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Non-Catholics Section: Truth / Doctrine

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Non-Catholics Section:

Truth / Doctrine

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Do You Reject the Concept That There is a Certain Defined Body of Doctrine That You Must Believe?

Do You Believe That No One Should Tell You What to Believe?

Do You Believe There is No Such Thing as Heresy? That All Beliefs Are Equal?

What is Truth? / How is Truth Recognized?

Also See...

Doctrinal Change / Unchanging Doctrine

Question

Comments

Do You Reject the Concept That There is a Certain Defined Body of Doctrine That You Must Believe? 

Consider:

* If there is heresy (cf. Ti. 3:10-11), there must, therefore, be fixed truths which have to be believed.

* Scripture says to "guard what has been entrusted to you..." (1 Tim. 6:20), yet you reject that any definite body of doctrine has been entrusted?

* Scripture shows that Jesus taught a defined body of doctrine - Jesus never said persons may simply believe whatever they 'feel' or 'think' is true.

* Scripture speaks of the need for unity among Christ's followers (cf. Jn. 17:19-23, Eph. 4:5, Jn. 10:16, Phil. 2:1-2, 1 Pt. 3:8) and one can only have unity in truth! "Contradiction is manifold, but truth is uniform." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church, c. 350 A.D.)

* Christ's believers cannot be divided in faith (see Mt. 12:25, Lk. 11:17).

* Why would St. Paul warn about men who "will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them" (Acts 20:30) if there was no fixed truth to be drawn away from?

* St. John the Apostle wouldn't even remain in a building with a heretic, yet you tolerate all varieties of heresy?

* St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Apostle, told a heretic he was the "firstborn of Satan", yet you would give license to the same heretic under the banner of "personal interpretation"?

* Scripture tells us to not even greet heretics (2 Jn. 1:10-11), yet you would argue in favor of the false and contradictory teachings of heretics under the banner of "personal interpretation"?

* Holy Scripture urges unity of belief and rejection of novel doctrines, yet you allow disunity among believers and the toleration of novel doctrines under the banner of "personal interpretation"?

* We know there is objective truth and that we are responsible for knowing it and living it. As Scripture says...

"God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth." (Jn. 4:24)

"...and the truth will set you free." (Jn. 8:32)

"But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming." (Jn. 16:13)

"So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate" (Eph. 6:14)

"...every lie is alien to the truth." (1 Jn. 2:21)

* We know there is an objective truth that must be believed (see Mk. 16:15-16), and that we are called to reject error/false teachings:

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (2 Jn. 1:10-11)

"But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." (Gal. 1:7-10)

* We also know that Jesus ["the way and the truth and the life" (Jn.14:6)] came to testify to the truth: "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." (Jn. 18:37)

* Christ said the truth will set you free - not one's opinion, not half-truth, not error.


Closing Quotations...

"Whatsoever He commands, He commands by the same authority. He requires the assent of the mind to all truths without exception. It was thus the duty of all who heard Jesus Christ, if they wished for eternal salvation, not merely to accept His doctrine as a whole, but to assent with their entire mind to all and every point of it, since it is unlawful to withhold faith from God even in regard to one single point." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems in his Gospel to have revealed the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and who never ceased to impress upon the memory of his disciples the new commandment 'to love one another', nevertheless strictly forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ's teaching: 'If any man comes to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you.' (2 John 1:10)" (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos")

"I have learned however, that certain persons from elsewhere, who have evil doctrine, have stayed with you; but you did not allow them to sow it among you, and you stopped your ears so that you would not receive what they sow... Do not err, my brethren: the corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil teaching the faith of God, for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire; and so also will anyone who listens to him." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, hearer of St. John the Apostle, c. 110 A.D.)

"But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honor God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. 'In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them' (S. Augustinus in Psal. liv., n. 19). And this indeed most deservedly; for they, who take from Christian doctrine what they please, lean on their own judgments, not on faith; and not 'bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ' (2 Cor. x., 5), they more truly obey themselves than God. 'You, who believe what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel' (S. Augustinus, lib. xvii., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith. And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions: 'I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment' (I Cor. i., 10). Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves. Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faith. It is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized. And, as We have already stated, this is not to be ascertained by conjecture, but by the certain knowledge of what was done; that is by seeking for and ascertaining what kind of unity in faith has been commanded by Jesus Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"And yet this same gentle and loving Saint [John the Evangelist] was the inflexible enemy of heresy; for heresy, by destroying Faith, poisons Charity in its very source. It is from this Apostle that the Church has received the maxim she gives to us, of shunning heresy as we would shun a plague: If any man come to you and bring not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into the house, nor say to him 'God speed thee', for he that saith unto him 'God speed thee', communicateth with his wicked works (Jn. 1:10-11). St. John having one day entered one of the public baths, he was no sooner informed that the heresiarch Cerinthus was in the same building, than he instantly left the place as though it were infected. The disciples of Cerinthus were indignant at this conduct of the Apostle, and endeavored to take away his life by putting poison into the cup from which he used to drink; but St. John having made the sign of the cross over the cup, a serpent was seen to issue from it, testifying both to the wickedness of his enemies and to the divinity of Christ, This apostolic firmness in resisting the enemies of the Faith made him the dread of the heretics of Asia; and hereby he proved how justly he had received from Jesus the surname Son of Thunder" (Dom Gueranger)

"I could point out the very spot where sat blessed Polycarp while he conversed with us; I could describe exactly his bearing, his address, his manner of life, his every feature, and the discourses he made to the crowd. Thou rememberest how he used to tell us of his intercourse with John [the Apostle] and the rest of those that had seen the Lord, and with what a faithful memory he repeated their words; what he had learnt from them respecting our Lord, his miracles, his doctrine, all these things Polycarp transmitted to us, as having himself received them from the very men that had beheld with their eyes the Word of life; all of what he told us was conformable to the Scriptures. What a grace from God were these conversations of his! I used to listen so eagerly, noting everything down, not on parchment, but on my heart; and now, by the grace of God, I still live on it all. Hence, I can attest before God, if the blessed apostolic old man [St. Polycarp] had heard [heretical] discourses ... He would have stopped his ears, saying, as was his wont: 'O God most good, to what sort of times hast thou reserved us!' Then would he have got up quickly, and would have fled from that place of blasphemy." [St. Irenaeus (disciple of St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Apostle), 2nd century A.D.]

"The Church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the Apostles, is one for all men; but the frantic folly of the diverse impious sects has cut them off from her. It cannot be denied that this tearing asunder of the faith has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read to confirm to its opinion, instead of adjusting its opinion to the meaning of what is read. However, while individual parties fight among themselves, the Church stands revealed not only by her own doctrines, but by those also of her adversaries. And although they are all ranged against her, she confutes the most wicked error which they all share, by the very fact that she is alone and one. All the heretics, therefore, come against the Church; but while all the heretics can conquer each other, they can win nothing for themselves. For their victory is the triumph of the Church over all of them. One heresy struggles against that teaching of another, which the faith of the Church has already condemned in the other heresy - for there is nothing which the heretics hold in common - and the result is that they affirm our faith while fighting among themselves." (St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, c. 356 A.D.) 

Do You Believe That No One Should Tell You What to Believe? 

Consider:

* Do you believe in private interpretation of the Bible? Click here

* If you shouldn't be told what to believe, why did Christ commission the Apostles and instruct them to teach all persons (see Mt. 28:19-20)? Why were those who didn't accept their teachings condemned (see Mt. 10:14)?

* If you shouldn't be told what to believe, why did Christ establish His Church, which Scripture calls "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tm. 3:15)? 

* If you shouldn't be told what to believe, why does Scripture make it clear that it is necessary to assent to certain truths to be saved?

* If no one should tell you what to believe, how do you know you won't believe in false doctrines that will eventually lead to your eternal damnation?

* Where does Scripture say you may believe as you like?

* Why do you deny the concept of objective truth in matters of religion in favor of your own personal beliefs? Do you also reject teachers in subjects such as math because you "don't want anyone to tell you what to think" or do you realize that they teach truths? Why then do you equate religious truths with mere opinion? 

* By rejecting instruction in matters of religion, you create for yourself a religion of "feeling". But truth is not determined by feelings. If you calculate 2+2=4, you have achieved truth, but it is unlikely to be accompanied by a special feeling. The fact that you don't "feel" the truth of 2+2=4 doesn't make it any less true, just as the fact that someone feels 2+2=5 is true doesn't make it true. Not all that "feels right" is necessarily right and not all that might "feel wrong" is necessarily wrong. In fact, remember that it probably "felt good" for Adam & Eve to take that forbidden fruit - and look where that got us! Also, where in Scripture does it say that an assessment of truth is based on feeling? Since when is true religion not based on objective truths?

* If you believe in "private interpretation", why is it you claim to have a "direct link to God" only in matters of religion? What about other matters of truth?

* A person is bound by God's moral laws - just as one is bound by the laws of nature (e.g. gravity) also authored by God - and this is true whether a person "believes" in them or not. Therefore, if one must be bound by moral laws, one must be told what these laws are!

* If no one is to tell you what you are to believe, in matters of religion you will necessarily believe error and falsehood. How is it that you think God, Truth itself, finds errors and falsehood acceptable? And, don't forget, "error has no right to exist"...

"Nothingness can have no rights since it has no existence. It is impossible for a thing which does not exist to have any rights. Therefore to attribute rights to a non-existent entity is an injustice. But what are you doing if you attribute rights to error except attributing them to a non-existent entity? It is enough to consider what truth and error are in order to understand this. Truth is found in the intellect in the measure in which the intellect is in exact conformity with reality. When the intellect has an idea which is not in conformity with reality, then we have an error. But what is really happening in such a case? I have in my mind the idea of something as if this thing formed part of the order of being. I attribute it rights in my mind, as if it were portion of the divine scheme of things. But it is not so in reality. In point of fact it is a baseless creation of my own mind. How can I take as the foundation of my life and of my actions a 'reality' which is no reality? What can be the outcome of such an aberration? Precisely what happens in the case of any structure raised without foundation. If I take as a basis for my life and action an idea of my own to which nothing real or objective corresponds the whole intellectual and social edifice I raise on that basis is of necessity bound to crumble. There can be no other solid foundation for action and life than an objective reality. This then is why truth alone has the right to exist in the individual and in the social order. From no point of view can error claim this right. When it gets a footing in a mind or among the multitude, it usurps rights not belonging to it, it is unjust. Evil is the privation of the being and goodness due to a thing. Now error is the specific evil of the intelligence, the privation of the grasp of the order of the world which the intelligence is meant to have. It is a malady to be cured, a disease to be healed, a cancer to be eradicated, not a perfection to be extolled and proclaimed worthy of respect... Our Lord came down to restore the Divine Life of Grace to the human race and to each individual in it. For this end He revealed truth to the world. This truth belongs to Him in virtue of His divine right and also in virtue of His work of redemption. If this truth belongs to Him and is given to the world by Him in a well-defined sense and for a very definite purpose, then to ruin or lessen it is to commit an injustice. It is to sacrifice the rights of Jesus Christ... Certainly there is no place for anything but truth." (Fahey) 


In Closing...

"[I]t is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888 A.D.)

"What, then, is this foolish cry about the slavery of dogma? How can Truth make men anything except more free? Unless a man is prepared to say that the scientist enslaves his intellect by telling him facts, he dare not say that the Church fetters his intellect by defining dogma." (Benson)

"Now the human intellect, in gaining the knowledge of such truths is hampered both by the activity of the senses and the imagination, and by evil passions arising from original sin. Hence men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe is false or at least doubtful. It is for this reason that divine revelation must be considered morally necessary so that those religious and moral truths which are not of their nature beyond the reach of reason in the present condition of the human race, may be known by all men readily with a firm certainty and with freedom from all error." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950 A.D.)

Do You Believe There is No Such Thing as Heresy? That All Beliefs Are Equal?

Consider:

* How can there be no such thing as heresy considering that Scripture speaks of heretics (that is, expounders of heresy)?

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (Ti. 3:10-11)

* How can all beliefs be equal when Scripture warns us repeatedly about error and false teaching?

"And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them." (Acts 20:30)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching." (Heb. 13:8-9)

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (2 Jn. 1:10-11)

"For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths." (2 Tm. 4:3-4)

"There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their licentious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled." (2 Pt. 2:1-2)

"But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." (Gal. 1:7-10)


Closing Quotations...

"There are not enough hours in the day for me to recite even the names of all the various sects of heretics." (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, 382 A.D.) 

"Even the heretics appear to have Christ, for none of them denies the name of Christ; yet anyone who does not confess all that pertains to Christ does in fact deny Christ." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church) 

"I exhort you, then, to leave alone the foreign fodder of heresy and keep entirely to Christian food... For heretics mingle poison with Jesus Christ, as men might administer a deadly drug in sweet wine...so that without thought or fear of the fatal sweetness a man drinks his own death." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, 2nd century A.D.)

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, when in His Gospel He testifies that those who not are with Him are His enemies, does not designate any special form of heresy, but declares that all heretics who are not with Him and do not gather with Him scatter His flock and are His adversaries: He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth" (St. Cyprian)

"Heretics brings sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this distinction to be made, that heresy involves perverse doctrine, schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, c. 386 A.D.)

"Therefore, heresy is so called from the Greek word meaning 'choice,' by which each chooses according to his own will what he pleases to teach or believe. But we are not permitted to believe whatever we choose, nor to choose whatever someone else has believed. We have the apostles of God as authorities, who did not themselves of their own will choose what they would believe, but faithfully transmitted to the nations the teaching received from Christ. So, even if an angel from heaven should preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema." (St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church, 7th century A.D.)

"And yet this same gentle and loving Saint [John the Evangelist] was the inflexible enemy of heresy; for heresy, by destroying Faith, poisons Charity in its very source. It is from this Apostle that the Church has received the maxim she gives to us, of shunning heresy as we would shun a plague: If any man come to you and bring not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into the house, nor say to him 'God speed thee', for he that saith unto him 'God speed thee', communicateth with his wicked works (Jn. 1:10-11). St. John having one day entered one of the public baths, he was no sooner informed that the heresiarch Cerinthus was in the same building, than he instantly left the place as though it were infected. The disciples of Cerinthus were indignant at this conduct of the Apostle, and endeavored to take away his life by putting poison into the cup from which he used to drink; but St. John having made the sign of the cross over the cup, a serpent was seen to issue from it, testifying both to the wickedness of his enemies and to the divinity of Christ, This apostolic firmness in resisting the enemies of the Faith made him the dread of the heretics of Asia; and hereby he proved how justly he had received from Jesus the surname Son of Thunder" (Dom Gueranger)

"The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavor than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. 'There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition'... The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. Epiphanius, Augustine, Theodoret, drew up a long list of the heresies of their times. St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. 'No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic' (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

What is Truth? / How is Truth Recognized?

Consider:

* The best way to recognize truth in matters of religion is to consider its source. If a doctrine traces back to Christ and the Apostles, it has to be true. 

* Scripture also tells us that the Catholic Church may be relied on for truth, even calling her "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tm. 3:15). Her teachings are protected by infallibility. Note: Try here for more information on infallibility.

* Further, one must recognize various truths regarding religious truth. For example, consider that...

* Religious truth is fixed and not relative or subjective.

* Religious truth does not require the assent of anyone to remain true. Even if the whole world rejected it, it would still be true.

* Religious truth is not negotiable.

* Religious truths cannot truly contradict one another.

* Religious truth differs from opinion and "feeling".

* Religious truth is not based on "what you want to hear".

* Religious truth arises from God, not man.

* Many people will dislike the truth (cf. 2 Pt. 2:2).

* Religious truth will be denied, but is still the truth (cf. 2 Tm 4:3-4).

* Religious truth is not subject to compromise.

* "Truth must, by necessity, exclude error."

* Religious truths are not determined by majority vote.

* "[T]he truth is not created or measured by man but is given to man as a gift by the supreme truth, God" (Pope John Paul II)


In Closing...

"We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit." (1 Jn. 4:6)

"Man's nature is such that truth tastes bitter and pleasant vices are esteemed." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Those who wage war against the truth are powerless to win; rather, they wound themselves, like those who kick against spikes." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"People hate the truth for the sake of whatever it is they love more than the truth. They love truth when it shines warmly on them, and hate it when it rebukes them." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"There is only one way of standing in the truth; many and various of not standing in it." [Origen ('the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity' - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"The order of time shows that that is divine and true which has been handed down from the beginning; that that is alien and false which has been added later. That is the prescription which disposes of all heresies started in later days - they can make no assured claim to the truth." [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he would ultimately fall into heresy), 3rd century A.D.]

"The Church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the Apostles, is one for all men; but the frantic folly of the diverse impious sects has cut them off from her. It cannot be denied that this tearing asunder of the faith has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read to confirm to its opinion, instead of adjusting its opinion to the meaning of what is read. However, while individual parties fight among themselves, the Church stands revealed not only by her own doctrines, but by those also of her adversaries. And although they are all ranged against her, she confutes the most wicked error which they all share, by the very fact that she is alone and one. All the heretics, therefore, come against the Church; but while all the heretics can conquer each other, they can win nothing for themselves. For their victory is the triumph of the Church over all of them. One heresy struggles against that teaching of another, which the faith of the Church has already condemned in the other heresy - for there is nothing which the heretics hold in common - and the result is that they affirm our faith while fighting among themselves." (St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, c. 356 A.D.)

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