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Chapter 1: Faith, Religious Assent, and Reverence for God

Question C: What Reasons Point to the Credibility of Catholic Faith?

There are good reasons, treated at length in books on apologetics intended to persuade nonbelievers, for judging Catholic faith credible. Here, space allows only a brief review, focusing on points which raise difficulties for many Catholics today.16

1. Reasons for Thinking That a Personal God Exists

A personal God is not only an uncaused cause, but a personal source of human beings’ lives, related to them somewhat as a parent to children.

a) It is reasonable to believe that there is a creator. Propositions about most things can be understood without knowing whether the things are real (and the propositions true). Such things, considered in themselves, might exist or not; they are contingent beings. If they do exist, one naturally wonders why. An explanation begins to emerge as one sees how they depend on other things within the world; however, these in turn depend on still other things, and so they do not bring the search for an explanation to an end. Hence, the reality of contingent beings will be without an adequate explanation unless they depend on something real which depends on nothing else: a noncontingent being. But it is reasonable to think that the existence of contingent beings has an adequate explanation, since the alternative—to think it has none—unnecessarily leaves their reality partially unaccounted for. Therefore, contingent beings depend for their reality on something noncontingent: a reality which can explain the existence of contingent beings without itself calling for something further to explain it. This noncontingent source of the existence of contingent beings is called the creator.

b) The creator must be unlike any contingent being. Whatever can be understood of any contingent being leaves open the possibility that what is understood either is or is not real. That possibility, however, cannot be left open with respect to what is true of the creator. Therefore, whatever can be understood of any contingent being cannot be true of the creator: the creator must be unlike any contingent being. One understands what it is for contingent things to change and what it is for them to be unchangeable; neither change nor changelessness in any sense true of contingent things can be true of the creator. One understands what it is for human beings to be both bodies and spirits; the creator can be neither a body nor a disembodied spirit.17 In sum, while contingent things point to a creator, what that creator is in himself remains unknown: “With regard to God, we cannot grasp what he is, but what he is not, and how other things are related to him” (S.c.g., 1.30).

c) It is reasonable to think of the creator as personal. Things one freely chooses to bring about might exist or not; that they do exist depends on one’s free choice. Similarly, contingent realities might exist or not, and that they do, depends on the creator. So, contingent beings depend on the creator somewhat as realities which come to be through human free choices depend on human agents. This suggests that the creator freely chooses to create certain contingent realities. But to act through choice presupposes the exercise of intelligence in view of a purpose. Therefore, although the creator must be entirely unlike a human being, one reasonably thinks of this source of contingent reality as an intelligently purposeful agent—a person.

d) It is reasonable to consider the creator a personal God. Their own intelligence directs human persons and communities toward fulfillment through freely chosen actions. But the realization of their hopes always depends on factors beyond human agents’ control. Thus, when they enjoy something of what they hoped for, this fruit of their effort depends entirely on the creator, and only partly on themselves. Moreover, while human intelligence is like other contingent realities in having its existence from the creator, in another and special way it points to a directive intelligence prior to itself. For human reasoning has practical principles by which one is alive to the various aspects of human fulfillment: life and health, esthetic experience and excellent performance, knowledge, marriage and children, and various forms of harmony or peace within oneself and with others (see CMP, 5.D; below, 9.A.1.j). These practical principles underlie all human interests in what is true, good, and beautiful. Unlike personal choices and the laws of society, people do not originate these principles; rather, they naturally come to know them, and so are endowed with them by the creator. Thus, human existence depends on the creator not only for its fulfillment but even for the principles underlying every possible plan for attaining that fulfillment.18

So, it is reasonable to think of the creator as a personal source of human existence who guides and cares for humankind, like the human parents to whom gratitude and reverence are due. Being due special gratitude and reverence, such a personal source of existence is a personal God: the mysterious Other to whom religious feeling and activity are directed.19

2. Reasons for Hoping and Expecting That God Might Reveal Himself

Those who work together in any way communicate personally with one another, especially when things are not going well. Children reach out to their parents for help and expect a personal response. Similarly, human beings, aware that they can attain no good except by cooperating with God, reasonably expect some personal communication from him, because several things make them aware of their need for it.

a) Human beings are aware that they are at odds with God. People are well aware that they sometimes act unreasonably, and do not perfectly follow the direction which, coming from God, is provided by the starting points of practical reasoning. Also, when their plans do not work out as they anticipate, they are not always ready to say, “God’s will be done,” but often look for ways to use God. So, human beings naturally do not expect God to be pleased with them. They realize that they are sinful and need his forgiveness, guidance, and strength to overcome their sins.

b) Human beings need help to deal with other evils. People quickly learn by experience that they cannot always overcome the wickedness of others—and often could overcome it only by wicked deeds of their own. Moreover, no human efforts are adequate to surmount natural disasters, such as accidents, disease, and death. Human beings need to become free of such evils, to be saved from them. Only God can help; one naturally calls on him.

c) Human beings wonder what awaits them after death. Human experience teaches that moral goodness and personal fulfillment in other goods do not always go together. In this world, indeed, moral goodness often leads to grief, and justice often is not done. Thus, life does not make complete sense if death simply ends it (see GS 18). Moreover, the specifically human activities of intellectual inquiry and free choice suggest that the human person is more than the body, which will suffer dissolution. So, death seems inappropriate for human persons, and it is hard for people to believe that they and everyone they love will simply cease to exist.20 Thus, most human beings anticipate some sort of life after death and wish to know how to prepare for it. They think God could tell them.

3. Reasons for Believing That God Has Spoken

While not all religions claim that God personally reveals himself, the biblical religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), which hold that the world was created from nothing, claim that God personally communicated with Abraham, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, and others. This claim must be considered in the light of the reasons, already outlined, for thinking a personal God exists, and for hoping and expecting that he might reveal himself. Such a consideration leads to several lines of reasoning which converge to support the claim of the biblical religions that God has spoken.

a) The biblical religions offer a sound account of God. Some religions think of the divine as impersonal, and some identify it with the world. Others propose a god or multitude of gods and goddesses so like humans that their existence, too, needs explaining. The biblical religions offer a description of God which adds to but does not contradict what reason can establish: that there is a creator who must be thought of as personal, but who is radically unlike a human person.

b) The biblical religions offer a sound account of human persons. Many religions propose a defective account of the human person. They have no place for freedom of choice, or they denigrate and try to set aside the bodily dimension of the human person. But the biblical religions say that God makes man and woman, who are complementary bodily persons, in his own image and likeness. This account is compatible with the facts that human persons are unities of body and spirit, are endowed with free choice, and, though irreducibly individual, can be fulfilled only in communion. For that reason, most who profess some form of biblical religion accept these facts about human persons, while most who hold a world view not grounded on divine revelation deny one or more, although all can be known by reason even without the light of faith.

c) Biblical religion is true humanism. Nonbiblical religions are genuine religions insofar as they propose ways of seeking communion with God (or “the gods”). Everything true and holy in each such religion is to be valued (see NA 2). But the darker side cannot be ignored. Some religions make immoral demands (for example, by requiring human sacrifice), support unjust social structures (for example, by rationalizing a caste system), discourage people from struggling against evil (for example, by enjoining apathy), or aggravate human conflicts (for instance, by providing religious grounds for antagonism to certain kinds of people). While these evils also can infect the biblical religions as aberrations, none is characteristic of biblical religion. The writings contained in the Hebrew bible never debase the human person, but teach men and women their dignity and call them to integral fulfillment.

d) The biblical religions forestall a problem of modern thought. Various kinds of existentialism, seeking to preserve personal creativity, make meaning and value wholly subjective; Marxism and other evolutionist theories, locating the source of meaning and value in laws of nature and/or history, exclude free choice. In teaching that God is both the world’s provident Lord and its transcendent cause, the biblical religions forestall this modern antithesis between moral objectivity and creative free choice. Against subjectivism, which easily turns into a nihilistic claim that life is meaningless, they teach that meaning and value are grounded in God’s wisdom and love. Against determinism, they teach that humans can choose freely whether (and in some respects how) to cooperate with God. Moreover, since God is a transcendent cause, his creative causality can account for the reality of free choices without replacing them and explaining them away.21

e) Biblical religion responds to human hopes and expectations. In teaching that human persons must repent and oppose evil, but that evil can in the end be overcome only by God, the biblical religions take evil seriously and hold out hope for liberation from it. Genesis and Exodus illuminate the sinful human situation and make it clear that God is ready to intervene on behalf of those who call on him and trust him. Throughout Israel’s history, God shows himself merciful and faithful. He also demands mercy and faithfulness of his people, and promises blessings on those who respond. The initial hope of God’s people for liberation from their oppression in Egypt gradually develops into hope for complete salvation: a new and lasting covenant, open to all humankind, by which human misery will be healed, strife among peoples surmounted, and even death overcome.22 Thus, the revelation claimed in common by all the biblical religions corresponds to the hopes and expectations, outlined above, that God might reveal himself.

f) The biblical religions claim that God has worked miracles. The biblical religions claim that miracles—“signs,” “God’s marvelous deeds”—point to God’s self-revelation.23 Some nonbelievers argue that the claim that God has worked miracles undercuts faith in revelation instead of supporting it, for they challenge the very idea of a miracle, which they define as a violation of the laws of nature. However, miracles need not violate natural laws, for God can supplement natural causal factors without violating them.24 Indeed, he must do that if he is to reveal himself, for, as creator of everything whatsoever, his personal communication will stand out from his constant creative work only if he brings about extraordinary occurrences to serve as signals. Miracles are such occurrences; they can be explained reasonably only as signs from God.25

g) The claim that God has worked miracles is credible. The Scriptures accepted by all the biblical religions in common narrate the history of a remarkable people who actually existed and had an impact on surrounding peoples. If all the miracles narrated in those Scriptures are regarded as unhistorical, what is left of that people’s history becomes extremely difficult to understand and explain. Thus, the claim that God revealed himself and performed mighty deeds on behalf of that people is credible. Moreover, miracles still occur—for example, at Lourdes—while committed nonbelievers can only say: “Those strange events probably will be explained one day.”26

4. Reasons for Believing that God Has Spoken in Jesus

The reasons for accepting the common claim of the biblical religions—that God has spoken—are reasons for preferring the Christian gospel to any view which simply rejects revelation. But the Christian gospel also proclaims that the self-revelation which God began by speaking to Abraham and others is completed in Jesus’ life, teaching, death, and resurrection. There are several reasons for accepting this specifically Christian claim, too.

a) Jesus fulfills the promises of the Old Testament. Jesus’ apostles and their associates, the source of the writings included in the New Testament, outline the case for this point, and later ancient Christian writers fully develop it. Considered by themselves, Jesus’ life and teaching constitute a remarkably unified whole. Considered in the context of Old Testament expectations, they are a satisfying climax to the story of God’s people; without this climax, the story seems truncated. Jesus fulfills the Old Testament by completing the development begun by the Hebrew prophets, who looked toward the communion of all humankind in a new and lasting covenant with God.27

b) The gospel responds very well to human needs and hopes. More than any other ideology or religion—more than the other biblical religions—the Christian message of liberation and reconciliation realistically addresses the human situation and offers hope.28 Jesus reveals God as the Father both of prodigal children and of a sinless Son who dies, seemingly forsaken, but is raised from the dead. The gospel proposes an ideal of a just and peaceful communion of all men and women, and provides confidence that evil need not triumph and can be overcome (see AG 8; GS 21–22, 41).

Insofar as overcoming evil depends on human effort, Jesus began the work, and the gospel tells those who believe in him to carry it on. In calling others to follow him, Jesus offers every human person, not some sort of demeaning way to avoid responsibility, but a noble role: an opportunity to live a worthwhile life and serve others. Therefore, more than any other ideology or religion, more than the other biblical religions, the Christian message of liberation and reconciliation realistically addresses the human situation and offers hope.

c) The Church herself is a sign of the gospel’s truth. Confronted with the apostolic preaching of the gospel, a Jewish leader argued against trying to use force to suppress it: “If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5.38–39). That argument remains cogent for anyone who accepts the Old Testament and believes in God’s providence. The argument set forth two possibilities; history shows which came to pass. For, even though the Christian Church throughout her history has suffered from tensions and divisions, she has remained recognizable as Jesus’ body and bride.29 The gospel’s truth is manifest in the power by which missionaries’ preaching and witness spread it through the world despite savage persecution. In her first few centuries, without using force and violence, the Church assimilated various cultures and transformed people’s lives. Despite her sinful members, including some corrupt leaders and heretical theologians, the Church, unlike any merely human society, has survived two millennia in diverse historical situations (see DS 3013/1794). Moreover, unlike any nonbiblical religious community and the communities of the other biblical religions, the Church unites particular churches and congregations spread around the whole world and inculturated in many diverse forms. This remarkable unity is not sustained by any common political power or social interest, but only by the same faith, sacraments, and hope for the kingdom.

d) The witness of Jesus’ followers indicates the gospel’s truth. If what Christianity adds to the Old Testament were false, the way of Jesus would be contrary to God’s revelation and to all true religion. Yet that way is at least as clearly a way of holiness as the way marked out in the Old Testament. For while the way of the Lord Jesus which the Church teaches is not easy and more people profess than practice it, many do live it splendidly, thus showing that Jesus lives in his Church and through her gives his followers the Holy Spirit’s power. Even nonbelievers admire famous saints such as Francis of Assisi, Thomas More, Vincent de Paul, and Thérèse of Lisieux. But every Christian who renounces wealth, enjoyment, and status for a dedicated life of service makes Jesus’ kingdom visible in this broken and suffering world.30 And even those who fall short of putting belief into practice can bear witness to the truth of their faith by acknowledging themselves to be the sinners they are.

5. Why One Should Confess Christian Faith as a Catholic

Although God’s revelation in Jesus is present wherever there is Christian faith, Christians are divided, and their disagreements extend to matters they consider essential to the integrity of Jesus’ teaching and way of life. Yet Jesus promised to remain with his Church forever and to send his Spirit to teach her all truth (see Mt 28.20, Jn 16.12–15). So, despite the divisions among Christians, somewhere Christian faith must remain available in its integrity. The Catholic Church claims that she alone integrally preserves and hands on Christian faith. This claim is supported by the following line of thought.

a) A divine gift ensures the gospel’s integrity. God’s revelation in Jesus is given for people of all times and places, for all are called to share in the heavenly communion of divine and human persons which centers on Jesus. The fact that there is disagreement about essentials, nevertheless, makes it clear that particular Christians and groups of Christians can lose their hold on parts of the gospel while also confusing what belongs to it with what does not. In the absence of a special gift ensuring the gospel’s integrity, revelation would become less and less available in the world. So, despite their differences, Christians agree that there is such a gift: the Lord Jesus does remain present in the Church, and the Spirit keeps intact Jesus’ whole teaching and way of life (see Mt 28.18–20; Jn 14.15–21, 16.12–15). Where this gift is to be found is the issue on which Christians disagree.

b) This divine gift belongs to the faith community as a whole. Since particular Christians and groups of Christians can make mistakes in essential matters, the gospel can exist intact only in something common to all. Plainly, however, the whole of the gospel cannot be found in the bare minimum on which all Christians agree (the least common denominator of their faith), because they agree that they differ about essentials. It follows that the gospel in its integrity can exist in Jesus’ Church as a whole only insofar as she is a whole by being a single, unified society. The divine gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity must somehow belong to that social whole.

c) This divine gift which belongs to Jesus’ Church is not the Bible. One reality which belongs to Jesus’ Church as a social whole is the Bible (see DV 10). But although the Bible contains and presents what God wishes to reveal (see DV 11), it does not precisely contain revelation. For revelation is personal communication; as such, it is fully realized only in being received and remembered, appropriated and lived, and so cannot exist apart from the faith of believers.

Since the inspired books of the Bible include no table of contents for the whole Bible, Christians’ common belief that certain books are inspired plainly has an extrabiblical ground in the Church’s faith. Moreover, the idea that it is a matter of faith that all truths of faith are contained in the Bible is self-refuting, since there is no such claim in the Bible.

At first, God’s revelation in Jesus lived in the minds and hearts of his disciples, and Jesus commissioned the apostles to preach it to others; only later did the faith of the early Church find expression in the writings which make up the New Testament.31 Today, too, this revelation can exist only in the faith received and handed on by Christians, and the Bible can be interpreted rightly only in the light of their faith.

d) This gift must be operative in official acts of the Church. The integrity of the gospel is in the faith of Jesus’ Church. Faith is present in each member of the Church, in each particular church, and in the universal Church as a whole. However, the faith of the Church as such can only be discerned in acts proper to the Church. And as the only acts proper to any human community are its official acts—those done by members of the community fulfilling their responsibilities as members—the Church’s faith and teaching, as distinct from members’ personal faith and pastors’ personal teaching, can only be found in the Church’s official acts, that is, in acts of faith and teaching proclaimed as expressing the faith of the Church as a social whole.

e) It must be operative in new acts as well as in traditional ones. Despite the divisions and separations from which Jesus’ Church suffers, she still receives, proclaims, and hands on certain acts of faith which originated with the apostles and received normative expression in the early ecumenical councils. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians believe their churches share by their official professions of faith in the living tradition of these acts of faith, and in doing so enjoy the gift of certain truth which the Lord Jesus wished his Church to enjoy.

These Christian churches are divided, however, not only from one another but internally, on matters they consider essential. Traditional professions of faith evidently cannot resolve the issues. To do so, therefore, new official acts are required, and no resolution can be accepted with faith unless it enjoys the gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity. Thus, this gift must be operative, not only in traditional official acts of professing Christian faith, but in new acts of safeguarding and explaining that same faith, so that it will continue intact in its living tradition. The New Testament narrates one such official act, when the apostles and elders announced the resolution of a controversy: “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15.28). Today, too, the divine gift which guarantees the gospel’s integrity must be operative in official Church acts, including new ones resolving controversies.

f) The Catholic Church exercises this divine gift. Today, only the Catholic Church still claims to initiate such acts. She claims that the risen Lord Jesus authorized the apostles under Peter’s leadership to preserve and spread the gospel to all humankind, that the pope and the other bishops in communion with him are the successors of Peter and the other apostles, that these successors still carry out Jesus’ mandate to teach in his name—and, therefore, that in teaching officially on matters of faith and morals the pope and other bishops in communion with him can make decisive judgments with the infallibility which Jesus willed his Church to enjoy. (Infallibility in this context refers precisely to the gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity; see CMP, 35.A and D.)

Of course, Christians who are not members of the Catholic Church deny that this argument establishes her unique claim, but nothing in Scripture falsifies it and some things in the New Testament support it.32 Moreover, the divine gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity must still operate somewhere, and it is only to be expected that those among whom it is operative should call attention to it. So, it is reasonable to accept the Catholic Church’s claim, precisely because it is unique.

g) This gift is operative only in certain teaching acts. Only in certain of their acts do the pope and the bishops in communion with him teach in such a way that what they say is the teaching of the Catholic Church as a whole. Among these are acts by which they explicitly provide normative expressions of the Church’s faith: solemn definitions on matters of faith or morals, either by the pope alone or by a council of the pope and the bishops in communion with him. But the day-to-day teaching of popes and bishops also can be recognized as the whole Catholic Church’s teaching when three conditions are met: (i) the pope and the bishops in communion with him agree in the same position (ii) on some point of faith or morals and (iii) propose that position as divinely revealed, or as a truth which must be held as absolutely certain because it is required to safeguard and explain what is revealed.33 The Catholic Church claims that the gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity is operative in these two kinds of teaching acts: solemn definitions and other teaching acts which meet the three conditions (see DS 3011/1792; LG 25).

h) Christian faith is to be found intact in the Catholic Church. Since the divine gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity is operative in the Catholic Church’s official teaching acts, Christian faith is to be found whole and intact in the Catholic Church’s faith. Thus, the Catholic Church holds, as it were in trust for every Christian and for all humankind, a precious principle of Christian communion: the integral deposit of faith, the whole revelation which God entrusted to Jesus, the complete Christian gospel (see 2 Tm 1.13–14; cf. UR 6; DV 10; GS 33, 62). Since that gospel is precisely what each Catholic as a Christian believes, Catholics reasonably accept the Catholic Church’s faith as the norm of their personal faith.

It might be objected that the Church herself teaches that the supreme rule of faith is constituted by the inspired Scriptures together with sacred tradition (see DV 21). Does it not therefore follow that Scripture and tradition, not the Church’s faith, should be accepted as the norm of one’s personal faith? Tradition, however, is the Church’s faith considered insofar as the Church exists throughout the generations, while Scripture, a privileged expression of that same faith, can be rightly understood only in the light of tradition (see DV 7–9).34

i) Christians who are not Catholics enjoy the gift of faith. God’s revelation in Jesus also is present, although not integrally, in the faith of members of Christian churches and communions separated from the Catholic Church. Much else which enlivens and builds up Jesus’ Church can also be found outside the Catholic Church’s visible boundaries. The divisions among Christians are not total, and all who believe in Jesus and are properly baptized are truly Christians, living in a certain real, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church (see UR 3).35

j) The Catholic Church admittedly is not perfect. It might be objected: Catholics have contributed to the divisions in Jesus’ body, and the Catholic Church herself, as a human institution, must always be reformed, due to deficiencies not only in moral conduct and Church discipline but even in some formulations of teaching. All this is true (see UR 6). But deficiencies in moral conduct and Church discipline do not detract from the integrity of faith, while even deficiencies in the formulation of teaching either do not constitute erroneous teaching or, if they do, are present only in acts other than those described above (in g). The Catholic Church experiences human weakness and imperfection, but her faith remains whole because of the divine gift which ensures it.

k) The Catholic Church is not trying to usurp divine prerogatives. The pope and the bishops in communion with him believe that Jesus commissioned them to serve God’s word by applying the rule of faith—namely, Scripture and tradition—and that he promised (and so surely provides) everything they need to carry out this service. They do not claim that the Church as a merely human institution possesses the gift which ensures the gospel’s integrity, as if she had it under her control, but that the divine gift is operative in the Church, because she is enlivened and taught by the Holy Spirit, whom the Father and the Lord Jesus sent for this very purpose.

Nor do they claim that the divine gift belongs to them as private individuals or that it is operative in all their acts. Rather, they claim that when their official acts (under the specified conditions) manifest the Church’s faith, those acts are guaranteed by the infallibility with which Jesus willed his Church to be endowed (see DS 3074/1839; LG 12, 25; DV 8).36 In other words, the pope and the bishops in communion with him claim that when they do precisely what Jesus commissioned them to do, then they act in cooperation with him, so that “whoever hears them, hears Christ” (LG 20); they hold that such a cooperative act has the more-than-human characteristic of infallibility, not because it is theirs but because it also and at the same time is Jesus’.

16. In addition to the works which will be mentioned in subsequent notes, the following are helpful for apologetics: St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, trans. Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B. (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1989); E. L. Mascall, The Secularization of Christianity: An Analysis and a Critique (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966); Thomas Dubay, S.M., Faith and Certitude (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985); William G. Most, Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1986); Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988). For a fuller treatment of many of the philosophical points covered briefly here, see Germain Grisez, Beyond the New Theism: A Philosophy of Religion (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975). Also see John Henry Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1973); Richard L. Purtill, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1974).

17. This is not to deny the Church’s teaching, based on Scripture, that God is an unchangeable spiritual substance (see DS 3001/1782), but to insist that nothing is truly said univocally of God and creature. A detailed treatment of how talk about God is meaningful: Grisez, Beyond the New Theism, 230–72.

18. A fuller development of the argument of this paragraph: Germain Grisez, Joseph Boyle, and John Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” American Journal of Jurisprudence 32 (1987): 141–46.

19. For the point that human beings precisely in being created are personally related to their creator as God, see John Paul II, General Audience (13 Dec. 1978), Inseg. 1 (1978) 333–36, OR, 21 Dec. 1978, 1, 12; General Audience (2 Jan. 1980), 4, Inseg. 3.1 (1980) 14–15, OR, 7 Jan. 1980, 3.

20. On the irreducibility of mind to physical entities and processes, see Stanley L. Jaki, Brain, Mind and Computers (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969); Mortimer J. Adler, The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967); idem, Intellect: Mind Over Matter (New York: Macmillan, 1990); Benedict M. Ashley, O.P., Theologies of the Body: Humanist and Christian (Braintree, Mass.: The Pope John Center, 1985), 307–32.

21. See S.t., 1, q. 19, a. 8; q. 22, a. 2; John Paul II, General Audience (7 May 1986), 7–8, Inseg. 9.1 (1986) 1255–56, OR, 12 May 1986, 1.

22. On covenant, see CMP, 21.B–D; on the overcoming of strife, Is 9.4–7, 11.6–9; on the hope of life overcoming death, Dn 12.2; 2 Mc 7.9, 11, 23; 14.46.

23. On miracles see C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (New York: Macmillan, 1947); Robert D. Smith, Comparative Miracles (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1965); Louis Monden, S.J., Signs and Wonders: A Study of the Miraculous Element in Religion (New York: Desclée, 1966).

24. Someone might object: God cannot supplement natural causal factors without making exceptions to, and so violating, laws of nature. This objection, however, assumes that the universe is a fully determined system. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many philosophers and scientists held that view, but hardly anyone does today. It would exclude free choice as well as miracles. Concerning it, see Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., Germain Grisez, and Olaf Tollefsen, Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976), 57–66.

25. A sound Catholic fundamental theology cannot claim that miracles are only incidental and dispensable: see DS 3034/1813; cf. LG 5; DV 4, 19; DH 11. Also see Grisez, Beyond the New Theism, 326–42; René Latourelle, The Miracles of Jesus and the Theology of Miracles (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).

26. On Lourdes see Patrick Marnham, Lourdes: A Modern Pilgrimage (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1981). Lourdes is cited here as an example not only because it is well known but because purported miracles there are investigated and carefully authenticated. Miracles also no doubt continue among all people who believe in genuine divine revelation—Jews, Christians separated from the Catholic Church, and Moslems.

27. This argument presupposes the reliability of the Gospels; for a scholarly defense of that presupposition, see René Latourelle, Finding Jesus through the Gospels: History and Hermeneutics (Staten Island, N.Y.: Alba House, 1979).

28. The development of the liberation theme in the Old and New Testaments is treated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, 43–57, AAS 79 (1987) 571–78, OR, 14 Apr. 1986, 4–5; cf. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Freedom and Liberation: The Anthropological Vision of the Instruction ‘Libertatis conscientia,’ ” Communio 14 (Spring 1987): 64–69.

29. See Pius X, Editae saepe, AAS 2 (1910) 361–62, PE, 176.7–8; Pius XI, Ad salutem, AAS 22 (1930) 211, PE, 207.15.

30. See René Latourelle, S.J., Christ and the Church: Signs of Salvation, trans. Sr. Dominic Parker (New York: Alba House, 1972). Taking and fulfilling the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience thus is an important sign of the kingdom; see LG 44, PC 12–14.

31. See DV 7, 18–19; Pontifical Biblical Commission, Instruction Concerning the Historical Truth of the Gospels, AAS 56 (1964) 712–18, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 26 (1964): 299–312.

32. By studying the New Testament, Heinrich Schlier, an eminent Protestant Scripture scholar, was convinced of the soundness of the Catholic Church’s claim; see his “A Brief Apologia,” in We Are Now Catholics, ed. Karl Hardt, S.J., trans. Norman C. Reeves (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1959), 187–215.

33. On these conditions, see John C. Ford, S.J., and Germain Grisez, “Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium,” Theological Studies 39 (1978): 263–77; for a defense of this interpretation of LG 25: Germain Grisez, “Infallibility and Specific Moral Norms: A Review Discussion,” Thomist 49 (1985): 248-87.

34. The Catholic Church herself bears witness to the divine authority of the Scriptures: “Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture teach truth firmly, faithfully, and without error—truth which God for the sake of our salvation wished to consign to the sacred writings [note omitted]” (DV 11). The Latin of DV 11 does not require that the phrase, “truth which . . .,” be taken as restricting the truths God consigns to Scripture to some subset of the propositions asserted by the sacred writers, and the records of the conciliar commission responsible for Dei Verbum (see CMP, 35, n. 17) exclude the restrictive interpretation.

35. Because the Church is the unique new covenant community, outside her there is no salvation, as Lateran IV solemnly teaches: “There is but one universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved” (DS 802/430). Vatican II reaffirms this definitive teaching (see LG 14, AG 7). But it must be rightly understood. Already in 1863, Pius IX, while absolutely rejecting indifferentism, teaches (as something taken for granted by both himself and the bishops) that those who are ready to submit to God but are separated from the true faith and Catholic unity by invincible ignorance can receive God’s grace, live uprightly, and be saved (see Quanto conficiamur moerore, Pii IX Pontificis maximi acta, 3.1 [Rome: 1868], 612–14 [DS 2865–67/1677]; PE, 60.6–8). Also, in a 1949 decree approved by Pius XII, the Holy Office rejected a more restrictive interpretation (see DS 3866–73/—). What is new in Vatican II’s teaching is the clarification that, although the one and only Church subsists in the Catholic Church (see LG 8, UR 4, DH 1), she also embraces in various ways all who “sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience [note omitted]” (LG 16; cf. GS 22). (On the meaning of Vatican II’s “subsists in,” see James T. O’Connor, “The Church of Christ and the Catholic Church,” in Faith and the Sources of Faith: Proceedings of the Sixth Convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, ed. Paul L. Williams [Scranton, Pa.: Northeast Books, 1985], 41–57.) Thus, it remains true that there is no salvation outside the Church, but it is now recognized that those who are in good faith in not wishing to be inside the Catholic Church are not entirely outside her (see UR 3; CMP, 30.2). In view of every Christian’s real communion with the Catholic Church, two propositions in the preceding argument which render it paradoxical actually are compatible: (i) the gift of infallibility which ensures the gospel’s integrity belongs to Jesus’ Church as a social whole, and (ii) only the Catholic Church’s pastoral leaders claim to be able to initiate official teaching acts which can resolve controversies.

36. See The Gift of Infallibility: The Official Relatio on Infallibility of Bishop Vincent Gasser at Vatican Council I, trans. James T. O’Connor, with commentary and a theological synthesis on infallibility (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1986).