A Logical Progression to Swearing Fealty?

Mucius Scaevola asked, in response to my comment on his blog, “would you then believe that human faith has a logical progression, or is it so manifold as to be fully indescribable?”

I can answer that question on my terms, but you wouldn’t find it helpful. Faith, as I’m defending it, is simply the fact that I have sworn allegiance to some person. This isn’t merely splitting hairs: if you go through the Greek scriptures and replace every instance of “believe”, “belief”, and “faith” with the appropriate variant of “fealty” or “loyalty”, you end up with a very different form of religion. The line of human demarcation is not (parable of the sheep and the goats notwithstanding) whether you did good or bad, it is whether you swore and kept fealty to Jesus of Nazareth.

N.B.: Some brands of Christians have funny arguments about whether apostasy is even possible.

If you’ll accept those terms, I think the question you want to ask is more along the lines of: “Is there a logical progression that gets a human to swear fealty to a notional Valfather and creator?”

There can be. By their accounts, the gradual conversions of atheists Gilbert Keith Chesterton and Clive Staples Lewis followed a logical path until the tipping point, where they each report receiving some sort of nudge over the edge.

The conversion of a modern atheist writer, John C. Wright, also led down a recognizably similar path, except that at the edge he got snarky and dare-prayed God to give him a sign of His existence. Upon which, Wright writes, he had a heart attack, at the hospital was relieved of pain by his wife’s prayers, and received a series of visions that convinced him of the truth of not merely Christianity, but of full-blown Roman Catholicism. It could be regarded as convenient that he is under orders not to disclose the content of the visions to the public.

Thus in my cosmology, vehement atheists can find their own damned way to water, but they have to get splashed (if not dunked) before they’ll take a drink.

I suspect that merely dispassionate unbelievers don’t require the surprise wetting at the end. Reason, enough skepticism to doubt even your doubts, and an honest approach to ancient history can get you quite a long way down the narrow path.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “A Logical Progression to Swearing Fealty?

  1. “Faith, as I’m defending it, is simply the fact that I have sworn allegiance to some person.”

    i agree with this wholeheartedly. taken for granted that a person will always swear allegiance to a force higher than them, namely the highest and strongest force they can find, i’ve yet to really conceive of something larger and stronger than myself worth giving into. like you said, reason, skepticism and an honest approach. one of the maxims i live by is “great faith, great doubt, great perseverence,” — hakuin ekaku.

    i have a feeling i could develop some kind of religious conversion in real life. i’m not an atheist, i think god could exist, or maybe fucking aliens for all we know, but i still might need to get my head dunked under water. what i do know is that i’m curious, and that always leads me to dangerous places searching for a good view, like right next to the bathtub with christians around.

  2. Never bend over near water when Christians are around.

  3. Surprise baptism may ensue.

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  5. Svar

    This is a good post. This is the same way I came to believe. From an understanding in general metaphysics via Forest Poetry and the truth inherent within Traditionalism(via several sources around these parts of the ‘net) I started to think/feel/believe that the most Truth is within Christianity, especially within the Roman Catholic Tradition.

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  7. Thanks, Svar. I had the mixed blessing of a Christian, but borderline-churchian upbringing. Life-long loyalty to the divine invasion, in other words. I find the case for Jesus intellectually convincing, but that has little to do with fealty.

  8. -what

    Liked your post. Good thoughts.

  9. I still am not baptized(but I plan on getting baptized soon) and I was not raised a Churchian-fortunately. Churchianity has always disgusted me and believe it or not, I used to despise Catholics. I was neutral towards Protestants but I started to dislike them as well when I saw the state of the mainline Churches. I’ve always been a conservative, but of the reflexive-type not the ideological-type and seeing “Christians” act SWPLish or seeing things like gay priests and female priests pissed me off and turned me away from Christianity. That is, until I learned that real Christianity is not that two-dollar shit that the Emerging Churchites try to sell.

    I think Roman Catholicism is great but many Catholics still annoy me. However, I am proud to say that Catholic Traditionalism is on the rise(Latin, six kids, actually going to confession) is on the rise. I am also proud to say that Catholics make up a good percentage of Paleoconservatives(Chronicles is full of them) and are at the forefront of the Classical Conservative/Monarchist Revival movement.

    I never was a vehement atheist, I guess just an agnostic of some sort. I realized that there was something beyond the physical world, but I just didn’t care, nor did I take the time to try to understand it.

  10. Eumaios

    Seek out whatever shocks and offends the worldly, then do it hardcore. Hence the attraction of Roman Catholicism for reactionary-minded Christians. Orthodoxy gets less play in this manner, because it also gets less attention from the world.

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