On Modernism and Prophecy
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On Modernism and Prophecy

Michael Kaarhus
Edited 22:11  Wednesday, Jan. 13, AD 2021 GMT
United States

Modernism In Recent Times

One of the articles that I have read recently is The Extinct Scene: Late Modernism and Everyday Life by Allan Hepburn.  It is a review of the book The Extinct Scene, by Thomas S. Davis.  Here is one of Davis’s lines:

Late modernism designates the moment when modernism no longer recognizes itself. (Davis)

It’s one of those lines that you read, and say, “Yeah okay”, but somehow it keeps coming to mind.  There is always a reason for that.  I think that I have it partly figured out.  Without having read the book, or even the context of that line, I cannot say for sure.  But I thought at first that Davis was pointing out an oversight in Modernism.  I thought that Davis would want Modernism to study its own history, so that it could learn how to recognize itself.  Then it could perhaps define itself.

For those of you who are not up to date on Modernism, it has been around under that alias for well over a century.  Here I argue that its heretical species has been known of for thousands of years.  But Modernism has not yet managed to authoritatively define itself.  Some have tried.

In 1987, Lawrence B. Gamache wrote an article titled, “Toward a Definition of Modernism”.

In 2016, Gayle Rogers wrote that

... while there is no consensus on what “modernism” means, the term carries significant conceptual and professional weight. (Rogers)

In Definitional Excursions: The Meanings of Modern/Modernity/Modernism (Sept. 2001), Susan Stanford Friedman wrote:

As terms in an evolving scholarly discourse, modern, modernity, and modernism constitute a critical Tower of Babel, a cacophony of categories that become increasingly useless the more inconsistently they are used. We can regard them as a parody of critical discourse in which everyone keeps talking at the same time in a language without common meanings. When terms mean radically different or contradictory things to people, then their use appears to threaten the project of scholarship/teaching altogether. (Friedman)

I do not think that God is confusing the language of Modernism, as He did to the language of the Babylonians so long ago.  He doesn’t need to.  Modernism is so gargantuan, so ill-defined and so poorly-recognized—that Modernism itself literally means different things to different people.  It might be that people from each of Modernism’s hundreds of sub-categories are too bound by Modernist doctrines to find an appropriate categorization for Modernism—one that exists outside of Modernist doctrines.  Or maybe Modernists don’t want to define Modernism.  People from a non-Modernist tradition have defined Modernism without too much trouble.

Before we go too far into the weeds, I wish to introduce the Christ Above Me Modernism theme song: Walk Like a Man.  I cannot find a good recording of it separately.  So the other two songs are gravy.  My favorite performers of Walk Like a Man are The Jersey Boys:

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I am not arguing that The Jersey Boys are Modernist.  I selected them because I like their work.

As I was saying, I thought that Modernists would want to study Modernist history, acquire the ability to recognize Modernism, and eventually define Modernism.  I now think that they don’t want to do any of those.

I conjecture that the study of the history of anything, including Modernism, would be too much like scholasticism for Modernists.  Modernism rejects scholasticism.

I conjecture also that Modernism does not want to be recognizable.  Not that it wants to be FUBAR.  I think that it wants to be quite functional.  But I think that it doesn’t want to always appear in the same form.  It wants to travel incognito, alongside everything else.  One could be sitting next to Modernism, and not know it.  One could be indoctrinated into Modernism, and not know it.  In fact, it seems to me that, for part of the 20th Century, Modernism wanted people to think that it wasn’t even around anymore.

What, after all, do you think that the term postmodernist means?  On its face, it means that the age of Modernism is over.  Finis.  The End.  And what better way to not be recognized, than for people to believe that you don’t exist anymore!  I think that postmodernism is a Modernist ruse.

For similar reasons, I conjecture that Modernism does not want to define itself.  If it really wanted to, it would have done so by now.  I think also that Modernism wants people—those who believe that it exists—to not understand what it is.

The above conjectures agree with the tendency of Modernism to reject traditional or historic forms of all kinds—even of Modernism.  If it is true to that rejection, then Modernism would not want to recognize the forms in which it once appeared, and was known.  Nor would it want to define itself.  Defining itself would, from its point of view, be a form of vanity; in the future, Modernism would not want to refer back to what it once defined itself to be.  So, why should it bother to define itself in the first place?

Then it gets strange.

It is said that Modernism came back, or had a rebirth in the West in the early 1990’s.  Obviously, Modernism never really died.  It never really was finis.  It stayed on the bottom for a long time, post-World war II, sort of like a sturgeon in the Columbia River, eating whatever food was down there, and getting bigger and bigger.  Suddenly, in the 1990’s it surfaces again, and starts to feed on the top.  It became popular in western academies as New Modernistic Studies.  Sounds redundant, but it became a popular study.

New Modernism seems to want the limelight, whereas formerly, in so-called postmodernist times, Modernism sought the obscurity of the depths.  Who knows? Maybe that is the difference between New Modernism and Modernism.

Modernism knew that, back when it started, which was the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was popular, partly because it was novel.  Judging from the name, New Modernism apparently also wants to be novel.  By novel, I do not mean truly new.  I mean something that seems new, and is accepted as such, whereas the Book of Ecclesiastes says,

Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:10)

We will return to the idea of Modernism as a novelty that is neither new nor modern.

Ayn Rand called Modernism’s political forms “all the variants of modern collectivism (communist, fascist, Nazi, etc.)”  Those variants cruelly hammered and disfigured the twentieth century.  In turn, anti-fascists hammered fascism, and gave it hell.  So, fascist Modernism was not coming back anytime soon, post-World war II.  However, 1991 was 46 years from 1945.  Kids going to college in the 1990’s did not have parents that fought in World war II.  Of course, western academies never really stopped presenting Communism as desirable.  And by the 1990’s, college kids could be introduced to another form of collectivist government—globalism—as something novel.  They could also be indoctrinated to see the transmogrification of non-collectivist government into collectivist government as something good and desirable, even as something that social consciousness and social justice demand.

In other words, Modernism could be coming back, not only as globalist government, but also as a novel and Modernist morality—one that defines collectivist government as the only moral and socially just form of government.  That aspect of Modernism’s comeback is observable today.  And this is where the so-called new Modernism is not just political; now it’s defining morality; it’s religious.

It gets curiouser yet.

Modernism in its beginnings was popular, partly because it tapped into anti-religious sentiment.  Curious, because most of the anti-religious sentiment out there today is against religions that do not preach against Modernism’s new morality: that only collectivist government is moral and socially just.  So, today’s Modernism is not necessarily anti-religion.  Nonetheless, Modernism as such is not a Godly system—not as Godliness is traditionally or Biblically defined.  According to Saint Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907), Modernism is a system that has its own definition of God, its own dogma, and its own theologians and believers.

Even though a religion is probably the last thing that most people today would associate with Modernism, it is religious.  St. Pius X defined it as “the synthesis of all heresies” (ibid. §39).

A heresy is a defective religious doctrine that tries to make itself part of a body of sound religious doctrine.

According to St. Pius, the heretical system that is Modernism redefines what it means to believe in God.  It holds that God is a collection of perennial sentiments strictly immanent to humans.  That is, not outside of humans, and by extension, not independent of humans.  Modernism would conclude that God can safely be discounted as a human phenomenon (cf. Pascendi §5-23).  Modernism developed a theology according to its idea of God, and Modernist believers believed according to the Modernist idea of God.  Atheists, Agnostics, and godless philosophers can and do at times think about the idea of God.  This is one of the ways in which the secular academy subjects religion to analysis (as St. Pius points out in §16 and §17).

Modernism also tries to make itself part of sound doctrine.  St. Pius in the same encyclical complained of Modernist priests in holy Church, and of Modernist doctrine seeping in (Cf. Pascendi §2, §10, §14, §40 ¶2).  Modernism is in both senses heretical.

From here we will consider another curious thing.  But I have not yet stated my thesis.

Here I argue that, in the future, Modernism will be most significant as a heresy—one lethal to salvation—rather than as political Modernism, even if it will be political as well.

Modernism In Prophecy

All of this worldly, Modernist, anti-Church, garbage government is eventually going away.  Jesus is on His way to rule the world for a thousand years (cf. Apoc. 20:1-7).  Before the Parousia, the dog, antichrist, will have his day.  No offense to dogs.  I love dogs.  I would rather be governed by a dog, than by antichrist.  But what about the religion of antichrist?

I think that antichrist will be the ultimate heretic; he will be quintessentially Modernist.  Consider these prophecies from the prophet Daniel, concerning a future king:

And the king shall do according to his will, and he shall be lifted up, and shall magnify himself against every god: and he shall speak great things against the God of gods, and shall prosper, till the wrath be accomplished. For the determination is made. And he shall make no account of the God of his fathers: and he shall follow the lust of women, and he shall not regard any gods: for he shall rise up against all things. But he shall worship the god Maozim in his place: and a god whom his fathers knew not, he shall worship with gold, and silver, and precious stones, and things of great price. And he shall do this to fortify Maozim with a strange god, whom he hath acknowledged, and he shall increase glory and shall give them power over many, and shall divide the land gratis. (Daniel 11:36-39)

... And from the time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred ninety days. (Daniel 12:11)

The king mentioned above is one that either did or will set up an abomination unto desolation in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus spoke of that in Matthew 24:14-15, as a sign by which believers might be alerted, and flee the city:

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations : and then shall the consummation come. When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place : he that readeth let him understand.  Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains : And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house : And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. (Matthew 24:14-18)

The Apostle echoed Daniel 11:36-45 in Second Thessalonians:

Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. (2 Thess. 2:3-4)

The above parallels Daniel 11:36-45.  And so I think that the king in Daniel 11:36-45 is the son of perdition, that is, antichrist.

Previously, I drifted off track trying to figure out which abomination unto desolation that Daniel prophesied matched which historical or future time.  Most people think that there was or will be only one abomination unto desolation.  Some believe that it happened in AD 70, and is history.  Some believe that it is yet to happen, and will take place during the days of antichrist.  However, in Matthew 24, Jesus did not put a limit on how many times an evil ruler would set up an abomination in the Temple.

I believe that at least two such abominations have already transpired: one by Antiochus Epiphanes in times BC, and the one in AD 70.  At least one is yet to transpire.  You have to carefully read Matthew 24.  Jesus says that “the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world ... and then shall the consummation come. When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation ...”  In AD 70, the kingdom had not yet been preached in the whole world.  Jesus is talking about an end-time abomination unto desolation.  But an abomination happened in AD 70, and it also was a sign to flee Jerusalem.  Again, He did not put a limit on the number of abominations unto desolation in the Temple.  Whenever one happens, it is a sign to flee Jerusalem.  The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 24 backs me up on this point.

In the Smith Translation (JST), Jesus refers to two abominations unto desolation.  The first (JST v. 12) was a sign of the then-future (AD 70) destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  It was this sign that alerted the Christians of Jerusalem.  They fled the city, and escaped death at that time.  The second abomination that Jesus mentions (JST vs. 31-32) will be a sign of the consummation of the world.  Starting at v. 31, and perhaps some verses before that, the Smith Translation is definitely about the end of the age, not about AD 70.  These correlate to abominations that Daniel mentioned.

Daniel prophesies abominations unto desolation in three different chapters:

  • abomination unto desolation first mentioned: Daniel 9:27
  • abomination unto desolation second mentioned: Daniel 11:31
  • abomination unto desolation third mentioned: Daniel 12:11

Of the above, I am most interested in the third mentioned.  But all of them are interesting.

Perhaps the most oft-read scholar of Daniel 9-12 is the Right Reverend Bishop Richard Challoner†, Bishop of Debra from 1739 to 1781.  Challoner wrote notes for a version of the Douay-Rheims Bible.  He suggests that the first mentioned abomination was a reference to Titus (the Roman general that besieged and took Jerusalem during the reign of Vespasian in AD 70), and that the second mentioned was a reference to Antiochus Epiphanes of pre-Christian times.

Concerning the second mentioned, Challoner wrote that it was the “The idol of Jupiter Olympius, which Antiochus ordered to be set up in the sanctuary of the temple : which is here called the sanctuary of strength, from the Almighty that was worshipped there.”

Challoner’s note for Daniel 9:27 says,

Others, in fine, distinguish three different times of desolation : viz., that under Antiochus ; that when the temple was destroyed by the Romans ; and the last near the end of the world under Antichrist. To all which, as they suppose, this prophecy may have a relation.

The entirety of Daniel 12 is about the end times.  So I think that the third that Daniel mentioned, (Daniel 12:11) is yet to transpire, and that the king that Daniel wrote of in Daniel 11:36 is the son of perdition that the Apostle wrote of in Second Thess. 2:3-4: antichrist.

... he shall be lifted up, and shall magnify himself against every god ... he shall speak great things against the God of gods ... he shall make no account of the God of his fathers ... he shall not regard any gods: for he shall rise up against all things. ... But he shall worship the god Maozim ... a god whom his fathers knew not ... And he shall do this to fortify Maozim with a strange god, whom he hath acknowledged ...

The king written of above is Modernist.  Of course, it was not called Modernism in Daniel’s day, or in Jesus’ day.  Even so, the king of Daniel 11:36 through Daniel 12 rejects sound religious doctrine and tradition.  He is as well godless; obviously this king is not God, neither does he have any regard for God.  But he does not mind pretending to be divine.

The son of perdition in Second Thess. 2:3-4 is also Modernist: he is heretical, he is godless, and Modernist theologians might say, “Well, this son of perdition apparently believes that God is immanent in him.  That is as we believe concerning the idea of God.  It makes more sense for him to believe that he is God, than for him to believe in an external God.”  Modernist theology is ready to pastor antichrist.

Everyone focuses on the political errors of Modernism, but its heretical nature is of eternal significance: the chief heresy of the end time will be the worship of antichrist (cf. Apoc. 13).  That worship will destroy salvation, and eternal happiness, replacing them with eternal misery:

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice : If any man shall adore the beast and his image, and receive his character in his forehead, or in his hand ; He also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mingled with pure wine in the cup of his wrath, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the sight of the holy angels, and in the sight of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever : neither have they rest day nor night, who have adored the beast, and his image, and whoever receiveth the character of his name. (Apoc. 14:9-11)

I think that Modernism is the heresy that the devil prefers for us humans.  Without doubt, he has other heresies that he would like people to fall for.  But it seems to me that Modernism tallies best with his desires, as we know them from prophecy: that people would reject God, and everything Godly, and instead worship the beast or his image.  In the end times, that lethal worship will be a novelty—something accepted, because people will think that it’s new, whereas really it is ancient, and was prophesied against from thousands of years ago.  People who are ignorant or unbelieving of the Scriptures would likely fall for it.

Copyright © 2017-2021 Michael Kaarhus


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