Monday, July 18, 2011

Van Til as he should have written it....

In this world there is no mystical translucency. But after his devastating of the mystical meaning of all the earthly embodiments, Trubetskoy ought to arrive at a certain difficulty. Rendered difficult for him is the question about the Church. In the Church he believes in nothing, and besides the Church he acknowledges nothing. But the Church ought also to seem one of the “earthly utopias”, that this is the ultimate recourse of that utopianism, which seeks the heavenly within the earthly, the Divine within the human, the other-worldly in the this-sidely. Trubetskoy ultimately to acknowledge, that upon earth, within earthly human history, that the Church also is an impossibility and an utopia, that it can appear only at the end of the world, only in the other-sidely. And as regards the Church he ought to affirm his idealistic thesis, i.e. to acknowledge it as being non-substantial, and as a norm, an ideal. I reiterate, that the critique of theocracy by Trubetskoy is excellent. But upon the path on which he stands, the critique of theocracy mustneeds also be extended to the Church, as upon an earthly utopian embodiment of the heavenly. He reduces the Church to the sacraments. But the Church has always striven to be more than the sacraments, it traverses the sphere of the earthly embodiment of the heavenly. The Catholic Church conceives of itself as a theocracy, the Kingdom of God upon earth. But the Orthodox Church also is not free of theocratic pretensions to order the world as regards itself. The separation of the Church from the state, which Trubetskoy desires, is also a diminution within the Church of earthly embodiments of the heavenly, a diluted churchly utopianism. Mustneeds there not be upon this path a refusal of embodiment of the heavenly into the earthly, until the very end of the world? Trubetskoy subsequently defends the secularisation of the whole of life and all of culture, and this mustneeds be acknowledged as very powerful on his side. It is necessary to renounce the lie and the sham of a Christian state, a Christian science, a Christian culture, etc, etc. The process of secularisation has an inner significance. But the whole of life and culture ought anew to become religious. Trubetskoy does not uncover the path to this, he does not point out the means for the spiritualisation of life. The Church also is the path of the making Divine the world. But in the metaphysics of Trubetskoy there is no place for the existence of the Church upon the earth. The Church as it were ought to remain in heaven. He demolishes all the earthly utopias, but together with this he demolishes also the Church, as resulting from an utopia. Trubetskoy points out the whole difficulty of the existence of a Christian dominion. There is only one Christian dominion -- this is the domain of the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. Freedom from care is the Gospel testament. But upon earth it is impossible to be free from care, it is impossible to live, as do the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, upon the earth it is necessary to be prudent of domain. How to get out of this? It is indeed impossible to put off resolution of the contradictions of life until the end of the world. Do they not take too lightly the burden of the religious antinomy of life? It is necessary to accept life to the end, sacrificially and tragically. There is already therein no justification for the religiously neutral, for an external to God sociability and an external to God culture. Trubetskoy was more in the right than Bulgakov, when he rejects dominion from a Christian point of view and does not reckon it a task Divine. Bulgakov indeed has transferred over upon heaven his own economics, his own sweat. But the truth of Bulgakov is in this, that he sees the tormentiveness of the religious problem of economics and he does not reckon it possible to remain on the soil of religious neutrality. It mustneeds be recognised, that religiously there is nothing that is neutral, there is nothing that is outside religion


A problem for many Christians, including self - Does going to Church convince one's self one doesn't need grace anymore? That is, one is "safe"? When in reality, the "Self" as it is is never "safe"? This is brilliant - the Western separation of Church & State inevitably utopianizes the Church, which (of course) exists on earth in its root, an earth robbed of all pantheism and mysticism. Thus, theology inclines to Deism, and "no neutrality" leads to the abolishment of the logic of the Church. Van Til should have written this essay. Yet Berdyaev acknowledges that there are problems in the direction of theocracy (against which Turbetskoi had written), affirming Turbetskoi. He simply observes that Bulgakov is right to claim that if Nature is not already Divine, if the world is not already the potter's field with the pearl, if there is no World-Soul, then the nations, the states, the peoples are meaningless, which means the Church is as well. This is why the Western Churches are dying. What life is in them comes entirely "as the Spirit blows" - it has no way to "touch the ground", fearful of creating theocracy; of course, it does so anyway, because there is no neutrality. America's religion is, ironically, entirely civil - there is still heresy, still apostasy, still orthodoxy. It goes by different names, now conservative, now liberal. This is Satan's plan - to anticipate God's work in such a way that he can counterfeit it before its proper time. This is the fall of man. The fall of us. America.

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