Friday, February 19, 2010

Catholic fetishism

Because Catholicism repudiates forensic justification as well as God’s appointed means of sanctification, Catholicism substitutes fetishism for real grace. It fetishises “holy” persons, buildings, paintings, furniture, relics, &c.

Such persons, places, and things are sacrosanct, not due to their inherent holiness, but their ascriptive holiness. Popes, monks, nuns, &c., are said to have a holy vocation. Indeed, a superior vocation. And their vocation ipso facto confers ascriptive holiness.

As such, they’re off limits. Immune to satire.

And Protestants are supposed to defer to Catholic fetishism. Catholics wax indignant of you dare to treat their ascriptively holy persons as ordinary men and women like you and me because, deep down, there is no depth to Catholic piety. In practice, externals are all they’ve got. So they cling to their externals for dear life.

No doubt many priests, monks, and nuns are sincere and self-less individuals. But for the average Catholic, that’s ultimately irrelevant. Image is all that matters. The iconic image of a nun. Not the reality–for better or worse. But the ideal notion of a nun as a bride of Christ.

Keep in mind, though, that it isn’t merely priests and bishops who’ve been complicit in the priestly abuse scandal. Consider the role of nuns in the infamous case of Nazareth House.

Yet that has no practical impact on pious Catholics since, for them, ascriptive holiness trumps actual holiness.

One of the tragic features of Catholic fetishism is that what it does to Catholic men and women with authentic, godly impulses. Some priests are genuine Christians. As such, they exhibit genuine sanctity. Yet they also flail themselves with a cat o’ nine tails in a futile and misguided effort to draw closer to Christ through self-harm. Nothing is sadder than to see good seed grow up twisted and crooked–because it’s been misdirected.

Catholics wax indignant over sadomasochistic comparisons while they remain blithely oblivious to the sadomasochistic spirituality which is codified in their own theological system.

There’s a reason that Luther broke with Rome. He’d been through all that himself.


  1. Steve Hays: "Some priests are genuine Christians."

    Good point.

    I would hope all Reform Protestants agree with you, Steve.

  2. TUAD: I'm on board with that one. But they are "genuine Christians" not because of unique doctrines of Catholicism, but in spite of them.

  3. "Some priests are genuine Christians."

    Nice to see the admission.

    You know, you could also apologise outright for all the deliberate Catholic-baiting you've done and the wilful aggrievation involved. "I think your church sucks for many reasons, but I shouldn't have talked in that way. Please forgive me." Your pride is not worth holding on to, will not save you, and does not please God.

  4. As I read this this morning I remember having "been forewarned" about the priest scandals and then having them fresh in the forefront of my mind after being invited to and then going to the Washington D.C. Vatican, hosted by the then Cardinal McCormick. It is quite a place, if ever you fancy a visit?

    I was struck with the paintings that hung on the walls and the granduer of the entryway and the elegance of the whole place, the huge entryway stairwell, the window treatments, the floors and the furniture as you enter through the huge double doors from outside having climbed up stairs all that then leads up to the formal entry into the building which opens up to another set of stairs up. Having been through Art History I was particularly awestruck with several of the "many" paintings in there as I had studied about them in school and here I am now in the very place where they are; seeing the very study right before me! It can inspire a natural sense of holiness, as you write above, ".... It fetishises “holy” persons, buildings, paintings, furniture, relics, &c.".

    Here's Cardinal McCormick, just an ordinary guy, big, probably 6'5 or 6" or more, who was wearing at the time robes and some jewelry as he greeted the guests coming into his "humble abode", "stinking", as his body odor was a bit much at close proximity to him, in that Washington D.C. humidity! He tried masking it with fragrant odors and air conditioning, but it still betrayed his stink!

    I couldn't help but wonder what was lurking in his mind as he and I made eye contact and I sized him up as he did me!

    I was thinking to myself, "is he one of them when I was shaking his hand?". Who knows what he was thinking about me? He was very well versed and trained to host strangers, especially "Protestants" like me. Never an ill word or unpolitical words or topics, off point, lest he might offend his guests!

    I can imagine just what that sort of visit does to one of their own who comes into a place like that for the first time, or up in New York or even across the Tiber and to St. Peter's square? A catholic might just think they have "arrived emotionally to heaven on earth"???

    These people have vocations. Whether or not any one of them is a True Christian, well, that's out of our hands anyway and their vocation ipso facto really does confer a sense of natural holiness when you are in their midst experiencing that sensory mist that comes with the all the formal digs and trappings.

    I am not quite sure I understand what you were getting at, though, when you write about: "And Protestants are supposed to defer to Catholic fetishism?

    I think guys like Dave Armstrong wax indignant when we treat that outer "formal" wear of Catholicism the way we do and is most evident in here at Triablogue. I won't expect as much from those within their camp who truly are "led" of the Spirit of Grace and are just in there as a "vocation" that pays their bills and gets them out of here alive in Christ when they too pass?

    In any event, I too agree with TUAD about "some priests are genuine Christians". That is a good point and as my memory serves me correctly, many of our forefathers believed as much as well? I believe Martin Luther and John Calvin had similar beliefs as we that "some priests are genuine Christians".


    "You know, you could also apologise outright for all the deliberate Catholic-baiting you've done and the wilful aggrievation involved."

    Aggrieved by mere appearances while you continue to support an irreformably corrupt institutional.

  6. That's a very good point and should not be lacking in any of our debate with these folks:

    "....Aggrieved by mere appearances while you continue to support an irreformably corrupt institutional.".

    As my mentoring Pastor always brought us back too, "our Gospel" is uninvited and it always disrupts completely the "whole" man of the world, whether or not they are on the hook being fished out of the dirty waters!

    We are fishers of men and our message is not one to compromised!

    Afterall, Our God is the same God yesterday, today and forever and ever, amen!

  7. OOOPs, I need to correct myself.

    I was thinking of Cardinal McCarrick and typed McCormick!

    Please consider my mistake corrected above!