right about Rome’s belief about her self.  She believes she is The Church of the Nicene Creed.  There are a lot of statements about how other Christians are connected to her by their baptism, and even about how their communities can be means of grace for them,  which is a big change in how Catholics look at Christians separated from full unity with The Church-but that is still how we would put it. 

Sarah is clearly right to say that if she or anyone believes this, she or anyone would have to become a Catholic.  Not being one, she believes it is an error.  And since it is a large claim, she naturally believes it is a large error. Since according to her we believe this large error, she is entitled to call it a delusion.  I think it was a delusion shared by the fathers of the Church, one that can be read in the anathemae of the pronouncements of the councils, but, then, I am a Catholic. 

As for the harmful effects of that delusion.  Well, there are many sins of Catholics, including highly placed Catholics,  of many times and places, that could be pointed to if one wished.  But I think Sarah would attribute at least most of these to common human sinfulness.  I don’t think she has said exactly what deformations she thinks come from our delusion.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect deformation as a result of delusion, though, as an idea taken by itself. 

I don’t think she means by this that there are not holy Catholics or that Catholics haven’t done many good things, or even that there is nothing admirable about Catholicism.  But to her, there is a fatal flaw.  She can be expected to think that.

I don’t think it is a cause for offense.
Susan Peterson

[88] Posted by eulogos on 6-7-2013 at 10:20 PM · [top]

After rereading this thread I have one more comment.  I think this was at least alluded to above but not quite stated.

Christianity itself is a pretty grandiose claim.  In fact Our Lord made a pretty grandiose claim.  I think it was CS Lewis who made (or repeated) the rather obvious remark that if Jesus was not Who He said He was,  He was insane.  And insane people are not Great Moral Teachers.  What they say is suspect and not to be trusted. 

So is it really odd that He who made the astonishing, immense, and if not true, grandiose beyond all possible grandiosity claim that He is God, should have founded A Church, which makes the grandiose if not true claim that she is The Church which He founded? 

For Catholics these two grandiose seeming claims are inextricably united.

Susan Peterson
(But no, it is not a cause for offense that Sarah does not agree.)

[89] Posted by eulogos on 7-25-2013 at 01:39 AM · [top]

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