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Catholic Dictionary




A theory about the origin and nature of Christianity, first developed into a system by George Tyrrell (1861-1909), Lucien Laberthonnière (1860-1932), and Alfred Loisy (1857-1940). According to Modernism, religion is essentially a matter of experience, personal and collective. There is no objective revelation from God to the human race, on which Christianity is finally based, nor any reasonable grounds for credibility in the Christian faith, based on miracles or the testimony of history. Faith, therefore, is uniquely from within. In fact it is part of human nature, "a kind of motion of the heart," hidden and unconscious. It is, in Modernist terms, a natural instinct belonging to the emotions, a "feeling for the divine" that cannot be expressed in words or doctrinal propositions, an attitude of spirit that all people have naturally but that some are more aware of having. Modernism was condemned by Pope St. Pius X in two formal documents, Lamentabili and Pascendi, both published in 1907. (Etym. Latin modernus, belonging to the present fashion.)