Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A Corrupted Christianity Produces Modernity As Degenerate Individualism

What Happens When  Being/Reality Is Not Understood As Constitutively Relational?

The effect of Christ, Incarnate God as Prototype of man, is the transformation from how reality appears and how it really is. It appears as a zero sum of individual facts. That is, if you have more of this, you have less of that. But in reality, since man is made in God's image, if you have more of God, then, you have more of man. Walker Percy, in the post above/below (?) remarked that "life is a mystery, loves is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God."
      Benedict XVI made this point  when speaking about the Magnificat of our Lady: (I paraphrase) the Virgin did not fear that by extolling the greatness of God, she would be diminished. Rather, the greater God is, the greater she is: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed..."
   This is the exact opposite of the thought of Martin Luther which Louis Bouyer reduces to two sentences ultimately contradictory to Christian revelation: Grace alone saves us; it changes nothing in us. "Grace" [Which Ratzinger describes as has been made into an object, reified into a "thing." It envelops us as an extrinsic "cloak." God becomes objectified to us, and we to each other. We are "alone together" as individuals. The relationship is not constitutive but accidental.

   The operative concept offered by Bouyer to explain the isolated extrinsicism of God and creature as characterized by Protestant thought which has created secularized culture is not to be found in scripture nor in the principles of "Grace alone saves us/ it changes nothing in us," but in nominalism originating in a decaying Catholic scholastic philosophy.

  Bouyer writes: "What, then, is the source of the element in Protestant theology of a God forbidden to communicate himself to his creature, of man unable, even by the divine omniptence, to be torn from his own solitude, from the autonomy of his so arrogant humility, of a world and a God inexorably condemned to the most utter 'extrinsicism?' To the historian, the reply is obvious. the Reformers no more invented this strange and despaining universe than they found it in Scripture. It is simply the universe of the philosophy they had been brought up in, scholasticism in its decqadence. If the Reformers unintentionally became heretics, the fault does not consiast in the radical nature of their reform but in its hesitation, its timidity, its imperfect vision. The structure they raised on their own principles is unacceptable only because they used uncriticaly material drawn from that decaying Catholicism they desired to elude but whose prisoners they remained to a degree they never suspected. No phrase reveals so clearly the hidden evil that was to spoil the fruit of the Reformation than Luther's saying that Occam was the only scholastic who was any good. The truth is that Luther, brought up on his system, was never able to think outside the framework it imposed, while this, it is only too evident, makes the mystery that lies at the root of Christian teaching whether inconceivable, or absurd.

   "What, in fact, is the essential characteristic of Occam's thought, and of nominalism in general, but a radical empiricism, reducing all being to what is perceived, which empties out, with the idea of substance, all possibility of real relations between beings, as well as the stable subsistence of any of them, and ends by denying to the real any intelligibility, conceiving God himself only as a Protean figure impossible to apprehend?" [Louis Bouyer, "The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism," Scepter (1956) 184-185].

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