Monday, September 01, 2003

Tim Enloe Has a Blog

The vigorous and articulate Tim Enloe has begun blogging at Societas Christiana. Tim's taken a great motto, too, borrowing (perhaps) from Richard Weaver: "Because the Christian Faith Has Consequences." Indeed it does, and the mess in which Christendom finds itself is largely due our ignorance of, or unwillingness to follow, the Incarnation and where it leads us. St. Augustine put it well:
How then did this bizarre situation arise, how develop? The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed; the mind commands itself, and meets with resistance. ...Inasmuch as it issues the command, it does will it, but inasmuch as the command is not carried out, it does not will it.

This partial willing and partial non-willing is thus not so bizarre, but a sickness of the mind, which cannot rise with its whole self on the wings of truth because it is heavily burdened by habit. There are two wills, then, and neither is the whole: what one has the other lacks.

Some there are who on perceiving two wills engaged in deliberation assert that in us there are two natures, one good, the other evil, each with a mind of its own. Let them perish from your presence, O God, as perish all who talk wildly and lead our minds astray.

-- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book VIII
So the Church's leaders order her external nature and are instantly obeyed; this bishop takes his seat in that diocese, such-and-such liturgical fillip is implemented, etc., etc. But when adherence to the Church's own divine teachings is commanded in everything, of everyone, everywhere, the Church meets with resistance. There are men who perceive these two wills and seek to locate evil outside themselves, in the ineradicably-evil natures of men in other Christian confessions. There is only one Church, preaching life to a plagued race. If the same illness has progressed farther there, mutated here, produced unhealthy growths or dead places, it is just part of the same plague which stalks us. "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:13 (KJV).

The sickness over which our Lord has triumphed has always lived within us since our first parents infected themselves in Eden. We were born with it -- baptisms only mean that the disease isn't always fatal. If we're to share His triumph, we must take the rest of the treatment which is hard, painful, and lifelong. The Christian is a spiritual diabetic, often healthy but always prone to fatal excesses and imbalances. Constant discipline and care, reliance on things outside his control, are the price of his survival. The Christian faith has consequences, and this realization is one of them. The failure to pursue sanctification of everything in every area of life grants a little territory to the plague, a gangrene which never rests, which cannot rest, until it has consumed all. If we fail to give the Christian faith consequences, a little of the plague will always live within us, biding its time until stress, shock, or inattention open the road to our hearts. So I applaud Tim's passion for Societas Christiana, the increase of the healing balm and wholesome discipline of Christ among all men and in all things. "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." John 9:5-8 (KJV).

The sad part is that Tim and I aren't in the same Church, at least not fully (if you believe, as I do, in in voto membership, something that the more extreme Calvinists in both our communions deny). I've had to create a separate links category for his blog, which I'm calling "Uneasy Allies." Catholics and Protestants have much to do together, but hold much less in common. Our pieties and theologies are so fundamentally different that our mutual efforts on behalf of Societas Christiana will almost always be remedial rather than regenerative. Fifteen minutes of television, however, suffices to prove the value of those mutual efforts. Tim's writing never fails to interest, educate, and inspire serious thought, and I look forward to reading more of it.

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