August 12, 2003
The Eternal Gospel
I personally doubt that the incident that touched off the discussion (the election of an openly gay man to be a bishop of the Episcopal Church) merits John Derbyshire's invocation of the heresy of Joachim, but the discussion of the heresy itself, and the links provided, are of interest.
Posted by Ideofact at August 12, 2003 09:17 PM
An interesting discussion of Joachim and how his ideas were publicized and expanded by Franciscans who rejected their order's movement away from its original severe propertylessness can be found in Cohn, "The Pursuit of the Millenium".
I've read the Cohn book -- I rate it very highly. It's well worth reading. And Cohn, in his conclusion, makes points similar to Derbyshire's in comparing the excesses of the Brethern of the Free Spirit et al to those of the Communists.
The political philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote a tiny book blaming Joachim di Fiore for the whole (bad) modern age: "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism". Voegelin was an amazing guy, an old-school German scholar, but his book leaves a very odd impression. As with Leo Strauss, if you think that, on the balance, the modern age has been a pretty good thing, you have trouble getting into the spirit of what he's saying. My own understanding at present is that many of the great, creative formative thinkers of the last several centuries, the value of whose work is unquestioned, accepted non-traditional beliefs that seem bizarre today, from which I conclude that no one should dismiss all of someone's ideas just because some of them are bizarre.
That would include Voegelin and Strauss, though their conviction on this particular point is the opposite of mine.