Jansenism

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Jansenism:

see under Jansen, CornelisJansen, Cornelis
, 1585–1638, Dutch Roman Catholic theologian. He studied at the Univ. of Louvain and became imbued with the idea of reforming Christian life along the lines of a return to St. Augustine.
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Jansenism

 

an unorthodox current in French and Dutch Catholicism; part of the wave of individualistic mysticism that spread through Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, chiefly affecting the educated townspeople.

The stimulus for the emergence of Jansenism was the publication in 1640 of a work about Augustine by the Dutch theologian C. Jansen. True faith was sharply contrasted by Jansen to the masses’ formal acceptance of church doctrine; his assertion that Christ had not shed his blood for all people was in line with the Calvinist doctrine, of predestination. In 1642, Jansen’s book was condemned by Pope Urban VIII, and in 1653 a bull by Innocent X condemned some of Jansen’s theses; nevertheless, the “disciples of St. Augustine” continued their struggle while remaining within the Catholic Church.

In France, J. Duvergier de Hauranne, known as Abbé de Saint-Cyran, made the Abbey of Port-Royal de Paris a stronghold of Jansenism; the abbey became an important center of French culture in the second half of the 17th century. The repressions against the Jansenists, their staunchness in the face of royal despotism and Jesuit church policy, and their ethical uncompromisingness attracted B. Pascal and A. Arnauld; the latter headed the Port-Rȯyal community and was coauthor, with P. Nicole, of the theory known as Port-Royal logic. J. Racine was another author who leaned toward Jansenism.

Jansenism created a type of person who was intellectually developed, with a high sense of moral responsibility but also with a fanatical sectarian narrowmindedness. In France, the movement died out after the French Revolution. In the Netherlands, by 1723 the Jansenists had succeeded in establishing their own church, which in the 19th century drew close to the German Old Catholics; the various reforms enacted by the church in the 20th century, such as the elimination of fasting and of celibacy for the clergy, brought it closer to Protestantism. Jansenism survives to this day.

REFERENCES

Gazier, A. Histoire générale du mouvement janséniste depuis ses origines jusqu’á nos Iours, 3rd ed. Paris, 1922–24.
Cognet, L. Le Jansénisme. Paris, 1961.

S. S. AVERINTSEV

Jansenism

unorthodox Roman Catholic movement of the 17th and 18th centuries led by Cornelius Jansen. [Christian Hist.: EB, V: 515]