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The Modernist Historian

The Modernist historian does not want to be seen as a philosopher. They want their historical practice to appear objective, untainted by a philosophy. But their historical practice is full of their philosophy, and “their historico-critical conclusions are the natural outcome of their philosophical principles.” (§30)

Like the philosopher, the historian starts with agnosticism. Agnosticism means that the Modernist historian removes God from being an actor in history. History deals entirely in phenomena, just like science. Since science and faith are incompatible, and God belongs only to faith, then God cannot have a part in history.

If it looks like God is intervening in history, well, that action needs to be divided into two aspects: the human aspect, which is a part of history, and the divine aspect, which is a part of faith.

The thing is, according to the Modernist the human aspect has also been transformed by faith. So anything that goes beyond that natural condition of man in the human aspect must also be stricken from history and classified as faith. For example, with Christ, this means limiting their historical understanding of Christ to psychology and the culture of His day.

And then they go even farther. If there is a historical account of something Christ said or did, they subject it to “the logic of facts” and the ability of the multitudes who heard Him to understand. If the multitudes don’t seem to be able to comprehend Him, they transfer His statement or action to faith, and out of history. In this way, they dismiss out of hand all of the allegories that Christ preached.

If this seems somewhat arbitrary, there is an underlying method to these distinctions. The Modernist historian puts himself in the person and place of Christ, and then attributes to Him what he would have done had he been Him. So of course Christ was not God, never did anything divine, and only said and did things a mere man would have said or done.


*This post is part of a series on Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Click here for more posts on Pascendi and Modernism.*