An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

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Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim…

Source: An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

“Aided by a philosophical and theological sophistication that is unusual for his profession, Jones challenges our most basic assumptions as moderns. He [speaks] of “an integral vision which included all of social reality.” In this integral vision, “church” and “state” did not exist as separate institutions; rather, spiritual and temporal authority cooperated together within a single social whole for the establishment of an earthly peace, ordered to eternal salvation.

“Nor was there an “economy,” in the modern sense of a relatively autonomous system based on private property and contract. Rather, the use of material goods was thoroughly integrated into the peace. “State,” “church,” and “economy” were not merely underdeveloped, waiting to be discovered. They did not exist, and would have to be invented. The vision of social peace gave way to an idea of social life as a violent, primordial struggle for power, and of sovereignty as limiting that violence by monopolizing it…

“Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim: The construction of modern society with its system of separations between different social spheres was a bad development that inscribes false ideas into our very way of life. Conversely, the integration of spiritual and temporal corresponds to the truth about humanity as revealed in Christ, and is therefore demanded by Christian orthodoxy.”

Provocative claims? You betcha! But fascinating to me, both as an academic medievalist by training, and as a Christian clergyman… and to me, they carry the ring of truth. I have long thought, and often stated, that we have lost much by forgetting or willfully discarding the insights of our medieval predecessors. There is no question that I shall need to add Andrew Willard Jones’ Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX to my reading list!

Here are a few more excepts from this excellent review by :

“In the vision of peace that Jones describes, the clergy, who wielded the spiritual sword, and the lay authorities, who wielded the secular, had distinct roles, but they were cooperating toward a single end. They were not engaged in a struggle for “sovereignty,” a concept that had yet to be invented; instead, they actively promoted each other’s power as a means toward their common end…

“Even a short time ago—with the ascendancy of the “religious right” in the Reagan and Bush years—it was plausible to argue that the separation of church and state was good for religion. The accelerating pace of secularization manifested, for instance, in the legalization of homosexual marriage [and, I would add, an increasingly militant atheism making an ever-larger noise in the public square] makes that position much less plausible today. Before Church and State offers an alternative vision, a vision that could be realized only by a profound and fundamental transformation of the whole of our society. I am convinced that in working toward such a transformation, we have nothing to lose.”

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Commemoration of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1645 | For All the Saints

 

Source: William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645 | For All the Saints

Today marks the martyrdom – and thus, by ancient Christian tradition, the “heavenly birthday” – of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (1633 – 1645). While frequently criticized, and not without justification, for his willingness to aggressively pursue and harshly punish “Dissenters,” it is worth noting that his motive was to protect the Anglican expression of Christianity from a school of thought – Puritanism – that was both militantly opposed to that Anglican expression, and furthermore rapidly gaining the ascendancy.

That they would be just as willing to use vicious means against their own opponents (including not only the Laudian party, but Anglicans in general) when they attained power was demonstrated all too clearly during the Interregnum (Long Parliament and Protectorate) following the execution of King Charles I, called by some King Charles the Martyr. Does that justify the Courts of High Commission and Star Chamber? I leave that to my readers to decide. I will only quote from the above-linked essay:

“Honored as a martyr and condemned as an intolerant bigot, he was compassionate in his defense of the rights of the common people against the landowners. He was honest, devout, loyal to the king and to the rights and privileges of the Church of England. He tried to reform and protect the Church in accordance with his convictions – though these attempts at reform were marred by his treatment of those who strenuously disagreed with him theologically and liturgically.”

The essay goes on to quote A.W. Ballard (1945):

“As far as doctrine was concerned Laud carried on the teaching of Cranmer and Hooker. He held that the basis of belief was the Bible, but that the Bible was to be interpreted by the tradition of the early Church, and that all doubtful points were to be subjected, not to heated arguments in the pulpits, but to sober discussion by learned men. His mind, in short, like those of the earlier English reformers, combined the Protestant reliance on the Scriptures with reverence for ancient tradition and with the critical spirit of the Ranascence [Renaissance].”

I shall close with a prayer written by Laud, and found in every Book of Common Prayer published since his time. It is my prayer, as well, and should be that of us all: I invite you – especially you who are of the Anglican observance, but it is equally open to all Christians, for obvious reasons – to use it, regularly!

For the Church.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.


(“Catholic,” in this sense, does not mean Roman Catholic, but in the words of another great Anglican luminary, Lancelot Andewes, “the whole Catholic Church: Eastern, Western, and our own.”)