In Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope St. Pius X aims to show that Modernism is “the synthesis of all heresies”. It is not just a scattered bunch of heresies here and there, but rather a coherent program on the march to destroy the Catholic faith. But on the surface Modernism appears to be a mess of unrelated tactics. It is not exactly easy to see how it is organized and coherent.
To unmask Modernism and present it to the reader in an understandable way, Pius X notes that “the Modernist sustains and includes within himself a manifold personality; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer.” (§5) He then proceeds to lay out the Modernist system, using these personalities as an entry point.
Below, I will briefly touch on the absolute bare minimum regarding each personality, and then give a brief synopsis of how the roles work together as a system. To avoid being 22,000+ words long like Pascendi, this post will necessarily be extremely incomplete. Later posts will expand upon each of the individual personalities.
The Seven Personalities
Modernism has its own underlying philosophy, based on agnosticism and vital immanence, a personal religious sense. Everything else the Modernist thinks, does, and says has these as its underpinning.
The Modernist believer primarily relies on personal religious experience to explain God.
Modernist theology relies upon three concepts: theological immanence, theological symbolism, and divine permanence. Apart from these, the theologian presents incorrect views on dogma, worship, sacred books, the nature of the Church, the Church’s disciplinary authority, and Her doctrinal and dogmatic authority. Finally, the theologian relies on evolution and the inner compulsions of believers to flesh out his views.
The Modernist historian removes God completely as an actor in history, and relegates His actions to the realm of faith.
The Modernist critic synthesizes Modernist history according to Modernist philosophy, to the point where the Scriptures are torn to shreds.
The Modernist apologist defends the faith from an objective and from a subjective standpoint. But these standpoints get their start in Modernist errors of agnosticism, evolution, and immanence.
The Modernist reformer seeks to upend nearly every facet of the Church: philosophy, theology, history, worship, Church governance, morals, the clergy…
How They Relate
The Modernist’s philosophy forms the basis for nearly every other aspect of Modernism. He uses vital immanence as a basis for understanding the Modernist believer. Modernist theology draws upon Modernist philosophy and belief to extrapolate a whole host of errors. The Modernist historian takes his cue from agnosticism and removes God from history. The Modernist critic then synthesizes Modernist philosophy and history. The Modernist apologist takes that synthesis and runs with it. Finally, the Modernist reformer takes elements of all of the personalities and viciously attacks Holy Mother Church.
*This post is part of a series on Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Click here for more posts on Pascendi and Modernism.*