The hollow victory over Jansenism – part I

3 08 2009


Some notes on historical theology


As I have said before, “Jansenist” seems to be the only four letter word left in the realm of Catholic scholarship. It can be found on the tongues of both liberals and traditionalists, it has become a catch-all epithet to insult all that is wrong and legalistic about old fashioned religion. Those few who get accused of being Jansenists have to expend a lot of time and energy trying to prove how they do indeed believe in the mercy of God, the universality of the Church, and a religion that is “loving” and not “constricting”. Oftentimes, I have observed that when people have such visceral reactions to certain things, it is because they fear that they may have something fairly unpopular yet very relevant to say. The fear is not one of observing a monster long ago slain, but of looking in a distorted carnival mirror. It is what we could have become but did not, and the dire consequences of having won a battle wrongly against a misunderstood foe.
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