Friday, August 08, 2008

What is REALLY needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement

I realize that this won't resonate with many Anglican Catholics or "Anglo-Catholics" (if you like), out of fear of liberalism or suspicion of compromise, or what have you. I suspect that this is particularly true of those calling for a new "Oxford Movement" of late, like my friend over at De Cura Animarum (more power to them!). However, what is really needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement. Some have wondered why I call this blog "Catholic in the Third Millennium." Well, what follows is in part the inspiration behind the name.

The following was taken from Charles Gore and the Lux Mundi School.

We have here . . . to consider another aspect of the work of the third generation of the Revival, that associated with what might well be called the second Oxford Movement, the famous Lux Mundi group. It was this group which succeeded in doing that which the Tractarians has failed to do, viz. the relating of the Church's claim for the primacy of the spiritual to the new circumstances of a democratic age. Lux Mundi was in fact the foundation of a new apologetic in which Catholic thought no longer stood on the defensive against the thought of the age, but incorporated it and made it a vehicle for its own doctrine. The guiding principle was found in the Johannine doctrine of he Incarnate Logos, the Word entering to redeem the world of which He was already the Creator -- a world which included the historically-developing social order . . . Newman and Manning [had] sought to revive and give practical effect to some such idea of the world and of man. But on the whole the theology of the Movement had remained within the old Evangelical circle of thought -- the soul, sin, and redemption. To this it had added the thought of the Church as the sphere, the sacraments as the means, of Redemption, but still only the redemption of the soul, not the redemption in the full sense of man, nor the redemption of the world. Lux Mundi looked back behind redemption to creation. Evolution was accepted as the work of the Logos through whom all things were made. It followed, among other things, that man's historical development, including that of the present age, is part of the creative movement of the Word, and therefore manifests His Light. Democracy, which characterises the present era, can thus be seen as interpreting the worth of personality and the brotherhood of men. Socialism, again viewed as an existing tendency, illuminates the idea of authority in so far as this involves a rightful claim of the whole upon the part. But only the Incarnation, the fact, that is, of the Word personally become flesh to fulfill and redeem the world order which He had originally created, but which had fallen away from Him, is adequate, together with its extension in the Church and the sacraments, to interpret and validate the life of the individual and of society . . .


Dan said...

thanks for this. I'm interested to read more. Your post and some others, not to mention a general theme I've been both writing about and reading lately is whether what Anglicanism needs right now is a return to a dogmatic set of propositions or something else. I've beginning to think it's that something else.


Third Mill Catholic said...

It's definitely "that something else." A return to dogmatics is a return to pre-Copernican thinking, theologically speaking (quite literally, actually).

Much of what passes as "church" or "Christianity" these days is quite irrelevant, both in liberal and conservative contexts. I fear for the future of Christianity in the West if we can't get over our idolatrous need for absolute certainty in the area of religious truth.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Much of what passes as "church" or "Christianity" these days is quite irrelevant, both in liberal and conservative contexts. I fear for the future of Christianity in the West if we can't get over our idolatrous need for absolute certainty in the area of religious truth."

That's because the church by and large has rendered itself irrelevant to the world in the pursuit of trying to be relevant in the first place. Compromises, concessions, accommodations and additions, etc. all amount to a succumbing to the temptation to be accepted in the "mainstream", to seek the approval of the world.

The trouble is the "route" towards the "humanisation" ("(en)hominisation") of the Church so that is could be properly incarnated as the expression of God's unconditional love for the world is not via the theology of glory whch revel in numbers and hold Jesus forth as Exemplum. But the only way is the via theologia crucis in which Jesus came to truly die as Sacramentum, and the old being is likewise put to death so that the new being can be raised up again in newness of life. There is therefore no continuity whatsoever between the old and new creation. Hence, the relevance of the church from the perspective of the world is a non sequitur.

Furthermore, this world, this arena is no place for the church to use as a "stepping-board" to progress towards heaven via ethical virtues which belong to the realm of civil righteousness. The church does not make itself relevant by promoting ethics as the means of establishing the Kingdom of God. Ethics is meant to care for the world received back as gift in faith for the sake of the neighbour.

The mission of the church is to proclaim Law and Gospel until the end of the world because it is only through the Word of God in oral and sacramental form that the Kingdom of God comes to us and the world.

The question is, will the world be ever relevant in the sight of the Kingdom of God?

Anonymous said...

This post has renewed my interest in Bp. Gore et al. Iv'e pulled my tattered copy of Lux Mundi off the shelf for a second reading. Thanks.

I think the quest for absolute certainty in religious truth is found on both sides of the Protestant/Roman Catholic divide. Not that this is earth-shattering news, but in most instances, the quest for absolute certainty is associated with certain tenets within Evangelicalism ( e.g. the infallibility of the autographa of Scripture and/or the assurance of one's election to glory ). But, as we have seen, for many a RC zealot absolute certainty in religious truth is a matter of ecclesial ultimacy.

Ant any rate, both tendencies strike me as hopelessly subjective; inasmuch as they seem to be premised on the idea of the baptized believer as an "individual" ( in the worst sense of that word, i.e. as a restless atom, in search of his own subjective intellectual and spiritual satisfaction). In that sense, both might be seen as holdovers from "the old Evangelical circle of thought" corrected by the Lux Mundi theology.

I agree that the Incarnation of the Word along with its extension in the Church is the only adequate interpretation and validation of the individual and society, and, thus, of history itself . What aspects of historical development in this present age would you deem part of "the creative movement of the Word", and worthy of incorporation into the Church as a vehicle for its beliefs?

Second, for the sake of this exceedingly dull extra-mural Anglican, could you expand upon what "that something else " actually is?


Third Mill Catholic said...

Hey Mark,

In answer to your last question, I've been working on THAT particular blog entry for nearly three years. Not quite satisfied with it yet, but it will be called "A Proposed Agenda for Catholicism in the Third Millennium." I might try it on as a series.

But in reference to this post, I think the pivotal statement here is:

"Lux Mundi looked back behind redemption to creation. Evolution was accepted as the work of the Logos through whom all things were made. It followed, among other things, that man's historical development, including that of the present age, is part of the creative movement of the Word, and therefore manifests His Light."

The rest of what this article notes of the Lux Mundi agenda, i.e., Democracy and Socialism, are but societal fads, IMO. I am however intrigued with their early insights on the theory of evolution. As far as I'm concerned, the theory of evolution is THE number one hang-up that the modern Church, particularly American evangelicals, must get over quickly, and must begin to grapple with. The theological implications of this scientific theory here are ENORMOUS. As I said earlier, a return to dogmatics-as-usual is a return (quite literally) to pre-Copernican thinking about the Faith. It's time we've gotten beyond that and gotten on with the task of doing theology in a post-Darwinian world.

I think the Lux Mundi school was extremely perceptive in looking back behind redemption to creation, and this, I would suggest, is precisely where a "third millennium catholic" should begin the theological task, particularly in light of scientific Darwinism.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your "A Proposed Agenda for Catholicism in the Third Millenium".

One of the exciting things about the Lux Mundi school-for me, at any rate-are its implications for cosmic redemption. Looking back beyond redemption to the creation-via the Creator of all things made flesh for our salvation-one gains a holistic vision of redemption; a vision far transcending the drab-and for me disheartening view- that limits redemption to the salvation of souls, and which depicts the life to come as a heartbreakingly disembodied existence. Of course, this isn't exactly a revolutionary idea. And it has its echoes in the writings of later English theologians ( i.e. Lewis and Bp. Wright ).

I am not qualified to speak on scientific Darwinism. But it does appear to be more problematic among American Christians, than their European counterparts ( Again, not a few English theologians of renown seemed to have embraced it; such as Lewis, M. Ramsey, Austin Farrer, et al ).

Without preempting the debut of "A Proposed Agenda for Catholicism in the Third Millenium", could you briefly elaborate on the "enormous theological implications" of scientific Darwinism?


Third Mill Catholic said...

The frank acknowledgment of scientific Darwinism, which I believe those churches that currently resist it will be forced to make in the future (or else fade away into obscurity), will bring about a re-think in many areas. Let me suggest a few:

A new model or understanding of Theism: not the rejection of the old models of theism, but rather a new way of understanding how God relates and interacts with Creation given the insights that modern science has afforded us (e.g., the origin of species, including homo sapiens, through natural processes). To my way of thinking, Intelligent Design is the latest, and perhaps last, attempt to evade the issue through invoking the "god of the gaps." But in light of modern advances in the sciences, ID is looking more and more like old "deism" than old "theism."

A new model or understanding of the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union: again not the rejection of the old, but rather a model that interfaces well with the holistic redemption that you mentioned above. If mankind *IS* the universe (i.e., Creation) awakened, conscious of itself, and looking at itself through the self-examination of sciences, then what does this imply of the Incarnation if not that God in Christ has, not merely entered Universe, but rather BECOME the Universe! How should this theological insight affect the way we approach the sciences and the continuing exploration of Creation?

The are manifold anthropological implications as well, including the nature of sin and of Original Sin, but also the SCOPE of sin.

Much of these thoughts are still seminal, of course.

Anonymous said...

The identity of the cosmos with man and, preeminently, with Christ, who becomes man for our sake, intrigues me. Of course, I need to chew on it awhile, but, at first taste, it seems to resonate with the Pauline vision of the resurrection of creation, via its participation in "the glorious liberty of the sons of God".

This passage from Rom.VIII has always fascinated me, because of its apparent meld-if only by implication- of the christological, the creational, the redemptive, the sacramental and the ecclesial. IOW, St. Paul includes the brute creation in a redemptive category, resurrection; the goal of redeemed humanity, which properly begins at baptism ( Rom VI ). And , of course, resurrection and creation have their primary locus in Christ.

At any rate, forgive my digression.

Speaking as one who quite simply doesn't have the brains to think scientifically, I would say that one implication of this theological insight would be that the temptation to follow the academy in doing science-i.e. with the presumption of a knowing atheism, or an objective agnosticism-would become untenable.


Third Mill Catholic said...

I read recently somewhere that romanticists are made out of stardust and cynics are made out of the nuclear waste of burned out stars. Given what we now know about how the cosmos came to be after the "big bang" (the ex nihilo creative act of God), this metaphor dovetails nicely with your last thought. In this case, theists are made out of stardust and atheists out of the nuclear waste of burned out stars.

Come to think of it, looking at things this way inspires one to rethink traditional thanatology and the resurrection.

Anonymous said...

I waited to respond to your interesting post until I could check back on a book published for the centenary of Lux Mundi: The Religion of the Incarnation, edited by Robert Morgan (1989). There are essays (still worth reading) by Rowan Williams and other distinguished theologians and biblical scholars but, as I had recalled, there was no essay on science. Was one not considered necessary at that time (and in Britain)? I wonder...

Anonymous said...

I agree about the need for a new Lux Mundi -- the first one really was one of the distinctive glories of the anglican ethos in practice.

Gore sez, "man's historical development, including that of the present age, is part of the creative movement of the Word, and therefore manifests His Light." I'm reminded of the underlying optimism of Gil Bailie and the girardians when they talk about the progressive unveiling of violence, and especially our increased awareness of the victim, as a long-term movement of the spirit in history.

Andrew Teather said...

Quite right.

k9gardner said...

I'm just visiting now, four years after you posted the original article; forgive me if this is old news. But I can't help but feel that you've kind of left us - well, me at least - hanging with your premise, "what is really needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement."

It's an interesting statement in and of itself, but have you made your case somewhere that I may have missed? I'd love to read more about why you think that that's what is needed, what provokes the need, how this movement would deliver it.

I don't really know much about the movement, but am always interested in learning more. Thanks!

Fr. Thomas said...

Hi k9gardner,

I now blog under the nom de plume, "Father Thomas" over at post-catholic project. While I don't invoke the name of the "Lux Mundi" movement, "post-catholic" is essentially where I've taken this idea. Come visit:

Third Mill Catholic