The victory of reason over unreason is a goal of the Christian life

As far as the two great themes of “reasonâ€? and “freedomâ€? are concerned, here we can only touch upon the issues connected with them. Yes indeed, reason is God’s great gift to man, and the victory of reason over unreason is also a goal of the Christian life. But when does reason truly triumph? When it is detached from God? When it has become blind to God? Is the reason behind action and capacity for action the whole of reason? If progress, in order to be progress, needs moral growth on the part of humanity, then the reason behind action and capacity for action is likewise urgently in need of integration through reason’s openness to the saving forces of faith, to the differentiation between good and evil. Only thus does reason become truly human. It becomes human only if it is capable of directing the will along the right path, and it is capable of this only if it looks beyond itself. Otherwise, man’s situation, in view of the imbalance between his material capacity and the lack of judgement in his heart, becomes a threat for him and for creation. Thus where freedom is concerned, we must remember that human freedom always requires a convergence of various freedoms. Yet this convergence cannot succeed unless it is determined by a common intrinsic criterion of measurement, which is the foundation and goal of our freedom. Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope. Given the developments of the modern age, the quotation from Saint Paul with which I began (Eph 2:12) proves to be thoroughly realistic and plainly true. There is no doubt, therefore, that a “Kingdom of Godâ€? accomplished without God—a kingdom therefore of man alone—inevitably ends up as the “perverse endâ€? of all things as described by Kant: we have seen it, and we see it over and over again. Yet neither is there any doubt that God truly enters into human affairs only when, rather than being present merely in our thinking, he himself comes towards us and speaks to us. Reason therefore needs faith if it is to be completely itself: reason and faith need one another in order to fulfil their true nature and their mission.

Benedict XVI Spe Salvi (23)

Benedict's reforms held up by English bishops

Damian Thompson believes English Catholic bishops are resisting Benedict’s recent measure to allow the mass to be celebrated in Latin here in England. Here he is on ‘the shabby attempts by various English bishops to block the Pope’s liturgical reforms

He urges us to complain about the English bishops’ ‘disastrous attempts to block the reform

You do not have to be a fan of the Tridentine liturgy in order to make a protest. What is at issue here is obedience to the Pope – and truthfulness.

Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum gives parishes the right to choose the ancient liturgy, now known as the Extraordinary Form (EF). Yet English bishops, including the Archbishop of Westminster and the Bishop of Leeds, are behaving as if power to grant permission for the EF is still in their hands.

Their unhelpful attitude (to put it mildly) is sowing confusion among the faithful and causing great distress. Moreover, there are reports that the English bishops have consulted their own canon lawyer to see how they can get round the Pope’s ruling. That’s disgraceful.

Advent

The Coming Spiritual Tsunami
Three Advent Lectures by The Bishop of London at St Stephen Walbrook

On Dover Beach
Tuesday 4 December at 1pm

The Hurricane Gathers Strength
Tuesday 11 December at 1pm

In Swept House
Tuesday 18 December at 1pm

Three on the public square

Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life exists to promote a better understanding of the role of religion in public life and to facilitate dialogue between religious groups of any faith and among such groups and public institutions

Its board is small but distinguished

* The Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester
* Professor Oliver O’Donovan, Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, Edinburgh
* Canon Dr. Vinay K. Samuel, Director Emeritus and Senior Teaching Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

But there is no sign of any events in the UK, sadly.

OCRPL is related to Get Religion ‘The press just doesn’t get religion’

Also trying to educate the media is the brand new Lapido Media: Religious Literacy in Public Affairs

The second Theos Forum Faith in our Media: The Church and the news agenda with the Rt Rev’d Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, takes place on Tuesday 4th December at St Bride’s, Fleet St, EC4

Christian doctrine

Teaching Christian doctrine can start from a number of places. Indeed, it must start from several places and then show the relationships between them. It can start from:

(1) the evangelical narrative – the bible
(2) the set of doctrines developed from that narrative
(3) the history of the development of doctrine
(4) the worship of the Church – what Christians say and sing in Church
(5) what Christians do – Christian ethics, ecclesiology, mission and pastoral concerns

Christian doctrine must take each of these as its own proper starting place and responsibility. It cannot simply take one as its sole proper field. Christian doctrine must link these together. It must show how all these are necessary, and how each refers to all the others. It starts by listing them and then showing their unity and their purpose. This involves translating religious concepts into commonplace non-religious language.

In preaching we give a narrative of Jesus Christ. After preaching we submit ourselves to criticism. Our colleagues must check that we are not leaving out any part of the gospel. Creeds and doctrines are propositional summaries of the many individual accounts of the gospel we give. Christian doctrines represent a check list against which to check the adequacy of our narrative accounts. Each individual doctrine must be related to all other doctrines. We have to check out narrative accounts against these check-lists to make sure we have been telling truly the whole story of Jesus, not some over-simplification that will eventually turn into a falsification of it. Christian doctrine course requires both narrative accounts and straight statements – propositions – of doctrine, and links back and forth between the two. It also requires open discussion to test the adequacy of our narrative and propositions.

Inasmuch as doctrine limits itself to (2) the set of doctrines and (3) the history of its development, it falsifies its own proper object – which is what has occurred for many generations, with the results we see. As long as these different starting points are taught as different modules, this state of affairs and resulting Christian crisis of confidence will continue.

The erosion of something once taken for granted

Slippage can occur between thinking compassionately about exceptional cases and losing the sense of a normative position.

This is not an argument for unalterable prohibitions in law against abortion in every circumstance – or against divorce or civil partnerships; there is room for disagreement over appropriate legal provision in all these areas. But it is an argument for keeping our eyes open – far more than we have done – for the unintended consequences, the erosion of something once taken for granted which occurs when we do not keep in focus the fundamental convictions about humanity that inform not only our responses to crisis but our routine relationships with each other. Precisely because we don’t bring these convictions to light all that often, they can shift or weaken without our noticing. It’s not a good habit for societies to get into; this debate, and the history of what has happened in the wake of the 1967 (Abortion) Act, should remind us of some of the potential cost of such a habit in other areas.

Rowan Williams on Abortion’s other consequences