Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Christ was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, existing in the human nature which was born of the Virgin Mary, yet retaining ever His Divine Nature. He is, therefore, God and man at one and the same time. As man He could die for His fellow human beings; as God He was able to expiate the insult offered to the Divine Majesty, and thus restore to men the possibility of eternal happiness.
It is true that there has been a miscalculation in our calendar. Christ was born probably some six or seven years before the traditional date. But this error is not of great importance. At most it shows that those who compiled our calendar were mistaken in their estimate. The important thing is that He should have been born, and should have paid the price of our redemption.
God first knew it, and from all eternity. He promulgated the doctrine from the very beginning of the human race, and continuously by the prophets of the Old Testament; Christ taught it clearly as the Gospels prove, and confirmed His claim by miracles; the Apostles and the Catholic Church have promulgated the doctrine throughout the world.
They certainly did. The angel reassured Joseph in his bewilderment, "Fear not to take Mary ... for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Matt. I., 20. To Mary herself God had revealed, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Lk. I., 35.
After the events at Christ's birth, and her receiving a special message from the angel that her child would be the Son of God, it is absurd to say that Mary was taken by surprise. As for the brethren of Jesus, He had no brethren in the first degree. Any relatives, even in the third or fourth degree, or even in the same tribe, were entitled brethren by the Jews. And of course some of these were surprised, unless we are to suppose that God made a special revelation to each one of them concerning Christ The Jews generally were surprised because they had built up in themselves despite the prophecies so very different a concept of the coming of the Messiah.
Some of them have made uncertain and vague claims, but none has made any precise claim in the full sense in which Christianity declares Christ to have been the Son of God. Nor is there a shred of evidence to show the reality of their claims, vague as they are.
You would find it very difficult to name them. However, granting that you have read of some such claims, a little further study would show you that a critical and comparative examination such as Christian doctrine has had to undergo leaves these mythological claims devoid of reality, whilst the Christian fact emerges unscathed.
Such an admission would do violence to both reason and history. The invention theory supposes that the writers of the Gospel were liars, a theory abandoned by all the critics of Christianity worth while. The borrowing theory involves the old post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. That one thing is prior to another does not prove that it is the cause of that other. And nowhere in heathenism can you find any real parallel with the Christian doctrine. Pagan mythologies are characterized chiefly by the complete absence of an historical element. The great German critic Harnack pointed out that the one thing fatal to all mythological references or theories is the intense repugnance felt by the early Christians for everything connected with heathen idolatry. A profound critic, he writes, "Early Christians strictly refrained from everything polytheistic and heathen, and the unreasonable method of collecting from mythologies of all peoples parallels for original Christian traditions is valueless."
A belief in a God, a sense of sin, and imagination building upon ordinary human ideas would be enough to give rise to a mythology on the subject. Yet we can even admit lingering vestiges of the knowledge of our creation by God, and of God's primitive promise to put enmities between the woman and Satan. But no mythology has produced anything like the Christian doctrine, and it is certain that adversaries have dishonestly accredited virgin-births to ancient mythologies in their efforts to discredit Christianity.
No. Astarte was a mythical non-historical person; Mary was historical. The legends concerning Astarte make her a goddess associated with all that is licentious and immoral. The historical Mary has never been regarded as a goddess, and was the purest woman who ever set foot on this earth.
Even according to the primitive Egyptian legends Isis was not a virgin-mother in any sense of the word. Your theory has been exploded by scholar after scholar. As a parallel it is altogether deficient, and your theory of connection is pure guess work, against all the facts. You might just as well point to the story of any woman who ever had a child in the whole of ancient literature and cry in triumph that the Christian doctrine must have been drawn from that source. Many people are prepared to put implicit faith in any guesses, which militate against Christianity, yet they ignore the most obvious facts in its favor. They keep demanding evidence, yet do not really want it, and will not accept it when it is offered to them.
No. Buddhism knows nothing of God in the Christian sense of the word. It is definitely pantheistic. It knows nothing of the Holy Spirit. The very story of Buddha is not the story of a birth from a virgin. And in any case, it is certain that Buddhism was not known by the early Christians, and the Gospel writers never heard of its traditions. Nor, had they heard of them, could we conceive of their appropriating or using them.
There are many and vast differences. Socrates and others taught the uncertain philosophical conclusions of their own limited and finite minds; Jesus taught infallible and divine truth. The fruit of the teaching of the philosophers is a merely temporal proficiency in an imperfect human knowledge and conjecture; the fruit of the doctrines of Christ is eternal happiness. In themselves the philosophers were men; but Jesus was God.
His perfect fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament; His personal character; His teaching; His miracles, and chiefly His resurrection; His work in establishing a Church which has outlived empires and human institutions against tremendous opposition; the perpetual vitality of His sway over human hearts.
Yes. He declared His divinity when He said, "I and the Father are one." Jn. X., 30. The Jews knew it, and said, "For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Again, Christ accepted the supreme homage implied by the words of Thomas, "My Lord and my God." Jn. XX., 28. He could not have let such an expression go without correction, had He not been God. We know that, if any ordinary man claimed to be God, he would either be insane or untruthful. But Christ was not insane. He was ever a model of self-control, and the wisest teacher and legislator the world has seen. Nor was He a liar. His moral character forbids the possibility of a lie in so grave a matter. Christ really lived. He was not insane. He was not a liar. He claimed to be God. He accepted the adoration due to God. He is God.
In the case of Christ the one does not exclude the other. St. John admits personal distinction when he says, "The Word was with God," yet asserts identity in the divine nature when he adds, "And the Word was God." Jn. I., 1. Christ showed the co-equality of the three Divine Persons in the one single Divine Nature when He ordered the Apostles to baptize in the one name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Matt XXVIII., 19. And He proclaimed His own identity in the Divine Nature with the Father by His words to Philip, who had requested, "Lord, show us the Father." "Philip," replied Christ, "have you not known Me? He that seeth Me seeth the Father also."
No sane man could so delude himself. Such an hallucination, being not temporary but permanent, would suppose in him a pathological state of insane enthusiasm. But Christ's wisdom and balance of mind absolutely excludes this. His wisdom at the age of twelve astonished the doctors of the Law. The people were lost in admiration of His doctrine, saying, "Never did man speak as this man speaks." His replies to His enemies showed the utmost prudence and genius. His tranquility under provocation and suffering does not argue to madness. Add to all this the authority of the life He lived. Very few philosophers fulfill all their own advice as did Christ, No, there is no possibility that Christ was deluded.
He was sincere. He was not a mere humanitarian. The humanitarian is merely kind to his fellow men from motives of human and natural sympathy, not from motives of religion. St. Paul tells us the uselessness of humanitarianism from the religious point of view when he writes, "If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1. Cor. XIII., 3. Christ was essentially religious, not a mere humanitarian. He demanded that the love of God should be the motive of all our good works, not the love of our fellow men for their own sakes, God being simply ignored.
The temptation of Christ does not suggest that He doubted His Divinity. His clear calm replies show anything but doubt. At perfect peace interiorly, He allowed an external temptation in order to teach us how to behave on similar occasions.
I do not wish to do so. Christ was at once God and man. In His created human nature He had deliberately subjected Himself to God's will. But, since in Him there was but the one personality, He had to use the personal pronoun "I," whether referring to His divinity or to His humanity. If He referred to His divinity He wag equal to the Father. As regards His humanity, He was less than the Father. All such difficulties are solved by a correct notion of Christ as God made man, yet made man in such a way that He never ceased to be God. Had He ceased to be God, all the real value of His life and death for us would have been lost.
Our speculations as to what would or would not be avail nothing against the fact that He was born into this world as an infant. He could have become man in some other way. But, granted that He wished to be born of the human nature which was to be redeemed, He needed to be born of a human mother. And this necessitated His being born as an infant. Redemption was thus manifested in both sexes, even as both sexes co-operated in our fall, Mary replacing Eve and Christ replacing Adam. By this means, also, the Son of God was enabled to exemplify the virtues of every stage of human life from infancy to manhood.
Firstly, there is no more difficulty why Christ should be descended from these more proximate sinners than that He should be descended from a sinful first parent. Secondly, the immediate source of Christ's human nature was purified from all inherited sin, Christ receiving a true human nature from Mary without the co-operation of a human father. Thirdly, the women you mention were not lawful wives, and there is a deep significance in the coming of redemption by them. The Jews regarded themselves as the lawful children of God, and thought that redemption was to be confined to them. They thought that they could not lose their inheritance, behave as they might. Yet Christ, the actual Redeemer, rejected the apparently lawful nation, and established a Church for all nations. The Jews do not recognize the Christian Church as the lawful spouse of the Messiah. Yet, as the Redeemer came by ancestry from unexpected women, so redemption has been given to men by an unexpected Church, illegitimate in Jewish eyes.
Christ was not unpopular with all. Many believed in Him and followed Him. But no man would be popular even to-day with all if, after such evidence of power, he turned round and lashed the vices of men, divorce, birth-control, impurity, drunkenness, dishonesty, irreligion, and blasphemy. Men will take all the benefits they can get, and the one who will offer benefits only will be popular. But if the same man starts to probe the conscience of the moderns, and to interfere with their private vices and self-indulgences, his popularity will soon go. Christ not only conferred physical benefits; He demanded morality and self-denial. Egotism rebelled and crucified Him at the instigation of the Jewish leaders.
No. In that chapter of St. Matthew He blends prophecies concerning both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Many who were then living witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem. And even as regards the end of the world, the Christian generation will not pass away until it comes. Many superficial readers confuse the two prophecies, forgetting that Christ had no intention of giving exact information concerning the final end of all things. "Of that day and hour no one knoweth, no not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone." Matt. XXIV., 36. In reference to this matter, there are three great generations to be considered; that of the unwritten law from Adam to Moses; that of the written law and the prophets, from Moses to Christ; and that of the Christian dispensation. God is not going to give any further revelation to man. All previous prophecies have been fulfilled in Christ, and Christ has declared that His revelation shall last till the end of time. This Christian generation shall not pass away till Christ comes, and when He does come it will be the end of the Christian era. We cannot complain that a thing has not happened before the time for it to happen has arrived.
The ordinary laws of justice which prevail between men cannot be applied to Christ in this matter. It would perhaps be unjust for an ordinary man to do such a thing, granting that he were capable of such power. But God alone is capable of such things, and the very divinity of the power Christ exercised on that occasion is proof enough that He had the right to do whatever He did. God has dominative rights over all that He has created, not only over vegetables and animals, but over men also. No man has rights against God, for all rights are granted by God. Now Christ was God. And there is no more difficulty in this case than in any of the temporal afflictions God permits in life. He has the supreme right to dispose of His own creation as He pleases. If He permits a drought that ruins thousands of farmers, He is within His rights, for He has no obligation to send rain, or to establish laws which will infallibly bring rain when wanted. All this is viewing the question absolutely. But in this particular case you select, the temporal loss of those pigs was deserved, because the Mosaic law forbade the keeping of those—to the Jews—unclean animals. There is nothing unjust in this episode.
You must remember that there were in Christ two natures, one human, the other divine. Christ suffered in His human nature, and experienced a natural human shrinking from all that awaited Him. To that natural apprehension He gave expression conditionally, saying, "If it be possible, let this chalice pass from me." But with His divine knowledge He knew God's absolute will of both His passion and subsequent glorification, for He added, not conditionally but absolutely, "Not my (human) will, but Thy will be done." Long before this He had predicted that He would be put to death and that He would rise again from the dead. But despite His knowledge of the glorious sequel, His present sufferings were sufferings all the same. Knowledge of subsequent relief does not necessarily destroy the dread of a painful operation.
Christ knew that His death was not all in vain. He died to give those who want it the means to save their souls. As those who want to save their souls have the means provided by the merit of Christ's death, His sacrifice was a perfect success, accomplishing all that it was intended to accomplish. It was certainly never meant to save men even against their wills. The cry of Christ on the cross, therefore, in no way expressed a conviction that all was in vain, but indicated a desolation of soul and a mental suffering in the passion which no other external expression could manifest more suitably. The words were uttered for our sake, and bespoke a suffering, which was part of the price demanded of one enduring the penalty due to our sins.
Christ can be said to have failed only if He did not succeed in accomplishing His purpose. But His purpose was to give men the means of salvation, should they will to make use of such means. All who sincerely wish to be saved can be saved. Meantime, even God cannot endow a man with freewill who has to do the right thing in spite of himself. That would be the end of freedom, of morality, and of merit. Salvation would be a physical necessity of nature, on a par with blood circulation, and man would no longer conform to the very definition of man. He would be another type of creature altogether.
You would not abhor the death of Christ for mankind did you understand the full significance of the action. Far from being opposed to the goodness and mercy of God, it is the supreme manifestation of that goodness, God so loving the world as to give His only begotten Son.
It was not so much the condemnation of the innocent as the free offering of the Son of God in His human nature for the salvation of His sinful yet brother human beings. Man, bought by so great a price, is taught his true dignity in the eyes of God, learns how evil sin really is, and is moved to love One who has proved His love in so convincing a way.
Absolutely speaking there could have been a Christianity without a crucifixion. God could have condoned the sin of mankind, and, without demanding just expiation, He could have sent His Son in human form to teach another type of Christian doctrine. But that is all in the realm of possibilities. We are concerned with facts, and as facts stand, Christianity could not be shorn of the crucifixion. Nor could the Jewish religion. All sacrifices from Adam to Christ were figures of the crucifixion. Abraham's willingness to offer Isaac predicted God's willingness to offer His Son, even as the Paschal Lamb foreshadowed Christ as the true Lamb of God who would die on the cross. Any value in the Old Testament sacrifices was derived by anticipation from the cross. God willed that the scales of justice should be balanced, and for that a man had to die for the sin of man. Yet since the infinite majesty of God had been offended, the human being chosen to expiate this infinite offense must be of infinite dignity. God the Son, therefore, became man, remaining true God, and in His human form was offered on Calvary.
None, unless the one in whose debt we are chooses to accept it
It would not, unless it were the penalizing of one man against his will for another's crime. But who would condemn me if I chose to pay the fine of some poor man who had offended against the laws of the state?
It is praiseworthy to safeguard justice, and yet at the same time to exhibit untold love and mercy. Christ is God. Mercifully He took a human nature, and in that human nature expiated the sins of all those who wish to avail themselves of His generosity by fulfilling the conditions He appointed.
Loisy was a Catholic, but is so no longer, having been excommunicated from the Church for heresy. His assertion is worth only the evidence he can give, and he can give absolutely no genuine evidence for his conjecture. If the resurrection is not an historical fact, there is no such thing as an historical fact in existence.
That is a complete denial of the historical value of the Gospels. You have no proof whatever that no one has ever risen from the dead. You may not have personally witnessed such an event, but not all beyond your personal experience is necessarily false or non-existent.
They are identical as regards substance and fact. They record different but not mutually exclusive particulars. Each gives its own independent summary, not pretending to give all and only that which occurred.
Your lawyer friend gave only his fallible human opinion. Equally qualified jurists have come to the opposite conclusion, and the arguments of your jurist can all be refuted.
Even had not St. Paul seen the risen Christ personally, his evidence would not be unreliable. If we demanded that no historian should set down anything except that which he had actually witnessed for himself very little history would be written. So long as the historian knows that the source of his information is reliable he is free to record his information. St. Paul did have the testimony of many and independent eye-witnesses, and would quickly have detected conflict in their accounts. But in addition to the evidence of other eye-witnesses, St. Paul personally saw the risen Christ. In Acts IX., he is converted by Christ in person. In I. Cor. XV., 8, he writes, "And last of all He was seen also by me." In I. Cor. IX., 1, "Have not I seen Christ Jesus Our Lord?" Again in I. Cor. XL, 23, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." St. Paul could hope to gain nothing in this world or the next by lying. His doctrine led to his martyrdom in this life, and as for the next, he himself taught that God hates liars.
St. Matthew wrote a summary of events concerned with a principal character. If he had to describe in detail all connected with accessory incidents he would never be don. The proof that the Gospels as a whole are reliable history covers all these minor incidents. If a reliable historian relates that a man was killed during a street accident he is describing, and with the death of whom he is chiefly concerned, no one reasonably says, "I shall believe that man to have been killed only when you give me the names and addresses of every person in the street at the time." The absence of the names makes no difference to the fact that many came forth from their tombs as St. Matthew records.
Christ lived and died in a remote corner of the Roman world, and had caused no political disturbance. Again, the Romans had supreme contempt for the Jews, and reports connected with Jewish religious happenings held very little interest for them. Suetonius mentions Christ briefly in his biography of Claudius; Tacitus speaks of His execution under Pontius Pilate; Phlegon, the freedman of Hadrian, records the eclipse of the sun at the death of Jesus; Celsus, the pagan philosopher, boasted of much knowledge concerning the life of Christ; Pliny the Younger mentions the Christians quite clearly together with their doctrines, but again is interested only in the manner in which their existence affected Rome and Roman dominion. Josephus, the Jewish historian who was born at Jerusalem about 37 A.D. records Christ's death on the cross under Pontius Pilate, and His appearance on the third day after His death to His disciples.
We must take into account the Jewish methods of calculation prevalent at the time. The Jews used the expression three days and three nights for three periods of daylight and darkness as opposed to three periods of daylight only. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were three periods of daylight to be taken as including periods of darkness. Whether the periods of darkness were complete or not, the Jews would speak of the whole section of time as three days and three nights. Thus in the Book of Esther V., 1, the Jews were told to fast for three days and three nights. Yet after two nights according to our way of calculating, but in the third period of daylight, die fast ended,
Christ rose with a material body, but not in a material body limited by all the conditions of matter as we know them. He rose with the same, yet with a changed body, the change in no way altering its identity. St. Paul predicts a somewhat similar and mysterious change in our own bodies after our own resurrection. "So also in the resurrection. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption ... It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body." I. Cor. XV., 42-44. The body therefore shall rise with powers of which we have no experience yet, and strangely participating in the qualities proper to spiritual beings. It is a mystery, for our present ideas are drawn from our present conditions, and we should not be surprised that we lack the capacity to understand the conditions of a state of which we have as yet had no experience at all.