Spe Salvi 17: Redemption In The Modern Age

17. Anyone who reads and reflects on these statements attentively will recognize that a disturbing step has been taken: up to that time, the recovery of what (humankind) had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay “redemption”. Now, this “redemption”, the restoration of the lost “Paradise” is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level—that of purely private and other-worldly affairs—and at the same time it becomes somehow irrelevant for the world.

I suspect that every age has had its religious doubters. Sin is always present, as is a graduation in faith commitment, from monastics to card-carrying members (in name only).

This programmatic vision has determined the trajectory of modern times and it also shapes the present-day crisis of faith which is essentially a crisis of Christian hope. Thus hope too, in Bacon, acquires a new form. Now it is called: faith in progress. For Bacon, it is clear that the recent spate of discoveries and inventions is just the beginning; through the interplay of science and praxis, totally new discoveries will follow, a totally new world will emerge, the kingdom of man [Cf. New Atlantis]. He even put forward a vision of foreseeable inventions—including the airplane and the submarine. As the ideology of progress developed further, joy at visible advances in human potential remained a continuing confirmation of faith in progress as such.

I wonder how much of this can also be attributed to the hard life associated with the industrial revolution. What do workers experience? And endless life of labor, no hope in the present, and in many places and times, a religious establishment that insisted on a gaze at the afterlife. Maybe in previous eras, most hard working 99-percenters labored in agriculture–far closer to their humbler needs and those of their families and communities. Factory work was more dangerous, more brutal, and more removed from the day-to-day necessities of life.

It seems easy to blame science and reason, but I wonder about the truth of it.

Even today, I’m less sure people see technological advance as hopeful as much as a development for leisure and convenience. We still have questions about the meaning of life. In this life, human beings can find themselves in situations better than yesterday/last year/ the last generation. Does this begin to overtake faith and religion? We’ll have to read more on this topic of the transformation of Christian faith-hope in the modern age. I happen to view the advent of reason and freedom as factors far less wonderful and less significant than the action of God and divine grace, either in this life or the next.

This document is Copyright © 2007 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the full document online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Spe Salvi and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s