Historical-Critical Method condemned by Pope St. Pius X – still operative? February 21, 2012Posted by tantamergo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, Ecumenism, error, General Catholic, Interior Life, Papa.
The historical-critical method of Bible study was created by German protestants (they keep giving us sooo much!) working under the aegis of Otto von Bismarck during the persecution of the Church in Germany called the Kulturkampf. von Bismarck desired to undermine the Authority of Scripture in order to oppose the temporal rights of the Church, and enlisted modernist protestant academics to pursue this goal. From the historical-critical method derived such novelties as claiming that the Gospel of Mark was written historically first – this was important, because this claim was made to undermine the belief that the Gospel of Matthew – which establishes Christ’s Church in Chapter 16, when Christ gave the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter – came first. It is claimed by the historical-critical academics – or, at least it was at one time, support for the thesis that St. Mark’s Gospel came first has waned – that all the synoptic Gospels are derivatives of St. Mark’s so-called “proto-gospel.” There are many problems with the historical-critical method, some of which are outlined here by Msgr. Charles Pope. Certainly, the historical-critical method has been used to try to undermine many core beliefs of the Church, and has even go so far as to “de-mystify” Christ, by claiming that the many miracles attributed to Him were merely allegorical, or tall tales told to convince the ignorant, wide-eyed pagans of the Roman Empire that Christ truly was Divine.
There is no question that the historical-critical method is modernist – in fact, it is one of the core tenets of modernism. Modernist Catholics belief in the Divinity of Christ is a very fuzzy one, and entirely immanentist – meaning, Christ is “Divine” only insofar as we believe Him to be, and only so far as He represented, as it were, the “perfect man,” or perfect embodiment of the cultural zeitgeist (note the German term), or the needs and wants of the people of Israel at that particular moment in history, and thus, He is essentially human and not truly God and was not capable of actual miracles. Obviously, this is an incredibly problematic view for a Catholic. In fact, many of the most “progressive” exegetes are now rejecting many of the earlier, scientific “proofs” ostensibly established by the historical-critical method which discounted much of the history of Christ and the early Church as fantasy or allegory, and are now finding that what the Church always proclaimed was true, is, in fact, true.
As the historical-critical method is the essence of that modernism which is applied to religion, it was roundly condemned by Pope St. Pius X. In Pascendi Gregis Dominici, the seminal encyclical condemning modernism as a heresy, Pope St. Pius X condemned the historical-critical method specifically:
We believe, then, that We have set forth with sufficient clarity the historical method of the modernists. The philosopher leads the way, and then in due order come internal and textual criticism. Since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its virtue to secondary causes, it is quite clear that the criticism We are concerned with is an agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist criticism. Anybody who embraces and employs it, makes profession thereby of the errors contained in it, and places himself in opposition to the Catholic Faith.
If you read all of Msgr. Pope’s post at the link above, you’ll find that both the Catechism written by Schoenborn and even Pope Benedict XVI seem to embrace, at least to some extent, the historical-critical method. And there are probably areas where it may be used innocuously. But that’s not the point. While Papa Ratzinger may have numerous problems with the historical-critical method, he has always stated that it is an approach that should be used with regard to Scripture study.
How do we reconcile this? Was there ever a magisterial statement that contradicted Pascendi Gregis Dominici? Or was it just swept under the rug, like the very magisterial, but completely ignored, Veterum Sapientia? If so, is the encyclical still operative, but just ignored? Does the Catechism’s indirect but seeming tacit embrace of the historical-critical method “wipe out” the authority of Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical, written “all of” 100 years ago? Does an interview of the Pope in a book, or even a book written by the Pope himself as a private theologian (please……..stop), somehow “counter-act” the previous encyclical?
Anybody know or care?