Fidelity to the Truth
Who doesn’t remember the action-packed first Indiana Jones movie – “Raiders of the Lost
Ark”- that delighted adventure- and archeology-lovers in the early ‘80’s? To find the Ark of the Covenant – the most sacred object in the ancient world – did certainly attract the attention of millions who were – and still are – puzzled about its loss in the Old Testament. The first Indiana Jones movie certainly did a great deal to re-awaken the curiosity and desire among many to know what happened to the mysterious Ark.
The challenging tune chosen for the movie (especially the trumpets, I suggest) added a touch of enthusiasm second to none in the search and find the missing Ark.
I saw the movie for the third time in the mid-nineties, in New Zealand. Of course, I knew that it was entirely fiction, and yet it gave me the idea of revitalizing the search for a lost ART – the lost Art of Catholic Apologetics ‘down under’. That is, thinking with clarity about the objective Truth, putting logic at the service of the Catholic Faith in a culture soaked with relativism.
A few years ago I started a series in the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States, The Wanderer. Now it is time to go worldwide online especially to Europe and… Russia!
A number of friends who love the Catholic Church have shared a gentle – but deeply felt complaint – that in their parishes there is virtually nothing to help them learn the Faith in order to defend it. Some of them have asked me to present articles more specifically destined to train new apologists in the mission to defend the Faith. A kind of training course, as it were.
Therefore, I undertook to write a series of articles in Catholic Today in order to encourage as many Catholics as possible to take up the banner of Apologetics and join us in the fray. Therefore, to meet their request, today I start a series titled Raiders of the Lost Art – the art of putting logic at the service of the Faith, which is the very work of Catholic Apologetics..
So we begin by defining the word: Apologetics is the art of presenting the truths of the Faith in a logical and well-reasoned manner. The concept of ‘apologetics’ is taken from the first Epistle of St Peter (3:1):
“Sanctify always the Lord Jesus Christ in your hearts being ready always to satisfy everyone that ask you a reason (or defense, in other translations) of that hope that is in you. But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience; that whereas they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ”.
Thus, ‘apologetics’ is taken from the Greek word ‘apologia’ to mean ‘reason’ or ‘defense’. From St Peter’s teaching we can distinguish four basic elements in Apologetics:
- To sanctify the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts – to live in His presence – do everything out of love for Him.
- Satisfy everyone with a reason – that presupposes that you must know the reason, you must know how to present the reason, and you must know how to think with clarity.
- With modesty and fear, having a good conscience – that presupposes a good mental balance, sanity, clear sense of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error, order and disorder.
- Have good conversation in Christ presupposes knowledge of Christ’s ways of thinking – His Mind and the ability to converse with others in His presence.
It’s a whole program in itself!
It all boils down to the evangelical simplicity and clarity: ‘Yes, yes; no, no’ … ‘ He who is not with Me is against Me’ … ‘He who does not gather together with Me, scatters abroad ’ .. ‘Go and preach to all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. He who believes and is baptized, will be saved. He who does not believe, will be condemned.’
Consequently, unity in the truth is a fundamental prerequisite of every good Christian mind, as St Paul points it out to us: “Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, that there be no schisms among you; that you be perfect in the same mind and the same judgment” – (1 Cor 1:10).
Thus, Catholic Apologetics from a biblical perspective excludes the concept of pluralism of religion, as if it did not matter what you believe, as long as you are nice to other people. St Paul emphasizes the importance of having ‘One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism’ (Eph. 4:5).
In other words, to have and keep unity in the truth. Go and evangelize, Jesus said, not go and ecumenize. Ecumenical dialogue is only a means to an end, which is the conversion of all men to Jesus Christ in the Church founded by Him.
Let us hear Pope John Paul II, in his 1981 allocution to the Spanish youth: “Learn to think, speak and act in accordance with the evangelical simplicity and clarity: yes, yes; no, no. Learn to call while, white; and black, black. To call evil, evil, and good, good; to call sin, sin and not to call it ‘progress’ or ‘liberation; even if fashion and propaganda are opposed to it.”…
Therefore, we are called to know the Mind of Christ, to think in accordance with the Mind of Christ, to act as Christ would expect us to act. To do this, from the purely natural point of view, we must endeavor to learn His thoughts and his ways, that is, to ensure that we perceive reality as it is, not as we would like it to be; that we distinguish truth from error with the utmost clarity, and choose good instead of evil with firmness.
Truth and Certitude – How do you know that something is true?
During His Passion Our Lord told Pilate that He had come into the world to “give testimony to the truth” (John 18: 38). Pilate seemed to have been what we call a skeptic – a person who doubts that we can ever know the truth; for he asked Our Savior: “What is truth?” as if to say: “I’ve never met anyone who knew what truth is: and I don’t think that you do either.” He did not wait to hear the answer.
There are many Pilates in the world today. So we have to answer his question for them. We have to be able to tell them what truth is, and prove that we know it. More still, we have to show them by our example not that we possess the truth, but that the Truth possesses us: we serve the Truth.
What is Truth?
If you think that there is a place called Mount Rushmore, your thought is true, because Mount Rushmore does really exist. If, on the contrary, you think that there is no such a Mount, your thought is not true. Why? Simply because it does not square with reality. It does not agree with what reality actually is. Because if there is no Mount Rushmore, no amount of belief in the mind of one affirms its existence will ever make it exist. Conversely, if there is a Mount Rushmore, no amount of disbelief in the mind of one who denies its existence will ever make it pop out of existence. As simple as that.
Likewise, if you think that a man is not a donkey – even though some degree of confusion may be found in certain liberal political circles, but that is beside the point – your thought is again true, because a man is not, in fact, a donkey. However, if you sincerely believe that a man is a donkey, then you are sincerely wrong. Or nuts. And so on, and so forth.
What is Truth, then? It is simply the agreement of our mind with reality. Please remember this simple definition: Truth is the agreement of our mind with reality.
If our ideas agree with reality, they are true. They do not agree with reality, they are false. Reality calls the shots, it is the guide, not our fancies, preferences or whims.
How do we get to know the truth? By four different ways:
1) By our personal experiences
2) By reasoning;
3) By merely understanding a truth;
4) By accepting the truth on the authority of another.
Next article: How do we get to know the Truth?
Raymond de Souza KM is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Please email SacredHeartMedia@Outlook.com or visit www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.