Fr. Ian Knox, C.S.Sp., is the author of a work [titled] "Theology for Teachers" (Novalis, St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada, 2nd ed., 1994). Incredibly, it bears the Nihil Obstat of Rev. John Boissoneau, Censor Deputatus, and the Imprimatur of Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, [dated] December 1993. The author writes:
There has been a long-felt need for some form of text suited to the curriculum guidelines of the Institute for Catholic Education for those preparing to teach in Catholic schools. This book aims to provide such a text. ...The text has grown out of the experience of the teaching staff at the Faculty of Education, University of Toronto. ...Our aim has been to indicate the theological background, the theological principles, that should be assimilated and known if religious education is to be successfully taught. ...Basic to all teaching of religion is the faith of the teacher. if our theology does not nourish our faith, then it is nothing more than a sterile pursuit.
"Theology for Teachers" will not nourish the faith; it has been rendered sterile with the contamination of neo-Modernism. The "theology" presented in its pages for catechists and teachers contradicts Catholic doctrine in a number of key areas (as reaffirmed most recently by the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"). The result is a "religious education" at odds with the Catholic faith and which is calculated to cause more confusion among both teachers and students exposed to the book's neo-Modernist revisionism. An excellent review of Fr. Knox's unfortunate work has already appeared (written by Thomist philosopher Fr. Leonard Kennedy, C.S.B., in Catholic Insight, July-August 1996 – a copy of which can be made available by writing CUF, 827 N. 4th St., Steubenville, OH 43952 for $2.00)
As Fr. Kennedy notes. "The book abounds in erroneous teaching". He shows how "Theology for Teachers" radically distorts the concepts of faith, revelation, Original Sin, mortal sin, the reality of some of Christ's miracles, and even the existence of a real personal devil! The doctrinal errors in the book are assuredly due to the author's uncritical reliance on the questionable writings of such dissenters as Hans Küng, Bernard Haring, Monika Hellwig, and Dick Westley.
Fr. Kennedy's review could have added the names of yet other dissenter theologians and writers recommended in "Theology for Teachers": ex-priest Thomas Groome, ex-priest Hubert Richards, ex-priest Bernard Cooke, Raymond Brown, Gerard Sloyan, Ladislas Orsy, Mark Link, William Bausch, Richard Gula, Pheme Perkins, Timothy O'Connell, Sean Fagan, Anthony de Mello, Eileen Flynn, and Gloria Thomas. The result of slavish trust in such writers is a drastic meddling with authentic Catholic doctrine. Thus, there is tampering with the notion of divine revelation which Knox regards as "on-going" (p.88). An exaggerated experientialism in theological method pervades the book together with undue favor shown radical feminist theologians who are unhappy with traditional doctrine concerning God as a Trinity of distinct persons. The book engages in the same kind of demythologization of Holy Scripture typical of unbelieving biblical critics.
- Some of Christ's miracles are regarded as "the stuff of legend" (p.175), and
- the Resurrection accounts related in the Gospels do not have to be taken literally (p.138).
- The Gospels "do not pretend to be accurate history" (p.153), and
- with regard to the "stories" of the Gospels it is "almost impossible to separate fact from fantasy" (p.164).
- For Knox, there are "fatal errors of reporting" in the written Word of God, and, in fact, "contradictions" (p.101).
- Furthermore, "We cannot be absolutely certain... that the words of Jesus recorded (in the Gospels) were actually spoken by Him" (p.150).
- If such doses of neo-Modernist biblical criticism were not enough, the reader finds that Knox's anti-supernatural outlook leads him to declare Christ a "human person" (p.248).
But Christ is not a "human person" as the ancient Arian and Nestorian heretics held, but a Divine Person!
- "We have no evidence", Knox insists, "that anyone is, in fact, in hell" (p.368).
Clearly, for Knox, the devil is not there, for this fallen angelic (and personal) being has been reduced to be a mere symbol of evil. On page 98 one reads this strange formulation of the teaching authority (Magisterium) of the Church:
- "This authoritative interpretation (of Scripture) is provided by the teaching authority of the Church under the guidance of the Pope and bishops".
Apparently, Knox believes in a broader notion of Magisterium which includes academic theologians and the general body of the faithful. But Catholic doctrine holds that the Magisterium of the Church is exclusively the Pope and bishops in communion with him. (See the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", § 880-896). It is hardly surprising given the author's pronounced bias against "the institutional Church" that he should also sanction dissent against the "official teaching" of the Magisterium by those who can give:
- "very serious reasons and very convincing counter-arguments" (p.207).
The doctrinal errors and defects permeating "Theology for Teachers" evidence the stranglehold of neo-Modernism in Canadian theology and religious education. An American reader will not fail to note how such neo-Modernism has been largely grounded in the writings of American dissenters whose influence, sad to say, has infected catechesis in the entire English speaking world. That "Theology for Teachers" can bear an Imprimatur can only serve as the object of painful reflection by Catholics in both Canada and the U.S.
- Pope John Paul II -