The Nuanced Subtlety of Modernism: The Denial of Original Sin

by Pauly Fongemie
October 14, 2012

The priest, now retired, but still helping the local parish on Sundays, is a known modernist of some skill with rhetoric joined to an ever ready sense of wit. Perhaps he thinks we are witless dolts ripe for deCatholicizing. He was back at his "mission" full blown this time, with the denial of Original Sin. Oh, he is quite clever as many a modernist who is nothing if not a pragmatist, can be. Material heretics, who are innocently in error, e.g. invincibly ignorant, have no need of cunning, the manipulation of language. But the heretic who wants to be one and knows what the Church teaches, must make use of devious artistry in order to have a plausible deniability if and when caught. "I am so misunderstood."

The priest never said there was no such thing as Original Sin up front. He took the slower, subtle approach through the side door, beginning with his idea that the revamped translation used in the opening prayer of the Mass --- actually a return to the proper translation of the original Latin from years ago --- was not as appropriate as the older [the modern, banal version, thanks be to God, now discarded]. He said this had something to do with being dynamic as it fitted the modern age. Right. An age that rejects Tradition by and large. Well, the older [formerly the new] translation may be suitable to our age, but not to the human heart which always longs for God, if it is not disordered. The restored translation is poetic, lifting up one's heart and soul to Heaven. Could anything be more suitable, actually? The language of worship and adoration is elevated for this very reason, rather than the everyday, prosaic, which implies something less resplendent;  ordinarily, we do not speak in poetic imagery in our daily interaction with one another, etc. We all know the distinction between a speech and an oration, do we not?

His appeal to the "dynamic" version was the doorway whereby he induced the parishioners to enter into his deformed, all too imaginary world. Then he began the assault on the dogma of Original Sin. According to our wayward "theologian" parts of Genesis are only metaphorical, citing some passages that are in truth, but not explaining which ones are not by way of comparison. Thus the easily swayed parishioner is induced to think that Genesis is a metaphor and not a historical book of the Bible as the Church teaches. One of the so-called metaphorical passages he alluded to in a round about manner was the Fall in Eden by our first parents, Adam and Eve using a verbal sneer. He simply said that some people think that a snake talked to Eve and after that all "Hell broke loose," making sure we knew that this was nonsense. He repeatedly threw in perjoratives, such as "fundamentalists" and flat-earthers, while condemning past actions of the Church regarding Galileo and company that were due to a non-scientific understanding of Scripture, that over the time the Church grew in its understanding of doctrine. Now, certainly we can come to a deeper understanding of doctrine, but always with the same meaning and context as before, that is with the mind of Tradition:

"For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grown only within their own genus -- that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning." [Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854]

To be certain I had neither misheard nor failed to grasp the context and implication of Father's invective, I approached a gentleman I knew after Mass, who is not exactly a Traditionalist as this term is traditionally meant. The first words out of his mouth: "He denied Original Sin." The man was dejected, sad, but certain. He said that there was no other way to interpret the meaning of the priest's words.

Anyway, the priest continued to provide context for his deCatholicizing the people. He scoffed at some Christians who think they may have at last discovered the remains of Noah's ark. Father indicated that the story of Noah was one of the metaphors. How do we know? He added the line about Noah and later the ark, immediately after saying that there are metaphors in Genesis. If one wanted to be sure we did not include Noah as a metaphor, one would certainly have said, words to the effect, but not the story of Noah. I mean, why else add Noah after the line about metaphors? It has to be to imply not so subtly that it is included in the list, does it not? apart from the aforementioned disclaimer, which was not forthcoming. Human reason, human nature and the nature of rhetoric itself.

There was more along the same line, but you get the idea I am sure. If Father truly did not intend to plant the idea that Original Sin through the fall of Adam and Eve after tempted by the devil [in the form of a serpent, whether literal or not] is not a de fide doctrine, then why did he employ the words, "some people think ... all Hell, broke loose"? After all, it is not some people as in the implied fundamentalists, it is the Catholic Church which teaches this as a dogma, and the Church has sole realm in this regard as She is the True Church of Jesus Christ, entrusted by Him with the handing down of the Faith whole and entire, with the protection of the Holy Ghost. Using the phrase "some people" clearly implies other than the Church, particularly when combined with the other devious mischief of phraseology with tag lines to elicit the usual humor. By this time it was no laughing matter.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us, pray for him, before it is too late, and he dies a heretic and is damned ...