Thursday, May 24, 2007

So-Called Intellectual Suicide - Closing Thoughts

I suspect that the reason why some Protestants believe such silly things (apart from simply not understanding the Catholic perspective) is that they personally cannot imagine ever submitting to a Pope with regard to questions of religious truth, because they reject distinctively Catholic doctrines. My hypothesis is that perhaps because they disagree so strongly about these things, and because they are so confident concerning their own viewpoint, they are simply unable to conceive of anyone willingly and rationally choosing to become Catholic.

Whether that's a fair guess or not is perhaps a subject for another day. But the point I wish to make now is that the Catholic Church isn't forcing itself upon anyone, and doesn't expect anyone (indeed, doesn't want anyone) to become Catholic who doesn't believe what she teaches: among other things, that one must submit to the Pope on questions of faith and morals. If that doesn't describe you, then the answer is clear: do not become Catholic (but let us try to persuade you!) Christianity is a rational religion, but there are some things that may only be known by faith. As St. Thomas says:

For when anyone in the endeavor to prove the faith brings forward reasons which are not cogent, he falls under the ridicule of the unbelievers: since they suppose that we stand upon such reasons, and that we believe on such grounds.

Therefore, we must not attempt to prove what is of faith, except by authority alone, to those who receive the authority; while as regards others it suffices to prove that what faith teaches is not impossible. Hence it is said by Dionysius (Div. Nom. ii): "Whoever wholly resists the word, is far off from our philosophy; whereas if he regards the truth of the word"--i.e. "the sacred word, we too follow this rule" (Summa Theologica, I, Q32, A1).
Before we might expect Protestants to be willing to submit to the Pope's teaching, we would first need to persuade them that this is a reasonable course of action. But that too is a discussion for another day (several of them). Just as it will not do for Protestants to call us brainless, we Catholics cannot expect them to change their minds just because we say so. We must persuade them. And when this seems like a hopeless undertaking, we ought to remember the examples of other Protestants who have me, for instance.

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