Sober and Aristocratic Distance

‘Przywara (1889-1972) finds the formula for the analogical foundation of the Catholic Church in the Fourth Lateran Council 1215 decree that, “One cannot note any similarity between Creator and creature, however great, without being compelled to note an even greater dissimilarity between them.” This formula does not appear in the Doctrinal Decree of the Council (a profession of faith called the Lateran Creed), but in a second section devoted to the errors of Abbott Joachim. Still, Przywara treats it as a kind of “dogma of dogmas,” and thus the source of Catholicism’s truly universal authority. By its light, Roman Catholicism avoids being limited to “any single possible theology; rather, the language proper to the mind of the church is one of an aristocratic and sober distance from the enthusiasms of the Charismatic, Pneumatics, and so on.”’

Stephen H. Webb, ‘The End of the Analogy of Being’, First Things.


‘Turks, Jews, and Puritans do not believe these fond articles of their own religion with any supernatural faith; their belief is merely historical, just as children believe the history of the knight in the sunne, Don Quixote de la Mancha &c.

All Christians have not supernatural, and Christian faith. Many who receive it in their baptisms, lose it by heresy. Heretics are called Christians, because they are baptized, and not because they are endued with Christian belief. They believe some mysteries of the Christian religion, but with a mere historical faith. They assent to the mysteries of the Trinity, and incarnation, not because God revealed them, but because they are pleased to judge it very probable, or certain, that God revealed some such thing. That their own fancy, or opinion, and not God’s revelation, doth move Protestants to believe what they do believe of the Christian religion, is evident…

The difference between historical, and Christian, or supernatural belief, is not, that Christian belief alone hath for its object, supernatural mysteries… The difference consists in this, that the understanding doth meet with so great, and manifest difficulties, in crediting what is sufficiently proposed as divine revelation, to be really revealed and true, that it may appear to any indifferent, and rational man, God doth concurre more particularly to the assent of what is proposed as Christian faith, than he doth to the assent we give stories, chronicles, or any other kind of human history, though containing never so strange and extraordinary events. To believe not only strange, and (to the sense of man) improbable things, but also the believe them with a prudent belief (not out of ignorance, or misinformation), without the least doubt, or suspicion of falsehood, is so much above the way, and faculty of nature, that the faith whereby this is done, must of necessity be an extraordinary, and supernatural gift of God’s omnipotency.’

Peter Talbot, A Treatise of the Natural Catholic Faith and Heresie with Reflexion upon the Nullitie of the English Protestant Church and Clergy (1657).

One thought on “Sober and Aristocratic Distance

  1. Good to see you back online, hisperic. Some of us have missed your piquant collations. Today’s are impressive, as usual, for eloquence, but also for logic, and for powerful argument rarely made. (Please keep the seventeenth-century material coming; it’s always as fascinating as it is unfamiliar.)


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