Daily Archives: August 3, 2011

Heresy from the Window: Neo-Modernism and NuChurch

Brilliant blog post on “Ite Ad Thomam” about Modernism vs. Neo-Modernism. The blog post (the blog is run by strictly orthodox Thomist theologians) is particularly notable because its rigorous exam of the evil of Neo-Modernism doesn’t stop at the extremists, put points the finger to the widespread corruption of traditional Catholic thinking still present today in the very heart of the Church.

The summa divisio is between Modernism and Neo-Modernism.

The first is defined as follows:

Modernism is the idea that there are no eternal truths, that truth is the correspondence of the mind with one’s lifestyle (adaequatio intellectus et vitae), and that, therefore, old dogmas must be abandoned and new beliefs must arise that meet ‘the needs of modern man’. This is a radical denial of the traditional and common sense notion of truth: the correspondence of the mind with reality (adaequatio intellectus et rei), which is the basis of the immutability of Catholic dogma.

Modernism is, in its essence, the attempt to protestantise Catholicism, adopting the motto of most of their communities: we’ll make out our theology as we go along, and according to the need of the moment.

Neo-modernism is defined thus:

It is the idea that old dogmas or beliefs must be retained, yet not the traditional ‘formulas’: dogmas must be expressed and interpreted in a new way in every age so as to meet the ‘needs of modern man’. This is still a denial of the traditional and common sense notion of truth as adaequatio intellectus et rei (insofar as it is still an attempt to make the terminology that expresses the faith correspond with our modern lifestyle) and consequently of the immutability of Catholic dogma, yet it is not as radical as modernism. It is more subtle and much more deceptive than modernism because it claims that the faith must be retained; it is only the ‘formulas’ of faith that must be abandoned–they use the term ‘formula’ to distinguish the supposedly mutable words of our creeds, dogmas, etc. from their admittedly immutable meanings.

One can immediately see that this kind of thinking is infinitely more dangerous than the previous one. Modernism is an open attempt to tear down the walls of Catholicism and, as such, is bound to encounter fierce resistence; but neo-modernism is an attempt to infiltrate the city without tearing down the walls and is a less spectacular, but more insidious threat.

“Ah”, you will say,”but this is simply the Church’ reaction to the new times”. Exactly this is the problem. The idea that there be “a new man” in the presence of which capital punishment is not justified anymore is, in nuce, Modernist thinking; the idea that there be a new man who, in the new phase of evolution which he has now entered, isn’t authorised to wage war is the fruit of exactly the same error; and the idea that one can be saved by praying for peace or “having his heart in the right place” comes from…. well, no one really knows whence, but it sounds so good that it has become the unspoken mantra of countless Catholic parishes here in the UK.

The blog post distinguishes three degrees of neo-Modernism: the “vanguard” a’ la von Balthasar theorising formally not heretical, but absurd nuCatholic novelties like the one that Hell might be void – the author of this one, mind, was made Cardinal by the late Pope, though unless I am mistaken he went to his “reward” before the official ceremony -; the more moderate but still at times strange sounding theologians a’ la Ratzinger himself – and here a rather adventurous “evolutionistic re-interpretation of Resurrection” is mentioned, details if you follow the link – and in the end the mainstream, “nuChurch”, “home made popular theology” of the present times that I have mentioned above.

I liked this article because I often reflect that if a properly educated Catholic of, say, 200 years ago would be absurdly allowed to come back to earth and assist to a Novus Ordo Mass without telling him anything, he would probably not recognise it as Catholic and if asked would, methink, say that what he has assisted to was a Protestant celebration, of a very bad sort. As to the homily, he would probably not be able to recognise anything familiar at all and would say that the priest was clearly confused, and clearly unaware of the basics of Christianity as a religion. A lot of other things – from the half-naked people in shorts and flip-flops, to the people standing when receiving communion, to them receiving in the hand – would leave him simply horrified at the point of believing that he might have assisted to a cruel parody of the Holy Mass instead of the real thing.

Think of it, one wouldn’t need to go as far back in time. Any of our relatives who died during the Fifties would probably think pretty much the same.

The dismantling of the liturgy brought with it the dismantling of sound Catholic thinking. It is no coincidence that our ancestors wouldn’t be able to recognise either.


De-Christianising Christianity

Jacopo Bassano, "The Feeding of the Five Thousand"

Another beautiful blog post from Father Longenecker, talking about the banalisation of the miracle of the feeding of the Five Thousand.

Even if I have never personally heard anyone trying to banalise the miracle in such a way, I remember reading something similar. In my case too, my reaction was of disgust at people who have lost their faith to the point of not believing in Christ’s miracles anymore, but want to teach the faith to others.

To want to explain away Jesus’ miracles is a clear sign of lack of faith. Jesus’ miracles are the direct consequence of his Divinity. Without the miracles, you can’t justify his claim of being the Messiah, nor his further claim of being God, nor his claim that he would take away our sins by dying for us, nor his claim that He would come to us in the miracle of the Eucharist. Without Jesus’ miracles there can simply be no Christianity.

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand has, in my eyes, another very important significance that is often lost today: the Jews had to learn by heart, already during childhood, a long list of attributes of God. This was in order to avoid being accused of blasphemy once – after the bar/bat Mitzvah – they were considered old enough to willingly blaspheme. Among the many attributes of God where the fact that God alone can create food (not in the sense of processing or cooking of course, but in the sense that God creates the Earth and the animals that produce it). By miraculously creating bread out of sheer nothing, Jesus already sends the message that He is God. We modern Westerners may have lost, in a sense, this direct correlation between creating food and divinity: to us, Jesus is God, therefore He could perform miracles. But to a Jew reading Matthew’s Gospel in the first century AD, and who had the long list of God’s attributes learned by heart, the meaning of the feeding of the five thousands must have caused the contrary logical process: this man can create food, therefore he can only be God. Matthew’s Gospel is full of such references, that to a Jewish reader immediately say: this is God. God only can give life, therefore Lazarus’ resurrection directly points out to Jesus’ divinity; God only can take away (without violence, of course) life, therefore the “killing” of the fig tree directly points out to Jesus’ divinity, and so on.

All this is lost on modern liberals. They don’t believe in anything else than their own liberal ideology, and must therefore explain away Jesus’ divinity. They do it because when they have done so, they will be able to explain away everything else they don’t like. They will tell you, for example, that Sodom was destroyed because its inhabitants weren’t “hospitable” (or was it “vegetarian”; I never can remember which); that Jesus talked very, very harshly about Sodom because, well, no one knows anymore at this point; that he would, say, only have male apostles in order not to hurt the Jewish sensibilities. The list goes on and can become very long, I remember the sermon of the Canadian Anglican/Episcopalian claiming that Jesus overcomes his own racial prejudice by dealing with the Syrophoenician woman.
It really doesn’t get more blasphemous, or stupid, than that.

To attack Jesus’ miracles is to attack Jesus. It’s as simple as that.


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