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Syncretist Vampires: Power versus Love

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I had occasion to watch a jolly old Hammer Horror film last night – The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Pure cheese and nonsense but a good old-fashioned tale of Good versus Evil. There were many problems with the plot such as when the events took place and whether Dracula could be in two places at the same time, to wit China and Transylvania. One problem did strike me most strongly.

Van Helsing (always the magnificent Peter Cushing) teaches his band of vampire hunters the old vampire lore. According to his teaching, vampires hate all that is holy. In Transylvania this is the crucifix, but in China it could be the image of the “Lord Buddha”. The question is, can two things be considered holy by two religions? Is the crucifix holy in Buddhism? Is the image of Buddha in Christianity? I don’t know the answer to the first, but I do know the answer to the second. No. Buddha (though he did teach the same Golden Rule as Our Lord) also taught that one can save oneself through enlightenment (i.e Pelagianism) nor did he teach anything about God the Creator. In fact, Buddhists largely reject the notion of a deity under the idea that everything must change. Much of his teaching is in keeping with the praxis of Christianity and therefore carries a certain worldly wisdom, but it is not in keeping with Christian orthodoxy. in Christianity, we believe that we are judged from the heart and that our transformation for theosis begins in there with God. Buddha is not holy because he does not accept God in Christ.

Is Christianity holy in Buddhism? Holiness is bound in keeping the eightfold way. While much of Christian moral teaching seems to adhere to the eightfold way, Christianity categorically rejects reincarnation.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
The Crucifix speaks of this single death of Christ and of His resurrection, not His reincarnation. The Incarnation of Our Lord contravenes the Right View of the Eightfold Way and thus is not holy in the Buddhist sense of the word.

So, are Chinese Vampires afraid of the Cross? If Christianity is the true reflection of reality, then yes of course. All Evil flees at the presence of Christ. The Devil and all his works are rendered powerless by the work of the Cross. If this is the case, then they cannot be afraid of the Lord Buddha, because his statue is not holy in Christianity. Likewise if Buddhism is correct, then the cross would hold no terror for the vampire.

In short, a vampire cannot be repelled by both the crucifix and the statue of Buddha. But then, it’s only a plot device in a film, so it doesn’t make much difference… does it?

We have to step back a bit. Clearly the writers of the screenplay have this idea that holiness is something that can be compartmentalised to religions. I’ve seen something similar in the wonderful Curse of Fenric in Doctor Who whereby it is the faith of the individual that repels the vampire, not the nature of the faith. This is largely rejected in The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires in which a vampire is dispatched by the holy image itself, not by an individual. According to the Seventh Doctor, the act of having faith plays havoc with the psychic faculties of haemovores (i.e. vampires).

Nonetheless, what both programmes have in common is the notion that it is only the faith that matters, not what we have faith in.

It’s a common view today and one by which most people reject a particular expression of faith – “that it’s all the same, really.” All will eventually come out in the wash.

While Buddha may teach a good moral code, the Gospels provide good, solid evidence of Our Lord Jesus Christ and eyewitness statements to His Resurrection. It seems to me that the teaching of Our Lord about what is truth is much more empirically sound than that of reincarnation. I do recognise that there are cases where reincarnation appears to have happened as are found with strong past-life memories. I can’t explain all of these case away with one brush. But it’s clear that if Jesus taught that He was the son of God and proved it, then Christianity is true and, further, it is the only truth to the nature of God and our relationship with Him.

We have seen so many attempts to fuse Christianity with different religions before. This has been a danger that Pope Benedict XVI famously preached about. Syncretism – the act of amalgamating religions – is destructive of one’s soul because it makes Christ out a liar when He says that He is the Truth.
There is another form of syncretism that dogs the poor old CofE. In a piece that seeks to prevent people who actually believe the Christian Faith from helping congregations which want to hold the same faith, Stephen Parsons says
As a parish priest I have often had to stand up to small ‘factions’ when it was suggested that some activity or teaching was not ‘biblical. I have had to point out that the Church of England takes more than one view on a variety of topics. This is not a teaching that is found in conservative congregations. Far too many Christians are being taught that truth is a single entity. You either have it or you don’t. It is thus hard for these Christians who are taught in this way to feel comfortable in a place where difference of opinion is not only tolerated but even encouraged. Many of them want to hear only from a minister who preaches a single perspective, based on this ‘biblical’ perspective. Preaching from the bible should of course produce a single consistent message. But we know that it does not in fact happen. There are as many bible ‘truths’ as there are preachers to disagree about what they are. The reason for the current popularity of the independent congregation is that there only one voice is heard, that of the minster. Hearing a single opinion creates a kind of semblance of unity. But this can only exist when all other opinions and perspectives have been removed from the arena. In a political context we call this a one-party state or fascism.
Yes, it’s true that the CofE “takes more than one view on a variety of topics” but when one of those “topics” is sin, then there is a big problem – a problem that has, at its root, the same problem as syncretism. Parsons believes that truth can only be expressed through opinion and thereby he is proclaiming that he, and the church to which he belongs, is morally relativist. Is the CofE right to take more than one view on a variety of topics?

The fact that Parsons misses is that there is only one Christianity which is actually Catholic. Many would say that, in the early church, there are lots of different Christianities which arises out of their relativistic and syncretic viewpoint. The faith that one finds crystallised in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is a faith that has been expressed throughout Christianity. The Holy Scriptures themselves bear witness to Christ Himself being THE Truth, that only God creates, and that we are not our own creators. There has only been one Christianity and it has been consistent in the revelation that it has received.

The CofE tries to hold together contradictions: “women can be priests” and “women can’t be priests”, “marriage is exclusively heterosexual” and “marriage is not exclusively heterosexual”, “we define our own gender [sic]” and “God defines our gender [sic]”. It will say something like Christ Himself held contradictions together. For example,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John iii.16)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John ii.15)
and
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John iii.17)

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.(John ix.39)

The moral relativism that Parsons and his church shows denies the objective truth that Christ Himself does reveal in Holy Scripture and to which the Catholic Church has held since He walked with us. It is his “inclusive” church that has demonstrated “mutual flourishing” by promoting one integrity to Diocesan Bishops, Deans and Archdeacons, by denying the other integrity to being, at best, barely-tolerated Suffragans. This dual-integrity syncretism isn’t working because it cannot work!

Why be syncretist?

Behind every moral relativist is the idea of equality as identity, not equality as complement. Men and women are equally human in complement: they are not identical. Homosexual relationships are not identical to heterosexual relationships, though they are correspondent in earthly law. This relativism is designed to allow equality of power. Look very carefully at the movements within the progressive church. They are about equalising power. Given the arguments about patriarchy and control that some women have made in order to force the church to ordain them, it does appear to me that the decision has been made not out of love but of power. Likewise, the transgender issue is about trying to claim the power to force others to accept what is so obviously not the case. Ironically, it is the transgender issue that is robbing women of the power to exercise their identity as women. If the law gives everyone the power to define themselves and force that definition on others, then “woman” will be defined out of existence: it will be “man” and “noman” – a letter’s difference!

Likewise the syncretism between religions seeks to make some form of appeasement to level the playing field between people of faith and thus make one religion the same as another. They can’t be. The Q’ran is as out of place in the pulpit as the Nicene Creed is in the manara. Make every belief equal and no-one has any power over another - save the secular law and the State.

The struggles between traditionals and progressives is about power and the progressives are doing so by redefining what love is so that “love” and “rights” become intertwined. St Paul is very clear that love has nothing to do with rights – it bears all things, never rejoices in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. When St Paul speaks of the husband being set as head over the wife, this is grounded in the concept of love, not of power. Throughout all ages, it is power in law that has trodden women down underfoot. If the relationship between husband and wife is to mean anything, then it comes about through love and seeking to express that love. Man’s headship over Woman means absolutely nothing if it is not expressed in love.

And we’re not talking about the same love that progressives talk about. This love is the love that will sacrifice for the good of the others. It is not a love that will seek definition and demand that this be honoured and enshrined in law. The monastery is the place for people of the same sex to commit to love each other – a love that cannot ever be sexually expressed without incurring sin because that will go against what love is. The moment we equate agape with eros and philia we are being syncretist.

Parsons is right. No-one will leave the CofE without sacrificing their pensions and livelihood. The question is whether it is holy to remain in an institution which is trying to be “radically inclusive” and failing miserably (because radical inclusion cannot exist!) or whether holiness needs to be sought in places where the Gospel is being taught, believed and lived. I know which holiness I want to pursue, and it ain’t in the CofE! No wonder the vicar in the Curse of Fenric has a crisis of faith and succumbs to the vampires! I think my crucifix will work quite nicely.

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