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The Undermining of Roman Catholicism
and the rest of Biblical Religion

F. Earle Fox

[COMMENT:   I wrote the following to someone who had put me on to this article.  

Dear XXXX 

        Here is a classic quote -- from the url in your email below:

To some extent this multiple belonging was made possible by their embrace of Advaita, the Indic idea of non-dualism, which sees the deep, often hidden, connections between traditions without in any way minimizing the differences between them.

One of Panikkar's many striking sentences looking back on his life's journey asserts: "I left Europe [for India] as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without ever having ceased to be a Christian." A wealth of meaning lies in that assertion. Christianity in its historical evolution began as a Jewish tradition and then spread to the Greco-Roman world, acquiring along the way Greek and Roman cultural expressions which have given it a certain form and character. Panikkar, having grown up and having been trained in a traditional Catholic and neo-Thomist environment, had a profound knowledge of, and respect for, that tradition. This knowledge prepared him for discussions with some of the great minds of 20th-century Catholicism: Jean Danielou, Yves Congar, Hans Urs von Balthazar, and others. He was also invited to take part in the Synod of Rome and the Second Vatican Council. But Panikkar did not confuse or conflate historical contingency with spiritual truth. In Hinduism and Buddhism Panikkar found other languages, in addition to Biblical Hebrew, Greek philosophy, and Latin Christianity, to express the core convictions (the kerygma) of the Christian tradition.

That was the main thesis of The Unknown Christ of Hinduism, which Panikkar originally presented as a doctoral thesis to the Lateran University in Rome in 1961....

        Hmmm.  The Lateran U should have done a better job of critiquing this thesis.  There is clearly a movement, going back at least to Teilhard de Chardin of several decades ago, Thomas Merton, also -- seeking to integrate Biblical faith with Eastern spiritualism.  What I suspect they were looking for was a "repersonalization" of Christian faith, which has become largely intellectual, or mechanical, or some other degraded form of spirituality.  But Eastern mysticism is not the way to get it.  It is in the Bible itself, if we Christians will recover our intellectual integrity. 

        The next to last sentence in the middle paragraph, "But Panikkar did not confuse or conflate historical contingency with spiritual truth..."  implies an unbridgeable gap between "historical contingency" and "spiritual truth".  That is inherently true in Eastern religions, and in what is called "the Perennial Philosophy".  But in the Bible, God is the creator of history.  Time is Eternity at work, not something in which we "get trapped" and alienated from eternity (see my coming book, Personality, Empiricism, & God, available at http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/EM/ShpMl/PEG/00PEG.htm ) for my explanation of some of this truth.  There is no inherent contradiction between time and eternity in the Bible.  They work together, quite compatibly.  That cannot be true except with a personal creator ex nihilo.  That is why an incarnation makes perfect sense in the Bible, but not in other religions.  Hindu reincarnation is not at all the same as the Biblical incarnation. 

        This Panikkar fellow shows, I think, the divide between Biblical and Eastern religions, not the unity -- without realizing it.  You can follow the logic of this fellow only if you abandon logic.  And that is fatal to spirituality, not a help to it.  Everything boils down to guesswork and feel-good, sometimes mistakenly called aesthetics.   You end up feeling your way into a totally self-centered cosmos.  Only you exist because you are everything, everything is you. 

        In the Biblical world there is an eternal distinction between me and God.  God is my creator, the giver of my existence.  That means that relationship is primary, not merging our identities.  That is the Biblical way.  It means we must learn how to think because thinking does inform us about ultimate reality, and about our relationships with God and one another. 

        There are two basic fundamental rules for any thinking at all -- (1) the rule of non-contradiction  (a thing cannot both be and not be in the same time, place, and respect); and (2) the law of sufficient cause (every event must have a cause sufficient to explain it).  
Advaita non-dualism abandons both. 

        Abandoning distinctions is the point of
non-dualism -- both/and, not either/or, even in logical contradictions -- especially in logical contradictions.  The kind of mentality in the quote above tries to straddle between accepting (which is the Biblical and Hellenic route) and rejecting (which is the Eastern route) these two rules.  There is, I think, no reasonable possibility of combining the two ways (Biblical and Hindu) of thinking -- because if you deny those two rules, all thinking immediately and irretrievably collapses into mush.  

        The problem is very simple.  Once you admit a contradiction in one place, you can admit them anywhere at all.  That is a descent into chaos.  All judgment of when and when not to admit a contradiction falls apart by the very fact of admitting a single contradiction.  Discerning contradictions is the fundamental way of accepting or rejection an assertion.  Without it we have lost all way of assessing the truth of anything at all. 

        That is a short answer to your query below.   Answer:  You cannot "marry Hinduism & Catholicism" or Hinduism with Biblical religion at all. 

        The parallels are deceptive.  That is, if you do not stick to logic.  If you do not, you can say anything at all, no matter how meaningless. 

        A part of my D. Phil thesis  (
http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/EM/ShpMl/PEG/00PEG.htm ) was precisely on this subject, finding the meaning of the word 'meaning'.  What does it mean to "mean" something?  Meaning is impossible without those two rules.  You get mush.  It may feel good, for a while, but it is impossible to live by....   meaningfully. 

        The answer to this problem is what I am aiming at in my work, which is to get beyond the depersonalization of what we call secularized reason and science today, and beyond the equal but opposite depersonalization of the Eastern way, by developing the logic behind the Biblical way -- which is fundamentally and irreducibly personal.  I call the Biblical way a "personalist" cosmos -- to distinguish it from the impersonal cosmoi of the other views.  

        But you can have a personalist cosmos only if you begin with a personal Creator, not an impersonal evolution out of some primordial substance -- which leads inevitably to depersonalization.  As does the Eastern way which dissolves the person into the cosmic consciousness (or whatever).   All meaning is then abandoned. 

        These supposedly Catholic folks are seriously undermining the fabric of Christianity -- some deliberately planted, I think.  Many are part of the attempt to build a "world religion", in line with the so-called "New World Order".  Nothing new about it.  It began with the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  It is the same pagan worldview which dominated most of known history.  Just a bit more sophisticated. 

        This helps explain some perhaps ambiguous comments of the current Pope, regarding the goodness of the "new world order", or words to that effect.  I hope he catches on and changes his mind. 

        The article is a classic (well written and persuasive) case of the confusion between the Biblical and Eastern religions.  The Biblical cannot be meaningfully allied with the Eastern way (any more than with the Islamic way -- although for quite different reasons.) 

        That does not mean that persons on both sides of the fences cannot share things.  Our common human nature binds us together.  The question is -- Which worldview best explains our common human nature?    It appears to me that both the Eastern and the materialist/secular ways destroy human nature as persons.   And, what other human nature can there be?   

        If you want to follow out the argument in more detail, go to http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/11Phl/WrldV/YorGM-Outline.htm, an outline of the online seminar which I just completed, "Yahweh or the Great Mother?"   Which worldview we believe to be the truth - will determine our capacity to have meaning at all. 

        You might look at the work of former Hindu Vishal Mangalwadi at  (http://www.vishalmangalwadi.com/vkmWebSite/index.php )  

        Also another  former Hindu, Ravi Zacharias, who is also superb in his explaining the Christian faith (
http://www.rzim.org/ ). 

     E. Fox] 
 


Raimon Panikkar,
'apostle of inter-faith dialogue,' dies

Joseph Prabhu

 

 

 

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Date Posted - 09/-/2010   -   Date Last Edited - 07/07/2012