We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

“He Oughta Know That by Now”

From Louis Bouyer:

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 omnipotence, 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 despairing universe than they found it in Scripture. It is simply the universe of the philosophy they had been brought up in, scholasticism in its decadence. If the Reformers unintentionally became heretics, the fault does not consist 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 uncritically material drawn from that decaying Catholicism they desired to elude, but whose prisoners they remained to a degree they never suspected ...

Whether we take the theory of extrinsic justification, or the completely subjectivist view of faith (shutting faith up in itself, instead of seeing it as the means enabling the human mind to be drawn to God and to transcend itself), or that of the sovereignty of God confused with an arbitrariness fundamentally due to anthropomorphism, or a conception of the Word of God that both opposes it to any ecclesiastical institution and makes it incomprehensible, and even incapable of formulation—none of this is a Protestant innovation. All these strange, in a sense unhealthy, monstrous conceptions, to be so soon applied to the religious principles of the Reformation, disfiguring them at the outset, had been elaborated long before the Reformation. The Reformers merely took them over as they found them …

Our conclusion from this chapter is that the negative, “heretical” aspect of the Reformation neither follows from its positive principles, nor is it a necessary consequence of their development or vindication, but appears simply as a survival, within Protestantism, of what was most vitiated and corrupt in the Catholic thought at the close of the Middle Ages.

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