Splendor of Truth - What We Believe



Is it possible to know God? (CCC 27-43)

Yes. St. Paul in the letter to the Romans states very clearly: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:19-20). We are able to know both that God exists and some of His divine attributes by observing the world and ourselves. By observing the world and the spiritual nature of man, we can see clearly that there must be a divine, uncreated and perfect Being to bring them about. These truths about God can be known through human reason alone. In fact, the Church states that we can know with certainty the existence of God. Through reasonable and credible “proofs,” each man is obligated to acknowledge the existence of God and some of His specific attributes (unchangeable, uncreated, pure spirit, infinite, etc).

Does God want me to know Him? (CCC 50-65)

Yes. He created the world and gifted us with intelligence in order that we would have the capacity to know Him. Not only does creation itself reveal Him, but He went even further. From the beginning of man’s existence, God chose to speak to men and reveal Himself to us. This choice was free and not done out of need or selfish desire. Creation reveals His power and greatness, but God wanted us to know His love, for our benefit, not His. In order that we could know Him fully, God lived among us (Jesus) and now, through the Holy Spirit, lives in us. By sinning, we severed our relationship with Him, but He has worked since the beginning of time to restore us, in order that we are able to know and love Him again with full clarity and understanding.

How do I know what God has revealed to man? (CCC 74-94)

The two sources of Divine Revelation (those things God has chosen to reveal to man) are Scripture and Tradition. Divine Revelation is knowledge we cannot come to on our own through simple reason; instead it must be revealed to us by God Himself. Scripture is the “speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum 9). In other words, it is the written word of God (the Bible). Tradition is the living transmission that has been passed down from the Apostles to their successors, the Bishops. Some people refer to this as the oral part of God’s revealed world. However, much of this oral transmission has also been written down and recorded. To help explain: When St. Paul went to various cities, he would live there for a time, teaching them the truths and the way of the Christian faith. Everything he taught them can be referred to as Tradition. The proceeding Bishops then passed this same knowledge down the line to their successors. After Paul left however, he often wrote letters to these same communities, instructing them further in matters of the faith. Usually, they were letters that addressed problems the communities were having in matters of the faith, both in practice and belief. These letters later became Sacred Scripture (Letter to the Romans, Corinthians, etc).

Who decides what Scripture and Tradition really mean? (CCC 85-90)

Only the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has the right and responsibility to interpret Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium consists of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. This is a gift for us from Christ. Before Christ left earth, He breathed the Holy Spirit onto His Apostles in a special way, giving them the power to forgive sins and “be” His presence in the world after His departure. Knowing the tendency of men to stray from the truth, He promises us that those who lead His Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will always proclaim the truth in matters of faith and morals. The men are not perfect, but they have Christ’s perfect power of interpretation of His divine Revelation. In other words, Jesus loves us so much that He said in essence: “2000 years after I have left the world, I want to make sure you still know the truth about me so I promise that the Holy Spirit will guide my successors to always interpret correctly what I taught and revealed.” This is a beautiful gift He has given us in order that we may always be sure that we have the Truth through the Magisterium of the Church.

Don’t many people believe different things about God? How do I know who is right? ( CCC 84-87)

If we simply look at those who call themselves Christians, it is very clear that even among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, there are many different beliefs. Furthermore, all denominations claim to be based on the Bible. Some of these beliefs directly contradict. Therefore, logically, some must be incorrect, for two contradicting beliefs cannot both be right. Reason can lead us to the correct answers. First of all, we can see that God must desire to protect us from error – He wants us to know His truth. This is why He gave the Apostles and their successors the Holy Spirit to proclaim His truth correctly always. We can rely on this protection as it has been the same for 2000 years. As well, when we examine the beliefs of the Church, they have an internal consistency and coherency that conform to reality, human experience, history, Scripture, and human reason. Many have set out to prove the Church “wrong,” only to come to recognize this fact, which often leads to their conversion. The beliefs of all other Christian denominations, to a greater or lesser degree, possess internal inconsistencies in logic and do not conform to either reality, human experience, history, Scripture, or any combination thereof.

If God chooses to reveal Himself to us, does man now have a responsibility to respond to God? (CCC 142-175)

Yes. From the fullness of His love, God invites man into a friendship with Himself. We were made and destined to accept this invitation, and we can have perfect fulfillment of all our desires only by accepting it. Our just and reasonable response should be “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1:15). Nothing we have is our own – everything is a gift from God. In justice and love, we own God the entire and complete submission of our intellect and will. This means we freely, out of love, submit our entire being to God, who wants to love us in return and pour out His superabundant gifts to our hearts and lives. It requires that we submit to all His laws and commands, made known through His Church, because we trust that everything He asks of us is for our best and for our true happiness.

Do all Catholics have to believe the same thing? (CCC 172-175)

Yes. God’s precepts for man are meant for all men. What the Church teaches is for the benefit and happiness of man. Not adhering to any part of these teachings means missing out on grace and happiness in this life and in the life to come. In humility, we must submit to the Church and Her proper authorities (pope and bishops), knowing that they are guided by the Holy Spirit for our benefit. Picking and choosing what to believe and what to reject is a form of pride that will eventually lead to our downfall. If this is a struggle, a few suggestions may help. First, humble submission given in the midst of uncertainty and lack or understanding is paradoxically a sure way to gain understanding. The Lord always rewards humility and submission given before full understanding, and in fact, it is required for true growth in faith and love. Second, begin to investigate the teachings of the Church and the “why?” behind them. Most people reject the beliefs of the Church out of ignorance, not out of malice. Upon discovery of the truth, the mind is usually stunned by its beauty and majesty, and humble submission naturally follows.



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