The intention today had been for a post following up Neo’s interesting reflections on Julian of Norwich and Christian mysticism, but that will be held over until tomorrow to deal with a topic which some already find irritating – Bosco. One commentator asked bluntly: ‘Why do you entertain this boob?’ and I suppose to postpone one post to write further on this invites, at the least, an answer to the question.
Our good friend Neo gave a part of the answer: ‘he is, in a sense a legacy of free expression taught to us by the Chatelaine, and we tolerate him for that reason as well’. Jessica’s reasons extended further than her commitment to free speech and her desire to spread the love of Christ to all. The type of witness Bosco gives is not at all uncommon, and in engaging in dialogue with him, Jess was not simply reaching out in Christian love to him, she was attempting to do the same to those who hold his views of personal revelation. Quite rightly, she was not willing to dismiss the idea of personal revelation – how could any Christian do that? – but she was also urging him, and I would, to submit that revelation, in humility, to the wisdom of the experience of many generations of Christians.
The first example we have of someone saying that their personal revelation was what mattered, and that revelation cutting across Apostolic testimony, comes very early in the history of the Church. St John’s first and second epistles deal with what we might want to call the first Christian schism. John, the ‘beloved disciple’, taught that Jesus was the pre-existing Word, He was God, and He was with God; but, in a manner we cannot fully comprehend, Jesus, whilst being God, was incarnate as man, and was both God and man. But, even within his own community, there were those who put their own personal revelation before the words of the Apostle, and declared that Jesus was not God come in the flesh (1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7). A man called Diotrephes seems to have led this movement within the Johnannine community, and that community seems to have fractured around the argument. So, from the beginning, we see that not even the testimony of one who walked with Christ was sufficient to prevail against the pride of an individual who claimed a priority for his personal revelation. Bosco is, thus, simply the lineal descendant of Diotrephes.
Like Diotrephes, Bosco has had a revelation, and like him, is guided, in his own view, into all truth by it. Nowhere does Scripture support the line of argument that Jesus came into the world merely so that, at a later date, the Holy Spirit could visit each of us separately and tell us we are saved; nowhere in Scripture do we see a person saying this. Even St Paul, the one great example of personal revelation, does not march into Jerusalem and tell the Apostles that they are wrong on various things and that his revelation takes precedence. If Paul did not do it, why, one wonders, did Diotrephes and why does Bosco?
Well, there are many spirits in this world, and as John said, we would be wise to test them before crediting all they tell us. As tricks of the Evil One go, what could be better for his purpose than to appear to men and, appealing to their pride as to Adam’s, tell them that if they read God’s book: ‘ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil‘? It worked with Adam, it worked with Diotrephes, and it works with Bosco and those like him. It is our Christian duty to try to bring them back from the brink.
Because of their ignorance of history, men and women like Bosco do not know that the Church has always faced this problem. As early as Irenaeus in the second century, the way to read sacred Scripture was established: exegesis should pay careful attention to context (the Devil hates context, of course, and those influenced by him will tell us it isn’t important); unclear or obscure texts should be interpreted by clearer ones; a non-literal reading of some passages may be warranted (Jesus is not, for example, literally made of wood, and he does not have hinges, neither is he literally a vine). Irenaeus established the Rule of Faith – that is that the true meaning of the Scriptures is the interpretation of the Apostles as presented in the New Testament, and as widely accepted in the main doctrines and teachings of the Church founded by Jesus.
Whether Catholic (of whatever variety) or Orthodox, no Church with Apostolic succession teaches, or has taught, anything like Bosco teaches. The pride of men, the sin of Adam, leads his children to faith in themselves. Knowing this, the great Enemy will indeed visit his children and tell them that with God’s book committed to memory, and with his assurance they are saved, they know all that is needed. This is the latest great trick of Satan, and those of us concerned for the soul of our brother Bosco, and for the souls of others, can only point this out.
But, as our great friend Servus has pointed out in his comment yesterday, combatting that great Enemy has costs for those engaged in it, and the recent history of this place is evidence of that, so let us, brothers and sisters, hold this place in our prayers too, that from the wiles of the enemy we should be protected:
|Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.||Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen|