Sunday, 19 July 2015

A couple of theological questions for Sunday...

1. Several centuries ago, the Catholic Church decided that priests etc. had to be male and unmarried.

So what happened to all the priests etc. who were married when the rule was introduced? Surely they can't have all got divorced, because that's against the rules as well.

2. A couples of centuries later, lots of Christians left the Catholic church to form their own 'protestant' churches, for different reasons in different countries.

The power to declare somebody a saint has been the sole preserve of The Pope since about AD 400. For some reason, most protestant churches recognised all saints who had been declared saints before they broke away, but not those afterwards, and in the meantime, some protestant churches have had their own system for declaring somebody to be a saint, but that person only counts as a saint in his own territory.

So for example, you can see both Catholic and protestant churches called "St John" or "St Peter" (old saints), but after that, the systems have diverged. You won't see a Catholic churn called after a modern protestant saint or a protestant church called after a modern Catholic saint.

3. Can anybody reconcile this with any underlying logic?


ThomasBHall said...

There is not a ban on priests being married per se. Eastern rite (catholic) priests can still marry. Anglican vicars converting can do so married. I think it is rather the Catholic Church feels a priest is better unmarried. Married to Christ only...
The saint thing is a bit different. The Anglican church sees itself as catholic, but other than king Charles I, have not canonised anyone. They are happy to keep what was before as it fits in their tradition. I may be wrong, but I believe other Lutheran / calvinist protestants do not believe in the communion of saints at all...

Kj said...

For us lutherans, saints are sort of like listed buildings, they are preserved for historic reasons, but in no way are we going to make new ones. Saints do not have any functions in the lutheran churches, they are called St. something, churches are called after them and so on, but they are not adressed in liturgy or anything.

Kj said...

Us nominally lutheran is more precise.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TBH, Kj, thanks, that sort of backs up my general impression (as a nominally Church of England atheist).

Kj said...

And yes there is a logic behind it. Churches, both catholic and not, adapt to local conditions, appropriate a few of the local heathen symbols and personas where appropriate, and don't let principles be the end all. After big reforms they tend to leave the bits that people seem to like, without too much fuss.

Bayard said...

Mark, AFAIK, when the Catholic church decided priests were to be unmarried, then the existing married ones were allowed to remain married until they died, also e.g. when the Roman church took over the Celtic one.

Aslo AFAIK, the saints in the pre-reformation church had specific roles, so you prayed to one saint for one thing and another for another. Protestantism largely did away with that, officially, although people kept up the custom for centuries. Slightly OT, but some of the saints' specialities were quite obscure, like St Blaise being the go-to saint if you had a sore throat and St Pancras if you want to find somewhere to park your car.

Also slightly OT, but the Celtic church had lots of obscure saints that weren't really recognised by the Roman church when they took over, my favourite being a local saint to me, St Elvis.

call me ishmael said...

Faith is axiomatically logic-free, mr mark, the application of the latter, therefore, to the former, as you request, is doomed to failure, Hell or both. All of the Abrahamic religions and sects thereof are a priori immune from logical verification, however delightful the ruminations they, as in thus case, provoke.

call me ishmael said...

this case

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, good explanation!

B, thanks for first explanation.

And yes, for a non-Catholic, these specific satins are a wonder and a delight. Also the fact that Catholics pray for very, very specific things to happen as a result.

CMI, so the answer to my last question is "no" :-)

The Stigler said...

To back up CMI - you're dealing with the wrong people to be talking about logic.

I always have a bunch of questions about religion like:
1) Catholics aren't supposed to do butt sex and oral sex because it's about spreading seed where it isn't going to create babies. So Catholics oppose gay marriage. But they don't have a problem with a couple of 70 year olds getting married, one of whom is long past the menopause, when they should deny it so that a 70 year old can marry a fertile woman.
a) the standard answer to this is about that a miracle might occur, which leads me to a supplemental question about why there can't be a miracle where oral sex causes pregnancy.

2) Noah's Ark had Noah, his wife, Noah's 3 sons and their wives. How the hell did that not end up with humanity dying out from the deformities of inbreeding after a few generations. At best, you've got 1st cousin marriages in 2 generations.
a) And Adam and Eve means incest in the next generation.

4) Why does God have an only son? He can obviously create a son without breeding. Why can't he create another?

5) Why are people expected to have faith? It's not like all those people who saw Jesus raise Lazurus from the dead were expected to. They didn't need faith, did they? A bloke raised a dead guy and said he was the son of God. You'd be mad not to be religious after seeing that. On the other hand, you'd think someone was mad if they told you they'd seen it.

6) Why did all the religious events stop? Thousands of years of the bible full of parting seas, women turned into pillars of salt, feeding the 5000, and then, well, nothing. OK, there's the odd vision here and there, but it ain't exactly well, biblical, is it?

7) If the only way to God and the Kingdom of Heaven is via Jesus, what chance did some Aborigine tribesmen have for 1600 years? Even if a disciple walked in the right direction, he wouldn't cover the thousands of miles in his lifetime, so anyone living in the outback goes to hell for centuries. They didn't have a chance, unlike the people living in Judea. Not exactly very fair from a God that supposedly loves us all. Might have been a good idea to put a number of sons of God across the world, maybe.

call me ishmael said...

Except, mr the stigler, that wherever, in history or geography, two or three have neen gathered together, they have, once fed and sheltered, found something to brew, distil, smoke, inject, snort, chew, even shove up their arses in order that they might alter the consciousness customarily polluted by the foreknowledge of Death. Substance Abuse, we now call this eternal pastime.

In the absence of Dope, the need for God, for Above, for Beyond, for After is so great that in its furtherance people will believe all sorts of shit and nonsense but in its furtherance they have also built divine buildings, painted divine art, written divine music and striven for a fairer world, some of them, anyway.

For me, therefore, it should be symbiosis which we non-believers practice, rather than the barren scorn of Logic's icy dismissal.

Although I know what you mean.

The Stigler said...

call me ishmael,

The more barbaric times of Christendom had plenty of drunkenness. Didn't stop them fighting wars because of one god or variation of god against another.

call me ishmael said...

I didn't say, mr the stigler, that it wasn't a curate's egg, religion; what's a few people tortured or burned alive, compared to Bach's St Matthew's Passion or Byrd's Mass for Four Voices. Not entirely a flippant question, that; Mao, Stalin, Genghis, they killed millions, nothing to do with religion, and not a good tune to their names.