The Learned Opinion of Dr William Tighe: An antidote to PE’s perverted ecclesiology

The following learned opinion was offered by Dr William Tighe in a com-box of a previous posting. It is such a useful and well worded statement that I wish it to be recorded here for all posterity. In the future, when Past Elder spouts his pseudo-historical argument that the Catholic Church of the present time is neither the “catholic church” nor “true Catholicism”, I will simply say: “I refer you to the learned opinion of Dr William Tighe”, and be done with.

PE’s argument [against the Catholic Church], insofar as it is historical, is a lot of nonsense. In making a distinction between “the catholic church” and “the Catholic Church” he is postulating a “catholic church” unknown to both History and to Christians before the Reformation, and in which “before the Reformation” also comprehnds “before Constantine.”

His argument seems to be based on the premise that there exists a “catholic church” which, if it is not the fictitious “invisible church” of most of the Reformers, seems to be a “catholic church” that includes more than one “visible communion.” This may well be good Lutheran ecclesiology, but it is imcompatibe with the ecclesiology, so far as we can discern it, of that visible communion that5 condemned and excummunicated the various Gnostic terchers and their followers, the “reformed church” of Marcion, the “spiritual church” of Montanus, and the “pure church” of Novatus and the Novatianists. In other words, that body which did all of these things, at the same time regarded it self as solely, uniquely and visibly “the Catholic Church” — both “Catholic” and “catholic.”

It seems an idle and rather ridiculous waste of time and mental energy to construct a theory about how the claim of both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church to be THE Catholic Church is a function of their post-Constantinian status as the “Western Roman” and the “Eastern Roman” Empires’ “State Religions” when the pre-Constantinian Catholic church of which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church each claim to be the authentic representative today, made the same claims about itself, as they make. In other words, it knew nothing of the kind of catholic church of which PE is the protagonist, and no doubt would have rejected the notion of such a “catholic church” as a strange and heretical conceit, had it been presented with it.

Much more honest to acknowledge that such an ecclesiology has no foundation in the Fathers’ teaching, no more than does that other pet idea of sola fide.

William Tighe

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11 responses to “The Learned Opinion of Dr William Tighe: An antidote to PE’s perverted ecclesiology

  1. Past Elder

    Back in the day, I was taught that academic doctors do not use the title Doctor outside of academia. Perhaps you think it strengthens your “antidote” to refer to “the learned opinion of Dr William Tighe” in contrast to the “perverted ecclesiology” of “PE” rather than Dr Terence Maher; regardless, I commend him for following academic custom in signing his opinion on a non-academic blog.

    As to the “antidote” itself, interesting that this “proof” sola historia that the Roman Catholic Church of the Nouvelle Theologie dissenters who won at Vatican II is the Roman Catholic Church as before and is the catholic church of the creed comes from a faculty member at a “Lutheran” institute of higher education affiliated with a “Lutheran” synod which among its many heterodoxies by Lutheran or Catholic standards ordains women, since 2001 has been recognised by LCMS as church body “we cannot cannot consider to be an orthodox Lutheran church body”, and just this 22 February our synodical president — he’s Doctor too, since that seems to a thing on this blog — issued with regret a memo re the findings of the ELCA Task Force on Sexuality to recommend to that synod’s upcoming Churchwide Assembly that “structured flexibility in decision making to allow, in appropriate situations, people in publicly accountable, monogamous, lifelong, same-gendered relationships to be approved for the rosters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America”, that in view of this action we must continue to be unable to regard the ELCA as an orthodox Lutheran body while still reaching out to those within it trying to remain true to the Gospel.

    (“Rosters”, for those not familiar with term, refers to lists of synodically approved clergy and other official church workers.)

    Welcome to the Brave New Church.

  2. Past Elder

    PS from PE — it is true I hold the post-conciliar Catholic Church to be neither the Catholic Church nor the catholic church of the creed. It is not my intent here to convince you of the latter, though the subject comes up. My intent here is if not convince to warn you of the former — I understand all too well why it would appear to you to be the Catholic Church, and having appeared so, why you would want it to be, but I say by way of brotherly warning, should you continue to ignore the reality that it is not, even leaving aside whether it is the catholic church, the Catholic Church, you will encounter things that will make your recent disappointments seem like but a mosquito bite.

  3. Louise

    Back in the day, I was taught that academic doctors do not use the title Doctor outside of academia.

    oooooooo! PE goes straight for he jugular!

    In making a distinction between “the catholic church” and “the Catholic Church” he is postulating a “catholic church” unknown to both History and to Christians before the Reformation, and in which “before the Reformation” also comprehnds “before Constantine.”

    I think I shall memorise this sentence.

    “Back in the day” is a supremely irritating expression, because I read it more often than the expression we normally use that I now cannot even remember what it is.

  4. Christine

    Oh, let’s leave the land of “learned” and break it down in really simple terms.

    As long as postconciliar Catholics are willing to burn a pinch of incense to the god Vatican II the hierarchy will throw them a few traditional crumbs as well as allowing dissent to go unchecked. The empire rules.

    The same church that once did not hesitate to excommunicate emperors now whimpers before the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Maria Shriver, who unhesitatingly admit that they are cafeteria Catholics. No cojones whatsoever.

    The very fact that there is now permission to celebrate the Tridentine Rite alongside of the novus ordo proves that the Catholic church is no longer the Catholic church. This liturgical schizophrenia would never have been tolerated by Pius X or his predecessors.

    Like PE always says, at least when one goes to Orthodoxy one gets the real thing.

  5. William Tighe

    In England, I was told that it was, or was once, considered a self-promoting affectation in an academic to use the term “Dr,” since until the 1950s few English academics had or sought a doctoral degree outside the sciences; and by contrast at Yale as a graduate student I was told that it was, or used to be, rather the done thing, because (as one elderly academic said) “every Tom, Dick or Harry teaching at a prep school or junior college now are called ‘professors’.”

    At the Cambridge University Library, where all doctoral theses are catalogued by number in order of submission — I think mine (1984) was somewhere in the 12-thousand range — I once called up doctoral thesis #1, and found that it was (as I recall) in Chemistry and dated from 1921. It consisted of two or three of the candidate’s articles cut from the journals in which they were published, interspersed with typewritten articles and “linking pages,” all tied together with string. Up to the 1960s doctoral theses (at least in History at Cambridge) tended to be short affairs, often between 125 and 150 pages, but thereafter they increased remarkably in bulk.

  6. Past Elder

    Perhaps the readership will excuse a moment here with my esteemed colleague.

    It seems to me these days everybody wants to be a “Doctor”. These non-research professional “Doctors” drive me nuts — D.Mus., D,Pharm. on and on!

    In my experience — however, academic custom is as you know not the same everywhere — medical doctors, among the original professional doctors, sit with the Master’s level graduates as a matter of protocol, since their degree is not a research degree.

    At the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, the tension between the PhDs, who saw the MDs as glorified technicians and not scientists, and the MDs, who saw the PhDs as ivory tower recluses with no idea what to actually do about anything, was amazing!

    Which reminds me of the most amazing public lecture I ever heard, given there by the director at the time, William Grosvenor Pollard, who was also an Episcopal priest. His discussion of quantum indeterminancy and a creative God was the most stunning presentation I believe it shall ever be my good fortune to hear, pretty much leaving everyone regardless of degree stunned.

  7. William Tighe

    In England, of course, most Physicians are not “doctors” at all; the MD degree is only conferred on them as a result of exceptional discoveries or contribution to medicine, or as a result of long service or exceptional esteem — just like the DD degree (in England at least).

  8. Past Elder

    If memory serves, it’s the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons — surgeons then not being physicians. I think they were addressed as Mr, not Dr, or so I recall my dad explaining to me (he was PhD and MD both). It was my dissertation adviser who explained to me that, now that I was about to be “doctor”, it is a term to be used in an academic setting only, to avoid confusion in the general public that I/we are medical doctors.

    I am a recovering academic, so I don’t know, but with the loose familiarity these days, I wonder — it was something of a rite of passage when having successfully satisfied the requirements of the degree, one was invited by his adviser to address him by his first name for the first time, as a sign of one’s new status. Is this still done, in these days when professors are Tom, Dick and Harry from Day One of 101 level courses?

  9. Past Elder

    PS — I rather like the German custom of everyone, or at least males, being Mr, then further designated by position as well as degree: Herr Prof Dr, zum B, oder Frau Prof Dr, if both a professor and a doctor.

    God bless us, what has become of lectures being ct or st, or inaugural lectures at all?

    The Internet, and blogging particularly, seems to exist so far as protocol goes, somewhere between the breezy familiarity of texting and formerly accepted standards. Then again, people consider themselves publicly presentable in all circumstances in conditions such as one would formerly be ashamed to answer the doorbell.

  10. William Tighe

    Yes, it was a moment of particular solemnity when my dear late doctorfather, the late Sir Geoffrey Elton (a son of the classical historian Viktor Ehrenberg, and originally Gottfried Rudolf Ehrenberg) invited me to address him in the future as “Geoffrey.”

  11. Past Elder

    Is this still done? Hell’s bells and banana peels, everyone from freshman to graduate assistants seems to think academia functions on a first name basis as soon as one matriculates — or they did as of 1984, when I last taught, though I had a couple of paper presentations to honour.