Constitution or Organic Basis of the New Catholic Church

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CONSTITUTION

OR

ORGANIC BASIS

OF THE

New Catholic Church

Provisionally Expounded and Adopted

NEW YORK:

BAKER & GODWIN, PRINTERS

PRINTING-HOUSE SQUARE, OPP. CITY HALL.

1860.


Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1860, by WILLIAM S. ANDREWS, in the Clerks' Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

[1]

CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE I.

CONSTITUENCY OF THE CHURCH.

{small-caps|The}} Church is the world. The Church universal can do no less than embrace all mankind. This is in the largest or most extended meaning of the term. In another sense, the true Catholic Church is an interior organized body, which should be the spiritual mother of the race. The relation between mother and child exists equally, whether the children have so grown as to recognize the mother's face or not. .So, in the world, great numbers of men and women have not hitherto known any spiritual mother, nor consciously recognized their need of one. Others following legitimately the analytical processes of the intellect, or the self-assertive instinct of individuality, have been led to deny and abjure all relation to the Church; the truth of their essential and spiritual unity with the race and hence with the true spiritual Church, is not, however, affected thereby.

These two classes of persons, the uninformed or ignorant, and the intelligently infidel, belonging, equally with the most spiritualizcd or sanctified persons, to the Church Universal, should be the especial objects of the labors and care of the more interior body. Sometimes, also, as to their own interiors, individually, these persons are wholly intromitted into and most centrally located within the Interior Church; only, so long as they themselves do not recognize their interior unit with the organized body they cannot be consociated with it in its worship and its exterior activities.

ARTICLE II.

EXTENSION OF THE CHURCH'S DOMAIN.

The field is the world. The extension of the Church's domain, or field of Labor, is therefore co-equal with the personal constituency of the Church. Outwardly, it extends, geographically, over the whole earth, embracing all nations and climes. Upwardly and downwardly it embraces all spheres, supernal and infernal, which may exist, and which pertain by their connections to the human race, since all the interests of the race are adopted by and become the interests of the Church. Protensively, or as relates to time, the Church in its essential [2] or spiritual existence, goes back to the origin of man and forward to eternity. As to its organic expression, or instituted authority, it is more or less perfect in different ages, and passes through a succession of orders or dispensations. The incipient organization of the New Catholic Church marks the ushering in of a new dispensation. It is in this sense only that it is called New. In another sense this so-called New Catholic Church is identical with the Church of the past, the present, and the future, whether called Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Mahommedan, Hebrew, Egyptian, Brahminical, Booddhist, Tauist, or any other. It is the integration of all modes of expressing and cultivating the religious sentiments of the race.

ARTICLE III.

QUALITY AND ATTRIBUTES OF THE CHURCH.

The office of the Church is to inspire goodness and wisdom and a divinely spiritualized energy into individuals, and thereby into the race; to elevate man from a natural state of crudity, which, whether it be called sin and regarded as rebellion against God, or as ignorance and undevelopment, is that from which he needs to be rescued or saved. The Church must, therefore, possess goodness and wisdom and power in herself, and can only justify her existence in so far as she exhibits these attributes in a degree above that of natural or unregenerate men. It is, therefore, the duty of the Church to preside, with her spiritual influences, over all human affairs, domestic, social, industrial, educational, political, and the like, and to infuse into them that elevation of purpose, universality of scope, and unselfish devotion which pertain to the highest ideal of religion, and which are themselves derived from aspiration to the infinite. All this should be done by the Church without encroachment upon the legitimate domain of the educational, the governmental, or any other department of the Constituted Societary Order.

ARTICLE IV.

EMBODIMENT OF THE CHURCH.

The Church embracing in its constituency, theoretically, the whole world of rational beings, a portion of whom are, however, unconscious of the benefits which they might or do derive from her existence and labors, is bound to respect the individuality of those who decline to become members of the visible [3] body. There is, therefore, necessarily an External and an Internal Church within the Church Universal, the former of which is only theoretically or prospectively a portion of the Church. This portion of mankind is often distinguished from the Church proper or the organized Church, as "The World," or in the language of the old theology, as "the Unregenerate World." The Interior Church may also be denominated the Formal Church, and all other persons the Informal Church. When in the final fruition of the Church triumphant all shall be reconciled and brought within the visible body, there will still, doubtless, remain an external and more numerous circle, who will be in preponderance recipient of the benefits of the more internal and spiritually efficient portion of the Church.

Intermediate to the External Church, now represented by "the World," and the Internal Church, is the circle or class of Neophites, Catechumens or Inquirers, members in partial communion with the Church. These are such as are preparing themselves and awaiting their admission to the full privileges of the Church, or else of such as enter into this partial relation for the purpose of better investigation and of satisfying themselves whether the relation of full membership would conduce to their spiritual welfare. The Interior Church consists of all the full members remaining in good and regular standing.

The Church is first embodied, therefore, in three concentric circles; external, intermediate or transitional and internal. Each of these circles is subdivided into numerous subordinate circles and sections scientifically arranged, and constituting the different Orders in the Church. Of the three primitive circles the external is, pro tempore, the world; the intermediate is the united body of half-members, and the interior or formal Church the united body of the full communicants.

But in another sense, any particular congregation of the acceptors of the faith and doctrine of the New Catholic Church is denominated a Church; and the Church in the general sense consists of the aggregate of such particular Churches, or associated bodies. For the sake of distinction it is better that the particular Churches be denominated Church-congregations each of which will have, likewise, its three circles, the external usually called the congregation, the transitional, including the young and others who are investigating or preparing for membership, and the internal Church-congregation, or the church. [4]

ARTICLE V.

GENESIS OF THE CHURCH.

The Church began with the origin of the race, and keeps pace in its development with the development of the race. In the earlier ages, and in those countries still which have least completely emerged from the doctrine of those early times, God was conceived of as embodied in every portion of nature, or more particularly in certain particular objects or forms; whence arose the Fetish and Idol. In worshiping these the conception of the divine Unity was lost. On the other hand, in the same early times other minds conceived of God as a Being of absolute Unity, elevated by his ineffable perfection above all relations with the world and all concernment in its affairs. The contending principles of Variety and Unity were thus separately represented in the theological sphere. Subsequently arose the conception of God as the embodiment of inexorable, abstract law, the supreme Jehovah or God of the Jews. By the gracious teachings of Christ the attribute of love and the character of a benign Father were assigned to the Supreme Being; and with this change religion was carried up into the region of the affections, and claimed the hearts of its subjects.

Within the body of the Christian Church of the past the same differences reappear and are repeated in the dogmas of conflicting sects. These differences arise partly out of the essential difficulty of compassing any adequate idea of God, who is essentially incomprehensible, in his fullness, by the finite mind; partly out of the intrinsic individualities of different minds and of different nationalities and other masses of mind; and partly out of the undevelopment of the race hitherto, which has precluded the discovery and entertainment of so complex or compound an idea as that of the New Catholic Church, which is Integralism or the reconciliation of infinite Variety in Unity. The Trinitarian affirms God as three persons, not however denying but equally affirming their essential Unity. The Unitarian insists exclusively on the conception of absolute Unity. The Pantheist finds God represented in every object of nature, and thus virtually re-affirms the doctrine of an infinite variety of Gods, or of embodied objects representative of God. The Atheist, searching, through the intellect, to find God by the analytical process, arrives at zero and reports the result of his investigation as his contribution to the aggregate of truth; the [5] Transcendentalist refines and elevates and attenuates his conception until he returns to the Brahminical idea of the Absolute, also equal, for the finite mind, to annihilation or zero :

The differences in respect to church organization have been identical in kind with those thus affecting the central doctrine of the church. The Catholic Church represents the doctrine of Unity in organization, in dogma, in spirit; Protestantism and its divergent adjuncts, Infidelity and Atheism, represent the principle of Variety in faith and organization; or, more properly, the inherent principle of Variety, or Individuality, in the nature of things, is embodied and exhibited in their: organizations and creeds.

Finally arises the New Catholic Church, based on the scientific discovery of principles which accept, and justify, and mediate between, and reconcile, not only all the conflicting sects of Christendom, but all the conflicting religions of the past and present, in the higher, and more spiritual, and wiser religious movements of the future. The dogma of the New Catholic Church capable of fitting it for this great mediatorial work, is more fully stated under the subsequent head of Faith and Practice.

ARTICLE VI.

ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH.

The problem of Church Government, as of all governments, has been to reconcile Order and Efficiency with Freedom. The New Catholic Church attains this end by recognizing both the despotic or hierarchical principle and the democratic or populary principle—both as inherent and inexpugnable principles in the constitution of the human mind, and of every organization; by defining each, and by confining them, respectively, to their own legitimate spheres. In all organization for practical action and efficiency, the Individuality which gives freedom finds a new and apparently opposite application in the doctrine of Individuality of Lead. These two opposite principles, or opposite applications of the same principle, the Divergent Individuality of isolated or separate personal freedom, and the Convergent Individuality: which centres upon a chief or head, and as it were voluntarily and yet intelligently or wisely gives itself away to enable him to execute some grand design by the aid of the associated individuals, and for the common good, find through science—the science of social adjustment or social organization—their entire [6] and complete reconciliation or equilibrium. They are the centrifugal and centripetal forces Which, harmoniously combined, neither produce a stationary nor a jarring and conflicting result, but ultimate in rapid and graceful movement in the orbit of use.

It is the business of the New Church to accept and illustrate all the discoveries of science so soon as they are announced and become practicable, and so far as they are applicable to its wants. In respect to organization and Church Government the Church is a social body, demanding, like any national or other social organization, the knowledge and application of a true social science. From the freedom which has been secured in respect to church matters, through political agencies, in this country (America), every thing has been providentially anticipated: to enable the New Catholic Church, founded here, to precede social reconstruction in the political and other spheres, .and to give a brilliant example of the harmonious workings of government scientifically adjusted. It is another condition, however, equally essential, that the Head of the Church combine in himself personally the requisite Love, Wisdom, and Force, and especially that he does not misjudge in respect to the signs of the times, in determining that there is, at this day, a sufficient number of men and women truly regenerated or born into the higher life, the life of love to God or the Infinite and Universal, the love of humanity and devotion to its interests,—men and women who are prepared for and awaiting the advent of the Church of the Future,—to call for the organization of that Church. All this is equally requisite, for it is another principle of the same science that the element of Personality holds as important a place as the element of Principle, or truth; both as to the lead and the following, whether in ecclesiastical or any other form of government. "Principles without men" is a formula as false, when taken for the whole truth, as "men without principles." Whosoever tenders himself, therefore, as the founder of a new Church must be conscious in himself of the requisite personal endowments and qualifications for so great and so holy an enterprise. By assuming that position, he invites the searching criticism of those who propose to unite with the Church, in regard to his motives, qualifications, and powers, in the same sense, inversely, that they, in tendering themselves as members of the body, invite the same criticism from him. That criticism mutually and satisfactorily completed, however, he is [7] entitled to expect of them an unswerving allegiance, in good faith, and a prompt and unquestioning obedience in all the matters implied in the existing relation between them, so long as the relation exists. The relation itself is defined by the end for which they are associated, and by the scientific conditions of success to that end. They have the same right to require of him the continued manifestation of the same motives and abilities, the same divine calling, in fine, for the high function he has assumed, for which they voluntarily accepted him as their guide.

The soldier requires implicit confidence in his general; the general in his soldier. Promptitudc and success demand that so long as they remain soldier and general, the designs of the latter shall not be trammeled by the hesitancy or partial revolt of the former. So much is due to the principle of Order and Efficiency. The principle of Freedom demands on the other hand that each retain always the power to sunder the tie that unites them, and that each frankly accept and truly guard the right of the other to revise his judgments of the pas; and to decide whether these essential requirements are met. At the same time, it is incumbent upon each to remember that the exercise of the right to dissolve bands so solemnly assumed, and assumed for so high and sacred a purpose, is itself a solemn and responsible act, in detriment to the Unity of the Church and revolutionary in kind, so that, to the religious mind, it can only be justified by the religious and profound conviction that the highest duty to that which the individual accepts as highest in the Universe, and the highest good of mankind or the Church Universal, will be promoted thereby.

Hitherto church government, like all government, has erred on the side of despotism or of chaotic and licentious freedom. Still, confessedly, despotism and unlimited freedom, have each their peculiar sides of advantage, as well as their peculiar evils. The wise are not frightened nor repelled by terms. They look deeper into the essence of things, and seek to extract from principles most opposite their elements of good, and so to combine. them as to neutralize the evil.

Democracy in America is rapidly running its race to terminate in anarchy. A scientific understanding of principles demonstrates that it must prove a failure, in an opposite direction, as disastrous and complete as the failure of monarchy in the old [8] world has been heretofore to secure "contented nationalities." The slavery question is looming up into proportions that threaten disaster, and none can clearly foresee how soon it may plunge us in the horrors of civil war. The new Catholic Church must be organized and operating under principles and a leadership competent to grapple with this great social problem, to lift it above the plane of ordinary politics, and even above the blind impulses of conscience or philanthropy, and to settle it, as a final umpire, in accordance with all right, and to the complete satisfaction of all. It must be able to tender similar services to all other nationalities in respect to all the great social and ethical problems of life. The new Catholic Church is the first Church ever based, on the one hand, upon science, and accepting all the legitimate conclusions of the intellect—while it accepts and embodies, on the other, faith, hope, charity, aspiration, and love, culminating in religion. It is, therefore, the only Church ever competent to place itself rightly in this advisory relation to the state, to the family, and the individual. Its confessional will be broad enough to admit a nation, and small enough and humble enough to listen to the petty tribulations of a child.

In respect to the special officerıng and ordering of the temporalities and spiritualities of the Church, it, like all other churches, is divided into clerical and lay members. To the former class belong priests and priestesses, prophets and prophetesses, teachers of theological science within the Church, the chief or head of the Church, archbishops, bishops, deacons, and pastors, and all other ecclesiastical functionaries above a certain inferior grade. Both sexes are alike admitted to the exercise of their gifts, according as God has blessed them with faculties and with an interior and an exterior call to the work. The proper hierarchy of the Church consists of the head or chief, as central pivot of the organization, and of sub-pivots, in various grades, down to the simple pastor of a Church-congregation; all submitting in absolute obedience to the mandates of the chief; all retaining their freedom to dissolve their connection, and even to organize new churches upon principles or under an administration more consonant with their spiritual wants. The new Catholic Church becomes truly catholic or universal, in result, therefore, only when, by attraction, it succeeds in bringing and retaining all individualities within the pale of its own organization. [9]

The ownership of Church property and the collection of Church revenues will be regulated upon the same general principles as the organization of the Church itself. The details of the plan of each will be articulated in special rescripts to be issued hereafter by the chief.

Particular Church-congregations will likewise be organized and their affairs administered, upon a plan which will be a miniature repetition of the organization and administration of the whole Church. The pastor of a Church-congregation will hold the same relation to his flock which the chief or head of the church holds, under God, to the Church Universal. Any person who feels an interior call to become a teacher and preacher of spiritual truths, feels himself laden with spiritual gifts which he is anxious to impart, and is conscious of being endowed with the power to organize and guide a congregation of worshiping souls, who may desire to learn, receive, and mutually impart of spiritual things, is entitled to assert his function as a pastor and to gather a flock; or, in other words, to enter upon the ministry and found a Church-congregation. They who acknowledge him as their religious leader or head, have the same right to become members. Their voluntary acceptance of him in that capacity constitutes his external call to the ministry in response to the internal call. In some instances the external call may precede the internal, which happens when a congregat feel the fitness of an individual for the office of pastor and invite him to assume the office, in anticipation of his own inward suggestions of fitness The concurrence of the interior and exterior call constitutes the mutual recognition of the tie between pastor and congregation, and is the sufficient warrant of either party in the premises.

Still, a Church-congregation so formed is as yet merely an individual or independent congregation. It has not become a member of the larger body, the catholic or universal organization, which if it be rightly constituted and administered may be appropriately denominated the Established Church, or the Church Establishment The higher privileges of a recognized communion with the whole body of religious worshipers on the planet, is reserved for those congregations and pastors who unite themselves with that body This union can take place by application from the pastor to any proper official of the Established Church under [10] whose ecclesiastical authority he consents to come, and who consents in turn to receive him.

The application for such membership of the larger body is the act of the pastor alone; but inasmuch as the lay-members can only be brought with him under the new order by their own free consent, it becomes their act as truly as his, if they follow his guidance in the matter

Within the New Catholic Church, the authority of the pastor of a Church-congregation is, in the first instance, absolute, both as respects the spiritualities and temporalities of the body under his care; and he is in turn under the same absolute authority of his superior, and so on up to the head of the Church. Whatsoever moneys or property are surrendered to the Church, must therefore be surrendered with a full knowledge that it is an absolute abandonment of all right of property or control over them.

The order of the Church is, so far, hierarchical and despotic, but the abuse of power in the Church is immediately and effectually checked by the reserved and conceded right of every member to withdraw from the connection, in testimony of his disapprobation of the administration of the pastor, or simply as a measure of self-protection, and without incurring any odium or censure for the mere act of withdrawal. The pastor can in the same manner dissolve at any time the connection of his interior Church-congregation with any member whose peculiar individualities or views, however conscientiously these latter may be entertained, are found practically to disturb the harmony of that body. This is excommunication, but excommunication not necessarily implying blame, not even deciding that the exscinded member may not have been more truly right in his position than the Church, represented in its pastor. Any clerical superior may in the same manner exscind his clerical subordinate, or the subordinate withdraw, without blame; so that a pastor may even lose his own standing in the Church by excommunicating a member unwisely, in the judgment of his superior. Excommunication coupled with censure always in the hope of its proving merely a suspension, or other penances, as instruments of discipline or recovery for those who in the view of the Church may be guilty of scandalous or immoral conduct,—all measures of force, in fine, which the loving parent might use in extremity in respect to a child, are held to be [11] within the competency of the Church for those who remain loyal to her authority; but the occasion for the exercise of such powers must shrink to the narrowest limits in a Church based wholly on attraction, tolerating a freedom of opinion and deportment limited only by encroachment, and constantly guarding the freedom of the individual to withdraw from her authority. None need, therefore, to fear her inflections, since to none can they come, except to such as voluntary accept them as a means of grace.

ARTICLE VII. FAITH AND PRACTICE.

The unity of the Faith of the Church is not to be found in the truths apprehended and accepted by any single or individual mind, but in all the truths apprehended and accepted by all minds: Hence the Creeds of the Church are not one, but many; different and even opposite Faiths combining, balancing, and harmonizing with each other in the bosom of the greater truth—Infinite Variety in Unity. As in the constituency of the Church, so in its Faith, all truths derived from all sources—or the Universe of Truth, Observational, Scientific, Intuitional, and Inspirational—constitute the Universal Creed of the Church—a creed which is therefore progressively developing in Time; but, in a special or interior sense, the Creed of the Church is the aggregate of the Truth, known or believed, in relation to the highest sphere of thought and feeling, and in relation to the out working of the Divine Love and Wisdom in beneficent action.

Every pastor of a Church-congregation will rally his flock under that creed which will best express the aggregate unity of his and their sentiments or religious beliefs; or under no written or formally constituted creed, if that method is more highly approved—the real religious unity consisting of Love, and of that knowledge of principles which not merely tolerates but accepts and approves of diversity of opinion ns necessary and beautiful; resulting from diversity of organization and development.

The practice of the Church is equally diversified, consisting, in worship, of the aggregate of all modes of expressing the religious sentiments, the Church striving continually to displace lower forms, by the elevation of the people to the appreciation and acceptance of superior nodes; and consisting, in Charity, [12] of the aggregate of all modes of dispensing spiritual and material benefactions, reserving the same tendency to the adoption of superior methods. The Church, in fine, accepts all men where they stand, and seeks to raise them to more spiritual conditions.

Every church organization, acting through its pastor and organized with or without a written creed, will adjoin itself to that branch of the Church Universal, corresponding with a particular Order in the old Catholic Church, with a particular Sect in Protestant Christendom, or a particular Religion over the face of the earth—to which it may be most strongly attracted by a proximate identity of Faith and Practice. Hence, in the New Catholic Church there will continue to exist an infinitude of Orders or Sects, or Religions, sympathetically and co-operatively united, and concurring in the great work of human elevation. The aggregate of all these will constitute the Interior body of the Church Universal. All will give and receive life, mutually, like the parts of the human body, but in a special sense from the Head or center of the Church, which will be more particularly in communication with all the parts, and which should be a fountain of the highest influences.

The first Church-congregation of the New Catholic Church, organized in the city of New York, will assume to be, provisionally, the Metropolitan Church of the New Organization, for the world, and the first pastor of that congregation to be its head or Chief.

In the midst of the recognition and defense of the greatest liberty, the centralizing tendency of Religion is well understood. It is expected, therefore, and desired even, that this tendency shall express itself in a leaning towards conformity in the Creeds of subordinate Church congregations to the Creed of the Metropolitan Church, so far as they are able in good conscience and with hearty approbation to accept any of its articles; but in no degree beyond that. As an expression of their own faith, and as a model for other congregations, in so far as they shall be able to accept it, the Creed of the Metropolitan Church has been articulated and adopted. It should therefore accompany this provisional basis as an addendum, and its principles be studied by all who desire to appreciate the full significance of the New Catholic Church.

  • New Catholic Church, Constitution or Organic Basis of the New Catholic Church: Provisionally Expounded and Adopted. (New York: Baker & Godwin, 1863).