Feurbach and Church-Hopping

Feurbarch was one of the few atheists who actually offered a penetrating and insightful critique of Christianity.   He said the Christian faith is merely one’s psychological projections onto an external reality.   Let that sink in.   Unless you presuppose some form of extra-nos kingdom announcement view of the gospel, it’s really hard to say he is wrong.   But let’s say he is.  Moving on.  This is actually the same critique I offered of modern day neo-Paganism.   The average neo-Pagan is projecting onto Old Norse a religion that has been tamed by Christianity.   You are not getting clean Swedish models and noble axe-wielding men fighting off Muslim hordes.  Odin was a sex-depraved fiend.

But back to church hopping.   Let all convertskii realize this: when you go to a Novus Ordo Mass, are you seeing Charlemagnes in the pews or some gay Jesuit priest?   When you go to a GOARCH or OCA church, are you seeing St Alexander Nevsky who massacred the Teutonic knights on “The Battle on the Ice,” or people going through the motions?  When you to, dare I say, a Reformed church, are you seeing John Knox with a sword in his hand, or Covenanters armed to the teeth ready to kill English dragoons, or do you see….well, you get the idea.

Look before you leap.


19 comments on “Feurbach and Church-Hopping

  1. Daniel says:

    What is the point of this post? Excuse me for not understanding it.

  2. Olaf's Axe says:

    Showing the difference between our “ideal” of what we want church to be versus the day-to-day reality of what it is.

    • Daniel says:

      OK. Thank you. I have thought about that issue much over the past few years. And do you think that the difference between the ideal and the reality favors the protestant over against the RC/EO?

  3. John* says:

    “Olaf”, two main points:

    1) your “Novus Ordo” Mass.

    a) Technically, what I think you are referring-to is the Vetus Ordo (ante Vatican II) – ie, that of Trent.
    b) How much of Charlemagne’s Mass is present in this Vetus Ordo?
    I would suspect that the Parisian rite before Trent would be able to claim the title for this honour. In any case, the Ordo of Trent is more cis-alpine Italianate than Frankish.

    Otherwise the rest of your comparisons are valid. Even with Odin above this.

    One could add: “when you go to an Anglo-Catholic Mass (a Missa Normativa, for example), are you seeing Cranmer’s 1552 Book of Common Prayer?”

    2) Your “Church-hopping”.

    This phenomenon has multiplied ever since WW2. Especially after 1967. This is merely a bhy-product of the collapse of legitimacy of the Constantinian Tradition, Where well-informed pew-sitters are looking for an alternative to their own tradition which they see (rightly) as being in an advanced state of irreversible decay. This applies to all of the three main manifestations of the Constantinian Tradition: Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

    As you rightly said: “Look before you leap”. Being a “convertski” may blind you to the fact that an identical process of decay is underway in your target tradition, but in a different configuration.

    I trust that this assists.

    • Olaf's Axe says:

      That’s interesting that you connect the dissatisfcation with the fall of the Constantinian project. That certainly exxplains how the mainstream 20th century churches went liberal after WWII.

      • John* says:


        Can I endorse what you have said re liberalism, but permit me to radically enlarge the perspective.

        There are TWO reactions to the delegitimation of the Constantinian project, not just one:
        1) Liberalism, as you have quite properly and rightly pointed out, and
        2) Fundamentalism; where all three manifestations of the Constantinian church have their fundamentalists.

        Liberalism says: “What the Hell! Let’s believe anything we like and still call it ‘christianity’ ”.
        Fundamentalism is really clinging to the deck chairs on the Constantinian Titanic with increasing desperation as if anything to do with that Titanic has salvific value – no matter how peripheral. In this context, your “church-hopping” (ie becoming a “convertski”) is merely trying to exchange one Titanic deck chair for another one as in “my deck-chair is broken, yours may not be broken”. {thus Orthodoxbridge.}

        The noise of the Liberal-Fundamentalist conflict is really (so to speak) the noise at an Irish “wake” for the death of all forms of Constantinian “christianity”.

        The “third” group – the increasingly abandoned “middle” in the Church is trending in three major directions, the first two of which are not necessarily incompatible with each other:
        A) Messianic Judaism (increasingly distant from its more fundamentalist earlier Evangelical allies), and
        B) Pre-Augustinian (as in Augustine of Aosta, later of Canterbury 597CE) Celtic Christianity.
        C) exit the Church altogether, and often go neo-Pagan.

        I could go on, but I trust that this assists.

        Do you want me to expand on the post WW2 reasons?

  4. Olaf's Axe says:

    THat’s very informative. Good model. Please expand. WWII has always been an interest for me.

    • John* says:

      The significance of the Post-WW2 era:

      This arose in the wake of the Nazi Shoah, as I have already provided to you elsewhere.

      It falls into periods roughly analogous to the Jewish 19 year calendar Cycle. It also occurs on two levels: the Academy and in the Pews.

      # 1948-1967 (from the birth of Israel to the 1967 war)
      Soul-Searching in the wake of the Shoah.
      % Academy: Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and Nag Hammadi (NH) – still within a Constantinian paradigm.
      % Pew: very little movement.
      Mounting neo-Gnostic speculation as to the content of the DSS.

      The 1967 war liberated the DSS from Roman Catholic ‘captivity”
      % Academy: a merging of DSS and NH studies. Protestant and Jewish scholars now collaborate on both with Jewish scholars in Hebrew paleography now a respected part of ecumenical Biblical studies. Questions being raised as to the legitimacy of (a) the earlier definition of “gnostic”, and (b) the Greek-monopoly on the declaration of (b1) the LXX as a Canonical “Bible” and (b2) the content of the NT Canon. The separation of LXX Studies from Biblical Studies. The growing legitimation of Celtic Studies and Messianic Judaism.
      The major rise of the Liberal-Fundamentalist divide.
      % Pew: spreading the awareness of the contents of the DSS and NH. The de-Christianisation of western Europe in the wake of the Nazi Shoah and the major Catholic/Lutheran wartime collaboration with the Nazis.

      The neo-Gnostics were proven right in that the content of the DSS was revolutionary, but wrong in the alleged field of study. What was truly revolutionary was not that Jesus was married etc. but when merged with NH – it was in the field of Canon Studies, and the formation of a Biblical “Canon”, especially the NT Canon. Greek “translations” now become increasingly suspect.

      % Academy: (1) re-dating of the writings of the NT with earlier dates becoming credible, (2) sotto-voce musings that the three: Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the remnants of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene should have been included in the NT Canon as Semitic Wisdom Literature, rather than being excluded as supposedly being Hellenistic “gnostic” material, (3) the rising legitimacy of the Protevangelium of James as potentially a part of NT Canon, (4) the role of women in Ministry. (5) the awareness that non-Constantinian forms of Church lasted well after the First Council in 325CE. (6) The increasing abandonment of the Constantinian paradigm for Church studies. (7) An exacerbation of the Liberal-Fundamentalist divide – Fundamentalists retreat into their respective ghettos.
      % Pew: the contents of the 1967-1986 studies in the Academy. A gnawing and growing awareness of the illegitimacy of the Constantinian paradigm. Commencement of significant “church-hopping” within Fundamentalisms (as I have outlined above). The rise of the House Church movement outside a Constantinian framework.

      (a work still in progress: as at 2014 – half way through)
      % Academy: a re-casting of Church history and Church theology (and even Church Biblical Canon studies) outside a Constantinian paradigm – scaring the living daylights out of almost all Constantinian Church hierarchies everywhere. Ecumenical official politeness with the Eastern Orthodox, coupled with a growing awareness that their Constantinianism and Hellenism was counterproductive in a post-Constantinian academic environment. (Hence their tactical marginalisation in forward-thrusting academic studies). Fundamentalists shrill in their condemnation of these forward-thrusting academic studies as supposedly being their dreaded Liberalism.
      % Pew: the contents of the 1986-2005 academic studies. Their incorporation into contemporary academic studies: henceforth – in the world of the internet, both Academy and Pew would broadly march forward together, and not have a time-lag between them.
      Both Academy and Pew become aware of the legitimacy of “Alternative” Studies outside a “Classical” ie a Greek-Latin framework, and increasingly accept the results of such as valid.

      More could be added to this era, but I think that you get the idea.

      As an aside, do you now see why Robert on Orthodoxbridge is now too scared to release my posts on his site to his readers.

      • Olaf's Axe says:

        Thanks. This is great. Can you point me towards some specific academic sources on this material?

      • Jeronimo says:

        I’m still digesting much of what you have typed here and exploring some of the other leads you provide. This is why my comment is a bit late.

        Regarding point 5 above:

        “the awareness that non-Constantinian forms of Church lasted well after the First Council in 325CE”

        Is there any source material on this subject that you could provide? I understand some of it may be in the resources you mention below, but wondering about this specific aspect.

        As to the “delegitimation of the Constantinian project” and its relationship to post-WW2 realities, I think you’ve got a point. I have only recently come to understand – in a rather rudimentary way – how deeply post-WW2 issues still affect today’s current events. When I stumbled onto information about Viorel Trifa and his still living legacy that apparently no one wants to confront (and which is actively obscured), well, that was an eye-opener.

  5. John* says:


    “Thanks. This is great. Can you point me towards some specific academic sources on this material?”

    What area(s) are you interested in?

    It is difficult to pin any one source down. It comes down to discernment of trends over time.

    The trend of the journals JBL, Vetus Testamentum, Novum Testamentum, CBQ, and Brill journals from Louvain over the last 30 years is a good start. Whilst many of their articles are arcane, and are targeted at the PhD level, it is increasingly difficult to detect a Constantinian bias in them.

    For Roman Catholic scholarship, any output from Roman Catholics without the usual censorship of Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, and the occasional Imprimi Potest are also useful. Ecumenical (but non Fundamentalist) scholarship from Lutheran Scandinavia is increasingly helpful.

    Significant amounts of the recent output of Bart Ehrman, Robert Einsenman and Dominic Crossan, for example, have not been satisfactorily dismantled by Fundamentalists – both Protestant and Roman. This fact indicates that there are a number if issues that they have raised which are likely to stand the test of time.

    The theological output from the Catholic Magesterium on the Tiber and duly approved Catholic authors is increasingly distrusted because it is caught in a time warp, so fishing there is increasingly a waste of time. Essentially the same applies to “tabloid” Evangelical Protestant output.

    Whilst radical in many areas, Matthew Fox’s Creation theology as in his “Confessions” and “Original Blessing” has significant Celtic resonance, and cannot be easily dismissed.

    Does this help the works along?

    By the way, do you see any “bugs” in the schema that I have given?

  6. Olaf's Axe says:

    As to any bugs, it will take me a while to digest what yo have written. A few notes:

    1. I think NT Wright’s take on NT is better than Crossan’s (and probably more Hebrew-friendly).
    2. I think Matthew Fox overdoes the anti-Augustine route, and I tend to view Fox as a loose cannon, outlaw theologian.
    3. I’ve read Erhman and he makes some interesting points, though I reject him on key others.

    I’ve read a good bit of JBL.

    • John* says:


      I agree with your overall perspective. However, I view many of those on the radical fringe as fulfilling the role of “Baalam’s donkey”: delivering legitimate ascerbic critiques of the Constantinian project in select areas of study without being correct in all their particulars.

      For example, none of us expect to see Baalam’s donkey in heaven – the idea is rightly ludicrous. However, and conversely, we accept that even a usually dumb animal, under the right circumstances, is perfectly capable of delivering a Divinely authorised and sanctioned message into a particular situation.

      I include in this category of “Baalam’s dinkey” such authors as Robert Einsenman and Hyam Maccoby. These two make many correct and unanswerable observations in both history and theology, yet I would not completely trust them in all their works.

      I concur with you re Fox as “as a loose cannon” and for some of the time as an “outlaw theologian”. However his critique of Augustine tout court is valid. Augustine corrupted all Latin theology thereafter. Had Augustine and his “theology” never existed, the Protestant Reformation and Protestant-Roman debate would never have had such a sharp edge to it, nor would there have been such spectacular theological pyrotechnics.

      Have a read of tonyequale.wordpress.com/‎ and (1) His Arius and Athanasios and (2) Greek Christianity, There is plenty of food for thought there.

  7. Jeronimo says:

    Sorry for butting in, but how does CD Elledge’s “The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls” rate, especially as a starting point on DSS study?

    • John* says:


      Thanks for your question, you are not really butting in at all.

      I do not pretend to be a expert in this field, merely a student voyaging towards a greater understanding.

      This may help to start: http://www.emanueltov.info/docs/reviews/elledge.review.pdf

      Also review at: https://www.eisenbrauns.com/ECOM/_3ZP1FF8AL.HTM

      And; https://secure.aidcvt.com/sbl/ProdDetails.asp?ID=061714P&PG=1&Type=BL&PCS=SBL

      Personally, for DSS studies I found these two quite helpful:

      Hartmut Stegman, “The Library of Qumran” Brill, 1998
      Gabriele Boccacini “Beyond the Essene Hypothesis”, Eerdmans, 1998.

      On a more broad issue, we need to discern two main extremes in DSS studies:
      1) There is nothing there that would disturb the Constantinian worldview.
      2) The DSS material is so explosive as to destroy the Church tout court.

      Neither extreme is now tenable. Both these perspectives were proven false when the full texts were released to the public. Once liberated from the Roman Catholic captivity by the removal of Jordanian control over the scrolls in the wake of the 1967 war, and their consequent custody by the Israelis, a far better and more nuanced understanding unfolded.

      Prior to 1967:

      For (1), the Roman Catholic propagandists (and monastic custodians of the DSS) asserted that Qumran supported the monasticism that was to later flourish in the Nile Valley. They desperately wanted to legitimize the institution of celibacy as early as was possible. They also wanted to maintain that the Constantinian “church” at and after the First Council in 325CE, with all its anti-Judaism, and anti-Semitism was always the direct Successor to that which Jesus founded in 30CE. That was the only message they wanted the world to hear about the DSS.

      For (2) the neo-Gnostic ‘conspiracy-theorists’ wanted to pretend that the DSS contained genealogical “proof” that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and sired a line that would flow through Merovignian veins etc. This “theory” was based on the facts of what the Templars were supposedly up to in the early part of the Crusades, and what the Cathari actually preserved through the teeth of the siege of Montsegur..

      After 1967 (and especially closer to the year 2000):

      For (1) it emerged that the heavily Hellenized and Romanized “church” of Constantine bore little resemblance to the Jewish original of St James the Just (Yaakov haTzaddik). And when combined with #2 below, it began to raise questions as to the legitimacy of Hellenized gentiles arrogating to themselves the right to determine the content of Biblical Canon – both OT and NT alike. (Thus the legitimacy of Athanasius’ “canon” of 337CE for the NT came into question). It also had an impact on the NT “Apochrypha” studies, and questioned the legitimacy and tenability of the earlier definition of “Gnostic”.

      For (2) they were at least on to something when the Greek and Latin alleged NT genealogies began to unravel (as the neo-Gnostics expected – but not in a direction favorable to them), and the NT Gospels began to take on a more “family” affair when the Greek and Latin corruptions to same were reversed. This had an impact on NT Canon studies when it began to emerge that the writers of all the non-Pauline NT material were in some sort of extended family relationship, and that the genealogy of Luke was the unbroken Jewish Royal Line to Jesus via His mother who authorized the closure of the Canon of the Tanak.

      there is, of course, much more, but I trust that this will help you in your studies.

      • Jeronimo says:

        Thank you very much for both the resources and the explanations. The review of Elledge’s book by Emanuel Tov is much appreciated, and you’ve provided links to online book sites I was unaware of. I’m very much looking forward to reading the Stegman and Boccacini works. Thanks again.

  8. John* says:


    Regarding your post of February 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    The resources in this area are only thin at the moment, but are steadily growing. For the moment the contributors are still sticking closely to parts of the Constantinian paradigm in their favorable treatment of Paul, but their contributions elsewhere are quite good.

    This one might help you to start the process:

    “Jewish Believers in Jesus”, Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik (eds), Hendrickson, 2007.

    This is not a light work. Cover to cover some 930+ pages.

    Only slightly radical are the two smaller works of Jeffrey J Butz published by Inner Traditions, Rochester VT:

    “The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity”, 2005,
    “The Secret Legacy of Jesus. The Judaic Teachings that Passed from James the Just to the Founding Fathers”, 2010.

    A little more non-Constantinian is:

    “The Hidden Gospel. Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus” Neil Douglas-Klotz, Quest Books, Wheaton IL, 1999.

    It is a good book notwithstanding its often suspect publisher.

    You might also like to start exploring the growing field of Marcionite studies, and their contribution to the delegitimation of the Constantinian project. When you see just how much of Marcionism is still with us, you will be shocked. Here Tertullian contra Marcion is a good starting point.


    Here is my “take” on the Constantinian project:

    The Constantinian “Catholic” Synthesis:

    (A) Administrative and Legal Romanism
    (B) Cultural Hellenism – with its Antiochus Epiphanes originated anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.
    (C) modified Mithraism (without the sacrifice of the bull in the Taurobolium)
    (D) modified Sol Invictus beliefs
    (E) anti-Judaic / anti-Semitic Marcionism
    (F) “moderate” Pauline “christianity” (NEVER the Arimathean Original!)

    { (E) above established the supremacy of Paul in Biblical Hermeneutics in two stages: (I) the OT is interpreted by the NT, (ii) the non-Pauline NT (including Hebrews) is to be interpreted by the Pauline NT. }

    At Nicea 325 there were also leaders from of all the major Pagan religions of the Roman Empire. Bishops from the cults of Mithras, Tammuz, Oannes (Dagon), Ceres, Janus, Bacchus, Apollo, Osiris, Jupiter, and Constantine’s own religion: Sol Invictus, were invited. It was Constantine’s wish that all of the Pagan religions, then at odds with each other, creating unnecessary conflicts, be unified into one “Catholic” church. “Catholic” means universal. The proceedings of that council were conducted by Constantine with an iron hand, and one of the positions which he insisted upon, and got, was to make Pistis a doctrine of the new church. Gnosticism could not be tolerated – not on the grounds of doctrine, but because it encouraged its members to question all authority – especially Constantinian authority. Pistis was thus politically expedient, because it forbade questioning.

    This strand’s bishops find themselves as part of the official establishment. They became the rapidly-assimilated quasi-civil servants into the mandarinate which administered the empire. Essentially, the Pauline church came under the Empire’s ‘department of State for Religious Affairs’ under the administrative control of the Bishops, where these bishops had at their disposal all the coercive apparatus of state (in the early stages – still pagan) to enforce obedience and submission to them.

    In the emergent states within the Imperial Roman Orbit, the Church became the major lawmaker, with much of pagan customary law being absorbed (without being de-paganised as in the British Isles), and codified into civil law by the clergy. They also wrote down the oral legends, myths and stories of the newly-converted peoples, adding their own Hellenic and Roman gloss, omitting all that was offensive to this accepted Hellenism and Romanism, retaining this, adding that, and subtly changing the national histories (so as to “harmonise” with the new Imperial Hellenic/Roman Synthesis), and forming the mould for new, especially “Christian” cultures. This is their version of the “Catholic Church”.

    In this pervasive way, the Imperial Church was able to distort and misrepresent the histories of entire peoples through the re-writing of their histories in a manner favorable to Constantinianism, devaluing for all time any potential rivals in the field of religious beliefs, thus increasing its grip not only on the current reality of the tribes, but also on their supposed ancient cultural heritage.


    I trust that these small morsels help you on your way.

  9. Jeronimo says:

    The engine is revved. Thanks again.

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