THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF THE MODERNISTS
II. VITAL IMMANENCE
Q. According to what you have just said, this Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the Modernists’ what is, then, its positive side?
A. ‘The positive part consists in what they call vital immanence.’
Q. How do the Modernists pass from Agnosticism to Immanentism?
A. ‘Thus they advance from one to the other. Religion, whether natural or supernatural, must, like every other fact, admit of some explanation. But
when natural theology has been destroyed, and the road to revelation closed by the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside of man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form
of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of religious immanence.’
Q. I understand that the Modernists, partisans as they are of Agnosticism, can seek for no explanation of religion except in man and in man’s life itself.
And now, to explain this vital immanence, what do they assign as the primal stimulus and primal manifestation of every vital phenomenon, and particularly of religion?
A. ‘The first actuation, so to speak, of every vital Phenomenon–and religion, as noted above, belongs to this category–is due to a certain need or impulsion;
but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sense.
Q. According to such principles, where is the principle of faith, and therefore of religion?
A. ‘As God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine.’
Q. According to the Modernists, does this need of the divine belong at least to the domain of consciousness?
A. ‘This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favourable circumstances, cannot, of itself, appertain to the domain of consciousness.’
Q. Where, then, according to them, is to be found this need of the divine?
A. ‘It is first latent beneath consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and undetected.’