Saturday, 11 December 2010

Self deluding...

I had a fascinating conversation yesterday with a very intelligent chap, published researcher and all that, who had created a totally closed belief system for himself, and managed to interpret the evidence to make it fit his views.

What he was arguing was that Christ had no intention of founding a Church and did not do so; no more did Sts Peter and Paul see themselves as leading a Church, and so on.

According to his reading of it, Christianity was founded by Constantine, and was simply a way of prolonging Roman values with religious fervour. This, he explained to me, was why the Church was so riven with sex abuse scandals, because the Romans were always sexually licentious; likewise it was the reason for teachers in Catholic schools beating children: that was the way Romans behaved. And so on.

It was so obviously absurd that it took my breath away - but as I say he is an intelligent man. It reminded me of the fact that the human brain is so powerful an instrument that we can construct an understanding of the evidence to fit almost any philosophy to which we choose to sign up. Or as Blessed John Henry Newman put it: We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.

5 comments:

Patricius said...

Thanks for the Bl. John Henry Newman quote. I should be very interested to know its source if possible.

Ben Trovato said...

Patricius

The quotation is from a letter to Mrs William Froude, dated 27 June 1848.

Paul Mallinder said...

I think you are spot on. History can be reconstructed to suit a particular agenda but human reason normally wins through. I do not think any serious New Testament scholar would interpret Jesus as not having the intention of forming an "ecclesia".

Mike Cliffson said...

Sorry for your friend's originality, but Im sure Ive met this before, an intelligent Spanish fellowteacher was taken in by a very long and boring series of Italian books, late 19th cent higher criticiscm running thru to marxistish,some, his speciality, sociology, revolving around both this basic idea or the similar one of it all being St Paul,thirty years ago, I suspect it's older than Luther, just newer trimmings.
He may have an original synthesis, but the adage is "there's no such thing as anew heresy."

Ben Trovato said...

Mike

I quite agree. Just like Pullman's recent book - total rubbish and not even original rubbish. Not only is heresy always re-hashed, it's also always a lot duller than the truth!

Paul - quite!