Overview of Manuscript: The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God
by Timothy Wallace
Taking as his point of departure Pope Paul VI’s observation that seven years following the close of the Second Vatican Council conditions in the Church were such that it was as if “the Smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God,” the author recounts how it was that the misimplementation of the council’s documents resulted in the emergence of what Henri De Lubac termed “a different Church from that of Jesus Christ,” all under the guide of updating (aggiornamento) and renewal. Pope Paul was of the mind that by 1972 the greatest need in the Church was to be defended against the adversary power of darkness, the Devil. For the Pope the unmistakable signs of the Evil One’s penetration of the Church were a vast undermining of Catholic moral teaching (particularly sexual morality), the ideological seduction of fashionable theological errors (particularly neomodernism) which spawned doctrinal uncertainty, a radical denial of God (recall Time’s “Is God Dead?”) and the watering down of and even rejection of the spirit of the Gospel.
After a review of Church teaching on the little-regarded teaching on the reality of spiritual warfare, Wallace recounts how the postconciliar neomodernist heresy emerged as the dominant influence in theology after Vatican II, dividing the council fathers into the majority “progressive,” neomodernist wing, and the orthodox wing, the latter under the guidance of the Paul VI of the Credo of the People of God, as well as two Vatican II periti, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Karol Wojtyla.
Subsequent chapters outline the influence and effects of theological error in sexual moral teaching, the Mass, religious life, catechesis and the role of the bishop in the face of this error. Wallace reminds us of the relevance of Jesus’ promise that in its attempt to prevail the gates of hell would ultimately fail, citing numerous examples of how the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI have begun the long road back to implementation of the true teaching of Vatican II. The author analyzes this in light of Jesus’ overcoming of the world and its prince, the Devil, now manifest in the Church of the new millennium, ripe with reasons for hope for the new evangelization. The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God is ideal for Catholics who wish an updated comprehensive analysis of the turmoil in the Catholic Church since the end of Vatican II, and to discover the true teaching of the council from its documents, the realization of which has been the overriding goal of the current Pope and his predecessor.
This book is written primarily for millions of Catholics in the U.S. born and catechized before Vatican II and unaware of the true teaching of the Council. It is forthright in asserting that there are Catholics whose practice of their faith does not differentiate them all that much from those who are not Catholic. Many Catholics of the “baby-boom” generation are alienated from the Church all together because their only exposure has been to a superficial, cultural Catholicism, impotent in the face of an American culture increasingly without faith. Conversely, many others have left hungrier, as they say, for a more “biblically-based spirituality.” These two reactions amount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
In addition, it is meant for young people of the “JP II” generation of Catholics, born long after the council but perhaps not fully aware of the turmoil spawned by dissent in the Church which, though on the wane, is still with us today. These young people, especially those in authentically Catholic colleges (Franciscan, Christendom, Aquinas, Ave Maria, etc.) will be the Church of the 21st century, and have an interest in this recent history of the Church. It would serve nicely as a background/survey text in theology courses.
About the Author
Timothy Wallace hold an M.A. in History and currently serves as chair of the Social Studies Department at a suburban Catholic High School in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where he has taught American history and government since 1980. He is also a certified catechist in the Archdiocese, and has taught high school religion in 3 area high schools from 1978-2000. Wallace has participated in numerous St. John Bosco Catechetical Institute and Defending the Faith Conferences at Franciscan University. He has also been the recipient of the University of Detroit Mercy Outstanding High School Teacher Award (1998), and the University of Chicago Outstanding High School Teacher Award (2000), and for scholarship in the field of history is a member of Phi Alpha Theta’s National History Honor Society.
Standard works on the subject, though devoid of analysis of Paul VI’s reasons for of the crisis and the element of spiritual combat in general, are Msgr. George Kelly’s The Battle for the American Church (1979) and its sequel, The Battle for the American Church Revisited (1995); Dietrich VonHildebrand’s The Trojan Horse in the City of God: the Catholic Crisis Explained (1976), Ralph McInerny’s What Went Wrong With Vatican II? The Catholic Crisis Explained (1998), Philip Trower’s Turmoil and Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church (1998). Other works with chapters on the subject are George Weigel, The Courage to be Catholic: Crisis, Reform and the Future of the Church (2004), and Fr. Richard Gilsdorf, The Signs of the Times: Understanding the Church since Vatican II (2008).