The levels of separation from the Catholic faith:
- Rejection of Tradition: At this stage, one accepts what one takes to be “core” Christian doctrines, but takes them to be sufficient in themselves, with no need to interpret them in light of the traditional practices and teachings of the Church. The Council Fathers at Vatican II reached this level of separation from Catholicism when they arrogantly presumed to separate the essence of the faith from the traditional language of its transmission and the traditional practices of the faith, as if any finite mind could be sure it had exhausted the doctrinal content of the latter. After Vatican II, development of doctrine became a dubious proposition, because it could be based on nothing but papally-approved innovation. Besides the articulated dogmas of the Church as of 1960, everything else in Catholic life is a makeshift product of the 60’s that wouldn’t even claim any divine inspiration.
- Particular heresy: Cut adrift from the living mind of the Church, the frail intellect falls into some error or other: denying predestination or purgatory or whatever else doesn’t match one’s overly parsimonious “core teachings of Christianity”. In the seventeenth century, our ancestors were lucky enough to imagine that this is as bad as heresy gets. However, a mind embracing this level of heresy still believes in God and recognizes some authority, say of the Bible or early ecumenical councils. Most of all, it still accepts that religious doctrines make truth claims about God and our relationship to Him.
- Modernism: Impressed by Kant’s transcendental idealism, the modernists reinterpreted religious statements to be statements about man’s religious experience rather than about God Himself, the latter when considered apart from our experience of Him being utterly unknowable and beyond our empirically-limited categories of thought. This was an entirely new and utterly monstrous development, as doctrines of the faith were no longer denied so much as drained of meaning. They were no longer to be regarded as statements about what they seemed to be statements about. Statements about God are really statements about man. Given this immanentist restriction, they continue to be objective. (Transcendental idealism is empirical realism, after all.) The structure of man’s religious consciousness is presumed to be a universal, or at least religion-wide, thing about which one can made definite statements. Religion has not yet devolved into wishful thinking; core aspects of the religious consciousness are not unambiguously pleasant (e.g. sense of absolute dependence, of one’s own radical contingency).
- Kasperism: Religion exists to validate our emotional impressions and make us happy. The foulest, most degrading form of heresy, far worse than honest atheism. “Phenomenological” impression–e.g. feeling that one’s marriage is dead, whatever the hell that means–must inform doctrinal “ideas”. Because these phenomenal states are basically feelings and desires, and therefore neither logical nor universal, theology itself must jettison logic and embrace a sentimentalism in which the one who hypocritically poses as the most “humble” and “merciful” carries the day. Thus, the Church’s teaching and discipline are not officially rescinded, but they cease to have any connection to anyone’s actual life, bound as the latter is in its phenomenal bubble.
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