Shun Profane Novelties

For those of us who use “Treasury of Daily Prayer” as our breviary, we heard from the lips of Vincent of Lerins that which is most applicable in our day, especially concerning the so-called “worship wars”.

“‘O Timothy, keep the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words and oppositions of the knowledge falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith’ (1 Tim. 6:20). After words such as these, is there anyone of so hardened a front, such anvil-like impudence, such adamantine pertinacity, as not to succumb to so huge a mass, not to be crushed by so ponderous a weight, not to be shaken in pieces by such heavy blows, not to be annihilated by such dreadful thunderbolts of divine eloquence? ‘Shun profane novelties,’ he says. He does not say shun ‘antiquity.’ But he plainly points to what ought to follow by the rule of contrary. For if novelty is to be shunned, antiquity is to be held fast; if novelty is profane, antiquity is sacred. He adds, ‘And oppositions of science falsely so called.’ ‘Falsely called’ indeed, as applied to the doctrines of heretics, where ignorance is disguised under the name of knowledge, fog of sunshine, darkness of light.” (Taken from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, Sept. 18, pg. 734.)

Go to fullsize imageNow someone is bound to point out that what Fr. Lerins is speaking of is doctrine, and so utterly disdain the idea of applying it to liturgical practice.  But I ask, what is liturgical practice if not doctrinal expression? Indeed, is not what we say and do directly and intricately interwoven with what we believe and confess?  Beware of vain novelties.

So also this speaks to the novelties of the ordination of women, unrepentant homosexuals, as well as to running the church of God like a business.  So many vain novelties have crept up on us.  Let us hear and obey the apostle when he says, “Purge the evil from among you.”  BUT, this doesn’t mean get rid of the people, but “purge the evil”.  The evil is the false doctrine.  If people leave, that is their concern before God, but if we drive them out, then we are guilty of division and dissension.  Rather, we demonstrate from the Scriptures what we receive and so pass on.  I have recently heard a comparison between the Anglicans and Lutherans (it’s in the book, Philosophy & the Christian Religion, by Robert Brown).  It goes something like this: Anglicans will tolerate all manner of false doctrine but never tolerate schism, whereas Lutherans fight all false doctrine but will abide by infinite schisms.  The irony is that schisms are false doctrine.


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