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Friday, September 4, 2015

Why Some In The Church Are Hard Of Hearing

In an article entitled The Obergefell  Decision & The Triumph Of The Therapeutic (click here), Theaddus Kozinski (short bio included in the article) does more than to just discuss the possible current ramifications of the both Obergefell decision and the inclusion of contraceptive and abortion services in health insurance plans, he wants 'Conservative Catholics to rethink the "religious liberty" strategy' (see his Aug 31st comment to me). 

Why does he want Conservative Catholics to reconsider how they think about religious liberty? Consider the following statement from the article:
If religion is private, idiosyncratic, and otherworldly, not public, truth-embodying, and world-implicated, it cannot have an authoritative, public role in ordering common life.

Also consider the following statement from his Aug 31st to my Aug 31st comment:

The Church is privileged in society, every society, due to her divine mandate, and her liberty is absolute, as distinct from all other groups. Justice requires that the state recognize this, and even institutionalize it, when it is possible and prudent. This goes against the John Courtney Murray/Maritain, pluralistic project, a project that has failed, and was doomed to fail...It is not humble and compassionate to promote the religious neutrality of the state towards the truths of the natural law and the divine authority of the Catholic Church
  
But the above is not the kicker. His following Sept 1st to my Sept 1st comment is:
Your comment indicates ignorance of the perennial and infallible Catholic magisterial teaching on the proper ordering of Church and state.

Now, let's be fair, Kozinski was very gracious in responding to my comments and, at the time, I was not thinking of using either the article or the comments in a blogpost. But the claim of 'infallibility' to Church teaching is a bit more than the previous quotes. And fairness dictates that we mention this claim of infallibility is not made by the Roman Catholic Church alone. Some conservative synods of the Lutheran Church claim that their Lutheran Confessions are without error.

In fact, explicit claims of the Kozinski's position of the Roman Catholic Church in society and the infallibility of Roman Catholic Church teaching in certain areas were mentioned in the comments, not the article. In other words, the issue of Church authority in society and infallibility provides the background for what is written in the article.

So rather than focusing on Konzinski, his article, or even the Lutherans,  we might want to focus on how belief in the infallibility of the teachings of one's own church or denomination can affect believers in how they both think about today's issues and discuss them with others. Of course, we could find that we might not want to.

Konzinski's article shows little, if any, evidence of having any dialog with those outside the Church. The article itself sounds a warning for Christians, particularly Catholics, of what might happen in the future in the light of current events and the state's acceptance of religious neutrality. But more telling is in the dialog in the comments section between Kozinski and myself. I asked 4 specific questions in my Sept 1st comment and Kozinski provides a direct answer to none of them. Rather, he favors responding to my comments and questions by retelling his church's view about its relationship to the state and the infallibility of its teachings.

Again, the Roman Catholic Church has no monopoly on claims to infallibility. My experience in discussing current issues with Lutherans who claim that their confessions are without error somewhat follows the same track but without the reference to Church teaching. There is no need to listen to those who have been marginalized, many of my Lutheran friends seem to say. Rather, during our discussions they give the indication that they already know enough about current issues without listening to the vulnerable. In fact, some even the deny that certain groups have been marginalized. This is especially true regarding what some conservative Lutherans say about the LGBT community. We should note here that some of their views, such as about economics or American Exceptionalism, are the result of a syncretism between Western Civilization and the Christian faith. And it is that syncretism that replaces Church teaching.

The behavior demonstrated by some of my Lutheran friends is also imitated by my fellow Reformed Christians only without the explicit claim to the infallibility of Church teachings. But there are times in how my fellow Reformed Christians  refer to their confessions in ways which they imply infallibility though. This is particularly true in how they use the confessions only or with the Scriptures to address today's issues and problems. 

Though claims that the teachings of one's Church/denomination are infallible are the most noticeable and outrageous of what conservative Christians say; but such does not explain the unwillingness to listen to others regarding today's issues. It doesn't explain why Konzinski in his gracious attempts to respond to my comments, did not answer specific questions. 

What does explain the unwillingness to listen or the neglecting to answer questions is the strong tendency of my fellow conservative Christians to restrict our research in thinking about today's issue by looking to our respective confessions and teachings only which, in most cases, causes us to look backwards only. For too many of us, we must exclusively go back to the past to find our answers. When that is the case, listening to others outside the Church is not an option because such might us to hear something different which has mot been approved. Such is the mindset of authoritarianism. And it is that which is the culprit to our collective deafness. But not only that, it causes us to speak down to the world.

Certainly Konzinski and the rest of us conservative Christians have a message to share with the world. We want the world to listen to us. Because we can't expect the world to do so when we aren't willing to listen to the world. And for as long as we embrace authoritarianism, we will sabotage our own efforts at sharing with the world what we do know.




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