Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Newman's Essay, Part XII: Application of the Seventh Note of a True Development: Chronic Vigour
The seventh and last note proves this: a corruption, if swift, runs its course briefly and then quickly dies; if it lasts, then it quickly expends its energy and falls into decay. We will thus examine some Catholic doctrines to find out if they are corruptions or true developments.
Catholicism has now continued for nearly two thousand years, persevering through so many hundreds of persecutions, heresies, and societal fluxes that it cannot possibly be called a corruption; and since it has never become stagnant but is ever alive and striving, it cannot be considered to be in a state of decay.
The conversion of the Roman Empire led the Church to adapt its customs to the expectations of the heathen masses, which resulted in much that Protestants consider to be corruptions toward paganism. But if this is so, why have these doctrines lasted so long, and fasten to a system which was so intolerant of paganism? The Church has also fashioned its dogmas in the midst of pernicious heresies on both sides. It was forced to condemn Arianism on the one hand, and Apollinarianism on the other; Nestorianism on the one, Monophysitism on the other. Only Christ's Church could have persevered through so much.
Philosophies and heresies have their day, flourish for a year or for a century, and then die out and are supplanted by others. The Catholic Church has never been supplanted, but has supplanted all its enemies. The Fathers attested that every attempt against the Church's creed lasted but for a brief moment. The Church has endured such assaults - from pagan persecution, barbarian invasion, heretical corruption, the challenges of monarchs, the rise of philosophies, and the factions of Protestantism - without wavering in its path. Could this resiliency and perseverance be expected of any heretical sect?
And the states which the Church's enemies call 'decay' are always followed by the greatest revivals the world has seen. The Church can be compared to a man who, after violent exertion, is exhausted and falls asleep, only to revive feeling refreshed and vigorous. Despite these pauses, the Church never falters in upholding the doctrines and practices which it has always held. Even the Church's enemies accuse her of being 'incorrigible,' incapable of change. And indeed, this is her boast - thus she has always been and thus she will always be.
# posted by Jamie : 10:35 AM