Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Authority in religion

260. If one joins the Catholic Church, is he not obliged to accept the authoritative declarations of that Church as to what he must believe?

On all matters about which she has made an authoritative declaration, yes. It is clear from the New Testament that Christ intended His Church be our authorized teacher, interpreter and guide in Christian doctrine. He bade the Apostles: "Go, teach all nations"; and He said to them: "He that heareth you heareth Me." Matt., XXVIII, 19; Lk., X, 16. In accepting the teaching of the Church we are accepting the authority of Christ vested in her.

261. No one can be sure of anything. Everyone has to confess that at best he would like to be certain of the truth?

No well-instructed Catholic is in such a state of doubt where religious truth is concerned. He is quite sure that the official teachings of the Catholic Church are absolutely reliable. Other Churches which object to what they call the authoritarian teachings of the Catholic Church naturally cannot claim to teach with similar authority themselves. Uncertainty in teaching means uncertainty in believing, leading to all those haunting doubts which you think every else must experience like yourself.

262. I do not believe the Creed of any Church I know.

Do you really know any Church? Or the Creed of any Church? Have you ever really studied and learned the teachings of any Church sufficiently well to be able to pass an examination on the subject? If not, your lack of belief may be due to lack of knowledge and not to any reasonable conviction that the teachings of any particular Church are wrong. Certainly you do not know the Catholic Church, the grounds for her claims, dr the nature of her teachingOs .

263. My own mind is my Church.

The very word "Church" means an assembly of people united in the same beliefs and religious practices. One's own mind alone cannot be that. At present you can but say that you belong to no Church; and that your religion, if any, is one of isolated individualism. But such independence of the Church is a wrong attitude to adopt. By his very nature man is a social as well as an individual being; and above all, men should be associated as fellow children of God in their religious acknowledgment of Him as their Heavenly Father, and in the fulfillment of their duties towards Him.

264. Simple people may accept what you say. But I maintain that every Christian is guilty, whatever he has been taught, if he has not verified, without bias and apart from any pre-existent ecclesiastical authorities, the real foundation of every claim he makes.

You ask the impossible and the absurd. Moreover, you demand what you would not ask in any other sphere of human knowledge. There is no need of course for bias, save in the good sense of the word—an inclination to believe the good and the true as opposed to evil and falsehood. Apart from that, I say you ask the impossible. Th/e vast majority of men, engaged in other necessary duties, have not time, and most of them have not the training and ability, to verify the foundation of every claim made. Again, you ask the absurd or unreasonable. For it is quite reasonable, once a person has good grounds for confidence in an authority, to accept the teaching of that authority on matters within its competence. You yourself accept that principle in every other sphere of human activity. And there is no reason except bias why the principle of authoritative teaching should be rejected where religion is concerned, yet accepted in law, history, medicine, science, art, music, and every other kind of human culture.

265. No Christian has any right to assert any statement to be the truth, if it is not capable of proof, indisputable and unshakable.

I grant that as it stands. But a truth may be capable of proof, yet some given individual may personally be incapable of proving it. Do you forbid him to assert that truth on the authority of experts whose knowledge and veracity are certain? For example, scientists have proved that the hybridization of plants is dependent upon the chromosome numbers of the plants to be crossed. That is capable of proof, indisputable and unshakable. It has been proved. But 999 people out of 1,000 are not capable of proving it. Do you deny that they have any right to assert it, quoting other authorities for it? Why, then, may not a Christian who is certain of the reliability of his

266. Are not the Gospels the test of truth?

The Gospels contain part of the truth Christians must believe, according to the sense intended by the Gospels. Notice the two qualifications. The Gospels contain part of what Christians must believe, not all that they must believe. And before we attribute any teaching to the Gospels we must make sure that we have rightly understood the sense intended by those Gospels themselves.

267. The Gospels are the only and sufficient source of information we have.

That is the common mistake prevalent among Protestants. The error was introduced by the Protestant reformers in the 16th century against the whole weight of Christian teaching and practice throughout all preceding ages right back to the Apostles themselves. The truth is that the Gospels are not the only source of information we have, nor are they the sufficient source. I include with them the rest of the New Testament which you have overlooked. The whole of the written Word of God is an inadequate and insufficient guide to the full Christian truth. I am putting an idea before you which will be new to you and may even shock you; but for that very reason it is deserving of further thought.

268. No Church can call itself Christian if its teachings are not in harmony with the Gospels.

That is true. Since what the Gospels contain is true, all that they teach must be included in the teaching of any Church which claims to be Christian. But since the Gospels do not contain all the truth, there may be much in the teaching of the Church which is not included in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. In concluding the Fourth Gospel, St. John himself wrote: "There are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written." John, XXI, 25. And St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "Stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle." II Thess., II, 14. There he indicates two sources of teaching, by oral teaching and by written documents.

269. Certainly no Church can be a substitute for the Gospels.

There must not be a conflict between the teaching of the Church and anything truly contained in the Gospels. But, equally certain, an individual's personal ideas as to what the Gospels mean cannot be a substitute for the authoritative teaching of the Church. Christ Himself said: "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen"; i.e., not as a Christian at all. (Matt., XVIII, 17). You must remember that the Church was in existence and doing her work before any of the Gospels was written. In later years, when many different books had been written about Christ and His teachings, it was the Church that decided which of these books were the inspired Word of God, and which were not. We get the Gospels from the Church and we cannot divorce them from the Church. It is a mistake to forget that the Church first taught men the Christian religion, then gave them the Scriptures which she knew to contain nothing in conflict with what she had been teaching. And she has gone on teaching all through the ages just as she did before the Gospels were written. And her teaching is still the authentic guide for Christians as it was in the beginning. The real mistake is to make the Gospels, interpreted or misinterpreted as each man thinks fit, a substitute for the authoritative teaching of the Church.

270. Is not the Christian religion clear enough without your Church's explanations ?

The Christian religion itself declares that it must be spread and explained to men by other men. Christ ordered His Apostles to go and to teach all nations whatsoever He had taught them. Matt., XXVIII, 20. Those whom the Apostles first converted to Christianity would not have been reasonable had they complained that the Christian religion should have been sufficiently clear to them without any explanation.

271. Is not the Gospel simplicity itself?

No. And it was never meant to be. Its fundamental law for our hearts, that we should love God, and our neighbors for the love of God, is simple enough for the least child. But the Gospel is not simple for our' minds. It contains doctrines about God and man, nature and grace, time and eternity, which are as deep and profound as God Himself. The Gospel does not merely give a program of life apart from doctrine; it gives a doctrine upon which a way of life must be based. And it is essential that we grasp the doctrines taught by the Gospel about God, Christ, the Church, the worship we must offer to God, the means of grace at our disposal, the good and evil destinies possible to man in eternity, and the conditions that will decide each man's fate. All these things can be known with certainty only by those willing to be taught by the Catholic Church which alone has authority to speak in the name of Christ Himself.

272. Christ said He would choose the foolish to confound the wise. What need, then, of learned men as priests to lead the people?

When Christ said He would choose the foolish to confound the wise, He was not referring to ignorance as opposed to learning. He was referring to the fact that unbelievers, who think themselves wise, regard as foolish those who have faith in the Christian religion. Some who do not believe in Christ are very ignorant people, whilst others are very clever as regards earthly knowledge. But whether they are ignorant or clever, they imagine that they are wiser than poor fools who believe in Christ. What Christ did mean was that He will not choose proud men who are wise in their own conceit and who are unwilling to be taught even by God to preach His doctrine to the world and share,in His victory over the world, but those who are humble and willing to have faith in what God reveals. Yet this, as I have said, does not mean ignorance. Those called to be priests and to teach others are obliged to fit themselves for the duty by more study than others. God Himself said to the priests of the Old Law, through the prophet Osee: "Because thou hast rejected knowledge I also will reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me." Osee, IV, 6. In writing to Timothy, St. Paul insisted on his duty to study and acquire sound learning. "Attend to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine," he wrote, "meditate upon these things. Be wholly in these things, that thy profiting may be manifest to all. Take heed to thyself, and to doctrine. For in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." I Tim., IV, 13-16. Christ therefore does not want ignorant priests. But if unbelievers think themselves wise, if they think that those who believe in our Lord are fools, they will learn some day that they themselves were the fools, and that those who believed in Christ were truly wise. And that will be their confusion.

273. St. Paul, finding he was on the wrong track learning his religion from others, left those who were instructing him and went his own way.

St. Paul did not "find" that he was on the wrong track at all. He had completed his training in the true religion, the Old Law of the Jews still then in force, under Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated teachers of the time. Having graduated as a Rabbi or teacher himself, he zealously labored on behalf of the Jewish religion. He did not suspect that the coming of Christ was the coming of the Messiah promised by the Jewish religion, and did not find out for himself that he was mistaken in rejecting the claims of Christ and in still adhering to Judaism. Christ Himself had to step in and appear to him on the way to Damascus; and St. Paul ever afterwards attributed his conversion to this miraculous appearance of Christ, to an immediate and divine revelation, not to his having discovered for himself that his former teachers were wrong and to his having left them "to go his own way."

274. Why does the Catholic Church claim to he higher than truth?

She does not. She claims to be the true Church, and to have authority from Christ to explain to men all the truths of religion necessary for them to know. This does not put the Catholic Church above the truth, any more than the fact that a lawyer may be able to explain to you the law of the land puts him above the law. The Catholic Church is our God-given guide to the truth revealed by Him. She cannot alter that truth, or take away from it, or add to it. She can but teach and explain it, ever remaining subject to it herself.

275. Does not submission to the authority of your Church look very like some kind of mental despotism?

No. For not undue submission, but due submission to the authority of Christ vested in His Church is required. If a person thinks that the exercise of any authority is despotism, then he will reject all authority and end in anarchy. When Christ sent His Church to teach all nations whatsoever He had revealed, He conferred on that Church magisterial authority. And because His doctrines are divinely revealed the Church has to insist that faith in Christ demands acceptance of them, her members submitting their own judgment to them. So St. Paul speaks of the mission of the Church to cast down "imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." II Cor., X, 5. Would you hold that submission to the authority of Christ on our part implies "despotism" on His part?

276. A Catholic told me that if a Catholic and a Protestant were both to study their religions seriously for themselves, the Catholic would remain a Catholic whilst the Protestant would either become a Catholic or remain forever doubtful. Is that true?

Granted and impartial and intelligent study of the subject, it is true that the Catholic would find reasons only to confirm him in his faith, whilst the Protestant would find reasons calculated to make him doubt his position. Such a Protestant would either become a Catholic, or remain a Protestant at the price of ignoring persistent doubts, or else drift from religion altogether.

277. The one thing I envy is the certitude and security the Catholic Church seems to offer.

Our Lord, of course, must have intended us to possess that certainty and security. He said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Jn., VIII, 32. Surely Lie intended us to be free from uncertainty, indecision and doubt about all that is necessary for salvation.

278. What grounds has a Catholic for such confidence in his Church?

The answer to that question could be from what we call the viewpoint of apologetics, or from that of strict theology. Apologetics deals with the rational foundation of faith and with the external facts of history. The Catholic realizes that the Catholic Church alone can trace herself back historically to Christ and the Apostles, whilst all Protestant Churches were founded by men in subsequent times. Then, too, the Catholic Church, truly universal and embracing men of all nations as the religion of Christ should, manifests an extraordinary unity in faith, worship and discipline, offers an inspiration to holiness exemplified by the Saints throughout the centuries, and speaks with the consciousness of a divine authority not to be found elsewhere. These considerations together with many others, give the Catholic a rational certainty of the divine origin of the Catholic religion. From the theological point of view, the certainty of the Catholic arises from the action of God Himself. For it is God who, by divine grace, enlightens one's mind to perceive the truth of what He has revealed and is taught by His Church; and inspires one's will with the determination to cling to it till death even under persecution and threats of martyrdom. Thus both human reason and divine grace co-operate to give one who has the Catholic Faith absolute certainty of his position.



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