Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
There are things in the New Testament just as hard to believe as many things in the Old Testament, and on your principle you should reject much of the New Testament itself. Yet let us act on your admission that you do accept the New Testament. Christ and the Apostles had the same Old Testament as we have today. They treat it always as the inspired Word of God in its totality. Christ, the Son of God, would have been the first to declare that it was a fraudulent invention claiming to be the Word of God as people believed, if it were not really the Word of God. Instead, Christ quoted it, giving it full authority. "Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill ... not one jot or one tittle shall pass of the law, till all be fulfilled."-Matt. V., 17. In Luke XXIV., 27, we read, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things that were concerning him." Yet you, beginning at Moses, would reject all the scriptures Christ sanctioned! In John V., 39, Christ says, "Search the scriptures for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they which give testimony of me." But Christ did not add, "Yet whilst searching the scriptures, watch out for the parts not inspired!" Not to believe in the Old Testament gives the lie direct to the New Testament; insults the wisdom of God and of Christ; and makes shipwreck of the faith.
A Christian must believe that the Old Testament, with all its canonical books, is the inspired Word of God. But one has only to believe in the correct interpretation of what is there written, as is evident. If you reject any genuine part of the Old Testament as not inspired, you violate the Christian faith. It is strange that Protestantism began by charging the Catholic Church with not giving the Scriptures to the laity, and now the Catholic Church has to defend those same Scriptures from the efforts of Protestants to tear them to pieces.
Things were permitted in the Old Law not in keeping with the more perfect New Law. But the change is in the Law. There is nothing in the Old Testament which violates any attribute of God, save, of course, the sins of men described in the Old Testament. These latter are recorded, not with approval, but as evil to be reprehended, and as motives of repentance. It is a fallacy to measure the simple blunt standards of more primitive times by modern standards. Also, these accounts prove the trustworthiness of the reports. They are not out to say only the best of Jewish heroes, but narrate exploits far from flattering to the vanity of the Jews, though written by members of the race, not by enemies.In your readings you have either understood the correct sense, or you have not. If you have, you had better change your ideas. Is the Bible, the inspired Word of God, going to be true when it suits your ideas, or are your ideas going to be true when they are adjusted to God's revealed truth? If God says a thing not quite in accordance with your notions, then you can be sure that your notions are wrong, and you had better renounce them, as you have had to renounce so many other mistakes during your life. Men can be so easily mistaken; God cannot be mistaken.
Each and every word of Genesis need not be taken literally. But the substance of all facts which are fundamental in Christianity are to be taken as literally true.
What was the basis for the probable opinion of Ingersoll that he alone had read the Bible through that year? An opinion, to be probable, must have good reasons. A guess won't do. Ingersoll's only reason was that other men did not come to his own conclusions. Therefore they could not have read the Bible! If he can get a probable opinion out of that, he is not a fit guide for other men's thought.Again, it is certain that not everybody talks about the Bible, whilst it is nonsense to say that nobody reads it. Many do believe in the Bible without knowing why, but their reason is not because they have not read it.That Ingersoll had a purpose in view supplies the key to almost all his writings. Where others read to learn to know and love God, he read with one idea--to destroy religious belief. This purpose colored all his views and rendered him about as fit to interpret religion as a Russian Bolshevic on the British Constitution. Let me assure you that, despite his "great intellectual powers," Ingersoll is one of the easiest of adversaries to refute. No one has been put to death by the Catholic Church, and had Ingersoll been put to death, it would not have been for challenging priestcraft. For such action he would have been commended. But he would have been ordered to cease reviling the Christian Priesthood, though he would have been free to denounce any genuine abuses to the proper authorities.
The account of creation in Genesis is certainly true, though men have not fully perceived the true interpretation of every detail given in that account. There is nothing in favor of evolution to justify doubting the direct formation of Adam and Eve by God, as we shall see on another occasion.
The appeal to the gallery in the mention of a menagerie and town, and then the omission of all names except crawlers, jumpers, and creepers, is evident. "This God stood by," is another little lapse. Ingersoll falls down on the simplest Hebraism. The whole passage means that God gave Adam a knowledge suitable to man's estate, and that Adam gave names in human language to the animals of which God gave him intellectual vision. Ingersoll was out of his depth, and had not the intelligence to know it.
Yes. And facts confirm it. I shall deal with this topic later.
God forbade that tree which could lead man to a knowledge of evil. He gave man reason that he might know what is right and good. It is not advancing in knowledge to acquire erroneous and evil notions. As for the serpent, if you knew what you were talking about, you would not like to have spoken to him. The language he spoke was the language of pride, sensuality, and rebellion.
No. Insects, animals, and men have lives of varying length. Why? It is dependent entirely upon the will of the Omnipotent God who made them. And could He not will 900 years for man just as easily as 90? Is there any reason why He should not will 900 then, merely because He happens to will 90 now? And which is the greater wonder, to make man, or to make him live 900 years? Surely to make man at all. He who can do the greater could quite easily do the lesser. The special reason why God should will such long lives for the patriarchs of old was that they might generate many children and thus set the human race upon its feet. That necessity is no longer in existence.
Genesis VI., 2, says that the sons of God took wives from the daughters of men. These sons of God were not Angels, but the descendants of Seth, whilst carnal and fleshly men were the descendants of Cain. God was rightly angry with these mixed marriages between those who knew the true religion and those who had forgotten and abandoned it. As for the giants, the children of these unions were monsters rather in violence and wickedness than in size, though they were probably big men, and independent in their self-sufficient strength.
Any ridiculous element is supplied by your own imagination. It would be better to find out what the narrative involves, and then put your difficulties. Archaeological research justifies the fact. The flood need not have covered the whole world, but could have been local. We have to admit, however, that it destroyed all human beings then living except Noah and those with him in the Ark.
It is not a fable, although it does symbolize the Catholic Church in which souls are saved from the moral flood of sin. It was over 400 feet long, 70 wide, and 40 deep. The flood was most probably local, and the animals were of various types from the region only of its occurrence. We are not obliged to believe that all living animals were represented, nor that all animals outside the Ark were destroyed. Men themselves had not spread so far afield at that time, so that Noah and his family were the sole human survivors. The flood happened; the Ark was a fact; all men were drowned save Noah and those with him in the Ark; that much must be accepted in the literal sense. But many subsidiary details need not be, whilst the wholesale imaginative exaggeration of those details is to be entirely rejected. A thing is credible when a sufficiently capable cause is assigned; incredible if the cause I allege could not do it. But if the cause alleged could do it, then it becomes a question of fact. Did it occur? God says that He caused the flood and its consequences. We cannot say that He is mistaken or deliberately deceiving us. I accept it. You must make your choice. But you have given no sufficient reason for unbelief in your letter.
The question of right does not enter into this question. God has a perfect right to do as He pleases with the work of His own hands. He did not have to create, nor has He any obligation to creatures that He should continue to confer existence upon them. The drowning of the animals is no more difficult than the destruction of vegetation, and what God makes, He is free to unmake. Nor is the vegetative and animal world to be regarded as entirely independent of man who, as a rational animal, is the representative of all material creation. He sums up in himself the mineral, vegetable, and sensitive kingdoms, and is in fact the intelligent voice of creation, alone capable of responsibility. Mysterious though it be, there is a law of solidarity in this world which cannot altogether be overlooked. However, inability to comprehend the full significance of this event is proof only that the human mind is limited, and in no way affects the historical fact.
No. I do not believe that. Nor does Scripture say that there were no rainbows before the flood. If God said, "Look at the sun. As surely as it is there in the heavens I shall not do this thing again," that would not suggest that the sun had not existed before that moment.
You are making the mistake. God sent the flood as a just punishment for previous sins and as a lesson to future generations. He did not send it to wipe out the gift of freewill, nor to prevent the possibility of future sin.
Lot was blessed by God in some things--not in others. He ended his days in miserable poverty. Not every man who is approved for some good points is therefore an example of all that men should be in everything. God did not approve of Lot's action in this particular case. Yet let us analyze it. Lot was in a sudden and grave difficulty, with little time to weigh things. He was obsessed by the notion of a duty to his guest greater than that to himself and his household. The law of hospitality was very strict, and is still very strict in the East. Absorbed by this ideal, he did not advert to the full gravity of the alternative he hypothetically suggested, an alternative which he probably felt would not be acceptable. It was the act of a man distracted by anxiety, much as a mother might cry, "Kill me rather than my child," in the hope of moving hardened hearts to spare the child she loves rather than with any deliberate intention of being killed herself.Can I imagine a lower moral code than this code of Lot? Yes. That of the man who is ever ready to take the worst possible view of other people's conduct, with no allowance for interior states of mind, circumstances, or environment, is a far lower code than that of Lot, with his ideals of charity and hospitality, even though they were excessive ideals. Lot did not lack a moral sense. He wished to prevent what he considered the greater of two evils.
The Church does not exist to dispense chemical equations. But your question is not based upon reason. Probably Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by natural agencies set in movement by God, with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Rock-salt abounds in that region, and an upheaval of that material could easily have overwhelmed and embedded Lot's wife because of her delay, leaving a standing hillock of salt as her memorial.
Ingersoll, as usual, makes many mistakes.Firstly, he forgot the theocratic nature of the nation of the Jews at that time. God was the direct ruler of the Jews, and idolatry was going over to the king's enemies, and an act of treason, even in the temporal order. And God has full rights over life and death.Secondly, if Ingersoll were a judge administering the law of the land, and his own relatives were the criminals brought before him, he would have to act according to the law with impartial justice. He could not condemn others and exempt relatives because they were relatives.Thirdly, Almighty God took necessary precautions to bring home to the Jews the full malice of a blasphemous idolatry. Ingersoll, with childish imagination, concentrates upon material details, ignoring the vital reason behind them.Ingersoll's mistakes are nearly as great as those of the man who takes him as a mental and religious guide, regarding his every utterance as infallible.
God did not teach polygamy. He permitted it because of men's weakness and frailty without the helps of Christianity, and because it was not opposed to the primary end of the natural law. Ingersoll may constitute himself the supreme dictator of moral law, and give his irrevocable decisions. But the fact remains that his deliberate distortions of the truth are a far more guilty thing than the frailty of men, owing to their bodily passions.
Jacob did not rob Esau. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, and Jacob obtained blessings which belonged, not to Esau, but to himself. When Isaac asked, "Are you my son Esau?" he really wished to know whether he was speaking to the son to whom he should give his blessing. Jacob, knowing that he was the son who should receive it, replied in the affirmative. Even if we accuse Jacob of alie, that sin would not destroy his right to the blessing. In this case, God did not inspire the lie, which was Jacob's sin. God did inspire the writer of the Sacred Book to describe the event just as it happened. Of course, God ratified Jacob's right to the blessing.
An Angel received power from God to employ physical force, as did the Angel who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre of Christ. Jacob was detained against his will in a given place, and naturally described his vain efforts as struggling with an Angel. St. Paul, too, speaks of an Angel to buffet him when alluding to physical trials.
That is just what he did imagine. He cannot describe even his own mental processes. It is patent dishonesty to imply that modern notions of hair-oil are in any way equivalent to the anointing and consecrating of a Priest to God in the ancient Jewish rites.
There could have been. That would not affect the question. There was no water flowing when Moses struck the barren rock. And to strike a barren rock with a rod is not the normal way of opening up a spring of whose existence one is unaware. If there were no spring, then God also created the water which flowed forth. He who created the oceans could quite easily create a flowing spring of water, for it is certain that God's infinite power was not exhausted by the creating of the oceans.
The sense is that God permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart. It is but a Jewish mode of speaking. Exod. VIII., 15, says, "And Pharaoh hardened his own heart." God sent Moses to ask Pharaoh to let the Jews go, and that means that He meant Pharaoh to do so. God would not, therefore, have deliberately prevented Pharaoh from doing so. God permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart, just as He permits men to sin even in our own days, if they are determined to do so.
No man on earth can prove that this thing did not happen. The only argument is, "It seems to us unlikely." I reply, "Most unlikely, if anyone less than God were responsible for such a happening." But to say that God could not do it, is to misunderstand the difference between the finite and Infinite, between impotence and Omnipotence.
It is not certain that the contour of the country was the same then as now. Some authorities say that the Red Sea swept much farther inland in earlier times, including even the bitter lakes. In any case, under God's direction, the Jews were led away from the dry sections we now know, as described in Numbers ch. 33, that He might show His power and protection, and that the Egyptians might be justly punished, as shown by Exod. XIV., 2.
Present scientific knowledge has nothing to say on the subject. With all our present knowledge we still say that the sun rises. We know that it is due to the earth's rotation, but speak of things as they appear to our senses. Joshua would have more right to laugh at us for speaking of the sun as rising, despite our boasted knowledge, than we have to ridicule his expression that the sun stood still. He experienced the phenomenon of light for a period longer than usual, and he describes it by the phrase, "The sun stood still." The phenomenon could have occurred by the cessation of the earth's rotation at God's bidding, or simply by His willing the light to be continued despite the ordinary movements of the earth. However, the Church has not defined the literal truth of each and every event described in Scripture. She teaches that the Bible is the Word of God, whatever be its correct interpretation. Miraculous events are to be accepted, until the opposite is proved true. Exactly what God did in such cases is not certain, but presumption is for the literal fact in default of contrary evidence. The general lesson of God's Providence is to be accepted without reserve.
That was not the reason. You do not advert to a great principle. God owns the earth, and can allot any particular portion of it to any particular people. And if He, the Owner of all does so, then the tenants for the time being lose their right to the appropriated land. Joshua warned the Gabaonites beforehand, "If you dwell in the land that falls to our lot we can make no league with you." Jos. IX., 7. The Gabaonites knew this to be the will of God. "It was told us thy servants," they said, "that the Lord thy God had promised his servant to give you all the land." Jos. IX., 24. Realizing their obligation, they determined not to go, thinking themselves strong enough to rebel against God's decree. God taught them a lesson, and the Jews had as much right to put them out by force as I would have to evict you from a house occupied by you without definite lease, should the house suddenly come to me by sale or gift, and I wished to live in it. This objection of Ingersoll overlooks the question of just title, but his end in view made the lawyer ignore his legal brains whenever his irreligious complex affected him.
When Christ told the story of the prodigal son, the characters of the story were not really historical persons. But the story was a true description of types and of God's mercy. Now some authors say that the Book of Jonah narrates a kind of parable somewhat akin to the parables of Christ. Others, and more probably, say that it is actual history, and that a real Jonah was really swallowed by a real fish, though not necessarily by a whale as we understand that word. The Church leaves us free to accept either view. The purpose of the Book is worthy indeed of God, teaching as it does that God much prefers to show mercy to a repentant people rather than vindicate His justice by the infliction of punishment. Nor is the story incredible even as actual fact. A thing is credible or incredible according to the presence or absence of a sufficient cause. I grant that the events in the Book of Jonah can be explained only by a miraculous intervention on the part of Almighty God. But once I say that God was the Agent at work, then the cause alleged could account for it, and the question is not, "Could it happen?" but, "Did it happen?" The main reason why people doubt the fact is because they cannot see how it could happen; a thing which does not necessarily prove more than that they cannot comprehend everything. The life of a human embryo during the period of its gestation is as much a mystery according to God's natural laws as would be the life of Jonah for three days inside a large fish according to God's extraordinary intervention. And who will say that God is never free to act outside the ordinary laws He Himself has established? In reality there is no more difficulty in accepting the miracle of Jonah than there is in accepting the undoubted miraculous fact of Christ's resurrection.
I grant the apparent cruelty in the sufferings of Job taken in themselves. How the circumstances justified them I shall show in a moment. You cannot say you know of nothing more pagan, for pagan means without the true God, and this story is very much one of the true God. If you know of nothing more cruel in heathendom, you also know of nothing in heathendom approaching the sublime moral lessons and lofty principles inculcated by this Book.
It is certain that Satan and God did not meet and make a wager. That is but a literary expression, driving home the truth that Satan is opposed to God and resents that others should serve Him. Job was a good man, devoted to God. Satan wished to rob God of the honor and glory given by such an adherent, if necessary by special and extraordinary efforts. Even Satan could not do so without God's permission, and God, who knows all things, permitted his efforts.
Firstly, God's allowing Satan to afflict Job is no more difficult than His permission of other temporal afflictions, such as the sufferings of an individual from cancer, or of thousands from an earthquake. It is the ordinary problem of suffering, the difficulty of reconciling a merciful God, who certainly does exist, with the fact of physical and moral evil, which also certainly does exist. The answer to the problem of suffering in general is also the answer to the story of Job, to a great extent.Secondly, in this world there are certain things better than bodily health and worldly goods. Many a man has thought more of his honor than of his life before today. The asset of a noble character is better than the asset of a prosperous earthly career, and God gave Job the opportunity of a supreme nobility, to be attained only by way of the cross similar to that of Christ. A brave man feels honored when selected for some noble duty fraught with danger, and is grateful for the trust reposed in him by his leader.Thirdly, Job was enabled to glorify God far more by fidelity when things went wrong than by fidelity when things were going right. And God more than compensated Job for his temporal trials by eternal happiness. Job would not have been without his experience for any earthly good, once it had been accomplished.
Yes. He was chosen as a type, and really did serve God in the midst of great trials. But the incident has been described in poetical form, allowing for the use of literary description and amplification. I could tell the same facts in dry technical language, or in glowing prose, or in highly polished verse, and the literary form would not affect the objective historical value of the event described.
All through, God permitted affliction for the greater good of Job. Satan inflicted suffering for the greater misery of Job. God intended the justification of right principles, Satan their destruction. God was more reliable than Satan, for He was ever ready to assist Job by His grace as often as Job demanded it, whilst Satan intended only the degradation of Job and the insulting of God. God is always reliable, Satan never. And above all when we view the lasting results of their influence.