Progressivist Theology. What it is.

“God is Dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we – we still have to vanquish his shadow, too. — Frederich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 109.

For the Neo-modernist or Progressivist Catholic today, the Traditional understanding of God is dead, ‘truth’ is always “evolving” and it is the zeitgeist which is the real source of “revelation”; it is “God” speaking “within,” which is why Progressivists are always moving with the current trends, ideologies and fashions of the times. It is all they have.

According to the new historicism method “old” traditional teachings are dismissed by being neatly “situated” in their allegedly obsolete “historical contexts” in order to posit a substantially new doctrine with a new, often subjectivist, sense and meaning. 

Theologically Familiar Language

This Neo-modernism or “Progressivism” has become an ubiquitous reality in the Church in our time. And it is precisely the dogmas and theological language of Sacred Scripture and tradition which this neo-modernism corrupts most directly.

In 1907 Pope St. Pius X spoke forcefully of the Modernists / Progressivists who even then, he said, were hiding in the

“…very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate…the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open…many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, [they] put themselves forward as reformers of the Church.”

The most deceitful aspect of neo-modernism today is that such “reformers” everywhere today do not blush to recite the same creeds and often use the same dogmatic language as traditional Catholics. And “social justice” issues and works often serve as cover for changing Catholic teaching.

A neo-modernist need not deny any Catholic dogma. He need only empty out the contents (whether of scripture or tradition) and infuse it with new meanings. So that when a traditional Catholic is concerned over what he or she hears, the neo-modernist (whether a layperson, priest, bishop) feigns shock that his or her orthodoxy could be questioned by a student, parent…anyone.

After all, doesn’t he or she worship the same “God” and emulate the same “Jesus” as the rest of us? they insist. Don’t they preside over or attend the same liturgy and recite the same Creeds as all other Catholics? Hasn’t the pope approved them? In this way they deceitfully affirm and deny at the same time. Their ‘yes’ is almost always also a ‘no,’ and their ‘no’ almost always masks a ‘yes’.

When neo-modernists use theologically familiar language 

“God”…”Jesus”…”Mass”…”faith”… “Resurrection”…”Salvation,” etc., etc.

they mean something very different from what Catholics have traditionally meant by these revelational truths / realities. Scriptural and traditional Catholic teachings are transvalued.

And that is their method. It is how they confuse parents,students, sometimes even themselves. 

For the modernist there are no more heresies or false, spiritually dangerous religions, there are only “traditions,” all true “in their own way”.

Such a view of course was always condemned by the Popes and Doctors of the Church who insisted that Jesus Christ, His Gospel and Church are ever “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).

Unstable 

Progressives do progress but in the wrong direction; they evolve, without end. Their view of truth, being contrary to what the Church has always taught, is thus always by definition unstable and and so even their newly fashioned doctrines vanish by the same hermeneutic into obsolete “historical contexts” the very moment they are uttered,.

When Teilhard de Chardin for instance tried to make his new evolving Christ the telos of history and time he was being completely arbitrary, as scientists and theologians were quick to point out. Subjectivism collapses into itself. 

The one thing the neo-modernist avoids is being made to “do” theology in the clearly expressed, unambiguous language of pre-conciliar days (not that they are asked to do that much anymore). They seek refuge in the turgid, often recondite styles and neologisms of modern / postmodern philosophy in order to keep the gullible off guard, disoriented. So it is critical to force the issue and ask them to clearly define the dogmatic truths they say we share in order to measure them by the Catholic tradition. If they slog off into obfuscations, it is necessary to point it out to them.

Again to quote St. Pius X, 1907:

“[the Modernists] assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man….

“To the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death: dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself. The enunciation of this principle will not be a matter of surprise to anyone who bears in mind what the Modernists have had to say about each of these subjects.” *

Theological Modernism then is always in some degree Catholic-sounding as the Progressives are careful to attend to that aspect. But it replaces human theological “creativity” for revelation, human subjectivism for the Cross. All roads lead to man as the source and summit of the divine.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  (Benedict XVI): 

“The central problem of our time is the emptying-out of the historical figure of Jesus. It begins with denying the virgin birth, then the resurrection becomes a spiritual event, then Christ’s awareness of being the Son of God is denied, leaving him only the words of a rabbi. Then the Eucharist falls, and becomes just a farewell dinner.”

“If at times it may be just to tolerate a lesser evil for the sake of peace in the church, let us not forget that a peace paid for with the loss of the truth would be a false peace, an empty peace” —October 6, 2001

And today?

While there have been clarifications, the Second Vatican Council must—if it can be saved at all— be revisited, corrected, more explicitly realigned to the unequivocal traditional definitions and language of pre-conciliar clarity, without losing whatever is good and genuine development as Benedict XVI has said (“hermeneutic of continuity”).

“Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world”—1 Jn 4:3 — SH

When the God of traditional Catholic Theology has been either secretly ruled out or transvalued beyond recognition all that remains prior to God’s judgment is “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life”. And after that, only God knows — 1 Jn. 2:15-17

See Pope St. Pius X’s EncyclicalOn the Doctrine of the Modernists” promulgated as a warning to the future, as the earth-shattering 20th century was dawning.

So, again, for the neo-modernist ‘truth’ is always “evolving” and it is the zeitgeist which is the real source of revelation; it is “God” speaking “within,” which is why Progressivists are always moving with the current trends, ideologies and fashions of the times, always trying to provide “theological” justifications for much of it, albeit often with a touch of “nuance”. 

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