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Review of The Church Learned and the Revolt of the Scholars by Philip Trower

Review by Daniel Iglesias Grčzes


I am pleased to present my Spanish translation of a book by the notable English Catholic writer Philip Trower (1923-2019): The Church Learned and the Revolt of the Scholars (La Iglesia docta y la rebelión de los eruditos), from 1979. For several months I published in my blog different parts of this book. Now, having finished the translation, I am publishing the complete work.


Philip Trower, converted to Catholicism in 1953, is the author of at least two other books of extraordinary value: Turmoil and Truth (1998), and The Church and the Counterfaith (2006). The first one studies the historical roots of the modern crisis in the Catholic Church and the second one studies the roots of modern secularism, relativism and de-Christianisation. The Church Learned and the Revolt of the Scholars is like an embryonic version of the ideas later developed by Trower in Turmoil and Truth.


The Church Learned… has five chapters and a conclusion:

• Chapter I is a history of the origin of the modernist heresy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

• Chapter II analyzes five intellectual factors that contributed to the creation of modernism: darwinism, biblical criticism, philosophical pragmatism, historical criticism and comparative religion.

• Chapter III explains how modernism survived as an "underground plague" after the attack against it deployed by Pope Saint Pius X from 1907 and how the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "progress religion" and the "cult of liberty" contributed to engender a new version of modernism (neo-modernism), which manifested itself with great force especially after the Second Vatican Council.

• Chapter IV analyzes the influence on neo-modernism of existentialist philosophers (especially Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Sartre), the main currents of modern psychology (behaviorism and psychoanalysis), and the work of the theologian Karl Rahner.

• Chapter V analyzes other factors that influence neo-modernism: sociology, anthropology, linguistic analysis, democratic and socialist social theories, and Protestant theology. It also analyzes the modernist offensive against true religion and the weakness of the response of orthodox Catholics, and calls for prayer and hope to withstand the deluge of modernist heresy without losing the gift of supernatural faith.

• In the Conclusion the author synthesizes the characteristics of the new neo-modernist religion that is being formed and casts a hopeful look towards the future.


This book by Trower, like the other two cited above, marvels for the very clear, solid and lively way in which he presents very complex subjects. It certainly reveals not only a robust Catholic faith, but a great deal of knowledge of philosophy and theology, common sense, pedagogical mastery, and good humor.


You don't have to agree on everything with Trower to appreciate the value and brilliance of his work. For example, some readers may think that Trower has an exaggerated notion of the extent of the modernist heresy. I invite those readers to overcome their possible visceral rejection of some controversial judgments. Ultimately, only God knows with absolute certainty the degree of guilt of each faithful Catholic (cleric or lay person) in the current ecclesial crisis. In my opinion, this is not a matter of judging anyone in particular, but rather of drawing attention to a danger to the Catholic faith that is undoubtedly very serious and very real. And I am inclined to think that today it is more serious and real than ever.


The book in Spanish is freely available on this page: Philip Trower, La Iglesia docta y la rebelión de los eruditos.


I highly recommend you to download and read this book, and I ask your help to spread the word about it as widely as possible.    

Version: 14th January 2022

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