Overview

Modernism


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A movement in the RC Church which aimed at bringing Catholic belief into closer relation with modern philosophy, the historical and other sciences, and social ideas. It arose spontaneously in several countries in the late 19th cent.; it was especially strong in France.

The main tenets of the movement were: (1) whole-hearted adoption of the critical view of the Bible, by then generally accepted outside the RC Church; (2) an inclination to reject the ‘intellectualism’ of Scholastic theology and to subordinate doctrine to practice; and (3) a teleological attitude to history, finding the meaning of the historic process in its issue rather than in its origins. Since the Church's growth took place under the guidance of the Spirit, the essence of the Gospel will lie in its full expansion rather than in its primitive kernel. This belief was often reflected in deep scepticism about Christian origins.

(1) whole-hearted adoption of the critical view of the Bible, by then generally accepted outside the RC Church; (2) an inclination to reject the ‘intellectualism’ of Scholastic theology and to subordinate doctrine to practice; and (3) a teleological attitude to history, finding the meaning of the historic process in its issue rather than in its origins.

Leaders of the movement included A. Loisy, M. Blondel, L. Laberthonnière, F. von Hügel, and G. Tyrrell. Leo XIII tolerated the movement; Pius X condemned it in 1907. While the clergy who were identified with the movement were mostly excommunicated, the laymen were left untouched.

In the wider sense the term ‘Modernist’ has been used of radical critics of traditional theology in non-RC Churches, especially of the thought associated with the Modern Church People's Union.

Subjects: Christianity.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.