We seem led to believe that the crisis in the modern world began in the sixties, perpetuated through the revolution in the Church at Vatican II. However, we should consider that this crisis began much further back in time, in fact, all the way back to the vaunted golden age of Christendom, the 13th century. In that century and those that followed, the western world dramatically pivoted away from the Church Fathers on an important matter and toward something new which wrought revolutionary side-effects that still plague us today. That pivot was not religious in its substance. It was philosophical.
This was a sly trick, a sleight of hand, by the Luciferian forces of Hell. While religion stayed the same, the philosophical lens through which we interpret religion shifted. From the earliest apostles (including St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist, through St. Augustine and to the fiery spirit of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the early Middle Ages), Platonic top-down ultra-realism supremely ruled the day over Aristotelian bottoms-up moderate realism. The 13th century and forward brought about a revolution whereby the mind of Aristotle usurped that of Plato as the premise from which we were to come to understand truth (for an excellent discussion on this topic, see Desire and Deception – How Catholics Stopped Believing by Charles Coulombe and The Cave and Light – Plato versus Aristotle by Arthur Herman).
The Catholic Church (as opposed to scripture alone), being the pillar and foundation of all truth (I Timothy 3:15), guards this unchanging truth in the name of Jesus Christ and by His authority; however, an enemy might still derail souls seeking this truth in that very Church, not by changing Church teaching, but by changing that soul’s natural philosophical orientation. The Church proclaims the same truths. However, the soul sees them differently. The damage is done, and the soul loses sight of Truth even as its intellect retains the deductive logic of the faith. The mind is clouded over. There is doubt, and the will grows weak.
Through the lens of Plato, that same lens through which the Fathers and the first apostles came to understand Truth, we see the divine teachings of the faith emanating and cascading down in resplendent hierarchical beauty. We understand the necessity of a divine aristocracy as the means to facilitate our union with God in the Heavenly Kingdom (Herman). This downward emanating light draws us upwards to Truth. Dogma is the trail leading to this Truth and is revealed to us in the mist through this light. Outside of the Church and her Dogma, there is no salvation if for no other reason than that there is no other trail that leads to the Divine Truth. The Church, founded by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, points us toward the true Forms of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness as they are in the Mind of God. It is from that perspective, the Platonic philosophical perspective, that we see ourselves in the company of the saints and angels as a purposefully and perfectly designed hierarchy of mediators sharing this divine light. They are our guides on this trail of Dogmatic light to Heaven and Truth.
This all changed well before the Protestant Revolution and the Aristotelian “Enlightenment” that came after it, through the converse paradigm of Aristotle-first. Through the latter, we start not with the divine truths and then use our rational minds to draw conclusions about the nature of things (the Platonic methodology), rather, we start with our existing understanding of things and then use our rational minds to decide what Truth really is. Plato is top-down. Aristotle is bottoms-up. By not subjugating Aristotle to Plato, we feel a break between “faith and reason” as reason, rather than faith, becomes the ultimate judge of what is true. In Aristotle’s world, if we cannot understand the faith using deductive syllogisms based on premises grounded in our own worldly knowledge, then the faith must be questioned. We must “understand before we believe.” In this Aristotelian-first model, God first must prove Himself to us before we can believe Him.
Conversely, in the Platonic-first model, we, as St. Anslem and St. Augustine declared, “believe that we might understand.” “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In this way we will come to the knowledge of Truth. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). This is why “without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Plato could not have said it better. Belief comes first. In the language of natural Platonic philosophy, the Forms come first leading us to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. We believe first, and from that premise we come to understand how our deductive syllogisms should come together and what are the boundaries of our inductive reasoning. Our whole intellect, both in its deductive and inductive capacities, is formed properly beginning with belief in Christ, who is the Truth. The Platonic orientation opens the window, allowing the divine sunlight to flood our souls.
Aristotle still plays a vital role. In no way do we eschew the greatness of The Philosopher as St. Thomas Aquinas referred to him. It is up to Aristotle to help us properly form our rhetoric as well as both our deductive syllogisms and inductive logic. It is not Aristotle’s contributions to which we object; it is the usurpation of Aristotelian methods over the Platonic that is our concern.
Luciferian forces have played a trick on us. The driving force behind this trick is not grounded in Vatical II. Vatican II and the ensuing revolution inside the Church are symptoms. Neither does it do us any good simply to refer to Modernism as the issue. Modernism itself is a symptom. The root cause is so difficult to ascertain because we look only in the realm of theology, dogma, and doctrine. Herein is the sleight of hand. The root cause is philosophical. Change our natural philosophy, and you change our ability and willingness to accept the theology. Aristotle usurped Plato. That is the core issue (re: Charles Coulombe above). Both are useful; however, we must restore Plato to his rightful position in the hierarchy of natural philosophy.
We come to understand things through our senses as both the philosophers and Thomas Aquinas teach us. Except for rare cases where God infuses souls with divine knowledge, this applies as well in the religious realm. Just as in the natural order of things we need actually to know how to read that we might gain knowledge and wisdom from reading sacred scripture (otherwise we are looking at an array of symbols we do not understand), we need proper natural philosophy to unlock the divine symbols before us. We need a philosophical orientation toward light in order to see. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Plato’s natural philosophy turns us toward the divine light of grace that engulfs our souls just as the natural knowledge of how to read opens the divine light of grace when reading scripture.
Our core problem is philosophy not theology. The Church officially teaches today what she has always taught. Historically, the revolutionaries in the Church rarely have been bold enough to declare straight-forward heretical doctrines. However, they have been unrelenting in tempting us to question our doctrines through Aristotelian-first deductive reasoning. Through syllogistic formulas grounded on worldly premises, the enduring dogmas no longer appeal to us as “relevant” through the Aristotelian lens. God must conform to us and our reasoning, rather than us conforming to His revelation.
Herein is the root of the revolution against the Church and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Natural philosophy cannot save us. Plato did not open the gates of Heaven for us. Christ is the Truth, true God and true man, the only Savior of the world. However, not having our natural philosophy right surely obscures our understanding of Christ and dims the light of divine reason and wisdom.