Saturday, December 06, 2014

E. Milco on Ressourcement and the New Theology

E. Milco, "Letter to a Friend on Ressourcement and the New Theology" (Ursus Elisei, December 2, 2014).

Since having the "misfortune" (his word) of being linked by First Things, Milco added the following "Notes to My Previous Post" (Ursus Elisei, December 3, 2014).

From the original piece:
The New Theology can be divided into two schools: Ressourcement and Aggiornamento. The former is based on the notion that scholastic metaphysics and the disputative/tractative style of theological exposition are contrary to the richness and depth which belonged to theology prior to the emergence of the Schools in the high middle ages.... There are several problems with this story....

First, when one reads the Fathers, one has a definite sense that they are not only not averse to the use of philosophical tools in theological reflection, but that they often struggle to develop them as a means of clarifying and exposing the faith, and combating heresy....

Second, the standard portrait of changes in medieval theology is completely wrong....

Third, if the task of theological reflection is more "stifling" now than it was a millennium ago, this is in large part because of the clarity that has resulted from the development of the doctrine of the faith....

Fourth, the tradition of scholastic theology between Gregory VII and Pius XII abandoned neither the composition of exegetical tracts and homilies on scripture, nor the practical application of theological insights to spiritual counsel....

Finally, there is an overall difficulty in the implications of the Ressourcement position for the proper approach to the Tradition as a whole.... Could it be that Ressourcement is just an excuse to abandon the Catholic tradition altogether, and reconstruct a new one according to one's tastes and creative inclinations?

The Ressourcement position is the worthier of criticism because it is the less obviously heretical of the two schools within the "New Theology" that have blossomed since the Council. The other is much more disturbing because it reveals a basic lack of commitment to any sort of apostolic tradition or faith. This is the so-called Aggiornamento school, emblematized by the journal Concilium. (Concilium recently devoted an entire issue to the need for the destruction of "orthodoxy" in Catholic theology.) These people are straightforward Modernists....

One needn't wring one's hands about these guys, because it's clear that they are inventing a new religion which simply happens to share some key names and terminology with the one established by Christ. The chief difficulty with them, though, is that (again, as described by Pius X) they hide their many heresies behind vague, unconventional and metaphorical descriptions of their ideas. Rahner is an excellent example of this. In Foundations of Christian Faith, we read a "mystical" treatise on the essence and underlying realities upon which the Christian Faith is based. The language of this text is largely borrowed from Heidegger, and its style is full of circuitous neologisms. Because of the sprinkling of pious phrases and variations on standard doctrinal affirmations spread throughout the text, one might be tempted to think that Rahner's analysis is simply an updating of old Thomistic theology to fit the new philosophical methods of the German phenomenologists. Indeed, this is what Rahner is commonly described as doing! He even has his own "school" of Thomism.

But if you move beyond the stage of simply letting the verbiage wash over you and massage your consciousness, and try instead to get at the precise meaning of what he says, it is often extremely disturbing. He denies the reality of the life to come, except as immanent in the present life. He reduces God to the ground of our experience of mystery. He identifies grace, which is supposedly co-natural with human nature, with beatitude and claims that they are one single moment in our lives. He proposes the abolition of the traditional creeds and their replacement by certain more pluralistic and anthropocentric affirmations of commitment. The whole business is horrifying to anyone interested in preserving the truths of the Catholic Faith, because it very clearly does away with the Faith altogether. And to imagine that this man was held up as the chief theological hero of the Second Vatican Council!
[Hat tip to JM]


3 comments:








Mighty Joe Young

said...

Remember the revolutionary attack on Ottaviani and The Holy Office by Cardinal Frings early in V2?

The speech, written by his then peritus, Joseph Ratzinger,was suffused with dubious claims and lies and it was retaliation by the new theologians at the council who prior to the council had been under suspicion by Ottaviani and The Holy Office.

The few Traditionalists and the majority of the orthodox Ordinaries were completely unprepared for this revolution within the form of Catholicism; and our form has been gutted

They modernists won and look at what we have now.





Anonymous

said...

It is all head-scratching. If you read Ratzinger's "Theological Highlights of Vatican II," and then read his later "Salt of the Earth" interview, you have to ask yourself, with such implicit *incontinuity* between your own young and more mature voices, why on earth would you be surprised people cannot grasp the hermeneutic of continuity you now stress? Likewise, what on earth is "Living Tradition" if not a catchphrase that means, "We don't care what this meant *then.* *This* is what it means *now.*" The discussion about Hell and eternal punishment is on classic example. The change in emphasis amounts to a change in eating unless you ascribe to the Bill Clinton school of hermeneutics.





Dark Horse

said...

Heh, Anonymous, I thought you were talking about implicit "incontinence" for a momant. Good comment.