24 December, 2014

Response to "Chuck" about his concern for the faith of his son

My responses are in bold

“I read one of your responses to the matter of Catholic vs Jehovah's Witness on infallible interpretation.  In this world of misinformation, I found respect for you through your reply. In your answer, I see that you may be able to assist me in some of my concerns.
I know nothing of you but need your well studied perspective on many issues which I would like to confidently impart to my 3 sons - the 3 most awesome gifts that God could have ever given to me.
One night when my middle son (3 yrs ago at age 21) felt that he had to tell me his belief, even though he knew it would hurt me, he said that he could not be a hypocrite and that when we recite the Apostles Creed, he had to stop since those words were so profound to one's being and he did not believe them. He did not espouse that creed. He further explained that he did not believe in God.
I love him dearly as I love the other 2.
I think the majority of his confusion came from reading of theories of "worm holes" and other current science, as well as his seeing that a fundamentalist view of the Bible is easily found to be inaccurate.  What can you offer to help in showing that God is real?”

I will be very pleased to help if I can. I come from a scientific background as well. I never had such doubts because of my faith that I received by God’s grace but I had a close friend and and fraternity brother who had such doubts as I think that he had the idea that science and the belief in God are incompatible. As a result he professed to be a devout atheist. He went on to receive his doctorate in biochemistry. We did not see each other for more than decade and I found out that we were living in the same city. I called him and we met to have lunch. We discussed what we had done since we were in undergraduate school together. With his degree as a doctor of biochemistry he was engaged in the mapping of DNA which I found  fascinating. He said that as a result he was no longer an atheist. He had come to believe in a creator as a result because he realized that such order could not come by random chaos. We shared a conclusion that we had both come to, which is that the dependance on science puts one into a comfortable place, that I call a box, where we do not have to even imagine anything beyond our own finite intellect with the boundaries of the box. In that sense it allows us to imagine that we may indeed be equal to a creator or put another way, the equal to the epitomy of intellectual ability. It allows us to believe that there is no greater intellect than what we can aspire to achieve. As he said the evidence of science all around us in its complexity,especially in regards to life and the enormity of the universe stands in testimony to what we can perceive as God if we let our intellects soar to that conclusion. Such complex order out of chaos is an insult to one’s intelligence, finite as it must be. Science testifies to God and our creator rather than invoke us to deny Him if we just think and imagine outside the box

Secondly, our faith does not come from the Bible but instead it comes from the Holy Spirit that indwells in our hearts circumcised by the law that is written there. Without this law on our hearts we could not even imagine God and certainly not seek Him. The Bible has no authority in and of itself but all teaching authority comes from Christ’s Church which was given to the Church by Christ personally. Jesus said, “He who hears you hears me” when speaking of the authority of the Church. The order of authority according to the Bible is first Jesus, then His Church and lastly the Bible discerned in the community of the Church.

“Another friend has challenged me in a similar fundamental way on faith foundation in that he described the Council of Nicaea as the source of the current New Testament and coming very close to having extremely different text with very different dogma. As he put it, it was a bit arbitrary, or by the luck of one person not having to step out of the meeting at voting time that we have the Bible as it is today.  His comments challenge the belief that it is the inspired word of God.  Can you help me on this as well?”

Your friend is very misinformed about the Council of Nicaea. The Council did not even discuss the New Testament or any part of the biblical canon nor was that a part of the agenda of the Council. There was no vote on the Canon.

The Council was convened by the Emperor Constantine I to try to influence the Church by his might and intimidation to deny that Jesus is God. The Emperor had come to believe and follow the heretical and powerful bishop Arius about the nature of Jesus. Arius and the Emperor believed that Jesus was not God and the 2nd person in the Trinity of the one God which had been taught since the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. The Emperor wanted to unite his empire by denying that Jesus is God which left  Constantine with the ability to raise his own stature before his subjects on a level equal to Jesus.

In the beginning it looked as if Constantine I and Arius would be successful as the Bishops in attendance were indeed frightened and intimidated by the Emperor and would not speak up on their own against this teaching. Just as God raised up David to confront Goliath he raised up another  very young man named Athanasius, a young Deacon who had accompanied his Bishop to Nicaea to defend orthodoxy. So eloquently did Athanasius defend the faith that it invoked the Bishops to vote against the wishes of Arius and Constantine. He is known today as St. Athanasius and the creed of Nicaea bears His name. Here is the proclamation that came out of the Council of Nicaea and refined by subsequent councils:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other,None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

The Christian Biblical Canon would not be decided on by the Church  until the late 4th and early 5th centuries after the Council of Rome and the three African Synods of Hippo and Carthage presided over by the great St. Augustine.

In Christ

Fr. Joseph

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