The Russian Orthodox Church has broken off ecumenical contact with the Church of Scotland and the United Protestant Church of France. The latter has allowed its pastors to officiate at sodomarriages and the Church of Scotland has announced it will ‘ordain’ clergy who are in same-sex civil unions. Moscow says these are now no longer Christian communities, ecumenical dialogue with them is pointless, they are harbinger of the antichrist and are destined for hellfire. Refreshing. WWJD? This.

We have to face up to the fact that vast numbers of bishops and priests and laity who exercise functions in the church and identify themselves as Catholics and Christians are not. We cannot conduct ordinary church functions (e.g. synods) in such a context. How can one enter into discussions or indeed remain in communion with individuals who professedly repudiate divine revelation? In this sense the forthcoming synod is a trap. Catholic bishops cannot debate with nonbelievers concerning discipline and doctrine. Those members of the synod who profess the Catholic faith must insist that all members of the synod make clear profession of the Church’s teaching on sodomy and adultery and the eucharist before they agree to sit with them in synod. To do otherwise is already to have conceded that such matters are open to doubt or denial.

The irony is that it is Moscow’s own errors on divorce which may well be the concession sought by the Modernist bishops at the synod. Which only goes to show the un-sustainability of any compromise. Jerusalem aedificata est ut civitas, in se compacta tota.

The problem in the Modernist crisis has been that the proton-pseudos – the basic error – has not been clearly identified. This caused serious difficulties in the Arian crisis as well. It took a long while for the homoousion to be clearly seen as the point which distinguished the faithful from the Arians. Many conservative prelates blanched before the stark clarity of this term and sought to find a more nuanced approach. Only when such conservatives had submitted to the Nicene term, come out as Arians or bowed out altogether was it possible to get down to (and so win) a straight fight.

Most of the particular controversies that have devastated the vineyard over the last hundred years are corollaries of the basic dispute, proxy wars for the real conflict. The basic question is this: is faith “a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality” or is faith “a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source”? Or, to put it more bluntly still “can someone be justified after the age of reason without explicit faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation?” If you answer ‘yes’ to that question you are ultimately forced into accepting Modernism, if ‘no’ into rejecting it. This is the homoousion of the Modernist Crisis.

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