Originally published at the turn of the century, this classic work by a French priest and historian attempts to understand the role of Catholic dogma in a world undergoing wide-ranging changes in science, social science, historical analysis, and cultural study. His inquiries, and those of other priests and scholars, ignited a controversy within the Catholic church that culminated in Pope Pius X's intervention in 1907 with his encyclical condemning these so-called 'Modernist' views. Not since the tumult of Martin Luther's Reformation has the church undergone such internal conflict.The Modernists questioned the inerrancy of Scripture and its use as historical evidence, the historicity and divinity of Jesus, the authority of church doctrine, and other dogmas of the Catholic faith. Their efforts to embrace the separation of church and state, to assure freedom of individual conscience, and to reconcile Christians with non-Christians and non-believers were viewed by the Vatican and the Holy See to destroy the Catholic church from within.
For his efforts on behalf of free religious inquiry, Loisy was forced to leave his teaching post, "The Gospel and the Church" was censured and placed on the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books, and in 1908 Loisy was formally excommunicated. This volume includes the text of Loisy's controversial work plus two valuable additions: an informative introduction by famed biblical scholar R. Joseph Hoffmann that places the book in its proper historical context, and the complete text of the papal encyclical condemning the Modernist movement.