Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Trinity: Letters to Eric (Part 13)

This is the conclusion to my series of letters to Eric on the subject of the Trinity. As I said in the Edit of the first post, apparently, he and I really agreed about the Trinity all along. Where we disagree is in the necessity of a Christian believing in the Trinity. The misunderstanding has led to some frustration, but I hope the exchange itself might be profitable nevertheless for someone who has doubts or questions about the Triune Nature of God.

I admit to more extensively editing this letter than the previous ones, for the sake of maintaining the pertinent subject matter (the Trinity) at the fore of the discussion, and as well to keep the various trains of thought together; in case Eric reads this and wonders why this letter is rather different than the one I initially sent him. I hope Eric continues to strive to apprehend the truth. Our conversation is still ongoing, but the topic has switched back to something he seems more comfortable discussing--namely, what's wrong with the Catholic Church. I'm sure our conversation will find its way to the blog sooner or later.

Dear Eric,
The beginning of your last letter gladdened my heart. That is, you wrote that you can honestly say you agree. Of course, you didn't specifically say with what you agreed, but I'll assume that you agree with me about the Doctrine of the Trinity.

I'll reciprocate, and declare that I agree with you that someone who simply has an erroneous belief about the Trinity out of genuine ignorance or stupidity is not thereby damned for it. However, some people do choose to be wilfully ignorant, and many others outright reject the truth. These folks are indeed culpable for their lack of faith.

I am also very glad to hear that God has given you a desire to continue to search out the truth regarding His triune nature. I'm interested in hearing this deeper understanding that you feel God has given you once you can formulate it, but if, like Pelagius (whom you keep mentioning in surprisingly positive tones), your understanding is in error, I'll be sure to critique it for you and try to demonstrate why the error is error. Of course, it may very well be that you've hit on the truth, for which I will rejoice with you exceedingly.

In your letter, you made some rather disparaging remarks about the Catholic faith, which I would like to address before I close.

You claim, pertaining to dogma, that the Catholic Church has added dogmas that either weren't present in the early Church, or which render the Gospel weak or obsolete. I vehemently deny that this is the case. Every teaching of the Catholic Church today can be traced back, generation by generation, right to the Apostles. Now, of course, over time our understanding of the Church's teaching has grown and matured, but it was certainly present in seed form.

As for your claim that the Church adds other planks to salvation, I assure you that it teaches nothing regarding salvation that isn't in Scripture and which hasn't been handed down by the Apostles themselves. And I'm more than willing to have that discussion with you, as well as the discussion about dogmas rendering the faith obsolete. But, as you admitted, that is another discussion.

You again reference Pelagius, saying that you're somewhat reticent to elaborate on your new found understanding of the Trinity because if, like Pelagius, it differs from Catholic dogma, you'll be branded a heretic. This gives you some rancor, because you claim that if the Church is wrong, taking such an attitude will prevent it from ever coming to the Truth.

The thing is, if you don't hold the Church's line, like Pelagius, you are a heretic. Pelagius was indeed wrong--teaching that we could save ourselves without God's grace. He was right to be condemned.

As to whether the Church, holding to such a dogmatic position, can therefore be wrong, and, if wrong, whether it can then find the truth, first we have to ask whether Jesus did give us a Church that could authoritatively pronounce what is true and what is false in matters of Dogma. If there is no such Church, then His statements in Matthew 16:16-19 and Matthew 18:18 are meaningless, as is 1 Timothy 3:15. If there is a Church with such authority, then we are called to obedience to it, since as Jesus said, "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and the One who sent Me" (Luke 10:16).

If the Church was wrong since the beginning, then the ultimate conclusion, the only one possible, is that Jesus couldn't keep His promise. That's not a conclusion I'm very willing to entertain.

The beautiful reality is, though, that Jesus did promise and deliver us a Church, guided by His Holy Spirit into all truth. He promised that this Church would never be overcome by error, but would proclaim the truth to the whole world. If we can trust Jesus, then we can trust the Church which He founded, which is His bride and His body. And no other Church out there can adequately make the claim to be that Church--no Church except the Catholic Church.

May God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It is here, of course, that our conversation on the Trinity came to an end, and our discussion of the Church and the Sacraments was taken up, and is still ongoing. Coming up next here, I'll be beginning a series on the Eucharist, starting tomorrow, the Feast of Corpus Christi. When my discussion with Eric of the Church and the Sacraments is over, I'll be sure to post it here.
God bless.

(Category: Theology Proper: The Holy Trinity.)

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