Choosing Christianity’s Identity

While writing “Choosing Christianity’s Fate” I did not expect a favorable response. In fact, shortly before posting I had a dream in which people became immensely upset because of what I wrote. I was troubled by this dream and I considered not posting, but I did, because while I do not claim to have a solution to the problem I am posing, this problem exists and it must be resolved. The problem is this: Europe does not have a clear path forward. Paganism, even if it could be restored on a large scale, in any of its present forms, is in no position to serve as the foundation of a new civilization. But neither is Christianity. The reason for this is that Christianity has flaws, perhaps fatal ones. These flaws have always existed, but it has taken centuries for their effects to become fully realized. While the religion of Christianity may be true in an esoteric interpretation of its fundamental doctrines, the Church has made many errors in lesser, but far from unimportant areas. These errors compromise its viability as a foundational religion and instead relegate it to a matter of only individual, personal belief.

Without religion, Europe has no future. If European people and culture are not to disappear entirely, it has three options. These are paganism, Christianity, or Islam. Right now Europe is choosing the third option. This is not due primarily to the importation of large Muslim populations but rather the emptiness and powerlessness of secularism but equally the form that contemporary Christianity has taken. Contemporary Christianity is completely unable or unwilling to defend itself as well as the culture in which it developed. Why is this?

What is the difference between the Christianity of 1095 and that of today? Or more important still, why is there a difference? If something is true, shouldn’t it be unchanging and eternal? Even the most cursory examination of the history of Christianity will reveal that it has taken many, and contradictory forms. Even if it is granted that the true orthodox faith was always preserved in some place, the point is that there has been considerable disagreement. At one time there was a close connection between the Church and the state. This is not the case today. And likewise it was not the case of the early Church.

Before the time of Constantine, the early Church essentially did not give a damn about the well being of the Roman state. Christ’s words on this topic are at best ambiguous. After Constantine the Church’s attitude changed, quite simply because it had to. If the Church was seen as being at odds with the state, then it could not have been adopted as the official religion. The Church’s role included maintaining the proper functioning and well being of the state, its people, and its culture. But this responsibility, and this attitude, is simply not to be found in the New Testament. As stated before, the New Testament was directed toward people alienated from Roman society. It was never intended and is unsuited to serve as the foundation for the civilization, but rather as the faith of individuals within a pagan society. And indeed, even during the Medieval period, when Christianity was at its height, the New Testament did not in fact serve as the foundation of the society. Most people were not Christians, at least not in a New Testament sense.

Luther, and all the others that have questioned and challenged the Church, are the inevitable result of this contradiction. While the specific details differ in each case, the basic issue is always the same, the disconnect between what the Bible actually says and the realities of an official, state approved Church. Christianity will not be able to serve as the foundation of European civilization again, unless these contradictions are resolved. And that resolution would likely include changing the Bible. The link between Christianity and Europe must be made as clear and as strong as that between the Old Testament and the Jews.

Is what I’m describing here utilitarian? Does it disregard whether Christianity is actually true or not and instead look at it merely as a tool? While some will certainly disagree, in my view no, that is not what I am doing here. Following Christ’s own words, one way to judge whether something is true is to judge by its fruit, its outcome or result. And the medieval Church which conducted mass violence in the Crusades rather than turning the other cheek, and spent huge sums of money on immense cathedrals rather than giving that money to the poor, produced truly good fruit. In the same way I believe the religion of the ancient Egyptians was true as evidenced from the fruit of their civilization.

But is that a proper way to judge the truth of a religion? Isn’t religion about the afterlife, what happens after you die? Of course it is. But these two things, the material and the spiritual, are not in contradiction, they go together, or at least they should in any properly functioning society. Race, culture, and law are linked in any true religion. The proper structuring and functioning of any society is to facilitate spiritual growth and eventual liberation. But the New Testament is concerned only with the latter and ignores the former. There certainly are instructions and guidelines for this life but they apply only to individuals. Calls to give up one’s wealth and family cannot apply to the society as a whole and certainly not the state without leading to disorder and eventual destruction.

Sex, as one of the most powerful forces that people experience in this life, is something that needs to ordered properly if societal dysfunction is to be avoided. While there is nothing wrong with celibacy itself, or with the lifestyle of a monk, the error of the Church was determining that a position of religious authority required celibacy. Monks indeed should be celibate. Priests should not, or at least they should not be required to be. It’s interesting that in this case the Church not only broke with European tradition, but also the New Testament which does not require celibacy.

The Church’s teaching on the immorality of prophylactics and certain bodily positions is absurd because while the purpose of marriage is indeed procreation, that is not the purpose of sex itself, which like every action, is eventually to be spiritual liberation but also for pleasure, companionship, and improving health. Of course sex needs to regulated if order in society is to be maintained, but the Church has gone far beyond basic regulation to the point of absurdity. This repression eventually leads to rebellion and disorder.

I am in no way suggesting that Christianity be changed so that it be easier for the people of Europe, that it should appeal to their base desires. To interpret what I wrote in that way is most uncharitable and I am tempted to see that as an intentional misreading. If anything, I am attempting to raise the religion of Europe to a higher standard.

I am suggesting that some religions are appropriate for some people and some are not. Therefore, Christianity which has its roots outside of Europe, had to be changed in the process of converting Europe. If it did not, but was still the faith appropriate for Europe, would imply that Christianity is the faith appropriate for all people, everywhere throughout the world, which is nothing short of grotesque. And because culture and tradition are linked to religion, if Christianity simply replaced paganism, that would devalue those very cultures and traditions. If instead Christianity was seen as a supplement or perhaps enhancement of paganism, those traditions still would have value, which is of course the very thing that folkish or nationalist Christians claim. But the Bible itself undermines this position. The Hebrews are the only people whose religion and tradition is granted validity.

The Christianity of the New Testament is universalist. A Christian following the New Testament should have no objection to mass immigration of third world populations into Europe, perhaps preferring them to be Christian, but not necessarily, as the immigration of non Christians provides easier missionary access. Of course many Christians do object to those things, so it is their own interest to address this weakness.

In the process of converting Europe to Christianity, Christianity indeed was changed. It was Europeanized or paganized. To refuse to acknowledge this fact is either ignorance or dishonesty. The problem is not that these changes took place, it is that they did not go far enough. Although Europe became the home of Christianity, the faith maintained a universalist message, which beyond being inaccurate, was ungrateful. Notre Dame Cathedral and the music of Perotin are not the direct result of the life and teachings of Christ and the apostles, but rather the combination of many histories and traditions, pagan histories and traditions, coming together. And it is these things, cathedrals and masses, not Leviticus or the book of James, which are truly valuable.

This is a divisive issue and I find myself divided on it. When I first learned of the emperor Julian during a history of Christianity course in college, I found him inspiring, even though I considered myself a Christian at the time. When visiting Rome, I was also inspired by the sense of history and tradition at the Church of St. Paul Outside the Walls with its portraits of the Popes, but at the same time I was troubled when attending mass at the Pantheon which felt to me inappropriate and I suggested to someone that it should be restored to a pagan temple.

My view is this: if Christianity is to return to its original form, that is the faith of individuals within a largely non Christian society, unconnected to and unsupported by the state, (and after relinquishing much of its property and wealth) then Christianity is free to do just about whatever it wants. But if instead it is to be the faith of Europe the situation is different. It then has a responsibility to the state, the culture, and the people. It must explicitly acknowledge these things as valuable and its duty to defend them.


The House Pagan

4 thoughts on “Choosing Christianity’s Identity

  1. I first want to say that Christian Reactionaries seem pretty uniform in their acceptance of your observation that European Christianity worked off of Paganism, incorporating many elements. Check the website ‘Gornahoor’ which sums up this view very well. But one doesn’t have to disobey God and have reverence for inferior entities for example (be they demonic or misapprehended). In fact to do so would introduce a potentially toxic pluralism of worship.

    You can find the same trend with Nestorian Christianity, which was effectively sinicized as it entered China. Christians Reactionaries don’t have a problem with this. It makes perfect sense that different races will find different manifestations of a religion, and often times can do so without compromising doctrinal correctness at all.

    However, there is some error when you say that Christians should not have a problem with third world immigration. This is to take the Bible as some kind of guide to all things, that we can govern all of our actions according to scripture. However, this is an incorrect use of the Bible. Hindus do not use the Vedas for every single aspect of their lives. There are many things that are not covered by religious texts, or where the issue is unclear, and Christians do not just follow the New Testament for our teaching. You could look at the Tower of Babel and find a very good justification for having zero immigration.

    Consider the following: If there is an inconsistency with Scripture and the organic state of man, and if we already accept Scripture as true and the organic state of man as self-evident, then it is our understanding that is at fault, and we should work diligently to bridge that gap. I think Medieval theologians did a wonderful job with this. You cannot ‘change the Bible’, but you can read it in different ways and keep its revelation under the control of the correctly oriented priestly caste.

    You should also remember, while extolling the virtue of Pagan sentiment against foreigners, that had Christianity not become the dominant religion in Europe, Islam surely would have. Paganism would have fallen to Islam in half the time it took to crumble in the face of Christianity. And as we know, Islam is the religion which has the greatest record of smashing ethnic boundaries. Europeans have much to thank Christianity for it seems.

    And whenever you speak of the New Testament being correct but the Church (I assume you are referring to the Catholic Church here) has done something different, then this presents no problem. A church doctrine at odds with the New Testament can and should be challenged and changed. I agree, monks should be celibate, priests not. This isn’t an impasse. Having all religious figures be celibate isn’t in my view a good policy.

    The minutiae of past church policies, the actions of certain rulers, etc. should not obscure the overarching point which you have made. Europe has a choice: Christianity, Islam, or Oblivion.

    You have rejected the last two. So your contention is that Christianity must be (further?) adapted for European culture. But European culture is not universal in itself. Is the Christianity appropriate for Italy the same that is appropriate for Denmark? What is your view of the compatibility of Orthodoxy for the Slavic people who have been loyal to it unflinchingly except for the period imported Marxism? You have made several criticisms of Christian doctrine (Church and Scriptural), but before we can go further, we need proposals. Which elements do you want to change, and what do you want them changed to, aside from your desire for priests to not be bound by celibacy (which I agree with)? And when you do make this list, bear in mind that not everything a Christian state would do has to be backed up in bold text by the Bible. The Bible has nothing in it concerning how a military meritocracy should function, but this doesn’t mean a Christian state shouldn’t have a military meritocracy. The Bible is loud when it comes to moral and spiritual matters, quiet when it comes to civil matters. This make it incredibly adaptive because unlike in a religion such as Islam, we do not for example have mandated penalties for infractions of law. We can decide ourselves how to punish murder and theft.

    I understand your frustration with Christianity (especially Modern Catholicism), and I don’t think anyone wants to intentionally misconstrue what you are saying, but with the future in mind, how would you want to implement a Christian state(s) which could save Europe (not in the practical sense of course, but the theoretical)? What do you actually want Christianity to look like?

  2. I don’t have a lot of time at present, to offer a detailed response to everything you say. I will simply offer this opinion: your view is too worldly and – I mean no offense by this – uninformed by insights into higher principles. Either the Church is what she is – founded by Christ upon Peter and the Apostles as a divine institution, the “Pillar and Bulwark of Truth” – or she is not. I believe that She is, and this is what I have found: in submitting my judgment to the judgment of the Church, I have *always* been elevated in my perceptions and have come away feeling actually embarrassed of my prior opinions, which in hindsight seem to me to have been so profoundly unreflective and amateurish, that I cannot believe I was such a naïf as to have believed them.

    In reality, it is not so much that, as the fact that divine wisdom bears us along higher paths than we are naturally capable of. The worldly mind is confined and narrow; the divine mind is ineffably free and lofty. Do you not think that men such as Ss. Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen, Paulinus of Aquileia, John Damascene, Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Bellarmine, Alphonsus Liguori and Pius X have not thoroughly assessed your objections? These men tower over us – and really, over all the best secular thinkers; they were not overlooking such obvious things.

    Just take your example of celibacy, to which even some basic historical reflection would be profitable. I used to be opposed to celibacy, and especially to priestly celibacy; now I am preparing to be ordained as a celibate priest. Of course the Church in the Apostolic age did not require men to be celibates, for most adult men would have already been married. But already in the Scriptures our Lord and St. Paul explicitly teach the superiority of celibacy, and we find young men and women swiftly running towards this life. St. John, youngest Apostle and so unmarried, remained so; Ss. Timothy and Titus, likewise. St. Paul mentions the women being enrolled in celibate orders (the “widows” and virgins). Already ca. AD 98, St. Ignatius is mentioning celibates making arrangements with their bishops. The Church’s tradition has always held that even the married clergy must not be sexually active during the times of their liturgical ministry, and in many places there was a rotating, weekly schedule so that those priests who still needed the relief of intercourse could have it while someone else said Mass. And, even in the Eastern Churches, the custom was to ordain men at 30 – a time when, in the ancient world, people had already been married for 10 or 15 years, and were ready to stop having more children; the modern-day practice amongst the Eastern Orthodox, of men marrying one day and being ordained practically the next, beginning the rather fervid sex life of a newlywed at the same time they begin their priestly ministry (and manifestly without having proven yet that they know how to be good husbands and fathers, which is the context of the New Testament’s mention of married clergy), is therefore shown to be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Apostolic Tradition, and would have struck the Fathers as nefas, a literally nefarious custom. The pious custom still exists amongst traditional Catholics and Eastern Orthodox of married couples vowing celibacy or retiring to monasteries later in life; how much greater self-control and purity should the clergy have?

    Celibacy stands at the center of Christian ideals, which is why the Fathers considered it the normative life of a Christian – “in the kingdom of heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage,” and through baptism the Christian is already living in the Kingdom of Heaven. Marriage was permitted as a good, but the Fathers viewed celibacy as incomparably greater, typical of the celestial life, and of the angelic life. It is also central to the quality of self-immolation, of co-crucifixion with Christ, which is the heart of the Christian life. It very swiftly became the norm in the Church, therefore, to require that the clergy possess and practice these ideals. And I can tell you, practically, having spent years amongst both married and celibate clergy, that a good celibate priest is markedly better than a good married priest. They are better confessors, even on sexual issues, because they have the time to develop the inner life, and to study and absorb the principles of moral theology. They have time to develop wisdom, which married life so often impairs. They are actually able to devote themselves to their people entirely, whereas married clergy have familial obligations that often cause tension with their flock (hence what St. Paul said about celibates being entirely devoted to the Lord). The married priest will need a bigger house and pantry, a bigger paycheck, and will work far less, with far more excuses and distractions, than even a moderately competent, celibate priest. Honestly, once I started meeting real Catholic priests, I was stunned by what superior men they truly were, even compared to the Orthodox hieromonks I knew. And I won’t bother addressing the issue of sex abuse, since the error of attributing this to celibacy has been routinely demonstrated. The reason the Catholic name – which has lower abuse rates than public schools, the boy scouts, etc. – is dragged through the mud, is because the Jews and Masons know who the real enemy is, and they concentrate their fire upon her. I don’t doubt that the abusing priests were amongst their own plants, in any case.

    Anyway, one could comment this way on many of the points you make above. My suggestion would be to ask God for the gift of faith, to then read the doctrines and positions of the Church as put forward in her Saints and official documents, to allow the Church to give wisdom to you – rather than presuming to bring wisdom to her – and enjoy the exaltation of your intellect to a profounder consideration of matters. The Church is the true defender of Western Civilization and would absolutely be dedicated to preserving the various rites, customs and local identities of European peoples, as she always has been. But we sit at her feet, not vice-versa. I say we sit at the Church’s feet, not those of Bergoglio and the world apostasy masquerading as the Catholic Church.

    …if that doesn’t sound hopelessly pretentious and condescending, that is.

  3. The Church has an Essence. It is to be discovered and upheld. Not debated, not second-guessed. And it is certainly not something that is up to our choosing. Neither that of any other man on earth.

    Some people talk of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while it’s sinking. Hotherus’ series so far strikes me as redesigning the hull of the Titanic while it’s sinking.

  4. It’s very hard to read this critique as anything other than the standard liberal protestant litany of disagreements with Roman Catholicism. Only one disagreement matters, and it did not make Hotherus’ list: What do you do with enthusiasts (people who are radical, potentially destabilizing, potentially charismatic enough to lead society into a left singularity)?

    Ancient churches (Catholic and Orthodox) had an answer. Protestants don’t. Actually low-church protestants do have an answer: Make them the leaders.

    I have been over this many times, so no need to rehash it all here. But the dire situation the West finds itself in today, has nothing at all to do with the supposed intrinsic defects of Christianity, but with how modern institutions were designed such that they could be co=opted (pwned) by radical holiness signaling. That’s it. Fix that (e.g., shunt enthusiasts off to monasteries where they can prove their holiness far outside of the public eye and far from public influence), and you solve the problem. The actual doctrines of the religion matter little. Holiness spirals happen everywhere on earth and social institutions can be more or less resistant to them.

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