Defining Modernism

In Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Saint Pius X described Modernism as the “synthesis of all heresies”.  Read the encyclical!  It’s not too long.

For a quick “summary of modernist doctrine”, there is a great list in the book “One Hundred Years of Modernism”, by Fr. Dominique Bourmaud.  Buy the book HERE.  The Kindle version is HERE.  I see many of these popping up over and over again, both within the Church and without, including when I was in college.  I remember the idea “There is no truth, there is only your truth, and my truth.”

From the book – emphasis is the original, red text is mine, typos are mine 🙂

Here, then, is a summary modernist doctrine.


1) Thomistic philosophy is outmoded.  It was definitively supplanted by the philosophy of Kant and Hegel.

2) Things do not exist.  God is not; He is becoming.  There is a swallow’s flight but no swallow.

3) The principle of non-contradiction admits of certain exceptions.  A dog can both be and not be a dog. [AC: the idea that 2 + 2 can equal 4 or 5… or something can be both ‘bad’ and ‘good’, ‘true’ and ‘evil’, whether viewed via doctrine or pastorally.]

4) Truth is not speculative.  It is moral, an affair of the heart and not of the mind.

5) Truth is subjective and evolves.  It is the mind’s conformity with itself and with life.


6) Revelation does not transmit an intelligible truth.  It is only an experience, an impression and a religious sentiment, perceived by every man in the depths of his conscience.

7) Revelation is fallible.  It is a spontaneous emotion which generates a fallible image.

8) Revelation is human and subjective.  It comes not from God but from man, who speaks to himself.

9) Revelation is utilitarian.  It spreads not truth but life.

10) Revelation is individual and incommunicable.  The Revelation of Jesus was formally valid only for himself.


11) Dogma is a symbol.  It is a symbol which means nothing to the mind but speaks volumes to the heart.

12) Dogma is changeable.  It is varied between the naïve faith of the Apostles and the speculation of the Greeks.

13) Dogma spreads not truth but life.  It is a practical truth, leaving the believer free to choose.

14) All the dogmas of contradictory religions are essentially the same.  The various systems of belief are all true since they all nourish the soul. [AC – When people, including those within the Church, cosy up to false religions, from animists in Africa, to Islam, etc, we are implicitly endorsing this idea.  It leads people away from the Church, and toward hell.  The idea that “we can reasonably hope that hell is empty” also pushes this.]

15) Dogma is a fallible approximation.  Definitions of dogma are often false.

The Church, the Rule of Faith, the Sacraments:

16) The conscience is the rule of faith.  No external authority may ever come between God and the believer to interpret his faith. [AC: this one is VERY popular within the Church since Vatican II]

17) It is not necessary to believe in dogmas.  No one can be forced to believe in a fallible dogma.

18) The sacraments are symbols which resurrect past emotional experiences.

19) The Church is only a beneficent institution designed to transmit the religious experiences of the past.

20) The Roman Church is not sufficiently catholic.  In the religious evolution of humanity, the Church is but an awkward attempt at universal communion.

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