Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Enlightenment: Behind the Dictatorship of Relativism

In his Smoke of Satan" homily, Paul VI warned that those who do not think with the mind of the Church may be exposed to “the influence of ‘the mystery of iniquity” in evidence when “the spirit of the Gospel is watered down or rejected…” The reason behind this disregard of the authority of the documents of divine revelation was the neomodernists'’ assimilation of the principles of modernity. Fr. Jonathan Robinson has shown how various Enlightenment themes have played a role in the formation of the modern consciousness as it has impinged most directly on the Church. To cite one example of this, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar criticized the Enlightenment’s understanding of religion in an analysis of its influence on Karl. Rahner’s anthropocentric theology:

The Enlightenment was the change from a theocentric to an anthropocentric viewpoint; for religion . . . this means the change from a positive historical religion to a religion valid for man in general, who is essentially religious. . . . Everywhere in the world and in history, God's self-communication takes place in the Holy Spirit offered to every human being, a self-communication which itself already possesses as such the character of a revelation of truth and which finds in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, only its full historical tangibility. Positive dogmas, based on history, are transcendentally outlined in human nature. . . . The better the Enlightenment understands its own program, the less it will seek this absolute in contingent historical facts rather than in the inner enforcement of truth in the subject. This also applies to the Church, which wants to make the transposition of Christian faith into today's modes of understanding her business. As a necessary consequence, there must ensue a shift of accent from the objective dignity of truth in itself to recognition of and respect for the dignity of the subjective awareness of truth.

At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger had written that the best measure of theological speculation is its spiritual consequences; given his position as the most influential speculative theologian after Vatican II, Rahner’s capitulation to Enlightenment religious thinking has proven poisonous to the both Christian gospel and the Liturgy