Contemporary Trends toward World Revolution: The Catholic Position -- By: Harold Lindsell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:501 (Jan 1969)
Article: Contemporary Trends toward World Revolution: The Catholic Position
Author: Harold Lindsell

Contemporary Trends toward World Revolution:
The Catholic Position

Harold Lindsell

[Harold Lindsell, Editor, Christianity Today, Washington, D.C.]

The latter half of the twentieth century will be characterized by historians as an age of massive unrest and unprecedented turmoil. No institution, least of all the church, can escape involvement in such an age, and if it is to have any influence on that age it cannot stand idly and watch history march by it. If it does, it will atrophy and become a monument of antiquity or it will cease to exist at all. Like Protestantism, the Roman Catholic Church has been forced to choose between being an instrument of change, used and usable, or to become a relic, hallowed with age, but useless, not unlike the innumerable ones to be found in all their churches. Unlike Protestantism which, despite the advances of the ecumenical movement,remains fragmented, the aura of a monolithic church still clings to Roman Catholicism. This sleeping giant, encumbered and encrusted with tradition and boxed in by aged leaders opposed to change, has suddenly come to life.

Spurred by the aggiornamento initiated by Pope XXIII, the Roman Church is in deep trouble. Aggiornamento came, at least partially, as a response to worldwide unrest, but it has hatched further unrest and stirred the church more deeply than she has been stirred since that memorable day 450 years ago when Martin Luther tacked his theses to the church door at Wittenberg. But today’s changes can only be understood against the backdrop of the Roman Catholic position in the nineteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century, in 1907, the papal encyclical against modernism

(Pascendi) by Pope Pius X closed the door tightly on the radicals in the church. This encyclical was the capstone to a series of theological acts within the church, all of a retrogressive nature, that endorsed the immaculate conception of Mary and papal infallibility, and produced the Syllabus of Errors. Two generations were to pass before the church was to emerge from the dark tunnel into which it had been consigned by its leaders. Perhaps the clearest indication that a new day has dawned for Romanism can be seen by the recent decision by Pope Paul to nullify the modernist oath required of all bishops by his immediate predecessors. Strangely enough, however, Leo XIII issued an encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in 1891. At a time when theological modernism was being stifled, the pope opened the door to revolutionary economic and political viewpoints that seemed incongruous with its theology.

To understand the developing views of the church with respect to the social order, we must ...

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