The upheaval of change

Douglas McGregor, writing in the late 1950s, described two common and contrasting assumptions which managers make. One of these, which he called Theory X, held that people are inherently lazy and unmotivated. The proper management approach is therefore one of close control exercised through stick and carrot. The other, called Theory Y, held that people are naturally responsible, and are motivated by contributing to organisational goals.

Here, the proper management approach would be to provide conditions in which people were free to exercise this responsibility and use it both for the good of the business and their own fulfilment – which were one and the same thing. He argued that Theory X managers would, at best, get mediocre performance from their workers, while Theory Y managers would get superior performance.

McGregor was certainly not alone. Other management gurus – such as Rensis Likert and Frederick Herzberg were arriving at similar conclusions, and many will know Abraham Maslow’s triangle – a hierarchy of human motivation with basic necessities at the bottom and self fulfilment at the top. Over the last fifty years, the value of Y theory management has become almost a truism, even in those organisations which do not in practice use it, while imagining, and proclaiming, that they do.

Would this model apply to the Church? We could describe the better part of the Church’s history as typical of an X theory organisation. Monarchical in its governance, it is emphatically hierarchical in its nature. It operates by a comprehensive web of inflexible rules, which are buttressed by the heaviest — indeed eternal — sanctions for disobedience. Its internal communication is not just poor, it is lamentable. Against such a description, we might then understand the fundamental dynamic of Vatican II as initiating a formal change from the X theory of the historical Church to the Y theory Church to which we should aspire.

But here we attend to Pope John Paul’s 1985 caveat, warning us against a tendency to consider the Church as a mere institution – not recognising its foundation and fundamental source of authority. But sacred though it may be, it is an incarnate institution and, in many respects, it will behave like one. Y theory organisations work on the tight-loose principle: imperative when it is necessary to be, permissive when it doesn’t. This is a matter of judgment as parents discover in gradually extending a child’s freedom with age and capacity. Overprotective parents and an overprotective Church both inculcate immaturity. And people grow up.

But Vatican II was over 50 years ago, we have a Pope who is Y theory by instinct, we have regular synods for the bishops to exercise collegiality, our liturgy is in our own language, freedom of conscience is resurrected from the past – yet the rows and bickering continue. And catastrophic statistics presage long term disaster. To understand this we may need to examine secular experience. It tells us that changing from X to Y is not done overnight, and tears are shed on the way.

Many workers themselves dislike change. Moving from simple obedience to taking personal responsibility disturbs them. Executives have learnt not to trust the workers: will they lose control? They know that they have been successful through X theory methods, will they be successful now? The new management methods require far more skills, imagination and planning than they have needed before.

We might compare these secular difficulties to those we have experienced in the Church. We may also spot signs of achieving apparent change without its substance. Here we might think of the episcopal synods which emanated from Vatican II as an extension of collegiality. In fact they were so carefully muzzled from the beginning that their contribution has been negative. Or the selection of bishops – a process in which the local bishops have no authority. An episcopal request at the 2001 Synod for the “inadequate and arbitrary methods employed in selecting bishops” to be reviewed was ruled as not up for discussion. Perhaps it doesn’t matter — as Cardinal König once said: “the curial authorities working in conjunction with the Pope have appropriated the tasks of the episcopal college. It is they who carry out almost all of them.”

So we should not be too concerned that it has taken so long to get to this stage. When an organisation has maintained the same culture for many centuries it may take generations to settle with the right balances in place. There is certainly an immediate need for structural change such as the reform of the Curia, the genuine establishment of episcopal collegiality, and the selection of bishops. And I would like (this is my fantasy) every cleric in office to attend a course in modern management. It would not change their sacred duties, but it might ensure that their sacred duties achieved the actual effects they wish.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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80 Responses to The upheaval of change

  1. Galerimo says:

    Thanks Quentin – you give a great overview and analysis of a complex situation. I agree. A course in management for everyone in a clerical role would be a positive educational step in the right direction. When I look at the divisions within the Anglican Communion here in Australia I can feel a bit smug about it at times but as I get older I wonder if the Catholic model of governance is just as flawed. They really struggle with contemporary issues for the Church and they do it very transparently. If a more genuinely collegial approach in the Catholic Church were to lead to the same sorts of divisions between right and left, for and against – would it be that bad for the Church? I think the honesty of being true to ourselves as a diverse community with multi, multi layers of culture and faithfulness would be a more true reflection of Christ’s poverty and generosity than the monolith we seem to be stuck with forever.

    • Brendan says:

      I take your point Galerimo ; but is politicisation of The Church always in evitable ? Are’nt we playing to the secular worlds tube by constantly encouraging divison in ythis way ? I mentioned in the previous blog about ‘ synodos ‘ – journeying together which seems to underpin The Popes ‘way of doing things. Good management certainly would help in this direction.

    • Vincent says:

      If we take the parallel between the Church and secular organisations a little further we should note a vital characteristic. The leadership of great organisations tends to be charismatic. That is, it is very clear about the fundamental mission and its essential values. And they communicate this not only through what they say but through what they do. Here, of course, we have a stunning example in Pope Francis, whose emphasis on issues such as poverty mercy and pastoral care are loud and clear. But we have a way to go before these values have worked themselves down — through the hierarchy and through the laity.

      The problem for the Anglican communion, I think, is that they have too little of the “tight” and too much of the “loose”. I would be interested to see some examples of the “tight” in the Catholic Church about which there would be no compromise.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent I am not too sure what you mean by the ‘tight’.,where there would be no compromise in the Catholic Church?
        Do you mean by ‘tight’ ,speaking about ‘sin’.
        We have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to forgive sins..
        If our sins are as red as scarlet , they can be forgiven if one ask’s and is ‘truly repentant’.
        (or words to that effect)

      • Vincent says:

        I think there’s lots of room for disagreement here. I suppose the criterion of “strong” is what belief, or lack of belief, would lead to one excluding one’s self from being a Catholic. A strong instance might be denying that Christ was truly God. And thus other basic doctrines. In the moral sphere an example would be that, notwithstanding the Church’s teaching, one may practise artificial contraception without being excluded, whereas abortion automatically puts one outside. But Quentin’s example of the parent and child suggests to me that it’s more a question of attitude. Does the Church wish to encourage its members to take personal responsibility, or does it want to control?

  2. St.Joseph says:

    Vincent,
    You are right.
    It will be interesting to read comments from others
    We are all on a journey, and probably on different roads, not all of the same understanding, or knowledge or faith.However as you mentioned contraception,as an example, no one will ‘not’know that there is a method of birth control which is not an abortafacient”’,which is a serious sin’. A condom however could be down to a catholic conscience , but not be excluded from the Church.,however the Sacrament of confession would be necessary.I dont believe they ought to be excluded from Holy Communion..
    It is also down to conscience regarding abortion and abortfacients,depending on their knowledge and love for the Church!.When a pregnant woman realises the sin, she will suffer anyway when realising the baby she has aborted.When one reads the sadness of those from Rachael’s Vineyard. who minister to women who have had an abortion,it is hearbreaking.also when they give their testamonies on the March for Life.
    I am concerned somewhat about the fathers of these babies, I wonder if they have repented.?Or are they at least a wee bit worried or feel guilty when they go out on the look out for a one night stand!!

    • Vincent says:

      “the fathers of these babies” Yes, it’s an old problem. There was an excellent programme on BBC4 (1 October) called Ian Hislop’s “Age of the Do-Gooders” which included a profile of a woman who was concerned that men should understand the price that women pay. It should be available on the Internet for a few days.

      On contraception and Catholics — those who genuinely believe that it is not sinful can’t present it as a sin in the Confessional. I think we will hear more about this during the Synod this month.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        I will try to catch up on that programme,
        On contraception and catholics, you say’ those who genuinely believe that it is not sinful’.cant present it as a sin in the Confessional.
        I suppose one could think that nothing is a sin if we we believe that our conscience thinks it isn’t.
        I would consider it as disobedience to Church teachings, how serious a sin that is I would not like to judge.

  3. Iona says:

    I feel uneasy about seeing the Church solely in terms of its management, or even largely in terms of its management. The Church is also, for example, the saints, many of whom are regarded with suspicion (at least initially) by the Church authorities of their time; and it’s the uncanonised, unrecognised saints who persistently do “small things with great love”; and it’s the Holy Spirit which “bloweth where it listeth”, not just when a new pope is being elected but in and around all 7 billion of us, all the time.

  4. John Nolan says:

    ‘The selection of bishops – a process in which the local bishops have no authority’. Come off it, Quentin. You know as well as I do that the CBCEW had such a stranglehold on episcopal appointments that it became a more-or-less self-perpetuating oligarchy – the so-called Magic Circle.

    Was the 2014 Synod an exercise in collegiality? You could have fooled me. The forthcoming one will have no interim report (which caused such an uproar last year) and, it would appear, no final report either (which was also controversial) so at the end of it we shall all be none the wiser. I found it ironic that those who criticized previous Synods for being ‘muzzled’ by the Curia overlooked the blatant attempt to rig the last one.

    The ‘catastrophic statistics’ can only be explained by looking objectively and dispassionately at the history of the Church in the second half of the twentieth century, and the Second Vatican Council figures large in this, as does the pontificate of Paul VI. I get the impression that many of those who criticize the ‘management structures’ of the Church have a clear idea of the effects they want and only support change because they see it as advancing their agenda.

    • Quentin says:

      John, one of the problems of the fixed wordage of my Science and Faith column is that I cannot fit in all the detail I would like. Without doubt, the immediate effect of Vatican II was to let loose a great horde of enthusiasts — most of whom had little theology and even less prudence. But that was inevitable — when the lid of the saucepan has been held tight down for long enough the water over boils.

      On the bishop selection question, I chose the word ‘authority’ with care. The local bishops may or may not influence the selection, the point I was making is that they have no authority to do so. I suspect that in such a matter I am more of a traditionalist than you. I favour the synodal church of the first millennium, reinforced by the ability of modern communications to ensure communion.

      There seem to be many plots and counter plots re the forthcoming Synod. Including an interesting one which attempted to persuade me that the last several popes were illegitimate, and therefore should not be obeyed. As usual a large bold font was used, and capital letters were frequent.

      • John Nolan says:

        Bishops may be appointed by the king or elected by cathedral chapters (this is still the case in some German sees). Historically the pope rarely intervened unless there was an impasse, as happened in England during the reign of King John. The bishop’s authority is determined by his valid consecration as a bishop in apostolic succession, irrespective of how he is chosen.

        In this country the practice is that after consultation (in which the laity have an input) a terna is submitted to the Holy See by the Apostolic Nuncio. The procedure has to be confidential since some priests may have been approached and turned down the offer. It also takes some time. The Bishops’ Conference had a list of those they considered to be suitable and anyone not on the list could not expect to be considered.

        There is evidence that Benedict XVI was aware that there was a tendency in the English Church towards quasi-autonomy which began with Basil Hume and continued under his successor. Hume’s official biographer, Anthony Howard, makes much of this and dates it from the early years of JP II’s reign when (allegedly) Hume and Worlock realized that Wojtyla was not the liberal they had assumed him to be.

        At the very beginning of this pontificate there were two interesting items that escaped the media. Firstly, Pope Francis assembled the Nuncios and lectured them on the importance of their role. Secondly, Gerhard Müller made it clear that National Episcopal Conferences were purely consultative bodies and did not constitute a layer of authority between the bishops and the successor of St Peter, the Bishop of Rome. It was aimed at the German Conference but was equally applicable here. Giving bishops more autonomy in running their dioceses but with some legatine oversight makes sense to me.

      • Quentin says:

        Archbishops Quinn’s book, ‘The Reform of the Papacy” has an extensive chapter on the selection of bishops. He is past president of the US national conference. Interesting reading and, indeed, the primary source for my original comments.

  5. John L says:

    Leaving out the political angle, let me just quote a local example.
    Around the time of the national Pastoral Congress, our then bishop was urging us to relieve the pressure on priests (the shortage was already felt).
    His wish was that priests should be freed to do what they were ordained for, and the administration of the parish should be carried out, or at least assisted, by competent laypeople.
    As you might guess, this was met with varying success in different parishes, and it was not always the P. P. who wouldn’t co-operate. Such things were unheard of among many cradle-catholics of an older generation. It was always “Father knew best”.
    Nearer home, our own parish was pretty successful, Several priests were glad of all the help they could get, and we had a high proportion of parishioners with professional experience, able to take on admin work. The parish council was an active body.
    Things came to a head when, being a small parish, we were no longer permitted a resident priest. Amalgamation with an adjacent parish was expected, but the illness and death of the then bishop meant that no official appointment was made. The P.P. of the adjacent parish agreed to look after our spiritual needs but not the administration – that was left to us.
    This arrangement worked well, to everyone’s satisfaction. We even had visitors from other parishes about to lose their resident priest, with a view to seeing if our arrangements were a valid model for their futures.
    A change of the adjacent P.P. seemed to suit the new man too until a new bishop came on the scene. “This sort of thing won’t do!” The adjacent P.P. was quickly appointed our official P.P also, to much mutual awkwardness – it made his position unnecessarily difficult.
    It seemed that our local experiment, or any similar initiative, could only be viewed as a challenge to AUTHORITY. New “norms” for parish and deanery councils were issued, converting them back into the ineffectual groups they had been formerly.
    These “thanks” for the hard work that parishioners had put in left many disillusioned.
    My submission is that one does not have to look as far as the Curia in order to see power structures in action. As long as this sort of thing happens, isn’t our current discussion a bit academic?

    • Galerimo says:

      You make a good point John and I am sorry to hear another example of such heavy handedness in ‘Pastoral Administration’. In my conjecturing around your story I would like to project a strong dialogue between the Bishop and the council including the Parish Priest. If no acceptable middle ground could be found then an honest Discernment could lead the local church into a different way of doing Church. And the other level of Church Administration, Curia and Pope with people, could do the same. Seek the middle ground to accomodate and balance and failing that move forward into new territory. You know the personalities involved in your scenario, I don’t so you may rightly say my projection is academic as far as application goes. But I imagine we are both equally as familiar with the top level of Catholic Hierarchical Administration and my point would be not to let them off the hook as easily.

      • John L says:

        I agree, but in the case I cite a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and there is no going back. With the best will in the world, bishops are not the easiest people to communicate with. John Nolan comments on a Congregationalist solution as a purported suggestion. This criticism was raised in some quarters at the time, so it’s not only the later bishop who was uneasy. Ah for charity and tact !
        We probably remember the furore of some years back, well covered by an involved Catholic Herald, concerning the criticism by Alice Thomas Ellis of the late Archbishop Worlock. A. T. E., being a widely read journalist, was not so easily ignored as you or I might be, but part of the critique, as I recall it, was that the Archbishop did in fact ignore her. I can’t now remember the finer points, but it seemed to me at the time that Alice raised a valid point worthy of discussion. The Archbishop, as a local Apostle, could have seen fit to exercise his teaching function by engaging in a debate but did not do so. Bishops seldom do. It’s a pity.

  6. John Nolan says:

    ‘If no acceptable middle ground could be found then an honest Discernment could lead the local church into a different way of doing Church’ . What does this mean in practice? Rejecting the authority of the bishop on a case-by-case basis, or rejecting episcopal jurisdiction altogether and becoming Congregationalist?

  7. RAHNER says:

    Well any system that enables good, solid modernists like Kasper and Marx to be influential Cardinals can’t be all bad……

  8. Alasdair says:

    I can certainly recognise this situation, as described by Quentin, at least applied to business and the economy generally :- “Over the last fifty years, the value of Y theory management has become almost a truism, even in those organisations which do not in practice use it, while imagining, and proclaiming, that they do”.
    One would imagine that recent scandals in banking and industry will be an unwelcome driver back towards model X ie captains of industry tightening the reigns on their lieutenents.

  9. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Going back to the Alice Thomas Ellis affair, my recollection is not that the Archbishop ignored her, but that he demanded her views be disowned. I forget who the other personages were, or what was the topic in dispute, but the then editor of the Catholic Herald proudly assserted that the paper would not be browbeaten into submission; on the facing page the owner promised in effect that it would.

  10. Horace says:

    The following quotation from the Pope’s homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in America would seem to me to be relevant (X/Y?).
    “We can get caught up measuring the value of our apostolic works by the standards of efficiency, good management, and outward success which govern the business world.
    . . . the true worth of our apostolate is measured by the value it has in God’s eyes.
    . . . The cross shows us a different way of measuring success.”

  11. Iona says:

    Possibly that’s what I was trying to say above.

  12. St.Joseph says:

    We have the law of the land whereby those who break it, are judged and found guilty, either go to prison, or fined or do some work in society ,to make up for breaking the law.
    We have ‘laws’ or rules in business whereby people are repremanded or sacked.
    Holy Morher Church ‘teaches’ us what we need to understand for our salvation. which is attached to the teaching of the Church, on faith and morals and love.
    Love being the primary ,Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind and your neighbour as your self
    Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.!
    Their lies the difficulties when we try to show charity and love and forgiveness to our neighbour,without offending our neighbour or God! As Christians. Knowing that God is our Judge in the end.
    If we judge others by the teachings of Holy Mother Church-how are we to judge their conscience and their soul’
    Who are we trying to defend The Lord, ‘our conscience’ or the Church!.
    .
    .

  13. John Nolan says:

    Since I posted three days ago concerning the Synod, Vatican Radio has announced that the Relatio Finalis will be published, although those responsible for drafting it include Baldisseri and Forte which doesn’t bode well. It also announced that the results of the discussions in the various language groups (circuli minores) will be published before they are put before the General Assembly. It will be recalled that last year, after the protest that followed the interim Relatio, the bishops insisted that these be published, much to the chagrin of B and F who looked to the Pope to prevent it. Francis, who could see that he had been outmanoeuvred, was forced to back down.

    If one looks at the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council, or of the Consilium which was charged with implementing a measured reform of the liturgy but instead recast ‘from top to bottom and in a few months an entire liturgy it had taken twenty centuries to develop’ (Fr Louis Bouyer, Memoirs p.219) one can see the ease with which an organized minority can impose its will on a less organized majority so as to make the latter embrace its agenda and think it has arrived at it by consensus.

    Alice Thomas Ellis (Anna Haycraft) was not the only literate and intelligent Catholic of her generation to sense that the Hume-Worlock hegemony, which lasted two decades and whose legacy persisted for a third, was ultimately damaging. it was said of Worlock that he loved the Church more that he loved God. The Church certainly gave him a bureaucratic career-path and he was instinctively a conformist and a committee man. He embraced the progressivist cause because he sensed that the wind was blowing in that direction, and was deeply disappointed when Hume was chosen over him for Westminster. Were he alive today he would probably be championing the Old Rite and joining the increasing number of bishops who occasionally celebrate it.

  14. Nektarios says:

    I have read through the postings on this topic of the upheaval of change and ask why it is so many trust solely to men. Are we not satisfied with their efforts?
    The Church obviously does not see for over the last 120 years or so, the increase of every intellectual avenue one could go down has been, the same with theology, but things have not changed, if anything, things have got worse. The Church is at ease in Zion, in other words it is comfortable with itself. But you know that is not the history of the Church as it has gone through, the desert of a wilderness experience, or the sense of the great aridity in their spirituality.

    The world is crowding in, laughing at us, mocking us, persecuting us, and the Church is afraid. Yes, afraid of its young people; afraid of higher criticism, afraid of intellectual questioning.
    Like our forebears the Israelites, they had been through the desert, wilderness experience, now they were about to enter Canaan, but the river Jordan was in spate, their Leader Moses had gone up a mountain and died, they were all alone, and fearful.
    Then God acted, let me put this in modern terminology for you, when we are self assured, self confident, nothing seems to happen, we are too self reliant, and it is only when our backs are up against it, God acts.
    This has been the history of the Church in revival. We have gone through many changes in the Church, got the most brilliant mind and philosophers and theologians to work, but it has not changed anything.
    Perhaps we have not sunk low enough as our forbears or individuals have sunk before God acted?
    What happens when God acts in revival? He comes that you might know his might power and reveals something of His glory. Do we need as the people of God to be revived?

  15. St.Joseph says:

    The full text of Pope Francis’s homily on the opening of the’ Synod of the Family’ is very enlightening and positive. On LifeSiteNews.com.

  16. John Nolan says:

    Pope Francis is in my opinion a very good homilist, but the focus is normally on his off-the-cuff comments and extempore interviews, which is unfortunate. I watched the whole of the opening Mass and was struck by how much the liturgical and musical standards in St Peter’s have improved in the last decade, thanks to Guido Marini, Massimo Palombella and Popes Benedict and Francis. The Sistine Chapel choir have new stalls with proper desks and the use of a second and discreetly positioned mixed choir to lead the assembly means that a greater range of chant Masses can be sung (on Sunday it was Mass XI [Orbis Factor] which is the norm for ‘green’ Sundays).

    The Gospel (Mark 10:2-16) couldn’t have been more appropriate but was in fact proper to the Sunday (27th per Annum, Anno B). Were you paying attention, Cardinal Kasper? The Roman Canon was recited without the optional shortenings and the cardinals present ‘in choro’ received Communion (from a deacon) kneeling and on the tongue. Pope Francis only communicates the deacons, by intinction.

    The videos as released by the Vatican have no subtitles or commentary. This is not a problem for the Ordinary or Proper which were in Latin, apart from the first reading (English), the psalm (Italian) and the second reading (French). Those not familiar with these three languages can find translations in a hand missal, which begs the question why the first two lessons and the interlectionary chants have to be in a vernacular language in the first place. The absurdity of the polyglot bidding prayers is however, thrown into sharp relief. The deacon (who had earlier chanted the Gospel impeccably and beautifully) announces the intention in chanted Latin ‘Oremus pro …’ and concludes with ‘Dominum deprecemur’ to which everyone responds ‘Te rogamus, audi nos’ . That’s all that is required. What is the point of a lay person ascending the ambo and reciting a short prayer in his or her native tongue?

  17. Nektarios says:

    I am sorry, I am at a loss to know where exactly are we going with all these views?
    By Church, I mean all the mainstream Churches, the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Cof E, C of S, and all other Protestant Churches, all of them are the Church.
    They have different forms of Church governance, and this is really what we are discussing. Where will that get any of us? As Quentin pointed out the Church has been governing the Church for centuries.
    My question, is this: In all the new thinking, adapting to the modern world, incorporating all our views and opinions, no matter if it is the Pope, a Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, or Minister, or all the other members of the Church – does God go with you?

    The Children of Israel were faced with this issue after making a golden calf and falling down an worshipping it. If that was not bad enough the danced around it and gave themselves to all manner of sin. Here they all were at the Jordon river, and God told them to go up, but He would not go up with them, but would given them an angel to deal with their enemies, But God said, I will not go up with you.
    Perhaps what happened afterwards, is what is more needed, than what we have dicussed above so far. The people realizing they had sinned, they had offended God Himself with their thoughts and activities – when they heard that God who had delivered them out of Egypt, was with them in the desert as I pillar of smoke by day, and a piller of fire by night. tThis God, who fed them for over forty years in the desert, now on the brink of entering the promised land, said, “go up, but I will not go with you”. Then the people having realized and analyized the whole situation, mourned.

    The people of Israel, God chosen people, said, ” We cannot go up unless you go with us.”
    Is all this not a picture of the Church today? Is all our organizing simply building another golden calf? Building up in the mind a God of ones own making?
    So I leave you with the question in all this talk and organizing, does God go with us?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Nefarious
      I seek comfort .consolation. and trust in God by the prayer that Jesus offered up for us before His Ascension into Heaven..
      The Holy Spirit will be with His Church until the end of time and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her.!

  18. Brendan says:

    The Holy Spirit is making His presence felt:-
    ” Cardinal Erdo’s [ Hungary ] emphatic defense of Church Teaching marks first day of Synod . ” – CNA News.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan.
      I have read the opening message of Cardinal Erdo’s .
      But I do pray that it will make some progress as to what the realitry of the Sacrament of Matrimony is when a couple take their vows.
      There lies the problem of many years of the lack of proper instruction.from a civil marriage and pray that the Synod will not relate marriage of male and female during the debate with regards to same sex relationship!
      When God made man and women he made them in a perfect married state, since the Fall I believe that the right conditions for marriage as a Sacrament has not been taught.
      What God has joined together.sometimes does not apply.,when He was not included in the relationship or the Trinity in the first place.’
      Just my thoughts.
      Especially when an annulment can not be obtained.

      ,

  19. G.D. says:

    A few quotes from R. Rohr’s daily meditations that speak into ‘church’ seems to clarify for me the problem the Church (whichever you deem to be the Church of God) has created, and continues to do so. There are plenty more but I am going to exceed the word limit anyway ……….

    ‘ Question 16 in the Baltimore Catechism, which generations of 20th century American Catholics had to memorize, asked, “Where is God?” The answer clearly told us, “God is everywhere.” Then the rest of the book basically said, “We don’t really mean it!” It explained that God was really only in the Catholic Church, and really only in the bread in the tabernacle of Roman Catholic churches. God apparently was not in the people anymore, let alone in creation. It left us in a rather empty and lonely universe. ‘

    ‘This tendency in religion to “absolutize” things comes from a deep psychological need for some solid ground to stand on, and I understand that. But what the prophets keep saying is, “God is the only absolute!” Don’t make the fingers pointing to the moon into the moon itself, as it were. Jeremiah said, “The Temple, the Temple, the Temple of Yahweh! Don’t you recognize it has become a robber’s den?” (7:1-11) and this is the very line that Jesus quotes (Mark 11:17). But of course he was talking about Jerusalem, and surely not our parish church, …. or St. Peter’s in Rome. ‘

    ‘The turning point, …… is the year 313 when Emperor Constantine thinks he’s doing us a great favor by beginning to make Christianity the established religion of the Holy Roman Empire. That’s how the Apostolic Church became Roman Catholicism. We got all linked up with imperial world views, and our perspective changed from the view from the bottom and powerlessness (the persecuted, the outsiders) to the view from the top where we were now the ultimate insiders (power, money, status, and control)–and Emperors convened (and controlled?) most of the early Councils of the Church, not bishops or popes. That is verifiable history. Sadly, most did not see the problem with that (and many still don’t). Many saints along the way still tried to be a Church for the poor, but from a somewhat “superior” and safe stance. It is only in some form of actual solidarity with the outsiders/sinners/little ones that we fully get the message of the Gospel. It is only then that we understand our own poor soul and its neediness. ‘
    ………… and ‘church’ salvation maybe

  20. G.D. says:

    And one that epitomises Pope Francis’ attitude …………

    ‘God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. -1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT

    In all honesty, once it was on top and fully part of the establishment, the Church was a bit embarrassed by the powerless one, Jesus. We had to make his obvious defeat into a glorious victory that had nothing to do with defeat–his or ours. Let’s face it, we feel more comfortable with power than with powerlessness. Who wants to be like Jesus on the cross, the very icon of powerlessness? It just doesn’t look like a way of influence, a way of access, a way that’s going to make any difference in the world. We are such a strange religion! We worship this naked, bleeding loser, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, but we always want to be winners, powerful, and on top ourselves . . . at least until we learn to love the little things and the so-called little people, and then we often see they are not little at all, but better images of the soul. ‘

  21. ignatius says:

    GD:

    You would have got on well with St Theres’e of Liseux with her ‘little way’. I agree with you about this though. There is little point in sitting on the back of a giant if you are going to try and do all the lifting yourself…but that is what we do. I’ve been taught a few precious lessons by losers along the way. As to the eucharist, a better understanding would see Christ present as victim, as priest, as saviour, as the mystical body of Christ in his people both gathered and scattered, in the word preached, in the offering of bread and wine as the fruit of our hands, as the one who holds the world in his hands. The ability of God to localise doesn’t affect His presence, His character or any of His attributes!
    Ignatius

  22. John Nolan says:

    GD and Ignatius,

    Richard Rohr’s theology is his own affair, although his idea that the Crucifixion (and therefore the Resurrection) was unnecessary seems somewhat outré to me. However, I would challenge him and others who maintain that the adoption of Christianity by the Roman empire (east and west) was a ‘bad thing’ to give their alternative history of how of Christianity could have even survived, let alone spread.

    The fact that he doesn’t even know that the Holy Roman Empire was quite another thing suggests that his history is as deficient as is his theology. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that he is a mountebank whose animadversions would have been swiftly demolished in a less gullible but more intellectually rigorous age.

    • ignatius says:

      John,
      I hadnt caught up with the bit about the redundancy of the Passion!! I get Richard Rohrs thoughts sent via e mail but rarely read them. But I think it is quite likely that we do over emphasise authority over genuine humility. I hear very little discussion of inner life and the struggle to overcome, almost nothing about the trials of prayer and discipleship.. I hear an awful lot about rituals, vestments encyclicals and criticisms of any decision made by anyone in office!

  23. John Nolan says:

    Ignatius, was not Our Lord listened to in the synagogue because He spoke ‘with authority’?

    • ignatius says:

      Yes of course and genuine authority is pretty unmistakable, John. You have a good point in that when the church speaks clearly people sit up and listen, but I am thinking more of the day to day level of church and individual life.

  24. G.D. says:

    John, Where’s the proof of your statements. I’d be interested to read them. Rohr doesn’t take one ito away from the ‘official’ teachings as far as I’ve read him. Especially Christology. He’s been around for many years and never been put on the black list as far as the vaticani are concerned.

    Goes beyond like all good mystics but then there’s no proof for any of that. Apart from the historical church making ‘doctors’ of some long after they are passed on from this mortal existence. Oh, and spiritual development via their teachings. But that’s not really important is it?

    As to the spread of Christianity had it not become the official state religion . …… there’s no telling how that may have panned out.
    Your conclusion is as suspect as you say his is.

    By the way it’s the intellectually rigorous (c)age that has got us into this appalling situation with split and schism through the ages. No one is suggesting we don’t think intellectually, just have a bit of balance with the more ‘spiritual’ functions that seem to put the fear of ‘whatever’ into those who rely on the intellect and nothing else.
    Besides, I am quoting him out of context mind you.

  25. John Nolan says:

    G. D.
    I accept that RR’s take on Christian mysticism is sincerely meant and has something to teach all of us. I wouldn’t put him into the mainstream of Catholic theology and although he himself has not incurred the censure of the Holy Office (which says much for the forbearance of that dicastery under Joseph Ratzinger) he did have to clarify his position to the local ordinary and make assurances.

    As for my conclusion [re Church history] as being as suspect as his is, I have the facts and he doesn’t even have conjectures. Rewind to AD 300 and go forward? That’s not the way it happens.

  26. ignatius says:

    John,
    I think you are right about RR He is infuential in his own way but when you look at a bit of his stuff over time it is idiosyncratic, a voice off beat in the choir, That’s no bad thing in its own way and I get the impression he is popular because, apart from the doctors of the Church, there is little readily available for the catholic who wants to go deeper yet do it intelligently. Your comment about The Lord in the synagogue by the way was very helpful to me. I would guess that many Catholics simply see themselves as a tiny part of the body, so meet their obligations and get on with life, trusting the speaking voice to others?

  27. G.D. says:

    Thank you John.
    Do have a question re history. How do we view history if not rewind and go forward?
    (Rohr does rewind to the ‘first church’ in other pieces).

    It’s the Biblical accounts that ‘paint’ a very different picture of the church soon after the Resurrection, that have always conflicted for me, with the institution since Christianity becoming ‘state’ verified.

    The ‘lords’ and powerful of this earth having much sway and influence over the institutions development thereafter.
    The church taking on, and obeying in some instances, the means and ‘ways of the world’ rather than staying true to the practices of the early church of Christ.

    I should probably stop there but just can’t not air thoughts coming to me. I hope and trust they will be received as they are meant, as discussion, not attack ………….

    Is it not the desire for control, and striving for power, over the institutional church, by officials within it’s hierarchy and from temporal powers, often disguised as ‘safeguarding truth’ via intellectual exegesis that suppressed so much of the spiritual teaching Jesus gave us, and prophetic voices since?
    How many of those prophetic voices have been silenced while they lived, and later have been listened too beneficently and encouraged as the way forward?

    If a little humility, courage, and (dare i say it!?) ‘soul searching’ accompanied the intellectual pursuits of the ‘leaders’ the way forward would be clearer and brighter; and a sight more unified than the divisive attitudes that have prevailed/are prevailing in the ‘Church’ institution. (‘I am for Paul I am for … ‘ Francis)
    We don’t only have ‘career politicians’ we have career clergy too. With very big planks in their eyes. There is none so blind as them that say they can see. No blame or judgement, just sadness for the fragmented institution of the church.

    Thank God for Christ and the Church that is still Unified, for all, in the Love of the Trinity.

  28. Nektarios says:

    G. D.
    I am warming to what you have posted above. If you please, re-read my last posting, if only to refresh your mind and to show why I am warming to your latest posting.

  29. G.D. says:

    Yes I can see the connections.
    I would say that ‘organising’ is always needed when groups of people are involved.
    Certain God given gifts are indeed for ‘leaders’. It’s just that (as in the so called secular world) many people who lead either do not have those gifts, misuse them for one reason or another, or being fallible make mistakes using them.

    However, they are in the positions they are in (‘you would have no power over me if it had not been granted you from above’) and, if we believe in Divine Providence, we need to ‘remove’ them who haven’t the gifts, ‘sanction’ the corrupt and ‘re-educate’ the mistaken with lots of discernment patience and love (disobey as we might when our conscience indicates!) lest we find ourselves going against God.
    (Thanks be to God I’m too indecisive to be a leader!).

    The text you quote could be seen as less literal perhaps (indeed you indicate – “the people having realized and analyzed the whole situation”) as an analogy for the conscious realisation to amend their ways as they ‘go up’ so that THEY WILL be with God.
    Something we all, not just leaders, need to bear in mind all the time of course – we all do need to continually ‘amend’ until we reach the fulfilment held for us in God.

    To answer your question (” My question, is this: In all the new thinking, adapting to the modern world ….. does God go with you?”) from a personal perspective specifically –
    I don’t see God (as unconditional love) NOT Being with all creation decreed as good.

    Weather any specific ‘part(s)’ of that creation will reject God’s offer of life in the end, I have no idea. I would like to assume not – because of God’s ‘ability’ to bring to completion what God created as ‘good’ – but it’s only an assumption, dear to my heart as it is, my jury is still out on that one.

  30. John Nolan says:

    G.D.
    ‘There is romantic view of the primitive Church – which has proved useful to the Modernists in their spurious return to sources – in which the early Christians lived in a state of charismatic democracy, ignorant of dogmatic differences and with little need for authority. Detailed study suggests a different impression. Heresies of all kinds were rife in early Christianity and were severely excluded from the organized Church. The authority of the clergy was insisted on as the guarantee of Christian unity. Clement of Rome, in the first century, likens the clergy to the generals, tribunes and centurions of the Roman army, and teaches that those who reject their authority are guilty of a grave sin. Ignatius of Antioch, writing in AD 107, stresses the authority of the bishop as the sole criterion of a legitimate Christian church’.

    Thus HJA Sire, in the opening chapter of his book ‘Phoenix from the Ashes’, published earlier this year. There is no need to agree with all his conclusions, but the methodology he employs is that of the historian. Space precludes a detailed rebuttal of your historical/ahistorical/unhistorical assumptions – but I would suggest you read this book (fewer than 500 pages) with an open mind.

    ‘Let us pray, dearly beloved, for the holy Church of God: that our God and Lord may be pleased to give it peace, preserve its unity and preserve it throughout the world: subjecting to it principalities and powers; and may He grant us, while we live in peace and tranquillity, grace to glorify God the Father almighty.’

    First solemn intercession for Good Friday. I thought about quoting the Latin original but for some reason the Church’s authentic and sacred language raises hackles on this blog.

  31. G.D. says:

    Dear John, I am anything but a romantic. Tickled pink that one may think i am!

    I was thinking more of the spiritual attitudes/pastoral life not the wrangles over ‘doctrines’. But no matter.
    What ‘historical/ahistorical/unhistorical assumptions’ would they be?
    Assumptions (not a negative quality it’s not a fact till proven!) about the way influences of the
    lordly powers suppress the more spiritual aspects contained within the biblical teachings? If so i stand by them.
    Prophetic & charismatic experiences of the Spirit suppressed by them lording it over the ordinary plebs.

    You can’t seriously think the barbaric atrocities perpetrated on people because they didn’t believe certain intellectualised interpretations were in the Christian ( Christlike) Spirit.
    Would you want a return to a catholic Isis?

    And history is written (and suppressed) by the rich and powerful. Even in our days of so called freedom! That’s how it can be brought into disrepute so easily. ………. the mind boggles.

    • John Nolan says:

      Sorry, G.D., but I don’t have a clue as to where you’re coming from. As a Catholic I believe that the Church in which I was baptized and confirmed is that founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ on Peter; that the deposit of faith she has handed down and guards is the truth as revealed in Scripture and Tradition; that she is guided by the Holy Ghost and cannot fall into error; and that her teachings are not ‘intellectualized interpretations’ of Scripture (the Church was founded before a single word of the New Testament was written).

      ‘Prophetic and charismatic experiences of the Spirit’ characterize many of the great saints and mystics of the Church. Innocent III, the greatest pope of the High Middle Ages, could have sent Francis packing; instead he realized that sanctity and enthusiasm in the cause of orthodoxy would benefit the Church.

      To view 1700 years of the Apostolic Church (East and West) as an aberration is heresy, pure and simple; to see history as a vast conspiracy to suppress the truth is insanity.

  32. G.D. says:

    Your right, you don’t know where i am coming from, I’m convinced it’s from the Holy Spirit but that’s only my assumption.
    Maybe all I’m saying is …… Prophetic and charismatic experiences have often been suppressed within the church is all I am saying.
    Or maybe I’m trying to express the ideav ….. intellect is in the service of Christ’s Church; sadly, intellect is master of the institutional church.

    Your creedal statement i can reiterate honestly. As to the meaning of it I’m sure we’d disagree.
    Or misinterpret each other.
    For instance you say ‘ and that her teachings are not “intellectualized interpretations” of Scripture’ as if that is what i said. I didn’t.

    Indeed the church was founded before a single word of Scripture was written (before a single word of the Old Testament was written even! But that’s another topic) and so therefore also before a single church doctrine was formed in the mind of man. Mankind then formed an expression of that church doctrine. Placed into print the ‘doctrine’ and the New Testament was written, and tradition within the church began.
    And became the only way truth was to be ‘read’ – that IS the intellectualised interpretation of the Whole Truth (of Father Son and Holy Spirit and of creation, let alone of the church) compartmentalised into truths about this and about that.
    Then people of differing persuasions gave personal ‘intellectual interpretation’ of that written doctrine.

    Sure, that written doctrine, contains the ‘deposit of faith’ and is the teaching of the Church.
    But no one man, or group of men, or age of man, can fully know what that ‘deposit of faith is’ and interpret it completely de facto. If they could they would be god’s. Anyone who claim’s such is in error of the Church’s teaching. Not to mention being just a little bit arrogant.

    We can all make creeds, must even, to prove our take on truth is ‘correct’ – even if only for our own understanding and satisfaction, which is what they are mostly. Or for proselytising.

    The meaning of that ‘doctrine’ and ‘teaching’ united in the Holy Spirit is the only truth there is. Please tell me what that is.

    • John Nolan says:

      G.D., it would be helpful if you could give an example of someone whose ‘prophetic and charismatic experiences’ have been ‘suppressed’ by the Church if they could be shown to be orthodox and not heterodox. Macaulay, a Whig historian writing in 1840, famously observed that the genius of the Roman Church lay in her willingness to harness enthusiasm to her cause. ‘Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head of a formidable secession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is certain to become the first General of a new society devoted to the interests and honour of the Church. Place St Theresa in London. Her restless enthusiasm ferments into madness, not untinctured with craft’.

      You sound confused. I can’t resolve your problems with the Church, but would suggest that Blessed John Henry Newman is a better guide than Richard Rohr.

  33. G.D. says:

    John,
    Off the cuff St. John of the Cross St Theresa of Avila (in their life times, and regarded as orthodox after ….. I’m sure you, the learned one, know better than I of more …….. of course various authors have been discredited and then redeemed …. am sure you know!!

    Not confused in the least. Pondering (always there is more to discover) and seeking, but solid and at peace in my faith; which I and many more consider is orthodox.
    I have no problems with the Church that need resolving, as far as i am concerned.
    Only concerns with fundamentalistic attitudes that prevail in certain members of the faithful. And even that is not really a problem. They are allowed to be so. Even though they are, de facto, judgemental and exclusive with it.

    Again i feel you have misunderstood me, my ‘Please tell what me that is.’ was an appeal for your opinion of Truth. Your personal opinion. It was rhetorical though.

    Have read many and much over the years – including various orthodox theologians, catechism many times, main stream acceptable catholics including John Henry – but with a brain like mine (a sieve unfortunately) quotes ect are never on hand. And am loath to search, don’t feel the need too. Prefer to spend my time in prayer and contemplation.

    Rohr will remain ONE of my guides. Not because of what he expresses, but because he presents so much of what I believe in such a clarified way. Sorry John but I will never be a traditionalist! Only follow tradition and allow it to develope for me.

    As today’s Office of Readings puts it …………. ‘Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.
    Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.’

    I am convinced that IS what I (and others) do. Or we’d still sanction slavery! And the ducking stool.

  34. G.D. says:

    ‘Don’t mention the Spanish Inquisition’ as some wit once said, so i didn’t .. but do now hey ho onwards we go.

  35. ignatius says:

    “As today’s Office of Readings puts it …………. ‘Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale…”

    Yes but wasn’t there some element of qualification there a sentence or two late?

    “But care should be taken to ensure that it really is development of the faith and not alteration”

    I bat these things around with my spiritual director from time to time. He’s quite a bright chap and he once told me that truth definitely subsisted within the Catholic Church …trouble is no one is ever quite sure where..! Rather like the pillar of cloud , the column of fire and the Spirit blowing where he wills.

  36. John Nolan says:

    G.D.
    St John of the Cross, St Theresa of Avila, and one might add St Ignatius Loyola – it didn’t take long for the Church to recognize their orthodoxy and honour them; St Theresa is a Doctor of the Church. A period of discernment is prudential; the private revelations of anyone cannot be taken at face value since they may be those of a heretic or a lunatic. In the case of St Faustina (foundress of the Divine Mercy cult , born 1905, died 1938) the rehabilitation was carried out with almost indecent haste – her writings were condemned and placed on the Index by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and she was beatified in 1993 and canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Make of that what you will.

    As for the Spanish Inquisition, if you read the actual history (based on its extensive records) rather than swallow the Protestant myth, you might be suitably enlightened. The best authority on the subject is Henry Kamen. But what do I know? I am a mere historian.

    • G.D. says:

      Oh, John,
      Are you deliberately missing the point? It happened, the suppressions, and barbaric practices. In the name of Christ.
      I’m not trying to ‘blow it up out of proportion’, nor accepting wild exaggerations from prejudiced causes. But those attiitudes prevailed and atrocities happened. As they still do, often in the name of God and religion.
      I don’t ‘blame’ God or religion; the people involved are responsable.
      I’m not advocating any ’cause’.

      I do respect your informed intellect, but still claim presentaions of historical ‘facts’ are not always the actual ‘happenings’ of the past events.
      The victor does control the ‘historical records’.
      The observer always has a particular preference to promote.
      Not always conciously!
      That’s why there is two (or ten!) sides, equally learned and academically studied, to historical reasoning i assume?
      It may be to my detriment, but, i have neither the desire or need for ‘enlightenment’ by either.
      Thank you for the exchange and discussion.

  37. John Nolan says:

    G.D.
    The Church has (rightly) suppressed heresy, even though the means employed may be questionable by modern standards. She has never, ever suppressed orthodoxy – nor could she, since Truth cannot contradict Truth.

  38. G.D. says:

    Yet yesterday’s orthodoxy, by orthodox standards and practices of today has changed. Where as, i agree, Truth can not and does not.
    Orthodoxy is not equivilant to Truth.

    The inturpretations of Truth ( seen as orthodox for a while) change.
    Sure there is Truth, and then there are expressions of truths.
    To see a truth as immutable is to see it as Truth. And heresy.
    We are all ‘unconscious heritcs’ in as much as The Truth is not accepted by us.
    We are all developing into that acceptance.
    Orthodoxy is not Truth.
    Orthodoxy is ‘what is accepted to be true’, what is to be ‘considered a part’ of the ‘Whole Truth’.

    As we (collectively as the Body of Christ, the Church) grow into a fuller realisation / acceptance of Truth our truths develope. Our way of being and seeing is different – changes! – our orthodoxy developes.
    The Truth remains the same – we grow into it ever more.

    Is orthodoxy a means to Truth? Or an end in itself?
    Is ‘orthodox’ equatable to The Truth?
    Only God contains The (whole) Truth, i would assume.

    God is greater than, AND, fully orhtodox. (‘our orthodoxy’ is a mere reflection).

    There is a ‘continuity of change’ contained in The Truth – but it’s not orthodoxy perse.
    For ‘orthodoxy’, if it were The Truth which doesn’t change, would not be able to change expression at all, in any given way.

    • Nektarios says:

      Fascinating are your some of your assertions, G.D.
      Are you saying the Truth is an unknown and unknowable? This leads to people making up their own ideas of Truth, but that is all that it is, ideas.
      Are you also saying that God and Truth are historical only, and it is up to us to interpret it as we go along?
      Are you saying, that inbuilt into what is Truth, there is a continuity of change?

      These assertions are all very interesting, G,D., and shows, like so many, a very humanistic
      approach to God, to Truth.

      If for example, we take the human angle on this, yes, we would have to say from a fallen natural state of Man, Truth is indeed unknown and unknowable. So man created his own gods and his own truth. Clever, but utterly wrong.

      Obviously, we are on this planet for a limited time, we read about the past and realize
      our times are not same times as those of old, or even the early Christian Church.
      Nothing could be further from the Truth, we are as much the rebel, the sinner, the law-breaker as ever he was. So we see the passing os time as it were, our little space in the present,
      so assert that what the Scriptures teach us concerning God and Truth is limited by the history, times and the setting those people were in. This is the argument of the liberal and the humanist and the unbeliever, and so many intellectuals today – tragic!

      Your last assertion is somehow, inbuilt into what Truth is, there is a continuity of change.
      Is it not, that we are full of change and presume God and Truth to be the same. The truth is we are subject to change, and as time passes we change again.

      All this is very straight-forward, and very human, but dont let us confuse the fallen human understanding with spiritual understanding and our life in Christ. We would be asserting something totally different and true, not just assertions and projections of our own thinking.
      God and Truth is not that, but something totally other.

  39. G.D. says:

    Sorry N. don’t understand what you say.

    The Truth, as i ‘see’ it, is only fully subsisting in God. The Truth synonymous with God.
    We, as ‘fallen’ & imperfect only see partially (dualisticaly) therefore only parts of The (whole) Truth.
    Both The Whole Truth, and our partial way of seeing (by ‘our’ I mean all peoples of all ages) exist eternally. We will grow ever more into a fuller realisation of that Godhead – if that growing were to ever befinalised we would be God!

    By the grace (action) of God we grow into ever greater realisation of that Whole Truth. (Hence the ‘continuity of change’ not dependant on times [or space?]). We grow, develope, and so change our ‘perspectives’, to a fuller acceptance (likeness if you will) of The Christ, by the Grace of God. (‘There by the grace of God go I’ works both ways for me!).

    Only the the Son of God, Christ Jesus has the Fulness of Truth. (God too of course!). Jesus, the Christ, Son of Man grew into realisation (consiousness) of it.
    The fact that the two – Christ Jesus the Son of God, and Jesus The Christ Son of Man – are the same indivisble entity doesn’t cause me any difficulty. I can live with that paradox – accepting both the extreems as one.

    But I’m trying to express, from a limited intellect, in a limited form (literal words) a ‘vision’ of The Whole Truth. Which is impossible.

    It’s not an aricle of faith! Just a way I’m expressing the inexpressible conundrum of that particular paradoxical teaching of truth.

    That is my ‘spiritual’ way of seeing and growing.
    Further I don’t profess it as an ‘article of faith’ for anybody else to beleive / accept. It’s all straw when all is said and done.

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.
      The truth of the matter, G.D. is we are no more advanced spiritually than those early Christian believers and the Apostles. If anything, we know less.
      Please look up your Church’s teaching on Christology. It seems you are tending to lean to your own and limited understanding. Christ certainly knew who and what He was. So does
      every Child of God know who He is who is truly a Christian.
      God in his infinite mercy, did not leave us to our own machinations or intellectual speculations, but through the Gospels and the OT has given us through the Apostles and His servants down through the centuries what makes for our Salvation, spiritual life and the understanding we should have.
      Many proud people think all this is old hat, we don’t even need Scriptures today, we can interpret them in anyway we want. Sadly, this has been the case with many over the centuries and the history of the Church.
      So I would encourage you G.D. to read and see through what the Scriptures teach and will make you wise unto your Salvation, and make it certain for you if you let it.
      Far from being` straw at the end of the day, will prove to be the Rock, (Christ) on which you stand, firm and sure in the end.

  40. G.D. says:

    The ‘straw’ I speak of (from Aquinas) is the very words ideas and concepts made by man. As you so rightly say ……… ‘God did not leave us to our own machinations or intellectual speculations, but through the Gospels and the OT has given us through the Apostles and His servants down through the centuries what makes for our Salvation, spiritual life and the understanding we should have.’ …….. This is the realisation that we grow ever into .. God’s very self through Christ (for the Christian) who knew; andn through the man Jesus who experienced and grew into it. Giving us the example to follow.

    We are basically in agreement to the means and wherefores, as far as i can see. Only I’m not as confident as you, to say I know it already. And do rely on Church, and ever will (challenge it as i do at times) through Scripture and Christ, to guide me on my journey.

  41. ignatius says:

    “The truth of the matter, G.D. is we are no more advanced spiritually than those early Christian believers and the Apostles. If anything, we know less.
    Please look up your Church’s teaching on Christology. It seems you are tending to lean to your own and limited understanding. Christ certainly knew who and what He was. So does
    every Child of God know who He is who is truly a Christian…”

    Hmmm…big claim, to be wiser than the Apostle Paul I mean:
    “..How rich are the depths of God- how deep his wisdom and knowledge- and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything? All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him, To him be glory for ever! Amen. Romans 11 v33-36

    So no we do not know the mind of God..we like to think we do but we do not (argue with isaiah on this if you must) It is equally perfectly clear that truth belongs to the trinity and man will spend all of his time on earth entering into that truth ever more deeply, wading into the river of life as the eons pass. Truth is not doctrine or dogma but doctrine and dogma reflect it like the water droplets of a rainbow reflect the light.

    People who think they understand lots generally do not.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius
      We would know nothing of God and Salvation were it not what the Holy Spirit imparts and has imparted to the Church, that is, all His people.
      Of course we do not know the totality of God, but that which He has chosen to reveal to us
      we can know through the workings of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s faithful servants.
      And of course there is what we term `Growing in Grace’.
      Doctrine of the Apostles is important as steadying ropes on the stormy seas of this life. The Apostolic teaching of the Apostles are also absolutely indispensable. The same applies to the Christology of the Apostles, absolutely indispensable.

  42. G.D. says:

    Yes inatius. That’s what i have been saying.
    ‘The ‘straw’ I speak of (from Aquinas) is the very words ideas and concepts made by man’
    ‘ This is the realisation that we grow ever into’
    ‘And do rely on Church, and ever will (challenge it as i do at times) through Scripture and Christ, to guide me on my journey.’
    But you express it so much more lucidly!

  43. G.D. says:

    And i don’t think N was claiming to be wiser than ……. ‘we are no more advanced spiritually than those early Christian believers and the Apostles. If anything, we know less.’ …. but less than?

    I also think N’s statement …… ‘Christ certainly knew who and what He was. So does
    every Child of God know who He is who is truly a Christian’ …. a bit wild; but it only says we know Christ not that we know all about God.

  44. ignatius says:

    “we can know through the workings of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s faithful servants….”

    Certainly we can: St Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, St Augustine, St Jerome, St Ignatius, St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avilla …to name but a tiny few. This is how the deposit of faith grows widens and deepens.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius
      Yes, indeed we can read and gain a certain amount of knowlege, become quite erudite in fact, and at the same time profit one nothing.
      It is one thing to know about God, know about the faith, know about Christ and so on,
      but there is a world of a difference between knowing about God, and actually knowing Him. Actually knowing Him relating to Him as a Child of God, is a spiritual activity and of Grace. It produces humility and all the other virtues. Walking with God one can receive spiritual power to do the work of God. Otherwise one is trying to do the work of God with our own inadequate efforts.

  45. G.D. says:

    As far as i read you both you are saying the same things. Only with a different emphasis. We can know God – as God reveals via grace/Spirit and through the teachings of others that have experienced that revelation.
    Isn’t his where the disunity in the Church comes from? My way is The Way any other emphasis is ‘wrong’?
    Both aspects are true surely?

    There is the ‘tradition’ ‘orthodoxy’ & personal revelation(s). Both valid. Both in need of constant discernment. Not be taken as ‘complete’ or even ‘right’ in themselves.

    Each a thread to be woven into the tapestry of creation God is redeeming (revealing?) through the growth and development of creation, as it regains ever more, the original state God created it in?

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.
      Your last paragraph is an assumption, G.D. and is incorrect. At that time, the end of time, the Earth and the Universe, even heaven itself will be changed according to His Word.
      The earth at this time is beginning to show signs of growing old like a garment, bit like myself really.
      The whole world and the universe groans and is waiting for that change that will see us and it come into our eternal state.

  46. G.D. says:

    Yes, should have said ….. until the end of time when it will be completed. …….. if it ever will be?

  47. G.D. says:

    My assumption was that would be taken as obvious.

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.
      It is not obvious it would seem to the models of many astronomers, nor would it seem to
      mathematicians with their models of quantum physics.
      All will be changed in the twinkling of an eye by God, that is 1/7th of a second.

  48. G.D. says:

    Ah, well, science and the ‘factual’ mind never could comprehend the more subtle properties of life! Thanks be to God we don’t all choose that mindset!

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.
      Yes indeed. I will end this delightful conversation with you G.D. on this note, inspired by Edmund Spencer (1550s)c.
      We are looking at the the `upheaval of change’ the longing for immutability in a sea of change.
      But in the end of all our thinking, there are two things which are important.
      The Eternal rest of God of Sabboath, He who changes not.
      The second, is our eternal rest in Him from change forever, in Eternity.

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