Thursday, May 27, 2021

Time to Change Protestant Catechism….


…and I didn’t say it, Tim Keller did – beginning here and going for three-and-a-half minutes.  I will summarize it, but listen to the short section for further detail (extremely paraphrased):

All of the Protestant catechisms written during the Reformation – Luther’s, Calvin’s, Westminster, Heidelberg – were written not merely to teach what the Bible says, but to inoculate the people from the alternative dominant narrative – at the time, the alternative narrative was Catholic.  Where the two held the same beliefs, the catechisms are light; where they differ, the catechisms are heavy.

Today the dominant alternative narrative is quite different – it is the identity narrative, the freedom narrative, or the science narrative.  These are profound narratives that the kids are being bombarded with many times a day.  And we don’t catechize against these.

How does the doctrine of the Trinity differ from what people say about human life today?  What does the Bible say about the Gospel, how’s that different than the identity narratives that are out there, that your primary identity is something that you find in yourself, or your primary identity is a racial one?

Thomistic natural law: it addresses today’s meaning crisis; it addresses issues of identity; it addresses gender confusion; it addresses racial tensions; it addresses man’s purpose; it addresses the relationship of science and faith; it addresses the lack of effective intermediating institutions; it will return the teaching of ethics where it belongs – to the family and to the church; as it is discoverable by believer and non-believer alike, it transcends religious and cultural boundaries.

And my guess is that there are more than a few Catholics who would also suggest that their Church returns to this tradition as well!


Keller concludes his three-and-a-half minutes: “I haven’t seen almost any material that actually does that.” 

Well, here is a start.


  1. It does seem that the attempt on the part of Protestants to distance themselves from the Catholic Church led them also to abandon much that was good about our shared Christian heritage, such as the veneration of Latin Christendom.

    Growing up an Episopalian, I knew and was taught next to nothing of Christian history. Even much of what occurred in Acts was alien to me. Instead what was imparted on me, not sure the source, was the idea that the Catholic Church did a lot of bad stuff (Crusades, Inquisition, burning heretics, etc.) and then the Reformation happened and things got better.

    1. Same imparted on me - both about Catholic and Orthodox; I have changed quite a bit since my youth. I copy below a comment I wrote at PVK's site, including, at the end, a little dig on natural law:


      “Why did these two (Pageau and Rohlin) go all the way back to Orthodoxy?”

      One could call me a mutt of Christianity. Raised in a family with Plymouth Brethren parents. Spent many years in a Reformed church, then many years in an Orthodox church, and now have returned to a Reformed church. And I find the medieval period – in the West, inherently Catholic – as saying something important to us about meaning and governance.

      No single expression of Christianity has a monopoly on all aspects of truth – whether theological, historical, or otherwise. I am in the middle of reading Strickland’s first of a four-part series on 2,000 years of Christianity, including East and West – Strickland, an Orthodox priest and interviewed by Pageau.

      There are some aspects in which it would be valuable that the Church was universal (and on at least one level, it certainly is); speaking truth to state power with one voice would be one such example. But I also consider it a blessing that God has allowed multiple means of expression in worship, giving human beings – each with a different character – a place to join that feels like home.

      But the Catholic Thomas got natural law right! :-)

    2. Speaking of St. Thomas, I bought his "Summa" on Kindle for an absurdly low price, and now I can search the whole thing in a matter of seconds for any word or phrase I like!

      Rodney Stark considers himself an independent Christian and I have much sympathy for that. But it's hard to raise kids as independent Christians, so I'm resolved to go all in for the Catholic Church, despite the corruption of the American bishops and the Holy See in Rome. I think if Christendom is to be achieved again it will need a healthy Catholic Church to accomplish it. If the Catholic Church was good enough for Tolkien and Chesterton then who am I to reject it?

      As an aside, I've started to refer to myself as a Hoppean-Tolkienite, because it is the most succinct (if clunky) way of saying that I'm a hardcore anarchist libertarian but that I also value the European Middle Ages as the birthplace of Western freedom and am a traditionalist Catholic (at heart if not in fact yet).

      For authenticity in Christ, I look to the traditions born of the 5 ancient Patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria). I like the idea of C.S. Lewis's hallway Christianity, but if you spend your life in the hallway, you never get a place to sit down and enjoy the company of any of the rooms. So I've decided for myself and my family that it is best to pick a room but to remember the commonality of the 'hallway' and the second of Jesus' greatest commandments to love my neighbors.

    3. “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs).”

      So wrote Tolkien to his son! So, marking yourself as a "Hoppean" might therefore be redundant!

      I just saw this today, in this essay - a really good essay, by the way:

    4. ATL, try and find a SSPX or a FSSP church if you haven't looked already.

      And I'm with you on the traditionalist at heart, but not yet in practice, if ever.

  2. BM,

    I suppose I could. Tolkien more or less had Hoppe's evaluation of kingship in the Middle Ages and opposed the idea of a State. The rest of the quote you mentioned is also great. It's found in his book of letters that I bought a few years ago.

    Following from where you left off:

    "... - or to unconstitutional Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights, nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate [take that Hoppe and your measly 'physical removal']! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing, and it should be a capital offense to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people. If people were in the habit of referring to 'King George's council, Winston and his gang', it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocracy... The medievals were only too right in taking 'nolo episcopari' as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop. Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers. And so on down the line. But of course, the fatal weakness of all that - after all only the fatal weakness of all good natural things in a bad corrupt unnatural world - is that it works and has worked only when all the world is messing along in the same good old inefficient human way. The quarrelsome, conceited Greeks managed to pull it off against Xerxes; but the abominable chemists and engineers have put put such a power into Xerxes' hands, and all ant-communities, that decent folk don't seem to have a chance... But the special horror of the present world is that the whole damned thing is in one bag. There is nowhere to fly to."

    There are a few other places I've found in his letters where touches politics:

    "In the Lord of the Rings the conflict is not basically about 'freedom', though that is naturally involved. It is about God, and His sole right to divine honour. The Eldar and the Numenoreans believed in The One, the true God, and held worship of any other person an abomination. Sauron desired to be a God-King, and was held to be this by his servants; if he had been victorious he would have demanded divine honour from all rational creatures and absolute temporal power over the whole world. So even if in desperation 'the West' had bred or hired hordes of orcs and had cruelly ravaged the lands of other Men as allies of Sauron, or merely to prevent them from aiding him, their Cause would have remained indefeasibly right. As does the Cause of those who oppose now the State-God and Marshal This or That as its High Priest, even if it is true (as it unfortunately is) that many of their deeds are wrong, even if it were true (as it is not) that the inhabitants of 'the West', except for a minority of wealthy bosses, live in fear and squalor, while the worshippers of the State-God live in peace and abundance and in mutual esteem."

    And finally:

    "I am not a 'socialist' in any sense - being averse to 'planning' (as must be plain) most of all because the 'planners', when they acquire power, become so bad..."

    So Tolkien's not a socialist; he is an anarchist or unconstitutional Monarchist. He hates the state. He sees freedom and God on the same side of the conflict against the State. I really just need Hoppe for his impeccable understanding of economics and his irrefutable argument in favor of self-ownership.

    1. I could highlight every sentence...just to pick one:

      "But the special horror of the present world is that the whole damned thing is in one bag. There is nowhere to fly to."

      That was, what, a hundred years ago - and he knew this!

    2. Almost. He wrote the letter in 1943, so almost 80 years. Yeah Tolkien was an incredible man. A true pillar of the West. I would like to know more about his term "Theyocracy." What exactly did he mean by that? I'm assuming he means 'They'-o-cracy. Maybe he means a faceless, impersonal, distant ruling class? Perhaps the Deep State is analogous? I would say that 'We'-o-cracy is more of what is ailing us today, as in 'we' are all suffering under the delusion (well, not all of us) that we are the government. Recognizing it as an institution that 'they' own and populated by 'them' would be a big improvement.

      Tolkien's vision of a good society was that of the Shire, the political order of which he described as half republic and half aristocracy, where people's chief interests revolved around gardening, smoking, drinking, food, and other forms of merriment (in a modest fashion) and conviviality. Things remained small. Technology limited. Family lines were important. Tradition hallowed. The people connected and rooted.

      He seemed not to be much of a fan of the Industrial Revolution. Maybe perhaps because of its role in putting "such a power into Xerxes' hands" and its habit of stripping away the wooded areas of the world, as was especially the case in England. Maybe it was also because it unseated the traditional hierarchies of Europe and social order of Christendom. The bourgeois middle class unseated the ancient aristocracy thanks to industry, and proved they were even less suited to rule than the worst tyrannical kings of Europe. And we see the effects of their social revolution all around us today.

      At the end of this same letter ("My political opinions lean..."), which he wrote to Christopher while he was off fighting in WWII, he says something very interesting:

      "We were born in a dark age out of due time (for us). But there is this comfort: otherwise we should not know, or so much love, what we do love. I imagine the fish out of water is the only fish who has an inkling of water. Also we have still small swords to use. 'I will not bow before the Iron Crown, nor cast my own small golden scepter down. [quoting his "Mythopoeia"]' Have at the Orcs, with winged words, hildenæddran (war-adders), biting darts - but make sure of the mark, before shooting."

      Maybe we should be happy we live in a time where beauty, truth, liberty, and Christ are under such an attack. Otherwise, we may not know to love them as much.

    3. "Maybe we should be happy we live in a time where beauty, truth, liberty, and Christ are under such an attack. Otherwise, we may not know to love them as much."

      I think we will have cause to love these even more in the coming years....

    4. I mostly agree with you.

      But it is heart warming to see that many of the perpetrators of the 2020 sh!tshow are getting some of their just deserts from the public.

      The infamous Dr. Fauci is under fire recently with some leaked emails that show him to be the political scoundrel many of us already knew him to be. Bill Gates' connections to Jeff Epstein are becoming more well known. BLM's hypocrisy and corruption is coming to light. Mass murderer Cuomo is under fire for his nursing home policy of boosting Covid deaths. Whitmer and Newsome may each be recalled for their tyrannical and illegal lockdown policies.

      Meanwhile Texas and Florida are doing great opened up. Texas is under totally voluntary mask policies now, which means I never wear one anymore anywhere. Only about 25% of people still do I'd say from the looks of the local grocery store, and that number has been trending downwards fairly quickly (it used to be about 99% of people wearing masks only a month ago). I doubt vaccines account for the whole drop.

      It appears the 'Great Reset' may have flopped.

    5. I remember long ago, in the early days of bionic, we had really great discussions at the site The Daily Bell. This began during the financial crisis 2008-09 or so.

      There was some talk in the public square, never carried out at all, about the possibility that some of the perps of that crisis might see the wrong side of the prosecutors office.

      Anthony Wile, the host of that site (and a really good writer), would say that he wouldn't wish such a thing on anyone - to be in the cross-hairs of the DOJ.

      I thought, "yeah, I get it - and I know he is right, due to the corruption of the "justice" system. But I would still enjoy watching."

      I guess, now that I think about it, a tarring and feathering, followed by civil suits into oblivion by all the people who lost businesses and all the people being poisoned with jabs might be enough to satisfy my blood-lust.

    6. I suppose it is wishful thinking to suppose that Cuomo will see any jail time for his actions, and that Whitmer and Newsome will actually be forced to leave office (not that they don't deserve to be jailed too).

      Sticking with Tolkien's wisdom, however, "the spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally refuse to worship any of the hydras' heads.”

      It is almost enough just to see a majority of the public starting to refuse to worship these particular heads of the dragon. Not sure its quite reached a majority yet, but it's at least trending in that direction. This is not to say that I wouldn't love to see a good tarring and feathering (or worse) for these scumbags!

    7. "Maybe we should be happy we live in a time where beauty, truth, liberty, and Christ are under such an attack. Otherwise, we may not know to love them as much."

      There is a saying that you do not know (appreciate) what you have until you have lost it. Certainly, a lot of people take these things for granted and will have to learn that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Artur Powlowski, the pastor of the church in Calgary, Alberta which is under attack by the State, knows what it means to be vigilant and bold because he has experienced the other side of the equation.

      I learn best from making mistakes. I suspect many people do this. It would be good if we also learned, in the aggregate, from the mistakes which others have made. Unfortunately, since history tends to cycle, this does not appear to be the case. However, I firmly believe that "we" will learn...eventually, but I am also convinced that we will have to go through the wringer before that happens.

      Easy living makes soft people.

    8. "It appears the 'Great Reset' may have flopped."

      I do not agree with this. The Great Reset is a comprehensive plan to scrap the current system and initiate another in its place. The Covid thing is (was) only one aspect of that plan and, while it appears that has flopped, the Reset continues. Like an iceberg dead ahead, most of it is invisible. Playing musical chairs while the ship is sinking is an apt metaphor.

      The good thing about this is that bright lights are shining in dark places, exposing the rot and evil which are there. Some, like Fauci and Gates, are being shown as the culprits they are. Others, like Klaus Schwab or George Soros, are probably quite nervous about their own dirty deeds coming to light. Nevertheless, the people who are driving this forward do not stop because one small part of the plan collapses. They simply absorb the losses, change direction, and move on toward their ultimate goal.

      We should be very cautious about claiming victory or becoming complacent. The really hard times are still ahead, but a lot closer than they were just a year ago.

    9. "We should be very cautious about claiming victory..."

      I agree. I am not even sure that we are past the covid thing. What happens this coming flu season? How will they label the inevitable death and illness? What if the concerns about those who take the jab being even more at risk of adverse reactions to viruses proves true? Who will get blamed - those who took the jab or those who didn't?

      They know how to turn every lemon into lemonade. They will keep doing this because they aren't able to do anything else.

  3. Dr. Weezil,

    I've heard of SSPX and know a little about Pope Pious X. I'll look into it in my area. Thanks!