Modernism as a Thought Crime

Plato said that God is thought thinking thought. As Father Leonard Feeney wrote, this is about as close as a philosopher can get to the knowledge of the Holy Trinity with his unaided intellect, and it is a loose approximation at best, for the Trinity is unknowable without the benefit of revelation. But Plato’s insight is remarkable, for God is the primordial Intellect, the uncreated Mind, without Whom there could be no knowledge, no thought.

As man was created to God’s image and likeness, he is capable of knowledge and of thought, even of that highly systematized thought we call “science.” But our knowing faculty was created for something much greater still, and that is the knowledge of the Triune God that we have thanks to the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ Our Lord. That knowledge, begun by Faith in this life — where it is also perfected by the gifts of understanding and knowledge — terminates in the Beatific Vision in Heaven.

The knowledge that we have by Faith is both divine and human. Brother Francis puts it this way:

The body of Catholic doctrine is something both divine and human, and as such is a faithful image of the God-Man. As divine, it rests on the highest authority. As human, it is adapted to our manner and employs all our powers; it is preserved largely by human methods and is defended by human weapons.

The idea that the Faith is both divine and human like Jesus Christ Himself is not an orignal one, but it is a subject of meditation that promises much fruit. The Second Person of the Divine Trinity is the one Word uttered by the Father, His perfect and adequate self-expression. When He was clothed in our flesh He showed us in a human way how to be divine, becoming both the exemplar and the efficient cause of that human divinization we know to be divine adoption by grace. While remaining God’s internal and eternal Word, He became at the moment of the Incarnation that Word translated into human utterance.

And that Word taught: “In these days [God] hath spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:2). And the words of the Word (the verba verbi) are true, with a divine guarantee.

Hence the blasphemy of the Modernist notions of dogma. Pope Saint Pius X distilled Modernism to three essential parts: (1) a philosophical agnosticism that denies man’s ability to know reality as it is; (2) belief in a “vital immanence” whereby man has an innate religious sense that is a highly subjective, intuitive, and aprioristic notion of God and moral truth; this more fundamental religious knowledge finds its expression in the “secondary formulas” we call doctrines, but such doctrines are not perfect expressions of the vital immanence; and (3) a radical evolution of dogma.

To learn more of this, and how Modernism is dependent on the philosophy of Kant, the liberal Protestant “baptism” of Kant by Schleiermacher, and the evolutionism of Hegel, please see What did St. Pius X mean when he called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”?

Needless to say, these heretical notions are still with us, albeit in an attenuated and nuanced form.

Implicit in the Modernist heresy is the older error of indifferentism. Since religious doctrines are mere approximations of what is immanent in me, all religions are more-or-less true and more-or-less false. Whichever one most closely approximates my own subjective religious sense becomes “my truth.” Sound familiar? “You have your truth, I have mine” is the vulgar popularization of this heresy, and it shocks us that some folks can actually say it with a straight face.

Thus, man is free to believe whatever religion he wants, another essentially liberal error, and one condemned earlier by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

No, man is free to accept and profess only the true religion, and in so doing, he becomes truly free. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), said Truth Incarnate. The first hearers of that divine utterance were offended by the implication that they were not free since they were the sons of Abraham and had never been slaves to any man. Our Lord gave them this rejoinder: “whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin … [but] If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed,” and He invited them to believe in Him (for Faith in Him is necessary for this freedom!), but they preferred to take up stones to stone Him, showing just how enslaved they were at that moment. Perhaps some of them converted later, I do not know. The whole fascinating exchange is found in John 8.

Having prayed for His Apostles in the Garden, just before His agony and arrest, Jesus commissioned them to preach His truth after the Resurrection:

And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matt. 28:18-20)

Note that, in giving these mere creatures of His their teaching mission, Our Lord invokes His own power. This should indicate to us just how reliable is the transmission of Christian truth from that day to this.

But for the Biblical Modernist, even this promise is not reliable. What, then, is? Nothing, except perhaps this sad man’s innate sense of religion, for which no doctrinal formulae are adequate. Oh, but he is so cocksure of his conclusions in the domain of Biblical Science!


Our Catholic dogmatic formulae are reliable because the Infallible Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the beneficiary of that promise to the Apostles of “all power” given to the Man-God, which no doubt includes the promise of the Holy Ghost.

The Catholic Church is, after all, Christ’s own Mystical Body, and the Holy Ghost is the soul of that Body.

Living as we are in a day when scandal piles atop of scandal, so that the faithful are barraged with examples of crass moral filth by the upper echelons of the sacred hierarchy, we must hold fast to these truths and live accordingly. For, it is in questioning Catholic Faith and Morals, and jettisoning tradition, that the clergy begin to become perverts. After all, their sacred vocation is founded on these very things.

Let us strive, then, to become saints, loving and living Catholic tradition, and God will surely bless the Church with priests after His own Sacred Heart.