The MacArthurs are the good Protestant couple in Belfast who refused to prepare a wedding cake displaying propaganda for perversion. They said that they could not stand before God after having done such a thing. Yesterday they lost their ‘trial’. The ‘Equalities Commission’ had spent £40,000 of our money persecuting them.

The MacArthurs were fined £500. That is not much for a business, but that is not the point. The point is that a piece of public ground has fallen to the enemies of Christ, and that if nothing is done it will serve as a place from which they may start a further attack. I suggest that the obvious thing to do is for as many people as possible to make a financial donation to the MacArthurs, so that they may end up considerably better off than when they started. If our enemies know that these kinds of attack will blow up in their faces in this way, then they will stop them.

The web-site of the Bakery, which is called Ashers, does not allow for donations by internet. However, the legal costs of the MacArthurs were met by the Christian Institute. I have contacted the Christian Institute and they have assured me that any general donation made to them will be earmarked for the MacArthurs if accompanied by an e-mail stating that this is the purpose of the donation. The e-mail should be sent to: Jonathan.Patterson@christian.org.uk

I hope all the readers of this blog will think of making such a donation. Yes, it will take a few minutes. But then wars tend to be a bit time-consuming.

I suppose what we might call the Blackadder Goes Forth version of the First World War is pretty standard by now. It might be summarised as “Both sides as bad as each other, engaged in slaughter out of commercial ambition and stupid jingoism, until one side happened to win” (it’s not only materialist historians who speak like this, incidentally; a recent article of John Rao’s seemed to take the same view.) Yet even such a version of history seems preferable to the Daily Telegraph attitude of solemnly commemorating the heroic sacrifice of our forefathers while simultaneously promoting abominations that would have caused those same forefathers to say that the country they defended had simply ceased to exist.

There was a painful juxtaposition of headlines on the front page of the Telegraph at the time of the 100th anniversary of the start of the war last year. One of them said: ‘We will never forget’. The other one said, ‘What’s wrong with {excuse me} sperm banks for lesbians?’, the columnist arguing that nothing was. Never forget, forsooth. When it comes to the civilisation we were fighting for, or rather that those young men were fighting for, whose names we read on the war memorials, often several from the same family in even the smallest English village: they forgot long, long ago.

I’ve been reading recently some of the articles that Chesterton wrote in his weekly newspaper column during the War. While the style is recognisably his, they have an elevation of tone that sets them apart from his peacetime works. He has no doubt that the cause of the Allies is not only just, but that the fight is essentially spiritual: a war for the what remained of Christendom, for natural law, justice, the traditions of chivalry and honour and civilisation, against that mixture of brutality, totalitarianism, and mystical self-worship which is evoked by the word Prussia (I wonder if he had any inkling that the young emperor of Austria was a saint?) In one sense, namely as a defence of Belgium, the justice of the war is obvious, and can be judged by posterity as easily as by contemporaries. With regard to the spiritual essence of the combat, insisted on by Chesterton, things are less easy. It is not one or two obvious facts but a multitude that can justify one in speaking as he does. Spiritual things, though supremely real, are subtle, and it is hard for those who have not directly experienced them to speak of them. Yet Chesterton’s words carry conviction. Here are a few variations on a constant theme:-

Prussia was not a nationalist democracy which chose evil; it was not a nation, or even, in the proper sense, a people. It was simply such accidental crowds of colourless, lumpish, outlying northern men as certain chiefs could hammer and harden into mere regiments conscious of no flag. It is necessary to be ruthless because we must reach the centre of the machine in order to break the spring – or, perhaps, the spell. But it is not necessary to be hopeless, because in a sense the men living under it have never yet lived at all. There is nothing in their native and somewhat mild character to prevent their ripening under a better civilisation into very happy and humane Europeans. In that sense this is quite strictly to be called a religious war – in that it is waged to save souls by hypothesis capable of salvation (March 17th, 1917).

We hear this conflict called, not unreasonably, the most horrible war of history. But the most horrible part of it is that it would not be the most horrible war. Wars more and more horrible would follow the failure to vindicate and restore Christian equity and chivalry in this one. This does not make the fight less ghastly to the feelings; but it does make it more inevitable to the mind. It is, even in its most intense agony, still a problem of the reason, and even of the senses – of the sense of external things (29th September, 1917).

There is one fatal blunder in [the] whole picture of the war between England and Germany, and that is that it is a war between England and Germany. There is no war betweeen England and Germany. What happened, as a simple historical fact, in A.D. 1914 was not  a war between England and Germany, either in origin or occasion, or motive, or proportions, or excuse. What happened was a war between Prussian and the remains of the older civilisation which Prussia had not yet subdued, and with which England only threw in her lot at the last moment, by a belated implulse mainly noble, but almost entirely new. It is profoundly true that now the very existence of England is bound up with beating Prussia; but that is a result of her largely unexpected act and its many unexpected consequences (December 1st, 1917).

What we have been fighting is the half-finished design of a sort of inverted Roman Empire. It is one in which the least civilised instead of the most civilise power is on top; and one which originally radiated not from an old republican city, but from a new royal court. Bavaria is part of it only as Bulgaria is also a part of it. They both belong to it, in the sense that the Bavarian King would say to the Kaiser what the Bulgarian King also said to the Kaiser: Ave Caesar (August 24th, 1918).

Suppose we were at war, like the Children of Israel, with a Phoenician State vowed to the worship of Moloch, and practising infanticide by flinging babies into the fire. If we used strong words about smiting such enemies hip and thigh, I think it would be unreasonable in essence, though it might sound reasonable in form, for some sage to say to us: “Are there no good Phoenicians? Do not Phoenician widows mourn for their warriors? Is it probable that even Phoenician mothers are born without any motherly instincts?” The answer is that all this misses the main fact; which is a very extraordinary fact. The wonder is not that some Phoenician mothers love their babies, but that most Phoenician mothers burn their babies. That some mothers revolt against it is most probable; that many mothers have so many feelings urging them to revolt against it is almost certain. But Moloch is stronger than the mothers – that is the prodigious fact for the spectator, and the practical menace for the world. When Moloch’s image is fallen, and his fane laid waste; when his worship has passed into history and remains only as a riddle of humanity – then indeed it may be well worth while to analyse the mixed motives, to reconstruct in romance or criticism the inconsistencies of cruelty and kindness. But Moloch is not fallen; Moloch is in his high place, and his furnaces consume mankind; his armies overrun the earth, and his ships threaten our own island. The question on the lips of any living man is not whether some who burn their children may nevertheless love their children, it is whether those who burn children shall conquer those who don’t. The parallel is practically quite justifiable; what we are fighting has all the regularity of a horrible religion. We are not at war with regrettable incidents or sad exceptions, but with a system like the system of sacrificing babies, a system of drowning neutrals, a system of enslaving civilians, a system of attacking hospital services, a system of exterminating chivalry. We do ot say that there are no exceptions; on the conrary, we say that there are exceptions; it is our whole point that they are exceptions. But it is an almost creepy kind of frivolity that we should be speculating on the good exceptions at a moment when we ourselves are in peril of falling under the evil rule (July 20th, 1918).

And just after the Armistice:-

There is another form of the same materialist fallacy which fools have sown broadcast for the last four years. Its most fashionable form may be summed up in the phrase, “It will all be the same a hundred years hence.” I have read pacifist poems and essays in which the old rhetorical flourish to the effect that the corn will grow on the battlefield, or the ivy on the ruined fortress, is seriously used to suggest that it makes not difference whether the battle was fought or whether the fortress fell. We should not be here at all, to moralise about the ivy on castles and the corn on battlefields, if some of the great conflicts of history had gone the other way. If certain barbarian invasions had finally swept certain civilised districts, men would very probably have forgotten how to grow corn, and would certainly have forgotten how to write poems about ivy.

Of some such Eastern Imperialist it was said, as a sort of proverb, that the grass would not grow where he had set his foot. Europe has been saved from turning gradually into such a desert by a series of heroic and historic wars of defence, such as that of the Greeks against the Persians, of the Romans against the Carthaginians, of the Gauls against the Huns, of Alfred against the Danes, or Charles Martel agains the Moors. In each one of these cases the importance of the result does not decrease, but does definitely increase with time. It increases with every new generation that is saved from that destruction, with ever new civilised work that is built on that security, with every baby that might never have been baptised or reared, with every blade of grass that might never have grown where it grows today (November 23rd, 1918).

Though the darkness has returned and Moloch is again in his high place, yet what was gained by their sacrifice will at least always have been gained. Whether or not there can still be continuity for our civilisation, those young men have at least left us an example. So in those words of Tolkien that so moved his friend Lewis, both of whom fought on the Western Front, I say that these were “great deeds, not wholly vain”.

Mr-Cameron-and-Ms-Sturgeon

Well. Gosh. Cameron is back with an overall majority. He owes it essentially to the SNP (assisted by the polls pointing to a much tighter race). Jim Murphy’s analysis of the reasons seems basically sound: people in Scotland thought they could vote SNP and still get Labour in Westminster; people in England were determined that they were not going to be held to ransom. The only way of insuring they were not was a Tory government. People in Scotland voted SNP for a vast coalition of frequently incompatible reasons:

1. They want Scottish Independence (and don’t care about the other policies)

2. They think the SNP are running Scotland rather well

3. They want a further left Labour Party

4. They think they can soak the English for lot more if the SNP hold the balance of power in Westminster

5. They are fed up of being taken for granted by Labour

6. They hate the English

The first and second of these groups includes many people on the centre right. The sixth includes many people who are essentially far right (and even support Glasgow Rangers). The fourth group are cynics and probably represent quite a large proportion of the whole. The fifth should definitely not be underestimated. The SNP would like you to believe that the third is most or even all of the story. I suspect it is a much smaller part of the story than most people imagine.

The best thing Her Majesty’s Government can do now is to give the greatest possible degree of (especially fiscal) autonomy to Scotland. Without Westminster paying off the credit card the SNP might just find it has won more than enough rope to hang itself.

The only legitimate society is the City of God, the earthly portion of which is the Catholic Church (militant). The visible head (and supreme earthly judge) of the members of the Church is the Pope. The ecclesiastical hierarchy which governs the Church militant is forbidden to administer earthly affairs (that is: matters pertaining to property, autonomy and marriage) beyond the bare necessities required to sustain the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments and the maintenance of the canons. Those lay Christians who have not been given the graces necessary to bind themselves to the counsels by vow are obliged to continue to administer earthly affairs and require a social authority to do so. This authority is called the temporal power as distinct from the spiritual power exercised by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. As temporal goods are ordered to the supernatural final end those who exercise the temporal power do so subject to the judgement of the spiritual power and may do so legitimately only if they are members of the Church militant (a question subject to the judgment of the spiritual power). Inside the Church an apostate prince loses power ipso facto.
 ]
A temporal community is inside the Church when by its constitutional law it fulfils its obligation to submit to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. This is an obligation consequent upon the obligation of natural law upon all men and communities of men to recognise and embrace the true religion. Once this obligation is fulfilled the temporal community necessarily recognises its limited jurisdiction over earthly affairs and submits to the supreme jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
 ]
The temporal power is a necessary part of human life and consequently whosoever exercises it outside the Church the faithful must submit to that authority whenever it does not conflict with natural or divine law (even though such a person ex hypothesi fails in his obligation to worship God individually and qua ruler in the manner God has appointed). Inside the Church a temporal authority which is judged to have sinfully misused the temporal power may be sanctioned and if necessary deposed by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Outside the Church this power would equally obtain were it not that it would contravene the divine law prohibition on forcible conversion. Those in the Church who exercise the temporal sword may do so upon their own initiative or as directed by the spiritual power to chastise or depose those outside the Church who grossly and obstinately violate the natural law or prevent the preaching of the Gospel, or (inside the Church) to execute the sentence of the spiritual power against an offending member of the faithful (including a delinquent wielder of the temporal power).
 ]
In the appointment of the temporal ruler in the Church the relevant civil laws are to be followed. In the event that these laws are entirely frustrated (whether on account of their own failure in particulars or because they cannot be obeyed without sin) the spiritual power may exceptionally appoint the temporal ruler. This is exceptional because the appointment of the wielder of the temporal sword is itself an exercise of the temporal sword which the holder of the spiritual sword may not ordinarily wield. The civil laws may allot to the spiritual power the authority regularly to appoint (or participate in the appointment of) the temporal ruler only where this is unavoidable to sustain the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments and the maintenance of the canons. This will generally be the case in regard to the election of the emperor and the appointment of the administrators of the papal state but in other instances only in exceptional (though potentially prolonged e.g. the Dark Ages) circumstances. The temporal power may coerce in regard to divine law only as directed by the spiritual power and only inside the Church. It may proscribe idolatry and the promotion of irreligion even prior to fulfilling its obligation to recognise and embrace the true religion.
 ]

It’s a day late for the feast, but perhaps some of our small yet select readership might be interested in this poem to St Athanasius that I recently came acros. Despite the archaizing style, it seems from the content to be reasonably contemporary.

‘At Alexandria, the birthday of St Athanasius, bishop of that city, most celebrated for sanctity and learning. Amost all the world had formed a conspiracy to persecute him’ (from the Roman Martyrology for 2nd May)

Athanasius! Thou art living at this hour

Though night has seized and manned each strongest tower

Where sons of light in opium’s pleasant power

Lie sleeping still, or ‘wake but speechless cower;

As once across the Alexandrine main

Thou gazed’st and saw’st the world dissolve again

In weakness, whom the true Son’s blessed pain

Had scarce delivered from the unclean reign.

   For Him thou wander’dst then in every land.

   The Gallic snows thou felt’st upon thy face

   And lay’st concealed amid the pious sand

   While Caesar’s thundering armies sought thy trace.

   Five times a beggar, six times thou held’st the throne.

   Father, but once, restore us to our own.

In the twenty-fourth objection to the fifth article of the eleventh question of the Disputed Questions on the Power of God ‘Are There Several Persons in God?’ St Thomas suggests that,

the fullness of joy requires the companionship of several in the divine nature, because there is no pleasure in possessing a thing unless we share it with a companion, according to Boethius. Moreover perfect love is to love another as oneself.

No one seems to have found where it is that Boethius says this, but St Thomas seems to have been convinced that he did because he attributes the same argument to St Severinus in the Commentary on the Sentences 1.50.4 ad 4 where he applies it to the question of a plurality of angels in one species. In De Potentia he provides a counter argument against the plurality of persons in God as part of the same objection.

to depend on another for the fullness of one’s joy and love is an indication of insufficient goodness in oneself. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 4) that the wicked through finding no pleasure in their own company seek the companionship of others: whereas the good seek to commune with themselves through finding pleasure in so doing. Now the divine nature cannot lack a sufficiency of goodness. Wherefore since one supposit of the divine nature has in himself all fullness of joy and love, there is no need to put several supposits, or persons in God.

The essence of St Thomas’s objection to this argument is contained in the body of the article “we must attribute to God every perfection that is in creatures, as regards the essence of the perfection absolutely but not as regards the way in which it is in this or that one.” So far as reason can discover the need of man to befriend his neighbour is merely a reflection of his insufficiency.  Friendship, reciprocally willing the good of the other for the other’s own sake, is not, according to St Thomas, a pure perfection. It is a perfection for creatures on account of their limitations. Except, St Thomas is not precisely committed to this, he may just hold that friendship cannot be known to be a pure perfection by natural reason. Could it not be that the doctrine of the Trinity reveals to us that friendship is a pure perfection but that we could never know this unless we are the recipients of the Triune God’s self revelation? The argument St Thomas considers here is most famously associated with Book 3 of Richard of St Victor’s De Trinitate. Richard argues that, being supremely good, God must be supremely loving and perfect love requires the love of the other and perfect love is unselfish. Thus God  must have coequal consubstantial second person to love from all eternity and these must share their love with a third person also coequal and consubstantial. Some people (not Richard) try to rescue Richard’s argument from the charge that it seeks to prove by natural reason the doctrine of the Trinity by saying that it pertains to the nature of charity not to natural friendship. If this were the case then the knowledge that friendship is a pure perfection would be indirectly derived from revelation rather than from reason.

It seems to me there may be something to this rescue attempt and it would explain the necessity of faith in the Trinity for salvation. It is clear that we need to accept as a gratuitous offer, God’s offer of friendship in order to accept that offer. It must be revealed to us and we must accept it qua revelation. It is also clear that after sin we need to accept as a gratuitous offer, God’s offer of redemption in order to accept that offer.It must be revealed to us and we must accept it qua revelation. But why do we need to know that friendship itself describes the inner life of God? Certainly we need to know that Jesus is God in order to believe in Him. It would be difficult to explain the Gospels unless we knew that there are two persons in God but that does not tell us why it is necessary for salvation to know this, or to know that God is three persons in one substance. But if the possession of charity inherently entails an implicit knowledge that God is three persons in one substance, then it is easier to understand why faith in Christ as a divine person necessarily renders explicit the implicit knowledge of the Trinity inherent in supernatural charity in any order of providence.

Of course, there is a form of knowledge directly dependant on charity, the connatural  knowledge of God consequent upon charity: wisdom. Everyone who is in a state of grace possesses the gift of wisdom. “Although wisdom is distinct from charity, it presupposes it, and for that very reason divides the children of perdition from the children of the kingdom.” This wisdom, I suggest, bestows upon all those who possess it the implicit knowledge of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, a knowledge which is necessarily rendered explicit by the explicit faith in Christ the Redeemer through which we appropriate the satisfaction He offered on the Cross. “The Uncreated Wisdom, which in the first place unites itself to us by the gift of charity … reveals to us the mysteries the knowledge of which is infused wisdom. Hence, the infused wisdom which is a gift, is not the cause but the effect of charity.”

“Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand.”

Whence comes the thirst to ascribe justifying efficacy to implicit faith, even in the era of the New Covenant, that has caused such havoc in the Church for the last five hundred years? Surely it is a desire to flee the scandal of the Cross. The scandal of the cross is above all its particularity. This particularity expresses the gratuity of salvation. God ‘hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth’ and ‘How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?’. These words shock us only because we will not relinquish the idea that some would stand in the judgement of God, above all ourselves. We admit that we need God’s help because the facts speak for themselves, but in our hearts we tell ourselves that God is obliged to help us. The particularity of the proclamation ‘Christ and Him crucified’ offends against this cherished lie. It rubs our noses in the fact that if God were fair all would be damned. God is not fair, He is merciful. We must ask nicely and say thank you. Divinisation is not a thing to be grasped.

God is charity, and he who abides in charity abides in God. Charity is friendship with God. But we cannot love God as our friend unless we know that He wills us to know and love Him as He knows and loves Himself. For friendship is the reciprocal willing of the good of another for the other’s own sake. Unless God Himself tells us that He loves us thus, we have no warrant to believe it, for nothing in His nature compels Him to love us thus. To hold that He does without revelation is not faith but presumption. For faith it is necessary that we believe on account of the authority of God revealing and for this we must be certain that it is God revealing, thus only an infallible authority can bear the faith to us unless it is infused directly.

In article eleven of the fourteenth Disputed Question on Truth ‘Is it necessary to believe explicitly?’, St Thomas teaches that in every age all men were obliged to believe two things explicitly (one knowable by reason the other only knowable by revelation) “’For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and is the rewarder to them that love Him’ (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, everyone in every age is bound explicitly to believe that God exists and exercises providence over human affairs.”

Nevertheless, after sin the simple belief that God wills our good for its own sake was not enough, because man knows that he is a sinner and has offended God. Man cannot, without presumption, believe after sin in God’s friendship without believing in a redeemer for “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But to believe in a redeemer requires specificity. We must point to the one who has satisfied for our sins if He is here and deny all others and trust in Him when He has yet to come. ‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God.’ That He has not come yet, or, when He has come, Who He is, is irreducibly particular, scandalously particular because it is God’s gift and no right of ours.

Accordingly, before sin came into the world, it was not necessary to believe explicitly the matters concerning the Redeemer, since there was then no need of the Redeemer. Nevertheless, this was implicit in their belief in divine providence, in so far as they believed that God would provide everything necessary for the salvation of those who love Him. Before and after the fall, the leaders in every age had to have explicit faith in the Trinity. Between the fall and the age of grace, however, the ordinary people did not have to have such explicit belief. Perhaps before the fall there was not such a distinction of persons that some had to be taught the faith by others. Likewise, between the fall and the age of grace, the leading men had to have explicit faith in the Redeemer, and the ordinary people only implicit faith. This was contained either in their belief in the faith of the patriarchs and prophets or in their belief in divine providence.

However, in the time of grace, everybody, the leaders and the ordinary people, have to have explicit faith in the Trinity and in the Redeemer. However, only the leaders, and not the ordinary people, are bound to believe explicitly all the matters of faith concerning the Trinity and the Redeemer. The ordinary people must, however, believe explicitly the general articles, such as that God is triune, that the Son of God was made flesh, died, and rose from the dead, and other like matters which the Church commemorates in her feasts.

Prior to the Incarnation, by what authority was this faith (that God would provide for our ransoming) promulgated? I would suggest that it was promulgated (as grace was originally to have been transmitted) by natural generation, that is by the family. And every generation, for all their distortions and accretions, has not failed to promulgate this faith in a redeemer.

I heard a voice, that cried,
“Balder the Beautiful
Is dead, is dead!”
And through the misty air
Passed like the mournful cry
Of sunward sailing cranes.

Why does St Thomas teach that Adamic faith is of no avail when it fixes on a false messiah or when the true redeemer is come? He answers this question in the following article “Is there one faith for moderns and ancients?”

We must firmly hold that there is one faith for ancients and moderns; otherwise, there would not be one Church. To support this position some have said that the proposition about the past which we believe and the one about the future which the ancients believed is the same proposition. But it does not seem right that the proposition should remain the same when its essential parts are changed. For we see that propositions are changed by reason of changes in the subject and verb.

For this reason, others have said that the propositions which we believe and which they believed are different, but that faith does not concern propositions but things. The thing, however, is the same, although the propositions are different. For they say that it belongs intrinsically to faith to believe in the resurrection of Christ, but only accidentally to faith to believe that it is or was. But this is obviously false, for, since belief is called assent, it can only be about a proposition, in which truth or falsity is found. Thus, when I say: “I believe in the resurrection,” I must understand some union [of subject and predicate]. And I must do this with reference to some time which the soul always adds in affirmative and negative propositions, as is said in The Soul. Accordingly, the sense of “I believe in the resurrection” is this: “I believe that the resurrection is, was, or will be.”

Therefore, we must say that the object of faith can be considered in two ways. First, we have the object in itself as it exists outside the soul. And it is properly in this sense that it has the character of object and is the reason why habits are one or many. Second, we have the object as it exists in the knower as participated by him. Accordingly, we have to say that, if we take as the object of faith the thing believed as it exists outside the soul, it is in this way that each thing is related to us and to the ancients. And faith gets its unity from the oneness of the object. However, if we consider faith as it is in our perception of it, it is multiplied according to different propositions. But faith is not differentiated by this diversity. From this it is evident that faith is one in every way.

This is the reason the Church solemnly defined at the Council of Florence that, with the coming of the Redeemer, the efficacy of the rites of the old law (which expressed this faith in the future redeemer) ceased. From the instant of Christ’s death no one could anymore pass from the state of mortal or original sin to that of life in God without explicit faith in Jesus Christ the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. ‘On the Cross the old law died soon to be buried and become the bearer of death’. The ascription of justifying power to implicit faith after the Passion is a denial of the gratuity of salvation and grace. It is an expression of the primeval sin of seeking to make oneself like the Most High. It is Modernism distilled to its essence, because It denies the propositional character of faith and reduces faith to a sentiment inherent to man’s nature.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80 other followers