In the modern world, especially the hyper-technological and progressive West, truth has been relegated to the subjective viewpoint – “be true to yourself” – for truth is considered only that which speaks to your experiences, your beliefs, and your desires. Students are taught that there is only one virtue, tolerance, and that each person’s beliefs are just as true as everyone else’s.
The modern dictatorship’s promotion of tolerance can be viewed as twofold: it offers universalism along with its handmaiden, indifferentism. If all truth is relative and all end up in the same place (either universal salvation or universal annihilation), then it doesn’t matter what beliefs a person holds, since all are paths to the same ultimate destiny. While many great minds have explored this topic, Professor David Carlin strikes to the heart of its uniquely American manifestation in what he describes as the “denominational mentality.”
The denominational mentality, as defined by Professor Carlin, can be summed as follows:
[N]o religion could claim a monopoly on truth; in fact, it would be arrogant to make such a claim … [that] there [are] many routes to religious truth, many versions of the same ultimate truth … [that] none is completely perfect, but all possess some degree of perfection. Thus, religions must be tolerant of one another. Indeed … they should be positively friendly; they should cooperate with one another.1
This seems to be nothing other than the dictatorship of relativism, which then-cardinal Ratzinger so emphatically spoke out against when he warned, “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
What, then, are the dogmas that must once again be proclaimed to the modern world, which labors under the rule of such a jealous tyrant? The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and reality of mortal sin come to mind, along with countless other truths many have abandoned in all but name. But in this age of the New Evangelization, one specific dogma is sorely needed: the proclamation that the Catholic Church is the One, True Church established by Jesus Christ outside of which there is no salvation.
This dogma, which has been affirmed time and time again by the Catholic Church down through the ages by pope and council alike, has been abandoned in large part because it does not conform to the “optimistic” and “inclusive” tolerance that allows each person to determine truth for himself. To move forward with “new ardor, methods, and expression” as the New Evangelization calls for, the Church must remain grounded in the truth that moved missionaries to spread the Gospel to all ends of the earth. As Professor Carlin notes, a religion with a denominational mentality will not seek to convert others, nor will it even retain members, because it has no truth claim worth fighting for. If we accept the dictatorship of relativism, it becomes just a matter of preference to remain a Catholic, and not as it truly is – an issue of salvation.
To boldly proclaim Jesus Christ crucified is to pick up one’s own cross and the worldly martyrdom that comes with it. To truly assent means “the absolute acceptance of a proposition without any condition,”2 according to Blessed Cardinal Newman. As the Catholic faith claims absolutely what must be assented to, one cannot avoid her dogma without departing from Truth and putting his own salvation in jeopardy.
It is indeed difficult for even the most learned man to intellectually grasp all that the Church teaches, yet “[s]he makes it imperitive on every one, priest and layman, to profess as revealed truth all the canons of the Councils, and innumerable decisions of Popes, propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them.”3
Our very egos rebel against such a thing – termed “blind faith” especially in this enlightened age, where the ego is the viewed as the ultimate judge of truth and where everyone is free to decide for themselves what he is willing to believe. Even in the midst of a relativistic dictatorship the likes of which has never ruled so universally and seduced so many souls, one must admit there has always been a temptation “to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” even from the first days of Eden. This is why, in her most charitable and understanding care of her children, Mother Church has, from the earliest days, given clear guidance for even the simplest believer.
Cardinal Newman explains:
But it is not the necessary result of unity of profession, nor is it the fact, that the Church imposes dogmatic statements on the interior assent of the those who cannot apprehend them. The difficulty is removed by the dogma of the Church’s infallibility, and of the consequent duty of ‘implicit faith’ in her word. The ‘One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ is an article of the Creed, and an article, which, inclusive of her infallibility, all men, high and low, can easily master and accept with a real and operative assent. It stands in the place of all abstruse propositions in a Catholic’s mind, for to believe in her word is virtually to believe in them all. Even what he cannot understand, at least he can believe to be true; and he believes it to be true because he believes in the Church.4
Of course, one is free to shackle himself and willfully take on the chains of disbelief, but that does not change the objective reality – that the dogmas of the Catholic Church are true, not of her merit alone, but of the merit of her bridegroom, Jesus Christ Himself, who promised He would never depart from her (cf. Mt 28:20).
Again, what difficult truth has the Church always claimed, but today omitted and forgotten precisely when the world most needs it? That man is a sinner and, of his own means, can only end up utterly divorced from God in the fires of Hell. That God Himself became man, offered Himself as a willing sacrifice for our sins, and satisfied justice. That, with His grace working within us, we can walk the narrow path to salvation for which His Church — the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church — is necessary and outside which no one can be saved.
I make Pope Pius IX’s words my own (emphasis added):
Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and ‘judgments of God[.] ‘ … But, [it] is Our Apostolic duty … to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religions whatsoever[.] … [I]t must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance be invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this manner in the eyes in God.5
This truth, which drove Christ’s disciples to the farthest reaches of the globe, often only to face disbelief and gruesome martyrdom, must be proclaimed boldly and loudly. We must embrace this difficult truth and humbly proclaim to a proud world not our words, but Christ’s: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7:13-14). We must embrace the cross and be willing to be martyred for this truth. We must hold it not as an intellectual conclusion that requires nothing of our will, but as a dogma of the One True faith that requires everything of us. We must put our wealth, our reputation, our prestige, and our very lives at the service of Christ. We must proclaim again to a world who has long ignored Him that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and that he established one Church, that Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation.
It is an inconvenient truth, one that any reasonable person would hesitate in giving his assent to. This bold claim has always separated souls into two camps (cf. Mt 10:34-39), and even Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, was rejected for His claim to absolute truth (cf. John 6). Yet, knowing that His disciples would be treated as their Master was treated (cf. John 15:18-20), He still sent them forth to “make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:19) bearing witness to the Truth (cf. John 18:37). If we are to be His disciples, we must act upon His mandate and proclaim His Gospel to all the world, even, inconveniently, to those closest to us – our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors with whom we have developed such a comfortable silence about the necessity of Christ and His Church for each and every person’s salvation.
1 Carlin, David. The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America. 2003. Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH. p.163.
2 Newman, John Henry. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. p.7
3 Newman, John Henry. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. p. 68
4 Newman, John Henry. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. p.70
v Denzinger. The Sources of Catholic Dogma. 1646-1647.
Zane Williamson lives in Montana with his wife, Marcy, and they have been blessed with four boys thus far. He is passionate about sharing the Truth of Jesus Christ and tries to do so whenever he gets the chance.
Uniquely American? Are you that incredibly ignorant of the rest of the western world right now? Nice veiled attack against America.
I apologize for any misunderstanding. I am not saying that these issues are uniquely American, but that David Carlin in his book, The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, examines these issues specifically from their American perspective.
Spes in Christo,
It’s as simple as that. Always has been.
Truth does not change. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
We must continue proclaiming the Truth of Christ, and remain Catholic, come hell or high water.
We have enough Saints and the Blessed Mother’s protection and must not refrain from those in the secular, or even within the Church itself, from telling us otherwise.
Anybody dissenting from the Magisterium is to be rebuked, gently. And that includes those within the hierarchy.
The Catholic Church is the epicenter of proclaiming to this fallen world “inconventient” Truth.
Abortion – no exceptions.
Birth control – under no exception.
Homosexual acts – an abomination.
Marriage – only between one man and one woman.
Not exactly hard to understand. Confusion is of the Devil. He is the one who has invented the “50 shades of grey”.
Stick to the unchanging Truth of the Catholic Church. If need be, gently rebuke any dissenting hierarchy.
Please provide proof Satan wrote 50 Shades of Grey.
Providing an allusion to pop culture there, sir. Wasn’t exactly referring to the insanely popular novel as being Satanic. Though it certainly isn’t literature any devout, conservative Catholic would be drawn to, or promote.
I’m sticking with the Catholic faith in all its glory and beauty. Not running off and immersing myself in the increasingly sick and perverted culture of our Western societies that would rather be of this world, rather than be in this world.
What sickness? Standing against perverts like Trump?
“The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails”
End of discussion.
Are you even Catholic? Do you believe in freedom of religion?
I’m concerned about the ability to even remain Catholic under Hillary without changing the Church’s unchangeable truths on life.
Stop being so sanctimonious. Only God can judge the heart of a man. Neither Hillary nor Trump are innocent. But Trump has not come out and said Catholics must change their religion. End of story.
You come across as a troll. My apologies for being a deplorable sexist for being pro-life.
May Christ open your hardened heart against the unborn.
Repeat the First Amendment. We are waiting.
There was an election in the early part of the 1900s. One candidate was much more likable than the other and ended up winning the election. The more likable candidate had a few flaws that were unknown to those who would come to elect him. (There was no wikileaks back then.) He didn’t see anything wrong with ending the lives of those who were a drain on society, the unborn especially but later he would include euthanasia, purely for a kindness to the suffering. Usually those who received euthanasia were mentally ill, mentally disable, and physically disable.
He was able through the use of emotional arguments, disband many constitutional protections. He also felt that the archaic teachings of the Catholic Church should be reformed. Some said he was a socialist because he socialized medicine and generally brought a higher standard of living to the poor. He went on to free the masses from the oppression of the wealthy, first in his own country, but later he used his influence to force it on other countries. The media backed at close to 100% which was very helpful to his original election and the disbanding of constitutional protections. Those few who opposed him were said to be fools, bigots, ignorant, backwards.
He even tried to force a change to the teachings of the Catholic Churches of his country, getting the support of some bishops. He used grass roots organizations to try to force these changes who called themselves Catholic but were in reality just stooges for him.
Yes, he had a few flaws that the populace later learned about but he was a much more likable guy than his rival candidates, some with checkered pasts, at times having said things that showed a lack of respect for others. Many of his rivals were a bit arrogant as well.
The likable candidate was Adolf Hitler who went on to include Jews and homosexuals in his euthanasia treatment, purely for the good of society you know. Now we have the democratic party, the mass media, and the establishment as a whole, are now backing every one of these practices that Hitler supported. With the exception of the killing of Jews and homosexuals, they are promoting every one of these policies. It is chilling when you really look at it from an unbiased point of view. They are promoting abortion up to the point of natural birth, euthanasia, changes to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the use of financial and political force to bring abortion and same sex marriage to other countries, the creation of groups to influence change in the Catholic Church, the argument of freeing of the poor masses of the oppression of the wealthy, and support of Socialist doctrine. They also have in effect, the suspension of constitutional protections such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, as we see people loosing their livelihoods, fined, and even jailed for opposition to same sex marriage, whether it be due to their speech or their religion.
No matter how much I don’t like Trumps personality, arrogance, and crassness, I will not vote for those who promote the kinds of policies that brought us one of the most evil powers in modern world history.
The Hitler argument does not work here. Try again when you learn to debate.
Child, I believe you should be on some other website where people might take you seriously…
I’ve got a better idea – the First Commandment, “I am the Lord your God, thou shalt not have any strange Gods before me.” As for the First Commandment, the religious persecutions in England were still recent in the Founding Father’s collective consciousness. The government was NOT to intercede in establishing a state religion, particularly one that could persecute others. That doesn’t mean we throw out our Christian underpinnings. Are you waiting for a “Catholic Springtime” for Church to change its teachings to be more acceptable to a Clinton Morality like late term-abortion or gay marriage? Sorry, but I will stick to my “medieval dictatorship” as the Cultural Relativists like to characterize us as.
Trump has come out and said it is acceptable to sexually assault women.
Waykent, worse than wrong, you’re tedious like so many other high-minded and totally ineffectual American “conservatives” today. Also like them you twist and bend things to fit your own perception of reality. Trump has most certainly not “come out and said” what you allege, as two seconds thought would inform you. You know, you’ll be far happier, I think, if you haunt sites where readers still treat seriously the likes of George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and the rest of that insufferable band whose shallowness the current electoral cycle has exposed to public notice.
Oh, and by the way, where did you learn to “debate,” on Twitter? You can actually use more than 140 characters here.
I am pro-life. It is not my fault that I am rabidly ignorant of the truth.
But are you a Roman Catholic?
Then why are you injecting politics into a thread covering Catholic theology and history? There are plenty of other sites devoted to that.
Satan certainly inspired such a disturbing novel. It is a sign of our demented times that it was as widely accepted as it was.
The time for “gentle” admonitions is long gone, it’s time for open revolt.
Apropos of nothing, when I was at Catholic University I always found in weird that there were the 12 signs of the Zodiac around the arch just in front of the mosaic pictured in the header (not sure of the proper architectural terms). I believe one of the priests explained it was intended to show Christ’s dominion over the whole universe (or something like that), but it still seemed odd to me.
It’s no small thing to realize(give up fighting against)that ALL of Western Civilization holds to the ideas you convey in few words. It’s no longer just a few cranky dissidents and atheists. And I do mean ALL.
I used to take comfort in statements of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope John Paul ll, regarding a “dictatorship of relativism/culture of death, silent apostasy, et al. It’s been a difficult spiritual journey, to come to accept that Vat ll including all those popes actually embrace this culture of betrayal. No matter what their public utterances, they never really fought to destroy root and branch the evils of Modernism, with its many shoots and causes, that has pretty much obliterated the West and the Catholic Church. And now we have Jorge Bergoglio who would never have been elected if not for the betrayal of the preceding Vat ll popes. If that sounds shocking – it is. In the course of my rude awakening, I went for days feeling threatened in my soul. My moral foundation was obliterated or so I thought at the time. I went through a state of dread and anxiety that ebbed and flowed.
A couple of additional points: You mentioned “blind faith”. It’s not completely clear, but I assume you did not imply that Christian faith is blind.
“…has always been a temptation to define one’s own concept of existence…and of the mystery of human life.” So very very true. I would extend that further to include devout faithful Catholics who, short of holiness, persist in deciding one’s own “concept of existence”, in that resistance to the purifying effects of Sanctifying Grace means to still be wounded by Adam’s sin of pride. Hence to define one’s own concept of existence – not in rebellion against Christ and His church. But from the sheer weight of our attachment to the world of comfort, self-fulfillment, the esteem of one’s peers, security, success, freedom from suffering, obligations, et al. In the affluent west today, the list of attachments is a long one. However, God wisely provides Purgatory for very good reasons.
Mr. Williamson, as a volunteer catechist I used to hear a similar statement as you quote from Professor Carlin:
“[N]o religion could claim a monopoly on truth; in fact, it would be arrogant to make such a claim … [that] there [are] many routes to religious truth, many versions of the same ultimate truth … [that] none is completely perfect, but all possess some degree of perfection.”
Those words used to come from our diocesan director for catechesis. (a Benedictine religious… of the Sr. Joan Chittister vein)
I suppose she never bothered looking up this little ditty from the Catechism:
“Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, *whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church*. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to *”Catholic unity.”* (CCC 819, stars added)
“…*whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church*.”
Ah well, so much for that “[N]o religion could claim a monopoly on truth” thing.
Right on with the fight against relativism. The inventor was Luther since Protestants personally decide what the Bible says, and then that form of self worship spread everywhere.
I read that quote with Fr. Thwaite’s voice echoing in my noggin.
Well, all of this just proves that when Jesus said many are called and few are chosen he was telling us a most inconvenient and unappetizing truth indeed. We should thank God every day for our faith and pray for the majority who do not have it.
Or is it that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling? Just because half of our popes are so wrong doesn’t make us more right – the Way is the Way independent of us or him. The suffering, it seems to me, as the sun of truth is darkened and fire of derision and malice rains down on us from Peter’s chair is that we are alone, “Buffet”ed by forces that try to kill our souls. How many bishops are dependable guides to Christ? Abandoned sheep have trouble finding food and are unprotected. They might not find the door to safety – still, we are told that we recognize the Shepherd by his voice and know that the hirling’s voice is not His.
“There are many ways to fall but only one way to stand.” – G.K Chesterton
“Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” – G.K. Chesterton
“The further a society strays from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell
If you tolerate everything, in the end you will tolerate the intolerant, which will destroy you. Islam is, at its core, a system of belief that tolerates nothing outside itself. To tolerate it is to tolerate the destruction of one’s own culture, one’s own civilization, and, if it were possible, one’s own Church.
True, and to see the denial of reality and the actual embrace of Islam by our pope and leaders and culture is like observing a mad man, it is shocking to observe. What can explain it, we wonder, how can anyone deny what history and our own eyes tell us is reality, yet, they do. They embrace it and play let’s pretend, and shame the easily led into believing it is a sin to not invite the means of your own destruction into your gates. It is diabolical insanity on a grand scale. Jesus help us, Our Lady, pray for us.
If nothing is worth dying for then what is worth living for? Take up your crosses like men and women and discover the mystery of the cross, especially when life becomes a burden for your loved one. Take up your cross as Christ did for a generous love that sprung from an inconvenient truth. Great article!
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