The Pseudo-Intellectualism of Radical Traditionalists

The Pseudo-Intellectualism of Radical Traditionalists

by A

A Radical Traditionalist Apologist wrote the following words:

"I doubt that there is ANY truth AT ALL that we have to take from Protestants. I am pretty darn sure that our own intellectual and spiritual Tradition has given us everything true and good and holy and that not an iota is needed from a heretic. Besides, it is actually a grave occasion of sin to read Protestant spirituality books because one can very easily be misled. In order to get to the few iotas of truth in those books, you need to first go through a whole heap of garbage."

He also said:

"To even consider reading a non-Catholic for spiritual growth is disgusting. "

This is the kind of pseudo-intellectualism that sometimes goes on in the "Rad-Trad" camp. I shall give some common-sensical answers to this. But be very careful. You must actually have common sense to understand what I say. To not have Catholic common sense is to see my statements from the Devil's eyes.

Can we gain some truths from non-Catholics? The answer is yes. A non-Catholic who encourages self-abandonment to Divine Providence would be orthodox. This does not mean however, we should accept everything he says. I myself love Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but he is wrong on his analysis of the Reformation. He was wrong when he criticized Rome. This does not mean however, that some of the things he said were not true. His teaching on self-abandonment is orthodox. His teaching that "A Christian is one who participates in the sufferings of Christ" is also orthodox. We can learn many things from him, though we still have to sift since he is not in full communion with us.

Or take the example of John Henry Newman. Shall we not read "Oxford University Sermons" or "Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine" simply because he was an Anglican heretic when he wrote it? If the Rad-Trad puts his money where his mouth is, then he would encourage all Catholics not to read Newman when he was a heretic because we cannot gain truths from him. It means that we cannot gain any spiritual insights from Newman because he was a heretic then. Again, this is what kind of pseudo-intellectualism that goes on in the Radical Traditionalist camp.

We can also take the example of C.S. Lewis. Many Catholics like C.S. Lewis. Does this mean that we cannot gain truths from him because he too was a heretic? Shall we ignore his writings? How about Aristotle? Shall we ignore his writings on virtue because he was a non-Catholic? The Rad-Trad above, who is a Thomist, contradicts himself. Shall we not read Mortimer Adler because he was not a Catholic (he converted to the faith in his late years)?

I am very anti-Protestantism, but to be anti-Protestantism is to simply be anti-Protestantism, which is to be anti-what-is-not-Catholic. To be anti-Protestantism does not mean however, that we cannot gain some theological, philosophical, spiritual, etc insights from Protestants. To be anti-Protestantism is not to ignore Catholic truths which Protestants have. The Church has always "Catholicized" any non-Catholicism that is not inherently evil, such as the Christmas tree or Aristotle's philosophy. I do not see why she cannot do so now.



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