Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order of the Catholic Church) said “What I see as white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it.” This was #13 of his rules for thinking [link].
I have to admit that I am not Ignatius. I have no interest in this type of insistent loyalty. I know that may seem obvious, since I am a Protestant, but it has been troubling me quite a bit lately.
There are actually two parts of this that get to me. The first challenges me to question how I define authority. Where does authority come from and who decides that? It is clear that I am unwilling to live in the kind of authoritarian system that Christendom operated in. But where does that leave me?
I am doing a series of Podcasts in January over at Everyday Theology [link] to look at things like Communion – Eucharist – the Lord’s Supper. I love this celebration and hold up its deep value to the church. I am not interested in deconstructing it to the point that no-one wants to celebrate it anymore. But neither am I interested in doggedly holding to views & beliefs about the meal that were conceived of when the earth was flat and which would not hold up under a microscope. We have to be willing to revisit our understanding of things in light of the contemporary world. I love the Wesleyan Quad of experience, reason, scripture, and tradition. What does that look like in the 21st century?
The second challenge that Ignatius poses in my thoughts has to do with modern Protestants who do want to take on this kind of posture. I get it if you are part of a tradition that is constructed this way. I respect that. What I do not get is those who want to cling to some romantic notion of ‘orthodoxy’ or structural accountability from a position without belonging to that tradition.
I am grateful for finding people like Ignatius of Loyola who are so radically different than me that it causes me great discomfort to reconcile why we are so different. It cause me to examine why things are the way that they are. It gets me thinking about the role of revelation in religion, the construction of authority in a post-enlightenment thought, and how – to say the least – I am no Ignatius of Loyola.