Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism


799. You teach that a child after Baptism is free from the guilt of original sin?

Such is the teaching of Christ, who instituted the Sacrament of Baptism precisely to confer the life of divine grace as opposed to the state of spiritual death common to all souls in virtue of their birth as members of a guilty human race.

800. When the child grows up and marries, do not his children inherit original sin? How can this be, if the parents have been freed from original sin by Baptism?

A right understanding of the Christian doctrine of original sin is the all-sufficient answer to that question. Original sin is not something positive. It is essentially the absence of divine grace. Now, by the natural process of generation, parents can transmit human nature as they received it from their own parents. But they cannot, by this merely natural process, transmit supernatural grace which they received, not from their parents, but immediately and individually from God. Therefore, their children will be born in a merely natural state, and not in the supernatural state conferred only by a spiritual gift from God. Until the children receive that spiritual gift of grace by Baptism, they will be in the state of original sin, sharing in the collective and racial spiritual bankruptcy of unregenerated humanity. Remember that Christian parents do not generate children in virtue of their spiritual regeneration by Baptism, but in virtue of the fact that they were generated in a merely natural way by their own parents. Children, therefore, must be given the spiritual life of divine grace by Baptismal regeneration individually.

801. Is it possible for a man to believe the Gospel, and show forth the fruits of the Spirit of God, yet be eternally lost through lack of Baptism?

No. But no such man would deliberately omit Baptism were he aware of its necessity. If he were not aware of its necessity, his ignorance would excuse him from responsibility.

802. Is it possible for a child who has not attained the faculty of understanding, to be eternally saved by virtue of Baptism?


803. Will the soul of a baptized imbecile go to heaven?

Yes. Where else could such a soul go?

804. Christ said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." A lunatic cannot believe.

He said much more than that. Those particular words are applicable to all normal adults who have had the doctrines of Christ sufficiently explained to them. In the case of infants, it is sufficient for them to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit in Baptism. Every birth means a life; and this rebirth implants in them the grace of Christ as the very seed of eternal life. An imbecile is ranked as an infant who has not attained to personal responsibility.

805. I think an innocent baby's soul, which hasn't reason to consent to original sin, is left to God's own way, if it hasn't gone through God's form of initiation into His Church by Baptism.

Firstly, whilst a baby's soul is innocent of any personally committed sin, it is not innocent of original sin. Every human being born into this world is born as a child of a guilty race. "By nature," says St. Paul, "we were children of wrath." Again, it is enough to be a child of a guilty race to share in its inheritance of guilt. Personal consent, after having attained the use of reason, is not required before original sin becomes operative. Thirdly, it is a contradiction to say that it is left to God's own way, if it hasn't gone through God's form of initiation by Baptism. For if Baptism be God's way, if the child be not baptized, it has been excluded from God's way.

806. God said, "Unless a man be born again of water, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." But I think that applies to a person who really knows he should he baptized, and deliberately refuses.

According to the Greek text God says, "Unless one be baptized," not "unless a man be baptized." By birth a child attains its natural life, but is by no means born into the supernatural life of divine grace. And precisely because it has not attained to the use of reason and to an ability to secure sanctifying grace by its own interior and personal desires, it has but one means of getting it; and that is by the actual Baptismal rite.

807. Was Christ's death for the remission of sin useless?

No. That is evident from the fact that some are saved through that death who would not otherwise be saved. Here let me explain the character of Christ's redemptive work. By his sin, Adam forfeited for himself and all his posterity any right to heaven. And we are all born in spiritual bankruptcy as far as our inheritance of eternal supernatural happiness is concerned. Now Christ died to atone for the sin of Adam, and make it possible for men to recover their right to heaven. But He Himself laid down the conditions by which souls would benefit by His death. And one of the necessary conditions He declared to be Baptism. If an infant dies without Baptism, therefore, it lacks the application to itself of Christ's merits. But that does not mean that His death was useless in itself. The soul in whose case the conditions appointed by Christ are not verified, fails to benefit by the all-sufficient price He has paid.

808. All infants are saved, and go straight to heaven by the blessed sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You wrongly take it for granted that no other conditions were appointed for salvation save the death of Christ on the Cross. But Christ Himself laid down very definite conditions for the application to souls of His redeeming work. And one of those conditions is Baptism. Every birth means life. A child born of its earthly parents gets a natural life. But Christ offers another life which can't be got from earthly parents, and which demands, therefore, another birth. And He tells us that it is a rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit. An unbaptized infant lacks that second birth, and the second principle of life given by it. And it is not capable of inheriting the higher destiny to which Baptismal rebirth gives access.

809. Did not St. Augustine teach that all unbaptized infants are cast into the torment of eternal fire?

No. To understand St. Augustine's mind on the subject we must notice the circumstances under which he wrote. He was engaged in refuting the Pelagians who denied original sin, and taught that unbaptized infants attained supernatural happiness in a place distinct from heaven. St. Augustine proved the fact of original sin, and denied the existence of any state of supernatural happiness apart from heaven. But he did not suspect the possibility of a third state of purely natural happiness. For him, therefore, it was a question of either heaven or hell for eternity. But he admitted that hell would have two aspects, deprivation of the Vision of God, and positive suffering for personal sins. Whilst insisting that unbaptized infants could not attain to the Vision of God, he declared that he did not see how they could meet with positive suffering. In Epistle 116 he wrote, "I don't know what to say when you ask what their sufferings will be." And in his treatise against Julian he says, "Our Lord declares of wicked men that it would be better for them had they never been born. But who can doubt that infants, dying only in original sin, and without any personal sins, will encounter the least of penalties? Although I cannot define of what kind or how great those penalties will be, yet I would not dare to assert that it would be better for those infants had they never been born." After those words of St. Augustine it is certainly not correct to say that he taught that unbaptized infants are cast into the torment of eternal fire.

810. I cannot find the word Limbo in the Bible.

You will not find the word itself there. But the teachings of the Bible render necessary the admission of the intermediate state described by those words. In a similar way, we speak of having a child christened. The word christened is not in the Bible. But people don't object to it on that account. For the Bible teaches that Baptism makes a child belong to Christ and incorporates that child in Christ. And the word christened beautifully expresses that reality.

811. I want exact Biblical references, with direct texts, without any building up of theories.

To that I must reply firstly, that Catholic theologians did not invent the idea of Limbo for the sheer joy of doing so, and then try to back up the theory from Scripture. It was their study of Scripture which forced them to conclude that the souls of unbaptized infants must have a state reserved for them which may fittingly be called Limbo by us, if we are to speak of such things at all. Secondly, you ask that I give exact Biblical references for the conclusions arrived at. Now a conclusion from a given text is a logical inference from that text. But in the next breath you say that you will not accept any logical inferences at all. Evidently, then, you wish for a direct text from Scripture expressly teaching that such infants do go to Limbo. I admit frankly that no such text can be found in the Bible. Our teaching is a logical necessity in the light of other texts. But, although no direct text is in the Bible, remember that you can prove our doctrine wrong on that score only provided you can prove that such a direct text must be in the Bible before we are justified in believing in Limbo. That would shift the discussion to the question of the sources of Christian doctrine.

812. Inferences, or logical deduction will carry no weight. Let us to the Law and the Testimony.

Let us to the Law and the Testimony by all means. But if you will not accept logical deduction from the Law and the Testimony, I cannot help you. All I can point out to you is that you are taking up a most unreasonable attitude, and one opposed to the very methods of Christ. For He did appeal, again and again, to logical deduction from the Law as being a source of truth. Take the famous occasion when our Lord wished to prove to the Pharisees the supernatural origin and the divine dignity of the Messiah. He relied upon logical deduction: "What think ye of the Christ?" was His question to them. "Whose son is He?" They replied, "David's." "How then," said Jesus, "doth David in spirit call Him Lord: saying: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou on my right hand. If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?" The logical deduction was clear. The Christ could not be merely the son of David. Though promised an earthly lineage derived from David, the Messiah must obviously be much more than a mere descendant of David, if David had to call Him Lord. Scripture tells us that, to this inference of Christ, no man was able to answer Him a word. But, if your ideas were right, the Pharisees should have said, "Inferences or logical deductions carry no weight with us. Give us an exact and express text from Scripture saying that the Christ will be the Son of God." They were not so foolish as to thus violate reason. However, I am merely pointing out to you that your rejection of logical deduction is opposed to the very procedure of Christ Himself.

813. The word Baptism is a Greek word, meaning immersion. Now to immerse is to cover the whole body. Why speak of Baptism, when you don't baptize.

The Catholic Church does baptize, though it is not her practice to do so by immersion. She does so by pouring the water upon the person to be baptized. It is true that the literal sense of the word baptize in Greek is to immerse. But the literal sense of a word is not always the only correct sense. We have to ask whether a word in current use has acquired an accepted sense by those using it; and above all, when the word is chosen to denote some special rite. Thus St. Mark uses the Greek word baptize to signify washing. Jesus used the word Baptism to express the agony and suffering of the passion awaiting Him. No sound argument, therefore, can be drawn from the literal sense of the Greek word; and you can safely leave the correct application of the Sacrament of Baptism to the Church.

814. Christ Himself was baptised by being immersed in the River Jordan.

That is probably correct; though it is possible that our Lord merely stood in shallow water, and allowed John the Baptist to pour water over His head.

815. How did the departure from the method of immersion come about?

Through necessity, and in the times of the Apostles themselves. Immersion is a lawful method of Baptism, but it is not a necessary method. St. Paul himself was baptized in the house of Ananias. In turn, whilst in prison, St. Paul baptized his jailer under circumstances where immersion was impossible. Nor are invalids to be deprived of Baptism because they cannot be carried to water in which they can be immersed. Baptism by pouring the water, instead of by immersion, has been practiced in the Church from Apostolic times. The practice of Baptism by immersion gradually grew less frequent in the Church until, about the thirteenth century, Baptism by pouring became the universal method.

816. I find no record of infant Baptism in God's Word.

Letting that pass, you will find no record there that children were not baptized, and no trace of a prescription forbidding the Baptism of infants. If you want to show that the Baptism of infants is against the evidence of Scripture, you must first produce the evidence either that the Apostles deliberately refused to baptize infants, or that they taught expressly that infants were not to be baptized. Search how you will, you will never find any evidence of these things.

817. One must be an adult, and have faith, and understand Baptism.

That idea is based on a misunderstanding of the New Testament, and of the nature of Baptism. Baptists say that in the New Testament converts were required to believe and be baptized, and that the only practice recorded is the baptizing of adults. But, obviously, when a new religion is first taught, it must be addressed to adults, and they must be asked to believe in the new religion before submitting to its requirements. But nowhere in the New Testament is there the faintest suggestion that adults only could be baptized. On the other hand, Christ expressly said, "Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." And a child is someone. Christ also sent the Apostles to teach and baptize all nations, and the term "all nations" certainly includes men, women and children. Our Lord did not say, "Baptize the adults only of all nations." More than once we are told that, when certain adults were converted, they and all their household were baptized. Again, St. Paul tells us that Baptism for Christians replaces circumcision, yet circumcision aggregated even children to God's chosen people. Is the New Law to be less perfect than the Old, containing no purifying rite for children? And if all human beings born of Adam are born children of God's anger, is Adam's sin able to ruin all, yet Christ unable to save any except adults? The rejection of infant Baptism is opposed to the whole tenor of Christianity. But chiefly this error arises from the loss of right notions of grace and of the supernatural life given by Christ, and from a complete mistake concerning the nature of Baptism.

818. If Protestant Churches are false, why does the Catholic Church recognize Protestant Baptisms?

Because Baptism, as a Sacrament of such necessity, can be administered by anyone, provided he pours water which comes into actual contact with the one to be baptized, says at the same time the right words, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and intends to do what Christ intended in instituting the Sacrament. Since the Sacrament operates independently of the faith or morals of the human agent, and derives all its efficacy from the will and merits of Christ, you can see that the faith or virtue of the minister does not of itself affect the validity of Baptism.

819. If that be so, why does the Catholic Church baptize converts again?

The Catholic Church re-baptizes conditionally only because of a doubt at times whether one was baptized or christened at all, or because, if baptized, the water may not have been rightly applied, or the correct words may not have been used, or the right intention may have been absent. So many non-Catholic ministers have become loose in their notions as to the nature and necessity of Baptism; and so many are careless in its administration, that the Catholic Church treats the previous Baptism as at least doubtful. And this Sacrament is so important, that it is in their own interests to be quite sure that people have received it validly. Therefore, all converts are re-baptized conditionally. The priest says, "If thou are not validly baptized, I now baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." If the first Baptism was valid in God's sight, the second has no effect. If the first was not valid, the second one avails.



Prefer a PRINT version?