About the author
Those who like to wallow in contradictions can undoubtedly find their way into the works of Roger Lenaers, probably our most internationally renowned modernist. A good synthesis of his thinking can be found in his work “Uittocht uit oudchristelijke mythen” (“Exodus from Old Christian Myths”, not yet published in English), following on from a previous essay, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream or the End of a Medieval Catholic Church”.
Roger Leaners is sometimes called “Bultmann-Light” because he would have taken the basis of his visions from the Protestant theologian Rudolf Karl Bultmann (†1976). He is a Flemish Jesuit, born in 1925, and apparently still a pastor in a mountain village of Tyrol. It is incomprehensible to mere mortals that he was never politely expelled from his order and out of the Catholic Church. In his works, he breaks down both the Catholic faith and the Church to their foundations without pardon or restraint, to left only what is still useful for a modern “enlightened” mind.
A first major contradiction we find in the person Roger Lenaers himself. He was formed as a Jesuit and thus a member of an order whose founder demanded far-reaching obedience from his order brothers to the Holy Scriptures, the truths of faith, and the church hierarchy, in particular the Pope. To the latter, the Jesuits even make a separate vow of obedience. However, this does not prevent Father Lenaers from writing (page 26): “The Pope has no more magisterium than the pastor he once was” and: “He is thoughtlessly called the head of the Church. He’s not.” All he writes, by the way, is in blatant contradiction to almost every papal statement since the birth of Christianity. His book could easily have been written by our local pope of atheism, Prof. Em. Etienne Vermeersch (°), were it not for the fact that Lenaers still claims to believe in a “force” he calls “God”.
General evaluation of his work
The axiom from which he departs is the “theonomy”, a concept to which he assigns a definition that is at odds with its expected meaning. Theonomy comes from ancient Greek Theos (God) and Nomos (law, rule) and thus normally refers to a reality that is subject to God. But with this contrary theologian, specialized in ancient languages, it is about a reality that has been given laws by God, but otherwise evolves completely autonomously. In it, God is only still present as a kind of mysterious “drive and/or attraction” force, but He is by no means able to intervene yet. How this passive energy has succeeded in giving the reality its complex mathematical laws is conveniently part of its mystery. This would normally require an act of creation, but that is a miracle, in its “theonomic” philosophy an unusable phenomenon, coming from a religious vision of reality that is doomed to disappear forever.
His whole theory seems more a ramshackle literary philosophy than a theology. The fact that he also studied philosophy may have something to do with this. His concepts are related to those of Hegel, the philosopher who is believed to have inspired a whole series of atheists, including Marx and Nietzsche. In contrast to the latter, Lenaers does not say that “God is dead”, but “alive”. Although in practice, there is not much to detect of the “living” of this “Unmoving Mover” which he calls God… Just try to make sense of it as an ordinary believer, who hopes to extract something valuable for his/her life out of its books.
So, in his theonomy God would be something like a “love energy” that is carefully hiding among the atoms of the universe, whose evolution is presented by Lenaers as the “self-expression” of that loving power source. Its role is to passively ensure that the established laws of nature are strictly observed, with the aim of the ultimate complete identification of the universe with the love god hiding deep therein. This is not, of course, said literally that way in this introduction to modernism, but it can be deduced directly from it. We must warn readers, just to be clear, that in the following paragraphs we will sometimes use the reasoning of consistent scientific modernism à la Lenaers and not ours, as Catholic believers. Our intention is to bring to light the contradictory absurdity of it.
Roger Lenaers is a good writer. Chapter by chapter, he smoothly gets rid of the entire traditional doctrine of faith. But in fact, he could have saved himself all that effort. From the moment someone accepts the “modern” fundamental axiom of the monopoly of a single material reality of which God is necessarily a part, to the exclusion of any other spiritual reality, he/she can come to the same conclusions without much difficulty, and thus consign the entire Catholic doctrine to the mountain of waste. Nevertheless, Lenaers manages in an almost genius way to recycle elements from all that religious degradation work, to put those – although they are completely at odds with it – at the service of his theonomy. In doing so, he can free the readers he takes in tow from general desolation and give them, despite all, some “hope” or “faith”. This well-read Jesuit has consistently surrendered to the “god of reason”, coming from the “Enlightenment”, but nevertheless wants to offer his readers or followers a “God of Love”. So, we cannot just accuse him of godlessness and not of malicious intent, but of wanting to be inconsistently consistent.
For the “believer of modernity”, according to this modernist pastor, there is only a single “inner world” reality, as opposed to the “heteronomous” religious visions from less “enlightened” periods, which assumed that in addition to a created material reality there is also a spiritual one. He proclaims a materialism in which, for the sake of a sensed or innate need for meaning, a deity was inserted. But, to put it a little disrespectfully, she is there totally out of place. It is not only for the concrete creation process of that reality that Lenaers lacks a plausible explanation, but also about the outcome of the whole evolution to which it is subjected, he keeps his readers in the dark.
If everything follows only the rules of an autonomous evolution, governed by the immutable scientific laws of nature, then there are not so many possibilities left: either the whole disappears definitively into an unimaginable “black hole”, or the matter continues to expand forever, or one obtains a never-ending cycle of implosions followed by “big bangs”. Of course, there is also the possibility of a fatal self-destruction of humanity, e.g., by nuclear war. This would prematurely put an end to an essentially meaningless “self-expression of a Mystery that is love” (sic, pag.132) and the mass of misery that accompanied it. These “theonomic” prospects for the future are consequently not particularly suitable for generating a lot of enthusiasm, or promoting the commitment to a better world, which is the intention of the auteur, according to his explanation.
The result of all that love energy consumption in an autonomous evolving universe is not exactly heartwarming. Billions of years without any trace of conscious matter and with many catastrophic events on Earth and in the vast cosmos led to life forms, most of which have long since found their end in mass extinctions. Very recently on the geological timescale, that evolution produced a species that calls itself “human”, part of which was and is since occupied with tearing and destroying their conspecifics, quite literally in the name of God. However, according to the theonomy discussed here, that is not as bad as it seems: that is not “evil” or “sin”, because there is no such thing. It is only opposition to the growth of love (sic, page 130). It may even be just evolutionary inability, unfinishedness, immaturity (sic, page 131). The ultimate intention of the evoked gigantic “love process” is that all the individuals created would finally re-enter the cosmological love god, as raindrops are re-absorbed into the ocean from which they evaporated (page 131). However, this metaphor is out of place here because once dead there is soon of the human being, which according to Lenaers has no soul, just nothing left, not even something that can be compared to a “drop”. The remaining knots of the “theonomic man” are irrevocably doomed to disappear into the nature or fossilize into some rock.
It is very doubtful that the introduction to this “eu aggelion” (glad tidings) of Roger Lenaers will set many hearts on fire with love, joy, and hope. The believer of theonomy must live with the modernist assurance that it all ends supreme. The likeful and voluntary loss of oneself in the unavoidable “loving glutton” outlined above here is in this perspective the highest expression of human love. The acquiescence of this not so attractive but very honorable destination for every human being, is presented at the end of Chapter 8 as “coarse but nutritious bread”. Everyone’s taste, of course, but it is certainly not surprising that in a culture where such fatalistic future expectations are cherished, suicide and euthanasia are growing hand over fist.
His supposed impossibility to think heteronomous
The main starting points of which Roger Lenaers serves himself for his philosophical/theological tinkering are: The impossibility for modern man, since the “Enlightenment” and Darwin, to think heteronomous; the mainly mythological character of the Bible, including the Gospel; the mistakes of the Church in drafting all kinds of dogmas that would not rely on the H. Scriptures, and that have not been inspired by the H. Spirit, but above all by profane considerations. About the latter, we can already note that the H. Spirit finds no place in theonomy (indeed, the Trinity has been abolished therein) and that we can therefore be very sure that He has not assisted its inventors. In this first part of our discussion, we will now take a closer look at the first starting point.
Lenaers expresses his belief that a heterogeneous worldview, in which there is also room for a spiritual world, is no longer acceptable and will therefore systematically disappear. The waste of faith in our small country, which has the casual honor of being the homeland of this well-known “theonomist”, seems to confirm his thesis. But if one makes the effort to look a little further, then one must admit that the state of the heteronomy worldwide is still not so bad. The vast majority of those who call themselves religious accept the existence of a transcendent God who has created us, who is deeply committed to us and to which we owe obedience. Although these are all contemporary people, including, of course, many intellectuals, those are classed by the elderly Lenaers among the outdated retards, who are too stupid to jump like him in time on the bandwagon of modernism and who will therefore soon be a dying minority. He has the right to cherish that expectation, but statistically, in any case long before it would become a reality, Lenaers will have been dissolved in the love ocean he dreamed of, because, as far as known, the percentage of “outdated heteronomous believers” is not decreasing on a global scale.
As far as our region is concerned, one can expect that within a few years the low point will have been reached, in which the distinction will become irrelevant between the visions of modernist believers in theonomy and atheistic believers in the autonomy of the universe. From then on, hopefully, clarity will come back and the new proclamation of the authentic faith in an actively creative and active Divine Father can be relaunched efficiently. Then it will be over with the name forgery of people who pretend to be “Catholic” but proclaim a doctrine that cannot even be described as “general Christian”. How can they call themselves followers of Christ and at the same time label Him as an ordinary mortal, whose doctrine is completely obsolete, because it is based on the relationship between the limited creatures in a material world and an Almighty God who shows them the way to his spiritual glory? Only half geniuses like Roger Lenaers can sell such fundamental contradiction as a coherent whole – at least for a while.
As far as Darwinism and the Enlightenment are concerned, they are beginning to smell musty. As should be known, Darwin never formulated “laws of nature”, but a hypothetic statistical law which he considered to be the origin of the species. This law (based on the “survival of the fittest”) is still adopted by many biologists but has not yet been proven after more than a century and a half. It is beginning to lose credibility, inter alia because of the new bio-molecular sciences. As far as the Enlightenment is concerned, we can be brief. The truly enlightened minds have understood for a long time that “science”, whose domain is limited to the materially ascertainable, cannot tell us anything about whether a spiritual world exists.
(°) Died in Ghent on 18-01-2019. We talk about this philosopher, his influence, and his materialistic philosophies in other articles.