Faith and Reason – the papal encyclical letter
IN the encyclical letter Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), issued in September, the Pope has pronounced upon the relationship which should be maintained between religion and philosophy in seeking and communicating the truth. He concludes, “For these reasons, I have judged it appropriate and necessary to emphasize the value of philosophy for the understanding of the faith, as well as the limits which philosophy faces when it neglects or rejects the truths of Revelation.”
Although the document uses orthodox terms in speaking of Revelation or Scripture, it still holds that the Scriptures are insufficient for arriving at the truth. It states, “There are also signs of a resurgence of fideism [the doctrine that religious knowledge depends only on revelation and faith] which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God. One currently widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a biblicism which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth. In consequence, the word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church which the Second Vatican Council stressed quite specifically. Having recalled that the word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition, the [Second Vatican Council’s] Constitution Dei Verbum continues emphatically: Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture comprise a single sacred deposit of the word of God entrusted to the Church’.” These words show that Rome is indeed Semper eadem (“always the same”) in rejecting the sufficiency of Scripture, and putting tradition on the same level of authority as Scripture.
Even when we accept the sufficiency of Scripture, we cannot rely on even the best secular philosophy in understanding the things of the Spirit of God. As C. Brown concludes in his Philosophy and the Christian Faith, “If there is one thing that stands out from our survey of over a thousand years of debates between philosophers and Christians in the Western world, it is that no system of philosophy has ever turned out to be complete and perfect.” On the one hand the encyclical, with typical Romish doublespeak, says that although “God has made foolish the wisdom of this world”, philosophy must be married to the Christian faith, for one cannot live without the other. To make one’s knowledge of God to be dependent on philosophy, as the encyclical does, is to give a place to philosophy which belongs only to Scripture. As James Henley Thornwell, the eminent theologian, said in his work, The Office of Reason in Regard to Revelation, “To prefer the deductions of philosophy to a Divine revelation is to relinquish the sun for the stars.”
Such an attitude is branded as obscurantist by modernistic theologians and godless philosophers, but the Reformed faith does not put an interdict upon the exercise of reason – far from it. “Reasoning,” said Thornwell, “is only a method of ascertaining what God teaches; the true ground of belief is the fact that God does teach the proposition in question. . . When God speaks, faith is the highest exercise of reason.”
No doubt, one of the purposes of the Pope in issuing this encyclical is to reinforce the proud and preposterous claim of Rome that it alone is the repository and expounder of truth. But the light of Rome is darkness. To possess the Scriptures and yet teach such errors as the mass, transubstantiation, purgatory, indulgences, and mariolatry, manifests the profoundest darkness. The document ends with a prayer which demonstrates the darkness of the Pope himself: “May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.” How great is the darkness of those who gives the place to Mary which is due only to Him who is the Light of the World! N.M.R.
Indulgences in the Church of Rome today
WHAT is an indulgence? The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment [in purgatory or in this life] due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions [e.g. giving a donation to the Church] through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.”
Such teaching is contrary to the truth that when a sinner is forgiven, he is forgiven fully and for ever, and will immediately pass into glory (not the non-existent place Rome calls Purgatory). How contrary also to the doctrine of the fulness of the satisfaction which Christ rendered to Divine justice when He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of His people. We cannot purchase or earn pardon for the least of our sins. And as for indulgences being procured for the dead, Scripture leaves us in no doubt that what our spiritual state is at death, whether righteous or wicked, so it shall be for ever.
One Roman Catholic publication states: “With Vatican II the Catholic Church reviewed the whole area of Indulgences. Following that review they have widely fallen into disuse. Many seem to think that the Church has quietly abandoned them. This is NOT true. She has revised the collection of indulgenced prayers and acts, and in 1968 she issued that revised collection in a document titled The Enchiridion of Indulgences’.”
Indulgences are indeed very much part of the religion of Rome – a fact confirmed by this recent press report: “The Pope issued a Papal Bull last week reviving the practice of granting Indulgences – which offer remission from time spent in Purgatory. Catholics making pilgrimages or doing good deeds (such as visiting the sick or the elderly) will also qualify for indulgences.”
The Bull, entitled Incarnationis Mysterium, is intended to prepare the devotees of Rome for “the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000”. In it the Pope states: “It is precisely through the ministry of the Church that God diffuses his mercy in the world, by means of that precious gift which from very ancient times has been called indulgence. . . I decree that throughout the entire Jubilee all the faithful, properly prepared, be able to make abundant use of the gift of the indulgence, according to the directives which accompany this Bull.”
What are these directives and conditions. In brief, and quoting from the document, “the faithful” of Rome will be granted an indulgence:
- “if they make a pious pilgrimage to [certain religious sites] . . . and there take part devoutly in Holy Mass or another liturgical celebration. . .
- “if they visit for a suitable time their brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty . . . as if making a pilgrimage to Christ present in them . . .
- “the plenary indulgence of the Jubilee can also be gained through actions which express in a practical and generous way the penitential spirit which is, as it were, the heart of the Jubilee. This would include abstaining for at least one whole day from unnecessary consumption (e.g. from smoking or alcohol, or fasting or practising abstinence . . .)
- “and donating a proportionate sum of money to the poor; supporting by a significant contribution, works of a religious or social nature
- “devoting a suitable portion of personal free time to activities benefitting the community, or other similar forms of personal sacrifice.”
How tragic that millions are being deluded and led to eternal perdition by such soul-destroying teaching. Let us never cease to pray for the coming of the promised day when multitudes will be delivered from these delusions and will know the blessedness of a full and free pardon of sin, and complete cleansing from sin, through “the blood of the everlasting covenant”. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. N.M.R.
Priest confesses to having fathered a child
THE Belfast News Letter reports about Tyrone Roman Catholic priest, Arthur McAnerney, that his “shocked congregation in the tiny village of Beragh heard him admit at mass on Sunday that newspaper allegations he had fathered a child were true. . . Now that it has appeared in a newspaper, it is time to let you the parishioners and congregation know I am sorry for any embarrassment this might cause you or the community’.”
The fact which makes this report different from so many other similar ones is that his congregation actually applauded when they heard his statement, and his parishioners are angry with the newspaper which reported his fornication.
His Bishop also was prepared to overlook his heinous sin. The press report also says that a communications officer with the Catholic Bishops Conference stated, “The Archbishop of Armagh, at the time when this incident happened, was aware of what had happened and decisions were made at that time which seemed appropriate. Essentially, the decision was taken that Fr McAnerney would continue in Ministry.”
Having swept the matter under the carpet, the Roman hierarchy almost succeeded in keeping it there. We do not doubt that, as long as the unnatural and unscriptural requirement of enforced celibacy is laid upon priests, many more such cases will come to light. N.M.R.