The Reformed Faith & The Enchantment of the World

I have always had a difficult time understanding why anybody would want to stay in Rome or Constantinople. However, this week while listening to a long interview by a couple of EO types on the subject of Feminism and the Occult they got on a side bar that helped me to understand the attraction of Rome and Constantinople.

(57) The Occult Origins of Feminism with Rachel Wilson – YouTube

It seems that Rome and EO are convinced that the rationality of Geneva (Protestantism) had the eventual effect of disenchanting the world. The accusation was that the rational approach of Protestants to the Christian faith emptied the world of its enchantment and mystery. By their lights the Reformation had led to the disenchantment of the world and by their lights Rome and EO provides the faith wherein the world can once again find re-enchantment. Actually, this makes a certain amount of sense given that the world in which Rome and EO came into was a world where the seen and unseen world did not lie as far apart as the modern world. The ancient world was one of superstition, animism, and the mysterious. Rome and EO conquered that world because they preached a doctrine of Christus Victor wherein the unseen world, while remaining real, became tamed and defanged by the victory of Christ over all comers. Early Christianity retained the enchantment of the world while at the same time announcing that Jesus Christ had conquered the enemy that lay in that enchanted world.

The mystery and enchantment was retained in the Eucharist. There in the table the mystery and enchantment of the world was proclaimed and the supplicant at the table was brought near to the very real unseen world. In the sacrament (mystery) the world remained enchanted and man was delivered from the dry rationalism that we currently find in modernity.

However, though their explanation made sense and resonated with me, I found myself thinking that Rome and Constantinople retained the enchantment of the world at the cost of embracing the irrational and the contradictory. Theirs was and remains an escape from reason.  I do not believe that we have to embrace the irrational in order to own a world that is enchanted and full of mystery. I need not swim the Tiber or the Bosporus in order to have enchantment.

If the Sacrament is where man finds the Mysterium tremendum or where the believer can enter into that “Great Cloud of Unknowing,” there is plenty of that to be found in the classical explanations (Lutheran or Reformed) of the Eucharist. Calvin’s explanation of Receptionism where the supplicant, by the work of the Holy Spirit, is lifted into the Heavenlies where he dines on the real (spiritual) presence of Christ has plenty of the mystery in it and one can certainly walk away with his world still full of the enchanted. Then there is the reality of a stout Reformed prayer life that can also minister mystery. No Protestant who has known and experienced the closeness of the Holy Spirit in prayer needs to worry about a disenchanted world.

It strikes me that the Protestant world is indeed aching for the world to be re-enchanted. I think this ache explains for the rise of the Pentecostal church as the 800 pound gorilla in the Protestant world. What else is the attraction of Pentecostalism except for its promise that it can connect the worshiper with the unseen realm? Pentecostalism is Roman Catholicism on cheap without the formality of smells and bells. Pentecostalism gives a vulgar re-enchantment of the world. I have to admit that forced to pursue enchantment as between Pentecostalism and Constantinople I would begin working on my Iconography.

We should insert here that it seems to me that part of the explanation of the ancient Cathedrals with their sense of beauty and architectural transcendence is the fact that by that beauty and architectural transcendence enchantment was communicated and delivered. Those Cathedrals incarnated the magnificent mystery of biblical Christianity. We should keep in mind man’s need for the mystery in his life before we build our pole barn sanctuaries.

Having said all this though I have to admit that too many expressions of Protestantism once were guilty of disenchanting the world. Many of the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers and the Inklings  I think were trying to provide a basis for the continuing enchanting of the world for Christians. Maybe this explains the love of many Protestants for these works?

In the end it is only in the Reformed faith where the enchantment of the world can remain consistent with a rational faith that hasn’t fallen either into a dry and arid rationalism or a irrational fanciful faith where one is kissing Icons and being swept away by smells and bells. One has only to consider the writings of a John Milton or John Buchan to find the enchanted world in the Reformed faith. The Reformed faith both delivers from the hopelessly contradictory but enchanted world of Rome and EO while at the same time able to provide both a world that remains enchanted while at the same time rational.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

2 thoughts on “The Reformed Faith & The Enchantment of the World”

  1. I sense a little more humility in this piece — for which you should be commended. I also am a Protestant, but I’m not above learning from those who have a different outlook.

    “Everyone’s experience is limited by the dimensions of their cognitive abilities and the content initially available to them. And each has the important mission to grow, purify and deepen his abilities, and to objectively check, multiply, and deepen his vital content; disregarding this, he condemns himself to spiritual dismemberment and impoverishment. … No matter how gifted a person is, he may like what is bad and ugly; he may investigate deeply and yet in indifference pass by the sacred and the divine; and thus his approval does not indicate the dignity of what is approved; and his censure may be based on purely personal disgusts and attachments … if religiosity does not teach him mental humility, [and] if he begins to stand in awe of his own biases and disgusts! Then, his whole philosophy will at best be a successful self-description – like a self-portrait of his soul – and his teaching, a call to reproduce this portrait in other souls. … The teaching philosopher, who is satisfied with his personal, pedestrian, everyday ideas, introduces the spiritual limits of his personality into the sacred subjects he presents, and deliberately or unconsciously tries to legitimize and canonize for mankind his own infirmity and blindness.” pp. 61-2.

    Ivan Ilyin, ‘On Resistance to Evil by Force’, trans. K. Benois

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