Well yesterday was my first day of school since graduating Concordia University in 2004. What to make of it? Well,.for one, I am what you call an external student at L'Institution de Formation Theologique de Montreal or by its more common name Le Grand Seminaire. The courses in question are the Philosophy of Man and Greek Philosophy. Why philosophy? Well in order to properly understand theology, we need to first of all rationally understand ourselves, our very 'being.' Although I've only had one class,..I can see that this is truly where I belong and thus Spiritual Direction and the will of God be done, should He decide that I should be called to 'ontological' change! lol!!!!
Last night upon my return to the gym,..I was met with a very honest question from a protestant adherent,..the 'born-again' kind,..not the 'Everything in the Bible is symbolic kind.' This person was a former Catholic,.(way to go social justice catechists,..you lost another one!) and was curious as to why I was taking Philosophy instead of not just studying the BiiiiBULL! Indeed a fair question and one that needs to be reflected upon with some critical thinking. Philosophy is a metaphysical science studying things that are not necessarily perceptible to the sense, none the less we can 'know' of their existence by rationalizing backwards. St Thomas Aquinas noted in his arguments, that God can be seen through the lens of reason by working 'a posteriori.' (Studying a series of 'effects' back to its 'cause.') The Bible is the product of the Church and thus to begin with an absolute premise that the Bible is automatically to be accepted would not bear much fruit in speaking with a non-believer! So what do we do? We start by establishing universal absolutes that can be known by the faculty of reason alone.
The atheist as well as the protestant must believe that everything in motion has been put into motion by something already in motion. (We don't stop at train tracks and watch a box car go by,..it has to be pulled by a locomotive.) Now this can't go on forever,..so it would necessitate an unmoved 'mover.' Using Aristototle, we have already stimulated the atheist into thinking that this makes sense. Their arguments based on 'chance' simply do not hold water! Why? Because not only are we in motion, but we are also 'rightly ordered.' When a man's sperm meets a woman's egg, she can become pregnant. As rational persons,.it is safe to assume that a human being will be born. By the atheists' logic,..it might as well be a giraffe, or maybe even a mailbox? (There's a visual for ya!) So now we can safely declare to the atheist,..that it requires more blind faith to actually be an atheist! Chaos theory simply doesn't work,.it must be a reorganization of matter. Simply put, something cannot come from nothing,..something MUST come from something.
Next up,..the followers of Eastern Religions or Philosophies. Before we begin, it must be noted that as Catholics, we reject nothing which is Holy and True in these religions. Our atheist friend has now become a Hindu. Once again, we are asked why we don't believe Hinduism is true. Well, we can once again go back to our metaphysical reasoning,..that an unmoved mover must exist pressing 'play' on the eternal DVD player setting us in motion. Hinduism,.(as well as Buddhism, of which sprang out of Hinduism) has a particular cosmology whereby their 'gods' Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva spring forth or are 'created' out of the Brahma (which can be compared to an impersonal 'force.') Thus their 'gods' themselves are created,..so they can't be infinite and are subject to potential,..ie 'change.'
Islam. Please see my archives,.as I did a small series on Islam which can be found here . This was part two, a brief explanation on the Muslim concept of God.
Judaism. In Judaism,.we have the first of the Abrahamic Faith Traditions with a great intellectual anchor. Maimonides, the great Jewish thinker for instance, of whom Aquinas was also influenced. Traditional Judaism stresses the monotheistic absolute that God is One and that He is Truth! They also knew of what philosophers called the human condition, or a conflict between the intellect and the will. God,.reveals Himself to Moses in the Old Testament and pretty much validates what the rational mind conceives of God. That is One and Truth with no creator. Thus revealing His name,.'I AM WHO AM' becomes significant as we can confidently say that God is the very same as His essence (substance.) Test it,..I can ask you two questions, who are you and what are you? Inevitably, unless you have serious psychological deficiencies, you should answer I am Sally or John or whatever proper name you have,..to the second question you would answer that you are human. Now ask the same two questions to God,.."I AM WHO AM." Awesome isn't it? ;) The rest becomes a series of questions and ways to atone for God by offering sacrifices and observing a prescribed Divine Law,.(10 commandments.) The issue of who Jesus is what divides us. (I will be writing some posts on the Trinity in the very near future...)
Jesus. Two summers ago,..as I was getting into my thinking,.a person got into my car and noticed a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror. 'For me,..Jesus was an incredible person, an ethical man..' That line for whatever reason would haunt me as I was unable to turn off my philosophical 'Thomistic' brain sense that he may as well have told me that Jesus disturbed man! You can't have it both ways. (CS Lewis, used that line of thinking..) Now,..along with the historical stuff (of which I haven't even really touched upon..) we have ample evidence! An empty tomb,.Pontius Pilate, the testimony of Flavius Josephus, Lucian the Greek, not to mention the martyrdom of nearly all of Jesus's Apostles! Had the story not been true, it would be highly unlikely that people would freely let themselves be eaten by lions instead of recanting.
So now we have come full circle into Christianity! We have already 'proven' Christianity true,.so why Catholicism? I am currently working on a post whereby I'll be examining all the different denominations, sects, schisms and movements. But for argument's sake,.I'll use reason to prove my point. The Bible which is revered by all baptized, acts as point of supreme authority within protestantism. Two movements have since been birthed. The liberal movement, which taken to its natural conclusion will empty Christianity out of its Divinity. It will be a Christless Christianity. Not only the mainstream protestant communities, but also some of the so-called social justice liberation theologian type 'catholikkk' stuff can begin to have that appearance. The other extreme is the crowd which literalistically interprets Scripture! They subscribe to Fideism (a suspicion of reason) and tend to shun higher education. These are usually the 'I don't believe in dinosaurs' crowd. They keep schism(ing) and splintering with each 'pastor' claiming his interpretation is right! The right interpretation belongs to the Catholic Magisterium,..it alone through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit discerned the books of the Bible and later ratifyed them. See the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.
To conclude,..Why I am Catholic? Well because it is true. All other faiths are related to the Church in 'potencia' which means potential or degrees. The degrees we speak about show how much truth these other faiths contain. The goal of interfaith dialogue and ecumenism is that one day,..all people come home to the Eucharist!
St Thomas Aquinas,.........Ora pro nobis.