March 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 88

References from Fr. Chad Ripperger's article.

Return to Father Ripperger's Article - part one


(1) The term "traditionalist" has two different meanings. The first is the heresy condemned by the Church i.e. a philosophical/religious system which depreciates human reason and establishes the tradition of mankind as the only criterion for truth and certainty. This heresy denies the ability of reason to know the truth and so it must be gained through tradition alone. It is different from the current movement in the Church which clearly recognizes the ability of reason to know the truth but which sees the good of the tradition of the Church and would like to see it re-established.

(2) The term "neo-conservative" refers to those who are considered the more conservative members of the Church. More often than not, they are those who hold orthodox positions, but they would not assert that it is necessary or a good idea to reconnect with ecclesiastical tradition. The prefix "neo" is used because they are not the same as those conservatives in authority in the Church right before, during and after the Second Vatican Council. The current conservatives, i.e. the neo-conservatives, are different insofar as the conservatives of that earlier period sought to maintain the current ecclesiastical traditions which were eventually lost. Obviously all of these labels have a certain inadequacy, but since they are operative in the current ecclesiastical climate, we will use the terms here in order to denote certain theological and philosophical positions. It should be noted, however, that the term "liberal" is often misleading. Many "liberals" are, in fact, unorthodox and do not believe what the Church believes. One can legitimately be a liberal, if and only if, one upholds all of the authentic teachings of the Church and then in matters of discipline or legitimate debate, one holds to a more lenient view. But often liberalism is merely another name for what is really unorthodox.

(3) Ad. Tanquerey observes (Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae, Desclée et Socii, Roma, 1927: vol. I, p. 635) that the word tradere comes from "trans" and "do" (dare) which literally means to give across or to give over.

(4) See ibid.

(5) The irony of Protestantism is that while rejecting tradition, it, in fact, employs tradition in order to pass on from one generation to the next the Scriptures and its teachings about the Scriptures. This leads one to conclude that the Protestants were not so much against tradition as such. Rather, they were (are) against Catholic tradition.

(6) In this case, Scripture is distinguished from tradition as Scripture is written, whereas tradition, in the stricter sense, refers to those things passed on which were not written down.

(7) Divine tradition is further divided according to dominical tradition (that which was given directly by Our Lord while on earth) and apostolic tradition (that which the Apostles passed on under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost).

(8) Tanquerey, op. cit., p. 636f and Christian Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae (Herder & Co., Friburgus, 1924), vol. I, p. 397f.

(9) Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, chpt. 2 (Denz. 1825/3058).

(10) Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. I, chpt. 1 (980a22).

(11) This indicates that one must distinguish between that which pertains to the Deposit and that which does not. The Church sometimes passes judgment on the Deposit of Faith in order to clarify the teaching contained within the Deposit for the good of the Church, e.g. when Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Other magisterial acts are merely extrinsic to the Deposit of Faith and do not necessarily point to anything within the Deposit, but which may be connected to the Deposit in some way. This would include some ordinary magisterial acts as well as matters of discipline. However, more is contained in ecclesiastical tradition than just the acts of the magisterium.

(12) Here we have in mind those who develop heterodox teachings of their own (heresies), spiritualities and customs which are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(13) Rationalism is any one of the views that attribute excessive importance to human reason. Often rationalists hold that all of our knowledge is innate, i.e. we already have all our knowledge within ourselves from the beginning and that knowledge is not acquired by means of the senses.

(14) Empiricism is a system which holds that the sense knowledge is the only form of knowledge. Empiricists do not hold that there is anything beyond the material or if there is anything beyond the material, we are incapable of knowing it because our only form of knowledge is sense knowledge.

(15) Kant held that we are incapable of knowing things in themselves, i.e. we do not really know things outside of ourselves. He held that any experience we have is received according to a priori categories which are in the mind and which impose structure and order on our experiences. As a result, man is essentially cut off from knowing anything in reality because his mind changes the experience according to these categories.

(16) When Christ was on earth, He used sensible signs that we could see and hear. He used sensible signs in order to teach us about spiritual realities which are not physical or material.

(17) Rene Descartes lived from 1596-1650. He was a rationalist who began his philosophy by systematically doubting the truth of the senses and so his philosophy starts in the intellect rather than in reality.

(18) Benedict Spinoza lived from 1632-1677. He held that there was one thing and only one thing, viz. God and all of us are merely part of God. Since God was eternal and did not change, then what we see in the world is not really changing. Spinoza used the phrase "Deus sive Natura" which employs the inclusive "or" (sive) in Latin to show that God and nature were the same thing. This notion that God is nature and nature is God is the intellectual foundation for the current New Age movement in the West and it was also partly responsible for the eroding of the notion of God's transcendence. Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jews because of the incompatibility of his views with Judaism.

(19) David Laird Dungan in his text A History of the Synoptic Problem (Doubleday, New York, 1999) recounts how Spinoza developed the historical/critical exegetical method and from that point on, Scripture studies began to deteriorate outside the Catholic sphere. Later, these same problems enter into the Church with the uncritical adoption of the same methods.

(20) What this means is that if someone is only interested in what is sensibly pleasing or if they lead their lives according to their sensible appetites, they will not be interested in the past because the appetites are not interested in the past as such.

(21) G.W.F. Hegel lived from 1770-1831. He, like Spinoza, held that there was one thing and only one thing. But the difference between Hegel and Spinoza was that Spinoza held that this one thing was static and did not change, whereas Hegel held that this one thing was in a constant state of flux. This one thing went from an original state, sometimes called a thesis, to its opposite which is sometimes called an antithesis. Then there is the merger of the two opposites within the one thing and that becomes the synthesis and the synthesis becomes the thesis in the next series of perpetual changes. This process was called the dialectic and it indicated that things were constantly advancing. Hence, the past became irrelevant.

(22) See Laird, op. cit.

(23) Immanentism is a philosophy which holds that anything of importance is contained within the individual, i.e. the individual becomes the measure or standard by which things are judged. "Immanent" comes from the two Latin words "in" and "manere" which means "to remain in." Immanentism essentially holds that exterior reality is not important except to the extent that we can express ourselves in it. What is really important is that which is within ourselves.

(24) There are actually more than three but these three are particularly important.

(25) Epistemology is the branch of philosophy in which we investigate how man knows the world around him.

(26) Descartes starts his Discourse on Method with a systematic doubt about everything which cannot be known with certitude. Since, for him, the senses can be deceived, he doubted them. The problem is that the senses put us into contact with reality and if we cut ourselves off from reality by doubting our senses, there is no epistemological foundation for being able to know reality. The empiricists held that we only know our sensations and not the things which correspond to those sensations. Hence, all we know is sense knowledge but not necessarily things outside of ourselves.

(27) Etienne Gilson in his various epistemological works demonstrated that Transcendental Thomism was untenable. Transcendental Thomism is a philosophical system in which the epistemology of Descartes is merged with Thomism. Gilson showed that once one accepts the cogito of Descartes (i.e. the beginning point of his epistemology, viz. one begins in thought and not in reality first) one is not able to get back to reality. In this respect, Gilson's works are of particular importance today.

(28) As this is transposed to the domain of theology, since one cannot know things outside of oneself, then God must speak to one directly through one's conscience or some interior experience. This Kantian notion provided the intellectual foundation for the Protestant's theory of the subjective religious experience.

(29) His work On Religion is where this finds a full expression.

(30) Maurice Blondel lived from 1861-1949.

(31) "Letter on Apologetics" as found in the article by Peter J. Bernardi, "Maurice Blondel and the Renewal of the Nature/Grace Relationship," Communio 26 (Winter 1999), p. 881.

(32) The heresy of Modernism has occurred in four phases. The first was the initial phase which began around 1832 when it was called liberalism until the beginning of the First Vatican Council in 1869. The second phase was the intelligentsia phase in which it began to infect the Catholic intelligentsia more thoroughly and this occurred from 1870 to 1907 at which time Pope St. Pius X formally condemned Modernism. Then from 1907 until about 1955 to 1960, the underground phase occurred in which the Modernist teachings were propagated by some of the intelligentsia in the seminaries and Catholic universities, though quietly. Then, in the latter part of the 1950s, a superficial phase began in which the intellectual energy was exhausted and what was left was the practical application of the vacuous teachings of Modernism which occurred during the period in which the Second Vatican Council was in session and persists until this date. Vatican II was the catalyst or opportunity seized by the past and current superficial intellectuals who teach things contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(33) Ibid., p. 806.

(34) Blondel, in fact, wanted to go back to an earlier tradition and ignore the tradition which was passed on to him. This essentially meant that Blondel and other Modernists wanted to get away from medieval traditions which begot the Mass of Pius V and go back to earlier traditions because they were congruent with the immanentized experiences of modern man.

(35) Bernardi observes this but in a positive way in loc. cit.

(36) This was John XXIII's word for updating the Church.

(37) That is we are living with the full effects of the superficial stage of Modernism. For example, unlike previous generations there are no great theologians; theological discourse and writing in scholastic journals lacks the depth afforded the subjects that were given to it, even just fifty years ago, and there seems, in general, to be a lack of intellectual advancement of the science of theology.

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March 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 88
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