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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Food for thought.

"Nor is this the first time in history that a specialized class or elite or bureacracy has broken loose from the authority structure over it and tried to go it alone, charting it's own distinctive path. It is a consistent feature of modern revolutions from 1789 on, as a matter of fact, that a segment of the elite or knowledge class revolts against, declares its independence from, and tries to usurp the functions of those in authority. The well-known expression, trahison des clercs, which we have employed, vividly describes the recurring reality of what happens in this kind of revolutionary situation.

Moreover, this same sort of thing has occurred before in ecclesiastical settings. Dramatic examples of it can precisely be seen in the evolution of some modern mainline Protestant churches from orthodoxy to Modernism in recent times. Lacking an episcopacy or papacy, the leadership of some of these churches has sometimes been unable to resist the influence of liberalizing and modernizing elements.

A common feature in such Modernist revolutions (or takeovers) has been launching a crusade against perceived "fundamentalists" in the name of the latest scholarship. These "fundamentalists," meanwhile, have usually included anybody continuing to hold to the communion's orthodox rule of faith. Nor have the "moderates" in these controversies ever proved very helpful by going around counseling moderation and even appeasement lest irreconcilable positions permanently damage the communion; such moderate positions have usually facilitated the liberal takeover.

The typical result of victories by the Modernists and the liberalizers in such contests has generally been the evacuation of any real meaning from and truth from the basic Christian revelation preserved in sacred Scripture."

Flawed Expectations, by Msgr. Michael Wrenn and John Whitehead, Ignatius Press 1996, pp. 346-47.

Sure the analysis is a little flawed--one can argue that the episcopacy actually facilitates the auto-demolition of the Episcopalians and Methodists. Overall, though, it is certainly something to remember the next time you hear your local Catholic theologian or educator railing against Catholic "fundamentalists." Take a look at the mainline canary (almost at room temperature) and see the future some self-identified Catholics are rushing to embrace--and impose on the rest of us.

[Thanks to Bill Cork for the last link, and SAM for the next-to-last.]

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