MODERNISM AND MODERNISTS
We may ask whether Modernism was a fruit of the rejection of the historicity of the gospels, or whether rejection of the reliability of the gospels was a fruit of Modernism.
For the individual Christian, the rejection of the historicity of the New Testament is often the gateway to the heresy of Modernism. But from the academic viewpoint, it was the philosophy of unbelieving Deism that over a long period undermined belief in the New Testament
Philip Trower pointed out: ‘… as a system of ideas, Modernism was not a Catholic invention. Its foundations had been laid a good sixty years earlier in Germany when Lutheran scholars started applying the critical method to the Bible’. ((PT 142)).
A Modernist claim is that there is a difference between ‘the Jesus of history’ and the ‘Christ of Faith’, so no one can know what Jesus taught. Denying the existence of anything unable to be proved ‘scientifically’, a modernist often rejects angels and miracles. Also that there are no irrevocable doctrines and morality can change. What religious practice or feeling / experience remains with the modernist is not supported on a rational basis.
However, although Modernism is a heresy, individual Modernists must not be seen as insincere people. An aspect of Markan priority/ Modernism is that it often infects some of those who love God and His holy Bible greatly.
Once a person accepts the apparently harmless presumption that Mark’s ‘poor-Greek’ was due to him writing first (rather than taking down in short hand the spoken word), a plausible and logical step by step seduction, takes over. He or she is led to views undermining of the very Word of God which he had set out to know and love more deeply.
Many Anglicans, Catholics or Evangelicals have enrolled in a course to obtain a better knowledge of the bible, only to find disillusionment. Eta Linnemann, who for many years was the main assistant of Bultmann, has deplored this happening to young Lutherans studying to be pastors in Germany ((EL 209-210)). She, herself, went through a crisis of Faith when she eventually rejected Bultmann’s theories.
The Christian virtues of an honest search for truth,
and a willingness to be open to new insights, are the ones manipulated by this seduction.