Monday, May 11, 2015

Hearing the Word of God or Agreeing with It?

I heard the sad news of Michael Coren's leaving the Church in two parts, first that he left the Church and then some time later than he opted to joined Anglicanism. Hearing the first bit of news, I assumed it was another case of secular culture eroding one's belief in God, in the transcendence of grace, of the higher things in a whirlwind of Darwinian nihilism. Then I read he became an Anglican. My initial and enduring reaction was: What. The. Hell.

"No one becomes an Anglican," I thought. "Even England didn't want to join the Church of England! They had to be compelled!" Clearly, the motivations were not owing to the conspiracy of Kasper to rally the divorced to the altar rails or a pursuit of some abstract and "pure" Christianity. The Byzantine Orthodox communion would have met those needs, as would any other number of dissident groups. Something else was happening here. He changed his position on homosexual unions. Yes, he left the continuity of saints, liturgy, writings, teachers, and belief because of the modern Canadian social cause for homosexual homes.

We cannot read Michael Coren's mind or peer into his soul, but we could generalize, dear readers, that Mr. Coren's departure emanates from a rather modern problem. I do not know if Mr. Coren was a cradle Catholic or convert, but a point a friend made last week resounds with the Canadian's case. We were lost in ecstasy and a cloud of Nicaraguan smoke while discussing the apologetics industry when "J" said, "The Catholic Answers crowd is good at arguing people into the Church. They're less good at keeping them in." The "Catholic Answers crowd"—Michael Voris' "Church of nice"—follows the modern paradigm of religion as a set of private, personal intellectual propositions once can accept or decline depending on one's reception of them. The question many converts, cradle Catholics, and disbelievers alike ask is, "Does the Catholic Church agree with me?" or "Can I get along with the Catholic Church," not "Can I accept the perennial faith of the Church with humility?" In short, God believes what the individual says is true rather than that the individual believes what God says is true. Unfortunately, Michael Coren either read the story of Sodom or 2357 of the JP2 catechism and decided that he would not accept that God.

The concept of a revealed religion has become foreign to the western world and Christians do no service to themselves in adumbrating the virtues post-modern intellectual freedom, which is really slavery to the black bonds of nihilism. The older rites of the Church reflect the "dialectic of Revelation," as Aidan Kavanagh put it. God appears to man. Man does not get to decide Who or What God is. One meets and conforms the self to God and prays for union with the will of God. Concepts of happiness and acceptance are quite foreign to the faith. Joy and sense of place are the domestic traits of the Apostolic faith.

Let us pray for Michael Coren and those like him during the Litany of the Saints these Rogation days. Let us pray that they "hear the Word of God and keep it", rather than "listen to the Word of God, and think about it." Christ asked those He healed "Do you believe?" not "Do you agree?"


  1. I think - as a cradle Catholic - I may have something converts miss out on: the sense that the church is your family and home no matter what you have done. Many former Protestants I've met take the "state of grace" mentality to its far extreme into a simplistic "lights on/off". The moment you commit a grave sin you are cast into the darkness and God does not allow your prayers to be "efficacious" until you have atoned.
    When some catholics sin they feel less cast out and more as if they have brought dishonor upon their family. They do not cease to be part of the family, and that is the reason they feel they must atone. They know they always have a place in the family's table, which is why they need to repent for all they have done to deserve being cast out. It is not the fear of losing their father;s favor, but the shame from betraying their ever-merciful father that prompts them to beg for forgiveness.
    Perhaps this difference of view between the convert and the cradle catholic would be worthy of more study from a few perspectives. (caveat: what follows are broad generalizations) Cradle Catholics seem to have a sense that their faith is woven into their very being (which can give them some balance but also sometimes open the doors for laziness) while converts oftentimes rush to defend their church and loudly even when imprudent (which - when often coupled with residual bad ideas of their former faith - can sometimes mean you have a well-meaning but ill-informed fanatic).

  2. This is not the first time this man has abandoned Catholicism. Born a Jew, he converted to Catholicism in his early twenties, then he became an Evangelical and in 2004, he became Catholic again. And now this...