Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The error of modernism...

Renee Aste, a Catholic blogger who contributes to The Opine Editorials, left the following in the comments section of my post entitled "Anglican church fragmenting because of homosexuality":

Another article on the issue at

Mercator... http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/as_it_was_in_the_beginning/

"At no time among any Christians at any stage since Christ himself walked this earth – or at any stage in the long years before that, of preparation and teaching by God to his chosen people – has it ever been regarded as possible or right for two people of the same sex to go through any form of marriage ceremony, or to engage on any form of sexual relationship....Why do some in today’s Anglican Church think differently? Chiefly, it seems, because it is regarded as cruel and unjust to make anyone feel uncomfortable simply because of a desire to engage in same-sex relationships. And no one wants to be regarded as cruel or unjust. So, instead, there must be a decision that, somehow, God got things wrong from the beginning, or…no, perhaps it is simply his Church which has been wrong from the very start, and the Jewish tradition in all the epochs beforehand.

This understanding brings in the idea that a new revelation came to people in America and much of Western Europe in the late 1970s, and thus now we must rewrite things and make a claim for the Anglican Church which sets it irrevocably apart from all the Christians belief of centuries. In this understanding, God’s plan for the human race is not essentially based on man and woman, there is no uniting of the two that reflects the great reality of Christ and Church, there is no mystery of marriage which draws us ultimately to the marriage feast in heaven. Christ’s miracle at Cana is reversed – no long water into wine at a wedding, but water splashed everywhere, on any sexual relationship that humans seek to honour. And the Eucharist no longer contains within its heart a nuptial mystery, but is merely a decorative feast that we can use to honour what we will."

I want to thank Renee for taking the time to add her comments. However, I must disagree with the author of the article which she cites. I believe the problem lies not in "the idea that a new revelation came to people in America and much of Western Europe in the late 1970s," but instead in the simple fact that modernism (which Pope St. Pius X of happy memory drove underground for a time within the Catholic Church) denies the historical institution of the sacraments by Christ and misunderstands the essence of the supernatural thereby attempting to explain the supernatural using merely psychological categories and templates of human experience.

The sacraments were all instituted by Christ Himself: "'Adhering to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus....of the Fathers,' we profess that 'the sacraments of the new law were...all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1114, citing the Council of Trent (1547): DS 1600-1601). And this is what the same Catechism has to say regarding the sacrament of matrimony:

"The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage. "The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. "The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life." (CCC, 1603).

How may we define "sacrament"? "A sacrament is an event, or a reality, or a rite, which is perceptible to the senses and which has been instituted by Christ in order to signify the saving graces merited by Him, to contain them, and to communicate them to human beings through human beings whenever a sacrament is performed by both its minister and its recipient." (J. Auer).

As Auer explains:

"The deeper reason for saying that Christ alone can be named the institutor of the sacraments is provided by soteriology, which teaches us that all redemptive grace can come only from Christ, and what the sacraments do is apply such redemptive grace to us. Thomas (Summa Theologica, III, q. 64, a.3) distinguishes in Christ three forms of fullness of power: (a) the potestas auctoritativa, which is proper to Christ by virtue of His divine nature and is therefore incommunicable; (b) the potestas excellentiae, which is proper to Christ's human nature because of its union with the Logos and which, according to Thomas, is likewise incommunicable. (Perhaps an aspect of this form of fullness of power may be seen as active in the Church of Jesus Christ - His Mystical Body after all - when, for instance, the Church at the Council of Trent gives a new form to the sacrament of marriage, or when Pope Pius XII recasts the form of priesly ordination, or when in the Church of the seventh century the sacrament of penance receives a new development.) (c) But as God-Man, Christ also properly possesses the potestas ministerii, that form of fullness of power that comes to Him as a human being by virtue of His being sent by the Father (John 20, 21). This is a form of power that was communicated by Christ to the Apostles; this, by nature it is communicable. The proper power that the dispenser of the sacraments in the Church holds as his own is a participation in the fullness of power deriving from the mission of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, because the sacraments are all ordered within the sphere of the Church, it is Christ Himself who always remains their first and foremost dispenser." (J. Auer and Joseph Ratzinger, Dogmatic Theology Volume 6, A General Doctrine of the Sacraments, CUA Press, pp. 85-86).

Today, the family is under violent attack. Primarily through abortion and the push for same-sex "marriage." The forces within the Anglican church who seek to redefine marriage have rejected Christ as the institutor of the sacraments and, in their revolution against God the Author of the Sacraments, are preparing the way for the Man of Sin, who will bring man his own ersatz "sacraments" which will be signified by lying and homicide.

We ignore the teaching of Pope John Paul II to our own peril:

"Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist. The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one's conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one's moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and "being at peace with oneself", so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment.

As is immediately evident, the crisis of truth is not unconnected with this development. Once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its primordial reality as an act of a person's intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now. Instead, there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature." (Veritatis Splendor, No. 32).

Related reading: Anglican clergy, mass exodus?


Anonymous said...

Members of the Anglican Church who are agitating for homosexual "marriage" are rejecting Christ's unique role as the author of the sacraments as well as His divine plan for man.

Since acceptance of homosexual "marriage" presupposes a rejection of the truth that all the sacraments have their origin in Christ, one has to wonder where this will lead with regard to the other sacraments in their church?

Michael Cole said...

Remember Francis Cardinal George saying that liberalism is "an exhausted project." How true. And as one of the bastions of liberalism/modernism in the world of Christianity, the Anglican church is pretty much exhausted as well.

Ellen Wironken said...

This would certainly explain the Anglican Church's approach toward another sacrament: Holy Orders, and why this Church has been ordaining homosexuals - even a homosexual "bishop."

You're right. The Anglican Church, like all other liberal Churches, is in a process of auto-demolition. Whis is why we must resist these same forces as they arise in the Catholic Church.

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