Resources for understanding “modernism”

"Modernism" is by nature a bit of a moving target.  

These days fewer people – except for the confirmed traditionalists – seem less interested in talking about "modernism" than about "relativism".

I am thinking about the issues these days and thought I would still some discussion of good resources about Catholic "modernism".  I am not talking about the modernist movement in art, architecture, etc.

Perhaps if we could exercise some self-editing and avoid the less than helpful affirmations such as "modernism is bad" and its seemingly endless cousins, we could learn a few things here.

What are some good resources for learning about "Catholic" modernism?

Anything new?  Oldies but goodies?

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75 Responses to Resources for understanding “modernism”

  1. Choirmaster says:

    An oldie but a goodie is the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX.

    No kidding, I read it once a few years back and found that I was guilty of at least 75% of them!

    It’s a good review to make sure that one is not slipping into the modernist mindset (like I was).

  2. Cavaliere says:

    A helpful resource I found some years ago is A Catechism of Modernism by the Rev. J. B. Lemius OMI first published in 1908 and republished by TAN books in 1981. It has this introductory letter from Cardinal Merry Del Val. “A high commendation . . . an expression of keenest satisfaction is what I have the pleasure of forwarding to your Reverence, in the name of the Sovereign Pontiff, after handing him the splendid brochure bearing the title. . .” It follows a Q & A format typical of a Catechism and uses the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis of St. Pope Pius X as its source.

  3. Marlon says:

    “The Church Confronts Modernity” by Thomas E. Woods is a good read.

  4. JCP says:

    I can’t recommend highly enough “The Priority of Christ” by Robert Barron. He offers a good explanation of the modern phenomena from a philosophical perspective, then shows the effects its had on theological exploration and Catholic academic culture. He also offers his own take on what can be done about it all going forward.

  5. ericr says:

    I have done a little work on the idea of theological modernism, both Catholic and Protestant.

    The Jesuit George Tyrrell (1861-1909) is considered one of the key thinkers of English Catholic Modernism. There are several good books about him. For instance: Sagovsky, Nicholas. “On God’s Side: A Life of George Tyrrell.” Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.

    Some other works on Catholic Modernism more generally:

    Crews, Clyde F. “English Catholic Modernism: Maude Petre’s Way of Faith.” South Bend: Notre Dame UP, 1984.

    Jodock, Derrell, ed. “Catholicism Contending With Modernity: Roman Catholic Modernism and Anti-Modernism in Historical Context.” Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.

    Hope this helps get you started. [ehem... I hardly need to "get started"! o{];¬) ]

  6. mdillon says:

    I looked up Cavaliere’s recommendation of Rev. J. B. Lemius’ “A Catechism of Modernism” and found a PDF format online at http://www.archive.org/stream/catechismonmoder00lemiuoft#page/n5/mode/2up

    Thank you Cavaliere

  7. Titus says:

    Talking about modernism—and efforts to combat it—-have always been hampered by the fact that it really refers to a full panoply of errors that are only loosely related to each other and that are not all advocated at the same time or by the same individual: it is not a coherent philosophy in the way most heresies are. It really is a moving target.

  8. Marlon says:

    I forgot to mention this post from Fr. Longenecker on his blog. It’s a very concise description of modernism.

    http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-i-left-anglicanism.html

  9. Supertradmom says:

    Some books I used for teaching in the past, which had good reviews from the students: The Popes Against Modern Errors, Tan Publishers; A Catechism of Modernism, by Rev. J. B. Lemius, also Tan; a biography, St. Pius X by P. L. Occelli, by St. Paul Publications; Paul C. Vitz’s Psychology as Religion-the Cult of Self-Worship, a primer for why modernism is so acceptable on our time, and a classic, by Eerdmans; and, an highly unusual book, which I used in several classes to show modernism in the world,especially pop culture to students, Star Trek and Sacred Ground, essays on religion and American culture edited by Jennifer Porter and Darcee McLaren, State University of New York Press.

    For the more philosophical inclined, anything by Christopher Dawson, who saw the chaos we are experiencing coming from the viewpoint of the 1920s and 1930s, including the rot of modernism affecting Europe. And, of course, the beautiful book on Leo XIII,The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XII by Tan, which is not, of course, so exact as the Syllabus of Errors and Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On Modernism), but flushes out the political and national contexts.

  10. Choirmaster says:

    @Titus: You’re right about the moving target, but only to the point that any given Modernist or cycle of Modernism will use a vastly different vocabulary to mask its true meaning or to cover the fact that it is not very new at all, but just a regurgitation of an idea that has already been discounted. It’s a rhetorical device employed to deflect arguments rather than engage/disarm them.

    I don’t think the substance of Modernism is a moving target.

  11. Ogard says:

    The Modernism dealt with the late 19th and early 20th encyclical is now irrelevant: what was silly in it has gone forever, and good points have been adopted by the Church.

    What is analogous, not identical or similar, today is theological dissent both in dogmatic and in moral theology, and its consequences in demolition of faith, morality and liturgy. To have recourse to the encyclicals of the time when the modernism was in fashion is out of place now, because the theological dissent is different.

  12. Amator says:

    The best definition of modernism I have heard was that posed by Dr. William Marshner to graduating seniors at Christendom College. He called modernism a meta-linguistic heresy, namely a heresy wherein definitions to a term were changed according to a particular, predetermined mode of thinking (i.e. the Darwinist-progressivism of Tielhard de Chardin, or South American Liberation Theology) It is a fantastic lecture, and he treats the topic well. It can be found at itunes U.

    http://deimos3.apple.com/WebObjects/Core.woa/Browse/christendom.edu.1390225287.01762478358.1390515132?i=1463200385

  13. Choirmaster says:

    My own syllabus of Modernism (in order of leg-tingling importance):

    1. Synthesize, summarize, or re-state the ideas of Freud or Marx (and friends) that disparage faith in God.

    2. Synthesize, summarize, or re-state the ideas of Freud or Marx that disparage organized religion in general (or Catholicism specifically) and the history, tradition, and scriptures that built it and/or the political, social, or economic structures that protect and promote it.

    3. Synthesize, summarize, or re-state the ideas of Freud or Marx that disparage Man’s biological compulsion to reproduce and/or the political, social, or economic structures that protect and promote it.

    4. Synthesize, summarize, or re-state the ideas of Freud or Marx that disparage the dignity of the individual soul (the free Man) and/or the political, social, or economic structures that protect and promote it.

    And one caveat: Any of the above points can be ignored (or even reversed) if any of the other points can be solidified at its expense. Don’t worry, it can be revisited later. That’s why Modernism finds such delight and comfort in being called Progressive.

  14. Supertradmom says:

    Sorry, Ogard, but I heartily disagree with your comment. The Modernism dealt with in the 19th and 20th centuries is absolutely relevant, as my students found out when they used the texts to find things today which filled the criteria. One can find all the traditional modernist heresies in movies, books, television, on cereal packages, in advertising, in computer games, in high school and college textbooks. The list is endless…

  15. MichaelJ says:

    Ogard,
    At what point are we free to disregard Papal Encyclicals or hold them to be “out of place”? Is it a particular time span, upon the death of the Pontiff who authored them, or when we as a society have “outgrown” the problems they addressed?

  16. Leonius says:

    I have just started reading a book titled “Modernism – by CARDINAL MERCIER Archbishop of Malines” published in 1910. Its good so far.

    “Modernists have fed upon the philosophy of Kant and on agnosticism, and rashly assimilated English and German writings that are filled with infectious microbes. Victims of the contagion, they have had recourse to that fictitious remedy, “the philosophy of immanence,” which only poisons and disintegrates the moral tissue. We do not blame Modernists who are in good faith for catching infection; but we are justified in requiring them not to reproach the physician of souls for his antiseptic precautions, but to thank him. This is the least that can be expected of those who value immunity from contagion.

    Because they cannot see the bacillus of Immanence with the naked eye, they accuse the physician of making a false diagnosis. Imprudent men, read again, I beg you, the Riposta you have irreverently addressed to the Supreme Authority.” CARDINAL MERCIER

  17. Leonius says:

    “The Modernism dealt with the late 19th and early 20th encyclical is now irrelevant:”

    On the contrary the roots are still the same only the leaves have changed.

  18. Leonius says:

    “The Modernism dealt with the late 19th and early 20th encyclical is now irrelevant:”

    On the contrary the roots are still the same only the leaf’s have changed, and you cant kill a tree just by plucking some of its leaf’s you must dig up or burn the roots.

  19. Supertradmom says:

    I taught my students to play “heresy spot”, which was a game for points dealing with modernism. We also watched Star Trek series and a movie and they spotted 20 modernist heresies in the first half hour of one move, and similar numbers in the series.

    Modernism is alive and well….

  20. Supertradmom says:

    sorry-one movie; the same could be done today with popular fiction..

  21. The best place to start is the encyclical of Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. It is available here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_x/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-x_enc_19070908_pascendi-dominici-gregis_en.html.

    His Holiness took Modernism very seriously, for reasons that were born out later. Many of us share his concerns, which continue to be valid.

  22. Father:

    The classics on the subject are PASCENDI and LAMENTABILI written in 1907 by SAINT Pius X (whence the name Pius X Society). Mediator Dei by Pius Xii is another classic which of course treats with the Divine Sacrifice.

  23. Agellius says:

    The recorded lectures of Dr. John Rao and Dr. Jeffrey Bond on keepthefaith.org. Oldie but goodie: Catholicism and Modernity: Confrontation or Capitulation? by James Hitchcock.

  24. Supertradmom says:

    The Tan publication I mentioned above puts several of the above in one useful volume.
    http://www.amazon.com/Popes-Against-Modern-Errors-Documents/dp/089555643X

  25. roamincatholic says:

    I’m amazed these haven’t been brought up yet:

    The Movement of World Revolution by Christopher Dawson

    Makers of the Modern Mind by Thomas Neill

  26. Supertradmom says:

    Hi,

    I mentioned all of Dawson above, as I did not want to list his many books. The Movement is one of those…

  27. cheekypinkgirl says:

    OK, but which of these books is accessible to the avergae reader who doesn’t sit around reading encyclicals for fun? You know, like a “Modernism for Dummies” – or is that a modernist idea? Ha!

  28. avecrux says:

    I think Benjamin Wiker’s “10 Books that Screwed Up the World” – gives a lot of the underpinnings.

  29. Cavaliere says:

    OK, but which of these books is accessible to the avergae reader who doesn’t sit around reading encyclicals for fun? You know, like a “Modernism for Dummies” – or is that a modernist idea? Ha

    Cheeky, the book I recommended above A Catechism of Modernism was praised by Cardinal Del Val precisely because it brought the encyclical on Modernism “within the intellectul grasp of the less cultured.”

    Ogard, sorry but I have to disagree with your take on modernism too. And which heretical “good points” have been adopted by the Church?

  30. Jack Hughes says:

    a good working definition of modernsim is anything that attacks our Blessed Mother

  31. JuliB says:

    SuperTradMom – Can you give a few examples (Star Trek is fine) for those of us interested in spotting the heresies?

    I’ve glanced at Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical, but it was (at least at the time) a bit above my pay grade.

  32. robtbrown says:

    Theologically, Modernism considers Revelation as not coming from God (who may or may not exist) but originates in the human mind. The Modernist considers Revelation to be merely the expression of human religious instincts.

    In Catholic theology, the Apostolic Age is the foundation of the Church. For the Modernist the Apostolic Age is no more important than the 19th century (or whenever).

  33. Supertradmom says:

    A few Star Trek modernist heresies: relativism, (all religions are the same;most moral codes equal);
    progressivism (progress is always good and inevitable); materialism (spiritual growth is connected to materialism in an evolutionary plane-spritual growth is material growth); historical interpretation of the Bible or other sacred texts which changes meaning; the denial of eternal punishment or reward for evil-humans and others just disappear into dust-the denial of the immortality of the body and even the soul; utilitarianism-Kirk changes the perimeters of the test in order to pass; mysticism outside of the Holy Spirit and Christ-actually more New Age, such as Seven of Nine’s experiences and Janeway’s Native American spirit guide, etc.;Chakotay’s New Age eclecticism, based on relativism; eirenism, idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, all key modernist heresies, especially found in the original television series in most of the episodes, at least one is found; evolutionary survival of the fittest-”Space Seed” and the Wrath of Khan. Without going back to my class notes, that is all I can think of now….

  34. Supertradmom says:

    When I say “one is found”, I mean in each episode. Please remember that Roddenberry was a secular humanist and agnostic, all part of the modernist underlying denials of the existence of God and the soul….

  35. Supertradmom says:

    May I add that immanentism means that God is in each person regardless of sanctifying grace; another take on it is that the mind of God is equal to the world; idealism, the most pervasive Star Trek, which is a radical enlightenment heresy. All of these are listed in the Syllabus of Errors and Pascendi Dominic Gregis. I haven’t taught this class since 2003, but it was great fun.

  36. robtbrown says:

    I can see someone liking Star Trek, but I cannot understand why someone would look to it for Catholic teaching.

  37. gloriainexcelsis says:

    I would love to be one of Supertradmom’s students.

  38. Supertradmom says:

    Robtbrown,

    If we teach our youth to see the errors in the culture, they will spot truth and error more readily and avoid error, while loving the truth. We can help them learn discernment and build on the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we all receive in Baptism and Confirmation. To be “wise as serpents and guileless as doves” is Our Lord’s advice to us all. Thanks, gloriainexcelsis, I would love to have you in a class. God gave us our minds to figure out what is dross and what is gold. Besides, why can’t we make this fun? [I think that might be enough attention for Star Trek. We are looking for resources to understand Modernism.]

  39. dmwallace says:

    Go to Christendom College’s iTunesU site through iTunes and download Dr. William Marshner’s 2007/2008 senior dinner lecture (under “Major Speakers Program”) entitled, “The Recrudescence of Modernism.” It is quite insightful.

  40. JuliB says:

    Thanks SuperTradMom!

    RobtBrown – I don’t think we’re looking at it for Catholic teachings, but rather to see how much the media pushes these ideas. [No. That really isn't what we are looking for. Let's stick to what Modernism is.] Just reading the list makes me realize that the toxic soup of society in which we swim has soaked into my thinking. I had no idea how much we get desensitized to such ideas and start to take such things for granted (‘moral codes are all the same’ for me, for example).

    Culture — the world — has a tremendous influence on us without us really realizing it.

  41. Brian Day says:

    An oldie but goodie is Jimmy Akin’s (when he was writing under the name of James Akin) essay “Modernism”. It’s in the EWTN document library.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/MODERSM.TXT

  42. Ogard says:

    Cavaliere, Supertradmom.
    Could you give one/two modernistic proposition/s that is/are still alive today. Please, no second-hand information (i.e. no “X said that Y had proposed”), but author, and his writiting that you have read yourself, and what is it that justifies the label “modernism”.

    Perhaps, Cavaliere, would add to it one first-hand example of heresy (i.e. what opposes a de fide doctrine, not what he thinks is de fide) he has established, that is adopted by the Church now.

  43. Supertradmom says:

    Ogard,

    If you start with the Syllabus of Errors, here at http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9syll.htm, you will work your way down the list and I am sure be able to fill in the blanks where modern, so called Catholic theologians have spread these heresies even up to this day. As to specifics, one of the most common in the Church today is the idea that Christ did not know He was God until the Baptism in the Jordan, which I heard at Notre Dame and in several parishes from the pulpit since then. Those priests and theology teachers who have held this are following that particular modernist error.

    Another common one is that the Church is invisible and not the visible One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we see today in the Roman Catholic Church. This modernist heresy of the invisible, perfect Church, which somehow includes all Christians, is a popular modernist heresy. If you have not heard these taught or read these, I applaud your luck. I do not want to quote at least one author I know who put forth the false Christological heresy above, as the theologian died in the not so distant past. Again, check out http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10pasce.htm as well, mentioned here many times above.

  44. Supertradmom says:

    Ogard,

    I should have given you this link as well, for the specific Christological heresies of modernism. Cf. Lamentabili Sane http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10lamen.htm

  45. Maltese says:

    http://sspxthepriesthood.com/holy-orders%20pius%20x.shtml

    Note especially the notion that “…dogmas may not be tailored…” Why was the Oath withdrawn at the very time it was needed most?

  46. Ogard says:

    I am sorry, Supertradmom, I do not want what the X has said about Y, but I want the Y whom you have personally read, I mean two Y-s, one of the Modernist and another of the present time. If you can’t give examples of so many that you “know”, it may well be that there is – none.

    I did not ask you about heresies, but once you have embarked on it,
    it would be great to know a pair of examples of heresy too (I do not mean the modernistic error in general, but the kind of error that contradicts a de Fide doctrine, and by the de Fide doctrine I do not want a doctrine which is in your opinion de Fide, but which is de Fide according to at least two classical manuals of dogmatic theology. And, of course, I want a referece to the manuals used.) A failure to provide the examples asked for would suggest that there is – none.

    I am familiar with the Syllabus and the Lamentabili: they do not give specific examples I am asking for.

    That “one author..who..died in the not so distant past” had presumably written a book, and there would be nothing immoral to provide a quote from it. Again, I do not want the whole book, but specific error/s, or if applicable, heresy, therein.

  47. Cavaliere says:

    Perhaps, Cavaliere, would add to it one first-hand example of heresy (i.e. what opposes a de fide doctrine, not what he thinks is de fide) he has established, that is adopted by the Church now

    Ogard, you made the statement “good points have been adopted by the Church” Since modernism is/was a heresy, I’m curious which of these “good points” of the heresy you believe were adopted by the Church.

  48. robtbrown says:

    If we teach our youth to see the errors in the culture, they will spot truth and error more readily and avoid error, while loving the truth. We can help them learn discernment and build on the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we all receive in Baptism and Confirmation. To be “wise as serpents and guileless as doves” is Our Lord’s advice to us all.
    Comment by Supertradmom

    I understand the problem that parents have with the pop culture. My question is what do you point out to them that is good in what they watch?

  49. Andy F. says:

    I’ve never seen a textbook case (that is generally accepted) on what modernity exactly is. Are any of these references aforementioned my area to start?

  50. Ogard says:

    Cavaliere, I won’t let you off the hook. I’ll deal with your “‘good points’ of the heresy” after your reply to my initial questions.

  51. Rich says:

    Finding material on modernism was a burning question for me in my college days (about 10 years ago). Back then I found information on anything FAST and was stumped on how little I could find and how long it took to find information on modernism. Perhaps because it is indeed such a moving target, but thank you for this post.

  52. Cavaliere says:

    Sorry Ogard but I will not waste time with your nonsense. You made the statement, not me, back it up.

  53. MichaelJ says:

    Ogard,
    I presume that your use of the term “silly” was a euphamism for “heresy”. If so, then the implication of your statement that “what was silly in it has gone forever” is that God’s grace acts not on the individual, but on society as a whole. From what I have seen, this belief that society somehow evolves and that its individual members are thereby able to collectively overcome their fallen natures is a recurrent theme in modernist thought.

    The logical conclusions to this belief includes more than one explicit heresy such as “once saved always saved”, the denial of Original Sin, and denial of the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice.

    So, if you want to push the issue, and insist on a citation of a specific “modernistic proposition” that is alive today, I would have to point to your comment of 8 February 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  54. Folks… be civil or, I promise, I will lock you out.

  55. Geremia says:

    The best, most concise definition of Modernism I have seen is from Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma pgs. 16-17.

    The cognitional theoretical basis of Modernism is agnosticism, according to which human rational cognition is limited to the world of experience. Religion, according to this theory, develops from the principle of vital immanence (immanentism) that is, from the need for God which dwells in the human soul. The truths of religion are, according to the general progress of culture, caught up in a constant substantial development (evolutionism).

    So, Modernism is an amalgamation of agnosticism, immanentism, and evolutionism. Agnosticism nihilistically states that it is futile “to know the reality corresponding to our ultimate scientific, philosophic, and religious ideas” (Shanahan 1908); hence, this is relativism, which has infected modern science and education. Immanentism basically says that God and religion are manifestations of man, not realities objectively separate from man and given to him by God; this is relativism. And evolutionism says man’s nature continually changes; therefore, again this is relativism. So relativism is a broad heading containing these three other “-isms,” and I think the Pope of Christian Unity uses “relativism” more frequently than “Modernism” because (1) it applies to both secular and religious spheres, and (2) it is a less divisive word not prone to misconception and false accusations.

  56. Geremia says:

    From Supertradman:

    May I add that immanentism means that God is in each person regardless of sanctifying grace

    From Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma pg. 101, where he discusses the difference between natural and supernatural orders, as well as the relationship between Creature and creature:

    … “vital immanence,” according to which everything religious develops out of the necessities of human nature in a purely natural fashion.

    So Modernists deny sanctifying grace.

  57. Ogard says:

    MichaelJ, No, by “silly” I meant mistaken, erroneous or like, and the word referred to ideas, propositions or like, not to any person. I did not mean “heresy” because the heresy refers to rejection of dogma, whether defined or proposed infallibly by the Ordinary Magisterium, and I don’t know of any late 19th/early 20th proposition that was qualified by the Magisterium as heresy. However, if you know, I will be glad to learn.

  58. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    This article from the apologetic magazine This Rock seems to do the trick:

    http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2009/0901tbt.asp

  59. Amator says:

    The problem with modernism is that it uses traditional language, but redefines it. A modernist would say, for example, that Christ’s teachings were about social justice. The modernist would agree with the things Christ said, but say that they mean something other than what we used to think. Modernism is a meta-linguistic heresy, one based on redefining terms (a relativism of meanings), not one with a specific set of false doctrines. Thus, modernism is the “synthesis of all heresies.”

  60. robert l says:

    Well, I would recommend reading articles by Dr Thomas Droleskey,PhD former writer for “The Remnant”, “The Wanderer”, and now currently on his own on the web. He will leave no stone unturned.

  61. ASD says:

    I am not talking about the modernist movement in art, architecture, etc.

    I wonder if Catholic modernism can be so cleanly separated from (a) aesthetic modernism or (b) modernity in general. If it can’t, then it seems to me that thinking about Catholic modernism isn’t really different from thinking about modernity itself.

    There might be a glimmer of something like modernity in the Renaissance appropriation of an idea attributed to Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things.”
    Regardless, Descartes brought it to life.
    Cartesian ontology: There are two fundamentally different kinds of things, subject and object.
    Cartesian epistemology: Our starting place is radical doubt. Cogito, ergo sum. Ultimately, for Descartes, Kant, et al, we can only know our own subjectivity.
    AFAIK, Heiddeger made the best attempt to find a way out of those woods. I’m not in a position to say whether he succeeded or not.
    In any event, crucially, the Cartesian picture of subjects and objects is the conventional way we think of ourselves in the world.
    Lots of bad stuff follows more or less directly from that picture:
    Pseudo-religious beliefs that put the human subject in center of things. E.g., belief in progress and idolization of state.
    Moral relativism. Your subjectivity is just as good as mine, right?
    Modernism, in turn, is also about a certain kind of self-consciousness.
    Descartes: The subject isn’t simply a window to external objects. It’s a comprehensive reality itself.
    Modernism: The work of art isn’t simply a transparent representational window. It’s a reality itself. Canvas, pigment, ideology, whatever.
    Catholic modernism seems to me to be similarly man-centered.
    If I’m right about the common conceptual thread and the pervasive ubiquity of this view of human beings in the world, then
    It’s not surprising that it turns up all over the place, including Star Trek.
    More importantly, how can we not be modernists? Who knows a way out that isn’t the way of the ostrich?

  62. ASD says:

    Sorry, but the formatting on these comments just completely eludes me. The way comments appear when they’re posted isn’t the way they appear in preview. Anyway, sorry for weirdness there.

  63. robtbrown says:

    All the legit specifics of Modernism mentioned above are corollaries of the basic principle I noted above:

    Theologically, Modernism considers Revelation as not coming from God (who may or may not exist) but originates in the human mind. The Modernist considers Revelation to be merely the expression of human religious instincts.

    From this principle obviously follows moral relativism, the equal status of all religions, and the Schillebeeckx disconnect of the priesthood with Apostolic succession.

  64. MichaelJ says:

    Ogard,

    You seem to be attaching a requirement to the definition of “heresy” that I am uncomforable with. I would define heresy as a belief or proposition contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the Church. To that, you seem to be appending “qualified by the Magisterium as heresy”. That is, a proposition cannot be called heretical until the Church explicitly and formally condemns it as such. Is that a fair representation?

    If not, would you agree that if it can be shown that in order to believe “A”, one must believe “B”, and that belief in “B” is contrary to a clearly defined point of faith, then it follows that “A” is heresy whether it has been explicitly condemned as such or not?

  65. Geremia says:

    Modernism is existentialism; since according to existentialism’s father, Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (1946), Modernism is also humanism. Four years later Pope Pius XII wrote in Humani Generis:

    Such fictitious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.

  66. Supertradmom says:

    Geremia,

    Modernism is much more than existentialism, but includes that philosophy. Modernism does include secular humanism, as the Popes have consistently made a distinction between Christian humanism and secular humanism. In the first case, men and women get their dignity by being created in the Image and Likeness of God, and by being redeemed in Christ. In secular humanism, not only is the human the center of all things, but all things have reference to humans alone.

  67. Ogard says:

    MichaelJ
    Re Heresy: I used Canon 751, and for explanation of the phrase therein: “divine and catholic faith” see D 792 (taken from 29th edition). Dogma is what is believed by the : “divine and catholic faith”. Details in L.Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 4. “Divine” refers to what is in Revelation, i.e. in Scripture and Tradition, implicitly or explicitly; “Catholic” refers to the Church’s guarantee that it is Divine. It is guaranteed by definition (Pope, Council) or UOM. Interpretation of the Scripture and Tradition is entrusted exclusively to the Living Magisterium (DV 10).

    That is the objective situation, but when it comes to application to a concrete case a disagreement can arise as to whether the criteria have been properly applied, and only the Magisterium can have a final word (Secondary Object of Infallibility).

    Your ““B” is contrary to a clearly defined point of faith”, can be contested on two grounds: (1) what one thinks is a “clearly defined point of faith” another can think it is not and (2) what one thinks is “clearly contrary” to the point, another can think that it is not.

    I regret that for private reasons I will not be able to continue this debate before mid April. But I will, God willing, re-appear in this Blog, and we can continue on first occasion. We have gone astray anyway: Fr.Z asked for resources on Modernism. Thanks for your comments, and God bless.

  68. MichaelJ says:

    Ogard,
    No need to continue this discussion. Your answer clearly seems to be “No, we cannot know if any belief or proposition is heretical unless the Magisterium explicitly condemns it as such”.

    Thanks for the opportunity to have it, though.

  69. Supertradmom says:

    MichaelJ, Ogard et al,

    Is not it an important point to make that the reason why the Magisterium via the many Church documents, encyclicals, etc. point out the definitions of Modernist Heresies so that we, the faithful, can identify these in the culture and in intellectual discussion? The list of condemned ideas have been stated by various theologians, teachers, priests, CCD coordinators, RCIA directors (and conference instructors), retreat masters and so on, witnessed by me and many of us here commenting. Modernism is the sick yeast underlying most liberal Catholic positions. We must be alert. A heresy is faulty, erroneous doctrine or dogma as well as erroneous philosophy and Scriptural interpretation. Rome expect Her laity, and especially Her teachers to know the enemy and defeat him.

  70. The Cobbler says:

    I wish we had a separate word for “idealism”. Among ordinary folk it means having standards of goodness. Which basically coincides with believing in God, because He is the ultimate standard of good (cf. Aquinas on the fact that we consider some things good and not just the way things are as one of the five proofs), although you can do philosophical contortions to have one without the other.

    But then, I also wish we could differentiate between thinking that truth “progresses” heretically and realizing that our understanding develops. The latter, when combined with infallibility so we know we won’t be turning the essentials over on their heads, is hardly the same as the meaningless evil of the former.

  71. Supertradmom says:

    The Cobbler

    The problem is the English language, as some of the subtleties of definition change in the Greek and Latin. The German word complicates the meaning as well, or clarifies it, depending on your point of view. I highly suggest you look at a philosophical dictionary for the distinctions, which are key. There is also a difference in metaphysical idealism and epistemological idealism, as well as political idealism. The Popes of the 19th and 20th century have done us a great service in pointing out the definitions. Again, see the above references.

  72. robtbrown says:

    But then, I also wish we could differentiate between thinking that truth “progresses” heretically and realizing that our understanding develops. The latter, when combined with infallibility so we know we won’t be turning the essentials over on their heads, is hardly the same as the meaningless evil of the former.
    Comment by The Cobbler

    Did you ever read Jacques Maritain’s Preface to Metaphysics–Seven Lessons on Being?

  73. robtbrown says:

    A heresy is faulty, erroneous doctrine or dogma as well as erroneous philosophy and Scriptural interpretation.
    Comment by Supertradmom

    How is it erroneous philosophy if someone denies Christ’s Resurrection?

  74. Supertradmom says:

    Do not confuse theology with philosophy.

  75. MichaelJ says:

    Supertradmom,
    Don’t disagree with what you wrote especially the part about Rome expecting the laity to know the enemy. The point I was trying to make is that Rome does not generally go around condemning error; instead She proclaims the truth. Thus we need not wait until Rome explicitly condemns the specific opinion of a particular theologian.