Kasperism: the ultimate heresy

The levels of separation from the Catholic faith:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

6 Responses

  1. “the modernists reinterpreted religious statements to be statements about man’s religious experience rather than about God Himself”

    They did indeed and what rendered it plausible was that they exploited a perfectly valid distinction, made by Bl John Henry Newman half a century earlier.

    “Theological dogmas are propositions expressive of the judgments, which the mind forms, or the impressions which it receives, of Revealed Truth. Revelation sets before it certain supernatural facts and actions, beings and principles; these make a certain impression or image upon it; and this impression spontaneously, or even necessarily, becomes the subject of reflection on the part of the mind itself, which proceeds to investigate it, and to draw it forth in successive and distinct sentences.”

    Newman links this with the notion of “economy,” so prominent in the Alexandrian Fathers: “And since this everlasting and unchangeable quiescence is the simplest and truest notion we can obtain of the Deity, it seems to follow, that strictly speaking, all those so-called Economies or dispensations, which display His character in action, are but condescensions to the infirmity and peculiarity of our minds, shadowy representations of realities which are incomprehensible to creatures such as ourselves, who estimate everything by the rule of association and arrangement, by the notion of a purpose and plan, object and means, parts and whole.”

    More generally, he explains, “All things in the exterior world are unit and individual, and are nothing else; but the mind not only contemplates those unit realities, as they exist, but has the gift, by an act of creation, of bringing before it abstractions and generalizations, which have no existence, no counterpart, out of it.” He got that, not from Kant, but from Hume.

  2. “denying predestination”
    What do you mean?. could you be more precise.

  3. vishmehr24: I just named a couple of doctrines at almost at random. I say “almost” because I sometimes like to remind overly-zealous Calvinism-bashing Catholics that we believe in predestination too.

    Michael Paterson-Seymour: This is indeed an infuriating thing about modernists. Many of their statements have an orthodox meaning that they can fall back on if attacked, but they clearly mean something faith-destroying.

  4. Predestination is subtle and slippery. what is precisely the proposition that is heretical and denies predestination?
    in other word< what is the catholic dogma of predestination?

  5. “what is the catholic dogma of predestination?”

    There isn’t one. There are a series of errors regarding predestination condemned by the Church, notably by the Council of Orange, the Council of Trent and by the Bull Cum Occasione. The matter was also discussed in the famous Congregatio de Auxilliis

    Within those limits, Catholics are free to hold the Neo-Thomist opinion, the Molinist opinion or any other that does not involved the condemned errors, Calvinist and Jansenist on one side and Pelagian and Neo-Pelagian on the other.

    Traditionally, the Dominicans supported the Neo-Thomist position and the Jesuits the Molinist. They also differedon the nature of the Divine foreknowledge, which is an aspect of the wider philosophical questionof the nature of counterfactual hypotheticals.

    It goes without saying that a Catholic is not bound to hold any of these opinions and may simply treat the relationship of nature and grace and grace and free will as a mystery.

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