Sunday serendipity

His conscience was perfectly neutral. For it was his deliberate opinion that no form of ecclesiastical polity was of divine institution.

Thomas Babington Macaulay.
“The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3.”

Those sage words reputedly reflected the thinking of the King of England William of Orange. At first blush the observation appears directed solely to the paramountcy of the state (parliament) over inherited dominion of royalty or prelacy (the theory being in some sectors that entitlement derived from apostolic lineage specifically succession from St Peter). It was an equal obstruction to both Catholic and Protestant claimants.

Many Protestants heralded William as a champion of their faith. In 1685, his Catholic uncle and father-in-law, James, became king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. James’s reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain, who feared a revival of Catholicism. Supported by a group of influential British political and religious leaders, William invaded England in what became known as the Glorious Revolution. In 1688, he landed at the south-western English port of Brixham; James was deposed shortly afterward.

One must however pay close attention to the interpretation of Thomas Babington Macaulay. His use of the words “ecclesiastical polity” was unquestionably deliberate. Its obfuscation is deliberate.

Ecclesiastical Latin, also called Church Latin, Liturgical Latin or Italianate Latin, is a form of Latin initially developed to discuss Christian thought and later used as a lingua franca by the Medieval and Early Modern upper class of Europe. It includes words from Vulgar Latin and Classical Latin (as well as Greek and Hebrew) re-purposed with Christian meaning.

The term lingua franca is taken from the medieval Mediterranean Lingua Franca, an Italian-based pidgin language used especially by traders in the Mediterranean Basin from the 11th to the 19th centuries.

Macaulay published his text in 1876. He was basically a product of his own British interpretation of history; that is, white Anglican with a strong dose of German influence. He looked down his nose at anything beyond the borders of the former British empire. He routinely called native citizens savages, a description not far removed from his inbred opinion of both the Scottish and Irish.

But a deeper examination reveals a hidden truth. At even a hundred years after the French Revolution (1789) and the American Revolution (1775 – 1783), Macaulay was unprepared to confess his disbelief in religion as proposed by such eminent and influential writers as Thomas Paine who advised Benjamin Franklin in 1776. Significantly Paine wrote the Age of Reason which challenged the legitimacy of religion on almost any but the most psychedelic level.

The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a work by English and American political activist Thomas Paine, arguing for the philosophical position of deism. It follows in the tradition of 18th-century British deism, and challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible. It was published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807.

Franklin distanced himself from Paine. As have done many Americans since. It is only in the recent past that Paine’s contribution to American independence is acknowledged. Increasingly people in positions of authority have admitted their retail interest only in religion. Which is to say most people continue to shroud their disavowal of the preposterous theories recommended by the ecclesiastical polity.

The political connection with the church is nothing new. But lately its authenticity for doing more than preserving unnecessary differences is under scrutiny and in some instances attack. Yet just as the evidence of most religious mandates have no verifiable proof, it paradoxically affords the religious advocates an entirely hidden and untouchable demon.

Resolving the so-called logical challenge of religion is only part of the problem. Religion left unquestioned remains a source of political advantage though clearly with no verifiable input. And it requires but a moderate subterfuge for mercenary interests to expand their already questionable authenticity to other expropriation. Like ink in a soup the contamination spreads imperceptibly and soon spoils the whole.