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Bible Dictionaries

1910 New Catholic Dictionary

Liberalism

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(Latin: liber, free)

Up to the 18th century the liberal signified "worthy of a free man," hence the terms liberal arts, liberal occupations. Since the 18th century it means generally a political system or tendency opposed to centralization and absolutism. The principles of the French Revolution form the basis of modern liberalism, which advocates absolute freedom of thought, religion, conscience, speech, press, and politics, thus denying any authority derived from God. Although liberalism was first formulated by the Protestant Genevese (Necker, Rousseau, etc.), it spread to the world from France, developing with the different revolutions in Europe, and is classified as follows:

(1) Anti-ecclesiastical liberalism which includes: the original drawing-room variety of Mme. de Stael and Constant; doctrinaire liberalism, the ramification of practical politicians, originating in the lecture-hall of Royer-Collard and the salon of the Duc de Broglie; bourgeois liberalism of the propertied and moneyed classes, and the dispossessed clergy and nobility. This variety flourished in France under Louis-Philippe, 1830-1840, in Germany as "national Liberalism," and in Austria as "political liberalism in general." In the main it stresses the sordid material ideal. Under anti-ecclesiastical liberalism come also: Liberal "parties of progress," opposing Conservatives and Liberals of moneyed classes; Liberal Radicals, advancing progressive ideas without regard to any existing order or rights; Liberal Democrats, who attempt to make the people, particularly the middle classes, sovereign; and socialism, the liberalism of self-interest nurtured by all the foregoing, and espoused by the proletariat, its main branches being communism, radical social democracy (of Marx, common in Germany and Austria), moderate socialism (in England and France), and anarchism, liberalism's logical and most radical development.

(2) Ecclesiastical liberalism includes: modern Liberal Catholicism seeking to regulate Church, State, and modern society according to Constant, founded, 1828, by Lamennais, and defended in part by Lacordaire and Montalembert; a theological and religious form of Liberal Catholicism, preceded by Jansenism and Josephinism, aiming to reform ecclesiastical doctrine in accordance with the Protestant and atheistical "science and enlightenment" theory of the time. Recent forms have been condemned by Pius X as modernism. Liberalism was condemned by the Church, explicitly and in detail in the encyclical and syllabus of Pius IX, 1864, in the Vatican Council, 1870, in the encyclicals of Leo XIII, in the allocution of Pius X, 1907, and in the decree of the Congregation of the Inquisition, 1907. The definition of papal infallibility was in itself a condemnation.

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Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Liberalism'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ncd/l/liberalism.html. 1910.

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