Schuon, Luther, and the Eternal Calvinist

schuonit

Let us approach the question of Protestantism with a mindfulness of its differentiation, an understanding of its gravity in history, and an open mind to what merits it may conceal behind a disposition that has been rightly recognized as a challange by most Reactionary thinkers.

Frithjof Schuon, a sage of the last century whose understanding of world religions was surpassed by a scarce few, wrote on The Question of Protestantism as part of a larger work: Christianity/Islam: Perspectives on Esoteric Ecumenism, with most of the text devoted to untangling the beliefs of Martin Luther, why they emerged, and what their significance was.

“The Germanic soul—treated by Rome in too Latin a manner, though this is another question—which is neither Greek nor Roman, felt the need of a simpler and more inward religious archetype, one less formalistic and therefore more “popular” in the best sense of the word; this in certain respects is the archetype of Islam, a religion based on a Book and conferring priesthood upon every believer.”

Highly interesting about Schuon’s analyis is his comparative statements. He draws comparisons between Martin Luther himself and two religious reformers, Shinran and Al-Ash’ari (of Buddhism and Islam respectively) who also focused heavily on the primacy of faith at the expense of intelligence or indeed any kind of mysticism. Aside from these personal comparisons however, Protestantism is perceived to be an expression of the Germanic soul which has much commonality with a certain archetype prevelant in the Middle East. We should stress at this time that there is the oft-mentioned gulf of racial disposition to spiritual matters existing between these two, certainly in the intensity of a mitigated dualism, but that does not prohibit us from seeing familiar tendencies between them in respect to man’s relationship to the Divine. Schuon also lays blame for the attraction of Arianism at the foot of such tendencies, and has said as much in recognizing Islam as a kind of sequel to Arianism.

Presumably Schuon’s diagnosis would not only apply to the Germanic peoples, but also the Nordics. We won’t here mention the English, who vascillate on that borderland between spiritual orientations, uncertain and bewildering. However, Schuon does not take account of certain exceptions to this rule, the enduring faith of Austria right up until the end of WWII for example. What was it about these particular Germans which lent itself to Roman Catholicism with arguably more zeal than the Italian peninsula embraced. And what of the French, who share a common lineage? Perhaps what Schuon is really describing is Prussianism, but we cannot say for certain.

In any case, Schuon decries the failure of trying to force perculiarly Roman methods onto the northern Europeans, with whom it did not stick. The souls of these people were not ignited by legalism, but by a popular, folkish faith. More attention given to the vast differences between pagan Rome and pagan Germany may have provided a blueprint in this regard.

“It is not difficult to argue—against the Reformation—that the traditional authorities and Councils, by definition inspired by the Holy Spirit, could not have been mistaken; this is true, but it does not exclude paradoxes that mitigate an otherwise virtually self-evident claim. First of all—and this is what gave wings to the Reformers, starting with Wycliffe and Huss—Christ himself repudiated many “traditional” elements supported by the “authorities” in calling them “commandments of men”; furthermore, the excesses of “papism” at the time of Luther and well before prove at the very least that the papacy contains certain excesses, which the Byzantine Church is the first to note and stigmatize, if not that the papacy in itself is illegitimate. What we mean is that the Pope, instead of being primus interpares as Saint Peter had been, has the exorbitant privilege of being at once prophet and emperor: as prophet he places himself above the Councils, and as emperor he possesses a temporal power surpassing that of all the princes, including the emperor himself; and it is precisely these unheard-of prerogatives that permitted the entry of modernism into the Church in our time, in the fashion of a Trojan horse and despite the warnings of preceding Popes; that Popes may personally have been saints does not at all weaken the valid arguments of the Eastern Church. In a word, if the Western Church had been such as to avoid casting the Eastern Church into the “outer darkness”—and with what a manifestation of barbarism!—it would not have had to undergo the counterblow of the Reformation.”

There is much to unpack here. First of all is Schuon’s glaring misunderstanding of Jesus’ words concerning tradition, and this must be addressed because it is a foundational failure of Protestantism. R. Thomas Zell handles the issue wel here, pointing out that this interpretation rests upon a less-than-full reading of the text, and broadening out what was originally a contextually specific condemnation. Schuon is also needlessly vague about the connection between the Great Schism and Protestantism. I do believe he is correct that Protestantism would never have come about if not for the Schism, but it requires an argument beyond pointing out the excesses of Rome under the Medici Popes. I would say that had the Church remained in the state it had been for the first 1000 years after Christ, that it may have been able to address the racial needs of the Germans and Nordics more effectively, but this is speculation. What might an authentically Norwegian Christianity have looked like, and could it have been conceived in a way that would not have led it into such errors in rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church, such as the rejection of tradition itself? In any case, Schuon is correct in my view to criticize the admittedly “brilliant” Maistre on his blindness to this issue.

norchurchAuthentic, ethnic expressions of religion
never fail to reveal themselves in architecture
as Norwegian churches show

“If we are told that the papacy—such as it was throughout the centuries—represents the only possible solution for the West, we readily agree, but the risks this unavoidable adaptation so unavoidably included should therefore have been foreseen, and everything should have been done to diminish, not increase, them; if a strongly marked hierarchy was indispensable, the priestly aspect of every Christian should have been insisted upon all the more.”

Here Schuon agrees on the importance of the Papacy in the Western tradition, but once again stresses a lack of foresight into the German mentality, its restlessness, and its decidedly barbarian origins that had only recently begun to fade, where they had disappeared in Rome centuries upon centuries prior. He expounds on these racial characteristics in this passage:

“There is also a fundamental tendency in the Gospel that responds with particular force to the needs of the Germanic soul: namely, a tendency toward simplicity and inwardness, hence away from theological and liturgical complication, formalism, dispersion of worship, and the too often comfortable tyranny of the clergy. On the other hand the Germans were sensitive to the nobly and robustly popular appeal of the Bible; this has no relationship with democracy, for Luther was a supporter of a theocratic regime upheld by the emperor and the princes.”

Above all, Schuon has huge appreciation for the focus on faith found in Protestantism, and posits that the primacy of faith or love (devotion) is at the heart of many religious cleavings, not just those within Christianity, with movements like Protestantism arising in part as a reaction to a perceived lack of focus on faith. He emphasizes that these two poles are not contradictory, but are implied and contained within one another, and only become divisive when outward forms are malpracticed. The entire piece rings with a sympathy for Luther, believing him to be misunderstood, but after a well-formulated criticism of priestly chastity that is not unfamiliar to the Orthodox, he speaks about Luther’s inability to be realistic

luthers“you mean most people aren’t brahmin?”

“Luther in turn lacked realism: he was astonished that during his absence from Wittenberg, the promoters of the Reformation gave themselves up to all kinds of excesses; at the end of his life he even went so far as to regret that the mediocre masses had not remained under the rod of the Pope. Not much concerned with collective psychology, he believed the simple principle of piety could replace the material supports that contribute so powerfully to regulate the behavior of the crowds; it not only keeps this behavior in equilibrium in space but stabilizes it in time. In his mystical subjectivism he did not realize that a religion needs symbolism in order to survive, that the inward cannot live within a collective consciousness without outward signs; but as a prophet of inwardness he scarcely had a choice.”

Indeed, Luther’s ignorance of the masses and their nature belies in fact the childish nature of the German understanding of caste. Why was it that in his quest for a spiritual warrior elite, Heinrich Himmler modeled his SS on the Teutonic Knights? Precisely because no such thing existed in Germany’s pagan past. It was a Roman import taken up with stunning efficiency by the martial Prussian character, but was not itself German in its metaphysical origins. Because Northern Europe was late in emerging from barbarism, it lacked a sophisticated understanding of the superior and inferior. Such a problem was only remedied in Russia by the comparative cruelty and uncompromising nature of Russian rulers once they got full control over what was essentially a frontier backwater.

Luther is praised for his artistic abilities, showed in amusing irony through the Catholic appreciation of the hymns he wrote, as well as his asceticism and personal piety. In addition, his views on the sacraments did not fall nearly as far from their full glory as they did with other reform figures. Schuon even muses that he sensed a Lutheran devotion to Mary which he had to keep hidden, though I am not familiar enough with Luther to comment. The sacramental issue is however incredibly important, and Schuon wastes no time in condemnding its detractors.

“One of the most absurd arguments with which Zwingli, Karlstadt, Oekolampad, and others opposed both the Catholic Church and Luther was the following: if the bread is really the body of Christ, do we not eat human flesh when communing? To this there are four responses. First, Christ said what he said, and one must take it or leave it; there is nothing to change in it, unless one wishes to leave the Christian religion. Second, Christ in fact offers neither flesh nor blood, but bread and wine, so why the complaint? Third, the crucial point is the question of knowing what is signified by this body that one must eat and by this blood that one must drink; now this meaning or content is the remission of sins, Redemption, the restitution of man’s glorious nature, innocence at once primordial and celestial; man eats and drinks what he must become because this is what he is in his immortal essence; and to eat is to become united. Fourth, the fact that bread is not flesh and that wine is not blood can be seen without difficulty; why then ask in what manner bread is the body and wine is the blood? This does not concern us and has no interest for us; it is God’s concern. What alone is important for us is the transforming and deifying power of the sacrament”

Zwingli BTFO puts it mildly, and coming from a Muslim no less. The denial of the sacramental power contained within the consumption of the bread and wine is truly among Protestantism’s gravest errors, but as Schuon says, this is not really attributable to Luther. The following on the other hand, is perhaps the most astute criticism of the Lutheran worldview.

“Be that as it may, Luther does not seem to know what to do with a good conscience, the one Catholics obtain through confession and works; he confuses it with self-satisfaction and laziness, whereas it is the normal and healthy basis for the requirements of loving God and neighbor.”

Unknowingly perhaps, Schuon stumbled upon the holiness spiralling issue within Protestantism, which is at its root an unwillingness to accept something as simple as a clean conscience, a certainty that something immoral is afoot and a need to get to the bottom of it, even if it requires (as it later did) accusations of immorality against God Himself. While Luther did not envision this being the result of what he created, he still bears responsibility in this regard. Schuon outdoes himself with the next paragraph which perfectly sums up how Luther completely missed the theomorphism of man, and his ability to actually have a relationship with God through his actions, even while these actions don’t in and of themselves provide any redemption.

seraphim“Acquiring the Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life,
while prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other good works done for Christ’s sake
are merely means for acquiring the Spirit of God”
St. Seraphim of Sarov

“The mystic of Wittenberg is “more Catholic than the Pope” in feeling that it is pretension on the part of man to believe in the quasitheurgical virtue of certain actions—to believe a good act can ipso facto precipitate a concordant grace, as if man had the power to determine the divine Will; and this feeling furnishes Luther with a reason, perhaps the main one, for rejecting the Mass. In fact to believe we can determine the divine Will by our comportment—Deo juvante—is in no way pretentious, given that God created us for precisely this; it is a normal or “supernaturally natural” consequence of our theomorphism; thus there is no harm in the idea that our actions can be meritorious before God, and no one obliges us to become proud of them. A good conscience is a normal phenomenon; it is the normal climate within which a man runs toward God; there is nothing in a good conscience that attracts us to the world, it being perfectly neutral in this respect, unless we are hypocrites. On the contrary, it draws us toward Heaven since by its very nature it is a taste of Heaven.”

Calvin is mentioned only once in the piece, but when he is mentioned, it is to deliberatey seperate the Lutheran legacy from his work. Ultimately, Calvin is cast as the dark side of the Reformation, with Luther being the light side. I would say this is too apologetic to Luther’s case, but concerning Calvin it is correct. He took the worst aspects of the Renaissance and channeled them into a pure intrinsic heresy, more akin to Montanism than Arianism in its complete divorce from mystical experience and descent into the realm of charlatanism. 

“Viewed in its totality, Protestantism has something ambiguous about it: on the one hand it is inspired sincerely and concretely by the Bible, but on the other hand it is bound up with humanism and the Renaissance. Luther incarnates the first aspect: his perspective is medieval and so to speak retrospective, and it gives rise to a conservative and at times esoterizing pietism. In Calvin, on the contrary, the tendencies of humanism, hence of the Renaissance, mingle with the movement rather strongly, if indeed they do not determine it; no doubt he is greatly inspired in his doctrine by Luther and the Swiss Reformers, but he is a republican in his own way—on a theocratic basis, of course—and not a monarchist like the German Reformer; and it can be said on the whole that in a certain manner he was more opposed to Catholicism than Luther was.”

In The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era, it is written:

“Both Calivinism and modernism emphasize an alienation of self from God and nature, whether through the Calvinist’s apprehension of a fearsome, punishing deity or through the post-Darwinian skeptic’s sense that God is distant or absent.”

We can say with some certainty that it is the radicalism of Calvin, playing upon existent Germanic tendencies that swim beneath the surface in the French people (owing to their origins) such as those in Geneva, that moved many from intimate experiences of the Divine captured in liturgy, to a distant and almost slave-like experience, and finally to no experience at all. If you put enough distance between mankind and God, he will doubt the existence of God. This never struck Islam because of the Sharia, but it is evident in Judaism once the Civil Law was no longer deemed necessary for them, for reasons that defy logic. Calvin of course ran his own proto-Puritan dictatorship in Geneva, but the city itself is unimportant when compared to the theological and political movements he set into motion which were to have far more deleterious effects outside of Switzerland than within it, since they bled over into a litany of other practices. In France, they manifested in bloody anti-clericism, in Germany the eventual birth of nihilism, and elsewhere a quiet and slow decay of traditional values.

calvins

To conclude then, despite Schuon’s misconceptions in some areas, he is correct to draw a distinction between the Protestantism of Luther and that of Calvin, Zwingli, etc. While Luther’s activities mirror (at least in theological archetype) the emergence of Buddhism vis-à-vis Hinduism, his contemporaries set about with no ‘reform’ in mind, but only destruction in the name of an increasingly profane pseudo-purity. While the people of Southeast Asia were incapable of making the jump from the archetypes of ‘Lutheranism’ to ‘Calvinism’, Europeans were, and this is why Luther, despite noble motives obscured by the desolation he later regreted, errored in his crusade against Roman Catholicism, for he gave license to those who would set the wheels of Modernity spinning.  I do not see an ounce of Luther in what Protestantism I have witnessed in the contemporary era, but I do see a great amont of Calvin. In the future, when I speak of Protestantism as one of the forerunners of Liberalism, I will specifically be refering to the Calvinist mutant. Lutheranism (and I completely exclude, as Schuon would, its modern incarnation which is nothing but a hollow joke) I simply lay in the grave as the stillborn child it was, reverant of what it was trying to do in its immaturity, but recognizing that it was a means to an end for the purposes of the evil one, who quickly went from leaps to bounds in developing what would become Liberalism.

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27 thoughts on “Schuon, Luther, and the Eternal Calvinist

  1. Protestantism had at first quite a wide appeal in that Hungarians, Celts, Finnics and others took it up. Not just Germanics. You mentioned Huss, was he not a Slav? However, clearly it was primarily with Germanic peoples that Protestantism took hold so I do see the point you and Schuon make.

    “Presumably Schuon’s diagnosis would not only apply to the Germanic peoples, but also the Nordics. We won’t here mention the English, who vascillate on that borderland between spiritual orientations, uncertain and bewildering. However, Schuon does not take account of certain exceptions to this rule, the enduring faith of Austria right up until the end of WWII for example. What was it about these particular Germans which lent itself to Roman Catholicism with arguably more zeal than the Italian peninsula embraced. And what of the French, who share a common lineage? Perhaps what Schuon is really describing is Prussianism, but we cannot say for certain.”

    I think one would have to mention the English as it seems not so much Germanic, but Anglo-Dutch-Scandinavian

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  2. Reminds me of what I’ve been reading recently and the “solutions” to the figures of Luther and Calvin:

    “Individual psychological experiences — including the experience of setbacks and disillusions — in the realm of aspiring to inspiration have played an enormous role in the catastrophic upheavals which have taken place in the history of Christianity. Thus, an Augustinian monk of the sixteenth century ardently desired inspiration. To this end he practised the rigorous asceticism of fasting, mortification of the flesh, and vigils of prayer. He believed that effort would procure inspiration for him; but… he had none. Then, disillusioned as he was, he advanced the doctrine of the vanity of work, of all effort. Faith alone suffices for salvation. Here lies the origin of Lutheran Protestantism.

    In the same century a doctor of law underwent a sudden conversion, from which he concluded that inspiration is the work of God and God alone, without an anticipation of human effort and freedom. It is God, and God alone, who has chosen for all eternity those whom he has predestined to salvation amongst the mass predestined to perdition. Here lies the origin of Calvinist Protestantism. If Martin Luther and John Calvin had known that inspiration is activity and passivity — or effort and grace simultaneously — the one would not have seen man as only a sinner and the other would not have conceived of God as a cosmic tyrant. St. John of the Cross was needed to show that one can pass by the darkness and aridity of the senses and of the mind without drawing back and without despair, just as one can effect a profound reform — in the sense of the practice of the poverty and moral radicalism of the Gospels — without at the same time attacking the unity of the Church. In truth, St. John of the Cross atoned for Martin Luther

    Yet another saint, Ignatius of Loyola, was needed to demonstrate that man can choose God and his cause in the full freedom of love, instead of being chosen by God–and that just as Jacob wrestled until the break of day, saying “I will not let you go, unless you bless me” (Genesis xxxii, 26), so can each free human will chosen or not, embrace the cause of God voluntarily and will be blessed by God. St. Ignatius of Loyola atoned for John Calvin by living in the voluntary obedience of love for the God of love, instead of the obedience of a poor wretch before the power of the Almighty.”

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  3. I think Calvin merely applied the methods developed by the Scholastic tradition and came to different conclusions from the Church. You could arguably blame people like Aquinas for that.

    Such is the folly of attempting to over-rationalise religious doctrine. You de-mystify God and the Incarnation to the point where it becomes mere academic triviality.

    However, I think it is important to stress that conservative and morally righteous Christians of the Reformed Tradition still exist today, regardless of what historically troubling movements have apparently emerged from such a doctrine.

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    • Schuon writes pretty succinctly on the issue of predestination and its proper understanding, but draws a line between St. Augustine and Calvin that I find to be overstated, since Augustine’s views on the matter remain hotly debated to this day.

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      • I think the line between Calvin, Augustine and further back unto Paul is rather significant. Then again, people understate the line between Augustine and Aquinas as well.

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    • Except , interestingly , Aquinas late in his life had a mystical experience after which he declared: “I can write no more. All that I have written seems like straw.”

      Actually, from the same text I quoted in my comment comes this explanation of how Aquinas sits:

      “No more is it true that the mystical impulse from the end of the thirteenth and into the seventeenth century was purely and simply a reaction against the ‘dry intellectualism’ of scholasticism. No, the flowering of mysticism during this epoch was the fruit and result of scholasticism, prefigured in the spiritual biography of St. Thomas Aquinas himself. Notably, Thomas, towards the end of his life arrived at a mystical contemplation of God and the spiritual world and said, on returning from this ecstasy, that his written works now appeared to him ‘like straw’. Indeed, he wrote nothing after this.

      The believing thinker thus became a seeing mystic. And this transformation did not take place in spite of his work of scholastic thought, but rather thanks to it — as its fruit and its crowning glory.

      Now, what happened to St. Thomas Aquinas also happened to a group of individuals who formed the crest of the wave of scholasticism. Just as St. Thomas, through scholastic reasoning, arrived at contemplation, so did part of advanced scholasticism arrive at mysticism, i.e. at the aim of scholasticism, which is intuition or the state of union of faith and intelligence. Meister Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, or, lastly, St. John of the Cross are spirits amongst whom you will search in vain for a spirit of opposition to scholasticism. For them also it is true that scholasticism was “like straw”, but they know at the same time their own experience that this straw proved to be an excellent combustible. They certainly surpassed scholasticism, but they did so by attaining its aim. For the aim of scholastic endeavour is contemplation, and it is mysticism which is the fruit of the scholastic tree.”

      In other words , scholasticism , rationality , and all of the western elements of Catholicism which sometimes grates against our Eastern brethren’s emphasis on mysticism has always been , in the proper understanding of Western Christianity , a partner and handmaiden to occidental mysticism . What Calvin and the others represent , therefore , is the DIVORCE of faith and reason in the side of faith . Thus , just like salt is necessary for life , but both constituent elements are deadly poisons , to exalt one at the expense of the other is spiritually disastrous .

      Just as there is nothing unnatural about women but everything unnatural about feminism , so must one separate the golden principle from the perverted derivative . Aquinas and scholasticism in general understood the necessary function of “Christianizing the pagan world’s intellectualism” and the fruit of this baptism was scholasticism just as the fruit of scholasticism is contemplation and mysticism . In the Catholic world , hierarchy , relationship , organism is preserved rather than give in to divorce and reduction .

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      • I appreciate your thesis and it’s a nice idea, but it still doesn’t negate the problems that over-intellectualised theology presented.

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  4. I know a Calvinist Pastor. I wonder if any conversation between you and him on the Protestant reformation and the origin of leftism and modernism would be fruitful or it will be talking past one another.

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    • You may find the following discussion helpful. It was between myself, AntiDem, Nick B. Steves, William Scott, Michael Sebastian, Reactionary Ian, and Todd Lewis who identifies as an Anabaptist, and centers around church and state relations. It becomes apparent that we do talk past each other, because the issue always comes back to whether you think the Church that compiled the Bible and conducted the Ecumenical Councils did so legitimately or not, and by extension the Christian legitimacy of the Byzantine state comes under question since it was sanctioned by the Church. Both Orthodox and Catholic can affirm the early church, while Protestants (of the non-Lutheran type) typically have to sidestep the issue, because once the persecutions ended the official Church and the official State became inseparable as civic institutions.

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  5. I wonder if you’ve read ‘Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism’ by Larry Siedentop? Seems up your alley

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  6. I became a Christian last year, totally unexpectedly, but God came and found me during my 50th year.
    I had a supernatural experience, where I was being attacked by an evil entity, and the Lord’s Prayer (which I remembered from school days) saved me. I had begun to question science’s explanation of the universe, and had realised already that good and evil exist. I had another strange experience later last year, where God gave me a sign. Very strange, all of it, but very welcome.

    I have a friend, online, who is very Christian, but he recommends that the best way to approach faith is to read the bible, and it if you’re doing things as the bible suggests, you’re OK, if not, in all likelihood you’ve been led astray by Satan (via men pretending to be Godly). I like that approach, so have nearly finished reading the New Testament, and will than start on the Old.

    I realised very early on that worship of Mary (Hail Marys) were not biblical. Why would anyone worship a human woman, when they should be worshipping God and His Son? Weird I thought.

    When I read the orginal Greek translation of the KJV version of the Bible, and I look at Luke 22:19, it is plain as day that the bread and wine are to be taken in remembrance of our Lord’s sacrifice for us sinners. Nothing more.

    http://biblehub.com/text/luke/22-19.htm

    When I hear of purgatory, I wonder how that was invented? Not by God or Jesus, that’s for sure. It is clear to me, a beginner, that we are purified in Christ, so that when we die, we join him with his father in heaven, like the thief who showed faith on the cross alongside Jesus.

    I confess my sins and ask forgiveness daily, directly to Jehovah. Why would I want to do that via a human man? No idea.

    Why is there a pope (technically two at present of course, although Benedict was unable to resign I believe, so Francis is an impostor). Jesus said he would build his church on Peter’s faith, not on Peter himself. Simple to read an understand one would think?

    We’re not supposed to worship graven images, but when I see videos of Orthodox and Catholic services, that is all I see. We’re not supposed to have false Gods, but I hear Catholics praying to recent Saints, created by men. How can that be?

    I hadn’t a clue about the Reformation when I came to all of the above views, just an innocent open mind regarding my faith, and a desire to do the right thing for God. I ruled out Catholic ways as errant very quickly. I recently read a book about the Reformation, which was an eye-opener. Money for grace, evil Popes, so much nonsense, trying to keep ordinary Chirstians from the bible itself. It became clear that my instincts had served me well, and I gave thanks for the bravery and honesty of the reformers.

    My conclusion: the early church was taken over (and corrupted) by the dying Roman Empire as a means to maintain control. Ever since it has been taking its followers further from God, and further to the Left, towards Satan.

    I hope and pray the remnant of true biblical Christians can keep the faith going through the next 50-100 years, as eventually there will be a move to crush and kill us, and it’ll be the liberal state churches, and the Russians/Chinese/Jesuits (like Trump’s cabinet) that will be doing the killing. I have faith that Jehovah will do what is necessary, which may well be the return of His Son, in triumph.

    God bless you all.

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    • Your understanding of Traditional Christian practices is so inept, and arrogantly so, that I cannot take this comment seriously. Nobody ‘worships’ the mother of God. This is utter libel.Saints created by men? How so? Were they grown in test tubes?

      You are helplessly ignorant, and like so many, believe that your lowly mind is capable of interpreting Holy Scripture with more clarity than the men of history who dedicated and gave their very LIVES for Christ, and act as our guides in this degenerate and disgusting age. Also, to be 50 years old and know nothing of the Reformation… I have no time for such nonsense as yours.

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    • Cease your incessant whining about censorship in the spam comments. They will just be deleted. I do not have time to waste debating someone who didn’t know what the Reformation was until he was 50, does not understand veneration vs. worship, and thinks man created the saints. I repeat, further toxic spam posts will be deleted.

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  7. One thing I have always wondered about Orthodoxy is that compared to the Latins, (as people have said) they lean more mystical than legalistical. Can you explain, even if just briefly, what they mean when they say Orthodoxy is more mystical?

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    • That would be way too big of a topic to get into, but it has relation to the filioque, and means Orthodoxy tends to be more experiential rather than logical. It tends away from trying to provide very specific explanations for the workings of God in the world. You’d really need a book dedicated to Orthodoxy to explain fully.

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        • Mysticism is more of an individual thing (or part of certain esoteric groups). In fact, Valentin Tomberg, who I believe was Estonian, converted to Roman Catholicism, but wrote a whole book on Christian mysticism called “Meditations on the Tarot” you might find interesting. The mystical is an approach to God, a type of theosis.

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        • Latins have traditionally used philosophical logic to do theology. This reached its height very early with Aquinas. Just read any article in the Summa: subject in dispute, objections, and resolution via reasoning from an authority.

          Eastern theology has traditionally been done through theoria, direct experience of God, which ends in theosis.

          Here is a place to start:

          https://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

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    • So much of the stereotype does not hold when it comes to Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy also has a rigorous philosophical and academic tradition. Most western converts are intellectuals. The tendency to generalize is problematic in this regard. Orthodoxy has very, very high level theology– St. John of Damascus and St. Maximus the Confessor, for example. Orthodoxy However, the primacy is not in head reasoning, which is fallen and can lead us astray, but in the transfiguration of the person through his healing in Christ’s Church. The authority of the Church is that it is the custodian of this experience of the Holy Spirit of God, and all of her true Theologians and Holy Fathers speak “after the manner of fisherman” moreso than “after the manner of Aristotle.”

      Human reasoning is still important. To apprehend the truth, though, the mind must be healed and subordinated to man’s spirit. Only then is one assured that ones theology will truly be God-originated and not the vain philosophy of men or Jewish fables. Until we get there, we are led by the trusted witnesses of the experience of the knowledge of God, the holy fathers, to the forgiveness of sins, the purification of the passions, the acquisition of the virtues, illumination by grace, and the complete union with Christ.

      Avoid Orthodoxy on the internet. So very, very much of it is a poisoned well. Go and find an Orthodox monastery or a healthy parish (one that has many people, many families, people of all ages, that has at least some of the services in English) and speak to the devout there, speak to the clergy. Read truly spiritual books: commentaries on Scripture by the recognized holy fathers, manuals of prayer and the spiritual life by the saints. These are what you must do if you really want to learn about Orthodoxy, not surf the web. There are so very, very many fakes online.

      Orthodoxy is just another word for the truth– the true knowledge of God and of the self. That knowledge is eternal life, and is our true purpose in this life. Orthodoxy of the heart is very much the most important thing. Once one has a firm grasp of his own fallenness, his own brokenness, his own tendency to spiritual destruction, and a firm grasp of the great mercy and love of our Savior, one can begin to call upon Him, more and more, until this becomes the unceasing state of his heart, and this becomes a guiding light, a purifying furnace, a sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart which is the true sacrifice that God calls us to make. The great modern prophets of Orthodoxy, if you want it in today’s language: Fr. Seraphim Rose, St. Paisios the Athonite, Fr. Sophrony Sakharov, St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Cleopa of Sihastria, St. Justin of Chelije, St. Nikolai of Zhica, Fr. Josiah Trenham, and Elder Ephraim of Philotheou. Read these people and cultivate your heart with contrition and calling upon the Name of Jesus Christ, and avoid internet fora.

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  8. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2017/04/30) - Social Matter

  9. As a Protestant myself, I appreciate the objective treatment of the Reformation here.

    My view is close to Schuon’s. Northern Europeans wanted hyper individuated experience. Hence, authority to interpret spiritual matters is vested in the common people. I would argue that Protestant Orthodoxy is located in the PROCESS of the individual person coming in contact with Christ. Everything else is stripped away . This can be interpreted as the completion of the Germanization of late medieval Christianity. The aristocratic ethos reasserts itself by bucking the hierarchy.

    Protestantism depends upon a vital process, rather than institutional health to preserve a traditional society. Luther’s works are resplendent with the numinous, a testament to a deep and abiding experience of God. I would recommend books like Otto’s The Idea of the Holy for a deeper look into Protestant spirituality.

    The reactionary viewpoint Protestantism opened the way for subsequent liberalism has some merit, but consider that today the best indicator of conservative views is one’s region. For example, if we wanted to find someone with anti-immigrant views, should we search for a Hungarian or a Catholic? Russian Orthodox remain quite conservative, but the Orthodox in the US trend more liberal than Bible thumpin, Word O’ God believn’, Chick Track readin’ Southerners. Indeed, before WWI, the Lutheran led Second Reich was a bastion of conservatism, and Protestants and Catholics alike accepted aristocratic social formations.

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  10. Nice to see some Rightist thinkers making distinctions between Luther and Calvin. Some apologists for the Roman Church conflate the two and carelessly lump them together, the Reformed and Lutherans have two very different ways of looking at the world.

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