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Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 3, No. 3. (Summer 1969) © World Wisdom, Inc.



I would like to reply to Mr. Sherrard's letter by saying firstly that I agree with his final conclusion that it is not proof but the firmness of our conviction that decides us for one doctrine rather than another. However, as I had no intention of questioning the truth of Christian doctrine, I was somewhat perturbed that Mr. Sherrard should also have concluded that I was representing one doctrine as superior to another, when my actual intention was to show that a contradiction between doctrines does not necessarily imply the falsity of either, as it would in purely rational questions. If metaphysics is the science of the ways in which universal principles relate to one another, it clearly cannot be Christian, (or Hindu, Moslem, or anything else), for the same reasons that physics cannot, so that it must needs appear defective from any purely theological point of view. There is in fact no reason why, from a "non-human" point of view, there should be only one right answer to a theoretical question, because if Infinity is "not-many", it is equally "not-one" either, whence a metaphysical pluralism can be as adequate to its nature as monism.

That, of course, does not imply that we can place our faith in a multitude of theologies, because man as a whole is subject to conditions which only the isolated intellect can escape, and that in a more or less symbolic manner. Theology is less universal than metaphysics by reason of its form, but it is equally universal by reason of its Origin, whence the two cannot be compared, least of all under such concepts as that of relative "superiority".

This is not intended as a merely partial statement of orthodoxy, however, and in contrast with the position taken by Studies, may I say that if there is truly such a thing as an insoluble contradiction, it must surely be that of defending orthodoxy from a point of view not recognised by orthodoxy itself? To be joined to a tradition while implicitly denying its total adequacy seems to me a false and unintelligible position, though I have long tried to see how it could be otherwise. The traditionalist outlook itself, if taken beyond a certain point, would imply the truly profane assumption that our existence at a certain point in time is nothing but an accident to be met with remedial treatment. In reality, such things can never be accidental, being decided by the will of God, the justice of which rules that grace cannot be harder to obtain at one time than at another, and that if its means become weaker, so will the things opposed to it. Traditionalism would in fact seem to contain an element of caricature which detains it from its object immovably, whether at a very small distance or at a great one, depending on the point of view.

The last word on this subject could well be given to the eminent traditionalist who stated that man cannot hope to reach the truth while judging that which, by definition, judges him.

Coventry, 6.8.69