Hammer sickle and cross Edo Edi Essum forum_nationstates_netIn reading a post on Dr Gregory Jackson’s Ichabod, I ran across two related links elsewhere which deeply concerned me for reasons explained below.

Long march through the Church

Dr Jackson’s post featured an interview from the Harvard Gazette with  Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, a professor of Roman Catholic theological studies at the Divinity School. If you click on the link with  Fiorenza’s name, you’ll see his biography which lists such details as (emphases mine):

His writings on political theology engage recent theories of justice, especially those of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, and have dealt with issues of work and welfare.

He was awarded the Henry Luce III Fellowship for 2005-06 for research in the history of twentieth-century Roman Catholic theology, namely, the direction known as la nouvelle théologie.

Habermas studied under Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, two professors of the prominent Frankfurt School, whose ideas have spread worldwide. His speciality is the concept of modernity, developing the ideas of Max Weber (also Frankfurt School) about rationalisation which

refers to the replacement of traditions, values, and emotions as motivators for behavior in society with rational, calculated ones. For example, the implementation of bureaucracies in government is a kind of rationalization, as is the construction of high-efficiency living spaces in architecture and urban planning.

Fiorenza says the Vatican is in flux. No news there. However, he did say that since the end of the Second World War in Germany and the United States, the percentage of Catholics marrying other Catholics declined from 9 in 10 marriages to 2 in 10 at present.  That means that 80% are marrying Protestants (best case scenario), those of other world faiths or no faith at all.

From this Fiorenza concludes:

that type of switch is leading to a type of religious pluralism that the church is not used to. … So I think the question of religious pluralism is going to be really important, especially if you get a pope from Asia, where you have more awareness of other world religions.

His use of ‘awareness’ points to advocacy of a one-world religion. He could have said ‘openness’ but certain elitists do not want people to really understand the big picture.

Catholic and Protestants face similar issues

Catholics face the following issues:

a seemingly conservative Pope has just abdicated.

two recent Popes, if not more (I’d go back to John XXIII), have latched on to Modernist theology (kissing Korans, allowing paedophile scandals) whilst reinforcing tradition (the Rosary and Latin Mass).

– bishops and priests are more interested in a Modernist philosophy of ‘action’ in the socio-political sphere rather than preaching the Gospel of grace and salvation.

– laity have left the Church, not for Protestantism, but altogether.

That said, the last two points also pertain to mainline Protestants not just in the United States (Episcopalians, Lutherans [ELCA] and Presbyterians [PCUSA]) but also in countries with ‘established’ (national) churches, e.g. England (Anglican), Scotland (Presbyterian) and Germany (Lutheran).

We can trace how we got here from there by going back to the mid-19th century and into the early 20th. Protestant and Catholic theology were both affected. Faithful theologians were doing battle within their own denominations against ideas from the Enlightenment and/or Marxism, neither of which has a place in religious dogma. These are but a few who defended the faith against the heresy of Modernism:

Charles Porterfield Krauth (Lutheran).

Pius X (Catholic, later canonised) — read here and here.

John Gresham Machen (Presbyterian) — read posts under his name on Christianity / Apologetics.

Why nouvelle théologie matters — a personal perspective

After reading Fiorenza’s Harvard University biography, I did a search on nouvelle théologie. What I read shocked me.

Unknowingly, I’d adopted and believed most (not all) of it since my days in Catholic high school — in fact, from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s. That’s over three decades. Furthermore, I was going to church regularly the whole time!

Thankfully, the Lord moved me out of that darkness into a scriptural Christianity. I’m still learning.

How is it that I’d never heard of nouvelle théologie yet was in thrall to much of it for 30 years?

A good resource page which summarises and discusses it is ‘Where is the New Theology leading us?’ (translated from the French) by a Dominican priest, the Revd Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

Again, although the essay is written from a Catholic perspective, new theology also has a stranglehold on mainline Protestant denominations. Therefore, I recommend this treatise to all my readers.

New theology’s main points include the following:

it refutes the Councils of Trent and Orange. The latter council is important to Protestants because, from it, the Calvinists derived their doctrine of Original Sin and Total Depravity.

Adam was not a man but a collective. This refutes the aforementioned councils and, worse, contradicts references to Adam in the New Testament. Luke’s Gospel traces Jesus’s lineage back to Adam (Luke 3:38). St Paul referred to Adam several times in his epistles, teaching that mankind has two heads: Adam and Christ.

the Incarnation of the Word (Jesus) was but a mere blip in the evolution of the universe. According to new theology, time moves on and our link to Jesus becomes more abstract. New theology ignores His sacrifice on the Cross, His glorious Resurrection and His promise of salvation.

sin is purely a personal issue; Original Sin is irrelevant and God doesn’t place much importance on it. This also refutes the aforementioned Councils. It also ignores God’s banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for their sin.

it is rationalist (see definition at the beginning of this post) in that it advocates for dogma which evolves with time and the world. This is why we see the push for homosexual bishops and same-sex marriage. It also accounts for the (quasi-)atheistic clergy in our pulpits who cannot preach the Gospel.

God is not personally involved in our lives or our world; rather, God is an abstract ‘universal cosmic Centre’. This notion contradicts Holy Scripture from beginning to end.

we can be saved only through pantheism — Gaia — and ‘uniting’ ourselves with the universe.

a general convergence of world religions will bring about a universal faith which will satisfy humanity.

faith can save only if the Church ‘progresses’ in step with the world.

Christians must discard dogmas which are now irrelevant; it is unhealthy to consider doctrine as being true for all time.

there is no such thing as the Real Presence (much less transubstantiation) in Holy Communion; Christ was present only during His lifetime on Earth.

it distorts Thomas Aquinas’s ideas, twisting them into something the philosopher and theologian would never have considered.

But, wait — there’s more

Whilst reading these false teachings, I thought of the anonymous Catholic Agent AA-1025 who was a priest in the 1930s and already posited ideas we would see come to fruition during Vatican II.

There is also the Protestant side of the story, featuring Walter Rauschenbusch — a pietistic Lutheran and the father of the American social gospel. He had close associations with a member of the Fabians — the Revd Harry Ward. John D Rockefeller brought the two together and helped them to establish the Federal Council of Churches, which has since evolved to the World Council of Churches and has close links to the United Nations, also a Fabian creation.

As to the Popes, the preface to an audio lecture about new theology and Vatican II says:

Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, are products of the New Theology, and pledge first allegiance to this new system, rather than to the traditional anti-Modernism of Pope Saint Pius X.

Back now to Fr Garrigou-Lagrange, who wrote:

Some will no doubt say that we exaggerate, but even a small error regarding first ideas and first principles has incalculable consequences which are not foreseen by those who have likewise been fooled. The consequences of the new views, some of which we have already reviewed, have gone well beyond the forecasts of the authors we have cited. It is not difficult to see these consequences in certain typewritten papers, which have been sent (some since 1934) to clergy, seminaries, and Catholic intellectuals; one finds in them the most singular assertions and negations on original sin and the Real Presence.

At times, in these same circulated papers, before such novelties are proposed, the reader is conditioned by being told: This will appear crazy at first, however, if you look at it closely, it is not illogical. And many end up believing it. Those with superficial intelligence will adopt it, and the dictum, “A doctrine which is not current, is no longer true” will be out walking. Some are tempted to conclude: “It seems that the doctrine of the eternal pains of hell is no longer current, and so it is no longer true.” It is said in the Gospel that one day charity will be frozen in many hearts and they will be seduced by error.

It is a strict obligation of conscience for traditional theologians to respond. Otherwise, they gravely neglect their duty, and they will be made to account for this before God.

And the following quote, which is very true, although I would disagree on ‘average’ souls. I consider my own as average, but I do remember discussing assigned high school reading material (e.g. Teilhard de Chardin) with one of my classmates who has always had a highly developed intellectual mind. She had to explain it all to me and, even then, I didn’t understand it but thought I should accept it, anyway (stupid!):

A professor of theology wrote to me:

“In effect, the very notion of the truth has been put into debate, and without fully realizing it, thus revisiting modernism in thought as in action. The writings that you have spoken to me about are much read in France. It is true that they exercise a huge influence on the average type of soul. They have little effect on serious people. It is necessary to write for those who have the sincere desire to be enlightened.”

And the problem lies in ‘the sincere desire to be enlightened’, which goes all the way back to original sin when the serpent seduced Eve into heightened knowledge (Genesis 3:1-5):

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

 He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said,  ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Christians must reject such a carnal urge, not least because a lifetime of enlightenment and scholarship lies in the Holy Bible and long-established confessions of faith. May we read, study and understand them then pass that eternal truth on to others.