Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trying to Have the Church Without Admitting Protection From Error

In the past, I talked about certain groups who claim that the Church today has fallen into error—usually done to defend themselves when they run afoul of a teaching they dislike. My usual response is that if the Church could be permitted to fall into error, then Matt 16:18 and Matt 28:20 would be promises that Jesus either could not or would not keep. That would mean that He was not God, because God keeps His promises. But Jesus is God and He keeps His promises. Therefore the Church could not have fallen into error.

Counter-argument #1

It occurs to me, however, that some might want to defend their own position at the expense of the Church, arguing that this would be the wrong interpretation of these verses and therefore the reliability (and divinity) of Jesus Christ is protected… basically that the promises of protection means something different than what the Church thinks it means. Therefore when the Church speaks against what *I* think right, it must be in error.

But that argument won't work. When Jesus speaks of the Church, He speaks of a visible Church which teaches in His name and with His authority. If we have a dispute, we are to go to this Church. If we refuse to listen to this Church, we are to be treated as a tax-collector. That means the Church that speaks with His authority must be visible and we must be able to go to it with confidence—which indicates a Church that can be trusted to make the right decisions with His authority. That reasonably assumes a Church which is protected from error.

Counter-argument #2

Another attempt to defend one's position at the expense of the Church might be that the whole Church never goes entirely into error at one time, but no single part of the Church is especially protected all the time. Under such a view, Rome might be the champion of truth at one time, Constantinople at another time and Écône at a third. Therefore Rome could be right in Vatican I, but wrong in Vatican II.

But this can't work either. if any part of the Church can go into error, then we can never know for sure when it wasn't in error. If you think it was possible that Rome could have been in error during Vatican II? Then why not in Vatican I? Why not Trent? Why not Nicaea I for that matter?

The point is, if part of the Church can fall into error without us being able to know which part can be trusted to be protected from error, each part will simply assume it is protected from error during this dispute and the others are not (I mean, come on… does anybody approach a dispute with an attitude of Well, I'm probably the one in the wrong…?).  In such a scenario, the Church is going to wind up in constant division and become countless denominations. Once again, we would have no visible Church to turn to. It is only when we know that, no matter how rotten parts of the Church might become individually, the Church under the headship of the Pope is protected and we can know where the authoritative teaching of the Church—protected from error—can be found.

Counter-argument #3

Now, at this point, some Protestants might proclaim that the existence of the Bible means that we don't need to worry about a Church—we just need to follow the "plain sense" of Scripture.

But that doesn't refute the Catholic concern here—it is actually an example of why the protection from error in a visible Church is necessary. Right at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation you had the Lutherans, Zwinglians, Anabaptists and Anglicans. All of them proclaimed the Bible as their rule of faith and all of them used the Bible to justify their own positions and condemn the other three as being in error on important issues.

Each of these groups also split into multiple factions—each of them thinking themselves right and the others in error. Now I won't get into the arguments of how many denominations there are. "Over 10,000" is a number given by some Catholics, while some Protestants get offended by the use of that number and try to reduce it. The number of denominations is irrelevant. Even if the number of denominations had never gone beyond the four in the Protestant Reformation, that's still three too many—and that's if one of them was actually right to begin with (which is of course disputed).

And that's the point. Unless there is a visible Church with the authority given by Christ to determine where the true interpretation of His teachings lie, an inerrant Bible cannot be a guide—not because it is deficient, but because it could only be interpreted by fallible men and women. That is to say, men and women who can read and interpret it wrongly… and we can never know which ones. (Though it seems it never happens to be the person doing the reading and interpreting—apparently the Pope is the only person who is not infallible in this view).

An inerrant Bible needs a Church protected from error to interpret it from error, and the Church that can be protected from error must be visible and knowable. Otherwise we could never find it and never be able to know which interpretation was correct.


To insist on the point of the need for a Church which is known and protected from error is not some sort of "churciolatry." It is a reasoned understanding of God's promises to Peter and the Apostles… the gates of hell will not prevail against her and Jesus will be with us until the consummation of the world. Since the Popes are the successors of Peter and the promises were made to the Church with Peter at its head, it seems that it is entirely reasonable and faithful to Scripture to recognize the authority of the Catholic Church as this Church.


Monday, May 26, 2014

You Literally Bet Your Life: Thoughts on Pascal's Wager


Pascal's Wager is an oft maligned tool for seeking truth about God, recognizing that there are limits to what human reason alone can do. Basically, the Wager runs as follows:

Every person on the basis of how he or she lives their life is gambling on one of two propositions:

  • God Exists.
  • God doesn't Exist.

There are no third options like "choosing not to choose." One either lives as if they think God exists or they think God does not exist, even if they try to be agnostic about His existence.

Since you can't not bet, in what way should you bet?

Understanding The Significance of the Wager and the Stakes

Dr. Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli's book A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics created a good diagram (which I reproduce with less talent) for the four options:

pascals wager 1

Vertical Lines are if our Wager is True. Diagonal Lines are if our Wager is false

The breakdown would be as follows:

  • If the wager "God exists" is true then the right response is "We believe in Him." The wrong response is "We don't believe in Him."
  • If the wager "God doesn't exist" is true then the right response is "We don't believe in Him" and the wrong response is "We believe in Him"
  • Belief of course must be understood in light of James 2:19-20, rooted in faith and not in the concept of acknowledging His existence:

      Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

      New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Jas 2:18–20.

Now picking the right response ("God exists, therefore I believe in Him" or "God does not exist, therefore I do not believe in Him") means you win the wager. Picking the wrong response means you lose the wager. But, what you win and lose on the wager is not equal. It can be broken down as follows:

pascals wager 2

The Wager Has Unequal Payoffs For Winning and Unequal Penalties for Losing

Let's break it down:

  • If your wager was that God exists and act appropriately, and the wager was the right one, you win everything promised for that faith.
  • If your wager was that God exists and act appropriately, and the wager was the wrong one, you lose nothing. You might have lost out on some cheap pleasures during life, but none of it matters once you're dead.
  • If your wager was that God does not exist and act appropriately, and the wager was the right one, you don't win anything of worth. Whether you choose to wallow in physical pleasures or live selflessly, none of that matters once you're dead. The Deadbeat Drug User who fathered countless children on different women gets the same fate as the Nobel Prize winning Doctor who seeks to cure disease.
  • If your wager was that God does not exist and act appropriately, and the wager was the wrong one, you've lost everything promised for the faith in God and the things you chose to do acting on that wager will be revealed as worthless compared to what you lose.

So Pascal's Wager shows that, win or lose, betting on "God doesn't exist" is a really bad bet, whether the person who makes it does things that help people or not. The correct way to "bet" is to bet on God existing and living in accordance with that belief.

Understanding the Meaning of The Wager

Unfortunately, this sometimes gets misrepresented as "Fake it until you make it," and going through the motions and hope some kind of God shows up. And because of this, Pascal's Wager gets a lot of scorn. But that's not the point of the Wager. It can't (and shouldn't even if it could) compel someone to believe in God. The Wager on its own can't show whether the true Religion is Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

What it does tell you is what side of the Existence vs. non-existence debate over God a person should be investigating when searching for truth. If God doesn't exist, then trying to investigate arguments supporting atheism are a waste of time. If He does exist, then investigating arguments supporting atheism are a dangerous road in the wrong direction.

Wagering on God's existence also means you have more resources than your own finite intellect. Since you've decided that God existing is the more reasonable approach, you have the avenue of prayer open to you. You're not just stumbling along looking for clues in a whiteout blizzard. You're waving your lights around signaling for help as you search.

If the atheist scoffs at this point and says, "Well what if you pray and no help comes because God doesn't exist?"  Well, the answer is actually simple. "In the worst case, I'm in no worse shape for looking than you are for not looking. In the best case, I'm better off for looking than you are for not looking."

But God won't leave the honest searcher lost. His rescue will come at His time, not your convenience, but it will come. The important thing is to search out the truth. Unfortunately there are many religions claiming to be true. So you will have to investigate the truth of their claims.


As always, I share my faith that the Catholic Church is the Church God intended and established by His Son Jesus Christ. If I did not believe it I would not say it. However, I also know that an ipse dixit from me isn't going to cut it. So I urge you to remember that truth is to say of what is, that it is and to say of what is not, that it is not.

All too often, people make claims against the Catholic Church that do not meet the requirement of truth, and one who is incautious can be led away from truth by false claims made by those who oppose the Church and repeat old falsehoods that were never questioned.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two Attitudes. Two Questions. Two Considerations

Two Attitudes

I have noticed two common attitudes towards religion who try to avoid thinking about it.

The first is the attitude of indifferentism. Indifferentism is basically the attitude that all religions are pretty similar and the differences between them are minor quibbles that don't matter as long as we are all "nice" to each other. (Never mind the fact that what qualifies as being "nice" differs from religion to religion).

The second is the attitude of skepticism. Skepticism also looks at all the religions and sees the differences. The attitude of the skeptic is to look at all the differences and say, "we can't know which one, if any, is true so it doesn't matter if we just opt out of choosing."

These two attitudes—two sides of the same coin—make a universal conclusion out of the differences. Either they are insignificant or insurmountable and therefore religion doesn't matter. Accept or reject religion as you like.

Two Questions

I think these two attitudes can be addressed by two questions. For the Indifferent, the question is:

How do you know they're all equally valid?

For the skeptic, the question is:

How do you know they're all equally unimportant?

Two Considerations

The fact that there are different religions and that they say different things is not a matter of indifference. If there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, then one cannot reasonably say that it doesn't matter what way is chosen. Indifference is a positive laxness that does not think that the differences mean anything. Therefore one is as good as another. But just because the indifferent person sees the differences as unimportant doesn't mean that the differences are unimportant. In the world of law, thinking differences are unimportant and ignoring them can get a person in trouble if the person enforcing the law discovers you chose the wrong understanding of what is right.

This also applies to following God—if God has made known how He wants His followers to follow Him, choosing any old way to act is acting wrongly. Consider the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16, or the rebelling of Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12). This was not a matter of indifference to God.

Dr. Peter Kreeft has used this example. Imagine a mountain with many roads going upwards. How do you know they all reach the top? The wrong path will not get you to the desired destination. So if one path is the path God has made (John 14:6) and the others are manmade, then the indifferent attitude that holds that one path is as good as another is a dangerous one indeed.

The skeptic takes an attitude of negative laxness. It too looks at the differences in the claims but, unlike the indifferent, the skeptic sees the contradictions and concludes that we can't know if any of them are true so we can safely ignore all of them. But when you think about it, does that attitude really make sense?

If you should go to a foreign country and are not sure what the traffic laws are, it would be foolish to head out on the road while thinking it doesn't matter if you choose to follow none of them. You would soon be before a judge. You couldn't plead "I didn't know so I thought it wasn't important!" The judge would ask why you didn't bother to at least try to seek out the rules.


Now you may ask me, "with all the competing views, how can I begin to find the right path?" (Now if you ask me personally, I'll try to save you some time and say, "It's the Catholic Church." But since I presume you meant, "How do I search for the right path…?" read on). The answer is, you need to seek out what is true—which means discerning what is true as opposed to what pleases you or what you want to be true.

A lot of people stop at "What gives me pleasure" and never asks whether what feels good is actually good. People get caught up in destructive relationships, alcohol, drugs, etc. They can't see beyond the pleasure and thus can't see that they are not searching for what is truth. Self delusion and fear of losing what is safe can often lead to never beginning the search.

The truth can be described as, to say of what is, that it is; and to say of what is not, that it is not is to speak the truth. So that's the first step. Looking for what is true by seeing if it is what it claims to be. When a claim is made whether about atheism, pantheism, paganism, monotheistic faiths and Christian denominations, the question "Is it true?" must be asked concerning the claims by the group and the claims made about the group (remember, people often speak falsely about what they don't know).

A search may take a long time. God calls a person on His time, not at your convenience. (And yes, I absolutely believe God exists and loves you personally regardless of whether or not you know Him yet). But the fact that a person has not yet encountered God doesn't give him or her the right to quit searching and just say, "Close enough, I'll just settle for this."

Just remember that it is never right to say "It doesn't matter which one I pick or even if I pick none of them." If you honestly seek the truth and pray to God to lead you to Him, you will eventually meet Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thoughts on Catholicism and Human Law

I would like to expand on something I wrote a few days ago concerning the concept of legitimate and illegitimate law. I hope in this day and age (unfortunately, you never know) most people would recognize that governments can and do create unjust laws (whether actual laws, judicial rulings and executive orders) which are made binding through force—not just in totalitarian nations, but right here in the US as well.

Realizing that even in the Western Nations (which are always held up as the paragon of freedom compared to the rest of the world, fair or not) the governments can and do create unjust laws is important. It shows that no state government is impeccable in creating laws (human laws, to distinguish from Divine Law and Natural Law)—even if our own party of preference is in command.

I think that with this understanding in mind, the Catholic perspective should be explored. A lot of accusations have been made about us, and we need to have a basic understanding on how the Church views the authority of the state and the human law it creates.

We're not anarchists. We don't hold that the adage, the government that governs best governs least. Nor do we hold that government is a necessary evil. When it works as it ought, government justly holds authority and must be heeded. On the other hand, Catholicism is not a proponent of Big Government. The authority of the state certainly has limits as to what it can do.

In the Catholic perspective, the purpose of government is ensuring the common good. However, the government is not itself the common good. It can only be a means to this end. The government does not have the authority to redefine what the common good is, and the burdens of the law must not be unequally proportioned—such as favoring your friends and harming your enemies. (See Summa Theologica I II Q 96 a4). Finally, the laws passed cannot exceed the authority of the lawgiver.

This last point is important. While certain views of government exalt the power of the state, when the government decrees something it has no right to decree, the law it passes has no authority—much like if I were to pass a law that all the houses on my block have the obligation to pay me a 20% tax on their gross income. I would have no right to make such a law because I do not have the authority to even make a law. Maybe if I had my own private militia I could get away with it, but the law would have no authority on its own.

A government may decree a thing, but if the thing decreed goes beyond the authority of the government to decree, then the only way that the law can be binding is if the government uses force to carry out the law. There would be no moral  obligation to follow such a law.

When you see these principles, it becomes clear that sometimes the Church must necessarily be in opposition to certain acts of government but is not acting in a partisan manner in doing so.

The Church rejects the claim by a state that it can decide to change the definitions of what is good or evil. Thus when the state creates such legislation, she denies that the law has binding authority. If the law interferes with the ability to do good and avoid evil, then it is not a law at all. It is merely an act of coercion.

Thus the Church will challenge the state that decrees that it can make marriage anything other than between one man and one woman. The Church will challenge the state if it decrees that abortion is a "right." The Church will challenge the state if the state demands that employers violate their religious faith by paying for contraceptives.

When the state decrees such things, these laws lack the morally binding force that valid human law possesses. The government can use force to demand compliance—do it or be sued, locked up or dead.

Now while that threat of coercion may work on individuals within the Church, it doesn't work on the Church as a whole. The Church that recognizes the witness of martyrdom (which is not to be confused with the perversion of the term by those who blow themselves and others up to make a point).

Martyrdom in the Catholic sense says that it is better to suffer evil than to do evil—even to the point of dying rather than doing what God forbids. The Catholic faith, which says, " I would rather suffer as an innocent than to be guilty of doing what God forbids," does not accept the claims of the state to have the right to make good evil or evil good.

The reasons above also explain why the Church—contrary to the hopes of the media—will never permit abortion, woman priests, "gay marriage," contraception, or remarriage when the spouse of a pervious valid marriage is still alive. The Church is not an institution which arbitrarily makes up rules for Catholics to follow and can undo them whenever she likes. When God teaches us what is good or evil, the Catholic Church knows she does not have the authority to change that teaching.

When one understands these things, it becomes clear how the Church can be in opposition to the human laws of a government without being partisan. The Church can accept a government which seeks the true common good and does not seek to elevate itself to the greatest importance and does not seek to make laws it has no right or authority to make.

But it must seek to convert the government that seeks partisan gain for its supporters, that seeks to pass laws it has no right to pass.

This then is why the Catholic Church must sometimes be in opposition to our government.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Stereotypes

Consider the following:

  • All Canaries are Yellow Things (All A is B)
  • Therefore All Yellow Things are Canaries (All B is A)

Ridiculous right? There are far too many examples where a yellow thing is NOT a canary to make this claim true.


Just because all A is B, it does not mean all B is A

But I have noticed that many people make a similar error when it comes to claims about Christianity.  They do so by arguing:

  • All Fundamentalists are Christian
  • Therefore all Christians are Fundamentalists.

There are two problems with this claim (notice I said "a similar error", not "the same error").

First, Fundamentalism is an example of equivocal (open to more than one interpretation; ambiguous) language. Some use it to mean a person who interprets the Bible in a literalistic sense in all aspects—for example, belief in a six day creation and that the Earth is about 6,000 years old. Others use it as an accusation of rigid thinking, refusing to consider other views.

Second, both definitions can be applied to groups other than Christianity. There can be Fundamentalist Muslims in both senses of the word, for example. Moreover any system of thought can have adherents who are rigid and refuse to consider other points of view.

So the claim that all Fundamentalists are Christians is not true in either sense. Not all literalists are Christian and not all rigid thinkers  are Christian.

Moreover, not all Christians are Fundamentalist in either sense of the word. For example, Catholics do not believe every part of Scripture was written with the intent of being a literal description of history and science. Nor do Catholics insist only one form of thinking is valid. There have been Catholic scientists and philosophers seeking to grow in understanding about God's creation—and a lot more than people seem to think. The Church has no objection to science—merely to ideology masquerading as science and going beyond what science is competent to say.

So actually, the result is that one can neither say "All Fundamentalists are Christian" nor say "All Christians are Fundamentalist" in either sense of the term. The statements "not all Fundamentalists are Christian" and "not all Christians are Fundamentalist" contradict the ALL assertion.

Some A is B

Not All A is B. Not All B is A

So, why is this important?

Well "Fundamentalist" is often used by people as a pejorative term, claiming that those given the Fundamentalist label are narrow minded thinkers who refuse to consider any view but their own. The unspoken corollary is that if they were not Fundamentalists, then they would not hold the views that they do.

Ironically, that in itself sounds like an example of rigid thinking refusing to consider other views. That kind of labeling does not consider the possibility that the views challenging Christian belief were examined and found wanting. As GK Chesterton pointed out, “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

That brings us to our problem. The attempt to link a position of narrow-mindedness to Christianity because Christianity considers some actions wrong is an essentially an example of what CS Lewis called Bulverisms—attempting to show WHY Christianity is supposed to be wrong instead of actually showing that Christianity IS wrong.

Now there are (unfortunately) some Christians who approach their faith in a rigid, closed minded way. There are also African American felons, Arab terrorists and Hispanic illegal aliens.  But, there are also felons who are not African Americans, terrorists who are not Arabs and Illegal aliens who are not Hispanic.

More importantly, there are African Americans who are NOT felons, Arabs who are NOT terrorists and Hispanics who are NOT illegal aliens.


This meme works as humor because it takes a stereotype and shows how wrong it can be

In other words, the fact that some members of a group possess a negative trait does not mean that all members of the group possess that negative trait. Nor does that fact that some members of the group do not possess that trait mean that they reject the ways of the group.

Now many people today recognize the truth about stereotypes about different groups being repugnant. So I find it ironic that many of those people who fight these stereotypes about ethnic groups are willing to make the same stereotype about Christians.

When we speak about the moral obligations to do good and avoid evil, many people who disagree with our positions are willing to assume that we are narrow-minded, intolerant people who hold our positions simply because we refused to accept their conclusions.

So ask yourself, do you think are all Christians are homophobic because of the offensive actions of the Westboro Baptist Church in picketing funerals? Do you think that the opposition of the Catholic Bishops to the contraception mandate is a "war on women"? If you do, then you DO hold stereotypes because these positions either try to lump us into a stereotype through guilt by association or else they assume we hold a position out of rigid thinking because we disagree with you.

The antidote is to drop these stereotypes and seek to understand why we believe what we do. Until one does that, they cannot accurately condemn us for holding our beliefs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thoughts on Law and Obligation: They're Not Always the Same

Let's start this article with a question:

Is a law to be followed just because it is a law (or court ruling)?

It would be tragic if this were presumed to be true because we have seen many harmful laws which have been implemented merely on the say so of the government—laws which were accepted unquestioningly by a majority of the people.

The Third Reich is the obvious example of such laws. The Nazi Party came to power legally and then legally (or through fait accompli) changed laws to what they wanted them to be.  if accepting a law on the basis of being a law (the technical term is legal positivism) is true, then it was not wrong for Germans to follow the laws of the Third Reich—something I suspect nobody would agree with. (if you're reading this, and you do agree, then do yourself a favor and keep quiet).

But we don't even have to "violate" Godwin's Law to demonstrate this. We can point to Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, the acceptance of slavery and segregation, forced relocations (Native American, Japanese). These were legal at one point in America.

So, let's go back to our question. Does the fact that a thing is a law mean that it must be followed?

  1. If you answer "Yes," then you must accept the injustices a government that a government commits, and accept the claim that those opposing such a law (say, for example, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr.) are wrong and ought to be punished for law-breaking.
  2. If you answer "No," then it means you recognize that the government can do wrong, and when it does, it must be opposed, and this opposition is legitimate.

I think of this Legal Positivism attitude when I hear certain politicians invoke the "right to abortion" granted by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and other cases. The Supreme Court also affirmed the "right" to own slaves and the "right" to segregate. The Supreme Court may be the last stop when the political will is lacking to amend the Constitution, but we can see that history tells us that the Supreme Court has erred in the past—it is not infallible.

I think this demonstrates that government action cannot be the sole grounds of judging whether a thing is good or bad. If the Supreme Court, or Congress or the President does wrong, and the result of that wrong is a Ruling, or a Law, or an Executive Order, that result must be opposed with the intention of overturning the injustice.

Now of course, opposition cannot be rooted in "I don't like that policy! I want my policy!" (Which is what passes for political dispute today). Opposition must be rooted in the knowledge that some things are wrong—either always wrong, or wrong in circumstance (as an example: murder is always wrong. But in some contexts, like self defense, killing might be justified). This is not a matter of disputing what the percentage should be for the tax rate, where legitimate disputes can occur over what is best. This is a matter of "Does the government have the authority to decree that an evil is now good in a binding manner.

Some skeptics may face this point by denying we can know any thing is objectively wrong. But normally such skepticism is used with the intent of trying to justify doing a bad thing.  The fact is, we do know some things are wrong: The Holocaust, Ethnic Cleansing, Slavery, etc. We know that treating a human being as less than a human being is to be condemned regardless of where it is done or what century it is done.

Feigned or real ignorance is not a valid argument defense against the the fact that a thing is wrong. Yes, a person who truly does not know that a thing is wrong (for example a person who is insane) might have a defense against prosecution, but that does not mean that the act itself is not wrong. An insane man may not have deliberately chosen to commit murder, but that doesn't change the fact that murder is wrong.

But the person who feigns ignorance about the evil of a thing or a person who claims that good and evil is merely an arbitrary decision of the person who decrees it (many people who demand that the Catholic Church change her teaching fall into this category) does not have this defense, because we DO know things are wrong… even when we pretend not to know.

Think of it this way. The person who denies we can know what is truly good or evil will probably NOT think that way if I should steal his money (Hey, it's annoying writing articles on an Android tablet, I could use a laptop, and robbing you would help me get it quicker). Such a person, despite his claims that we can't know if a thing is good or evil, knows that it is wrong to deprive a person of his life or property at the whim of another.

We can see this in the skepticism used to defend the "right" of abortion. Roe v. Wade is essentially an Argument from Ignorance fallacy that claims that we cannot know where life begins, therefore we can't restrict the right to abortion. The problem is, a person taking action while not knowing whether it might harm another is at the least guilty of negligence and possibly manslaughter or even murder. When an action might cause harm to another, we are obligated to make sure it is safe to proceed before acting.

What is worse is the fact that some recent thinking in the defense of abortion holds that it probably is a person, but that is less important than the right not to be pregnant. In other words it effectively says it is ok to treat a person as less than human if it benefits me.

We've been down that road before. Here in America, we've treated Blacks, American Indians, Japanese and other minorities as being less than human for our own convenience. In other countries, Germans have treated Jews and Slavs as less than fully human. Serbs have treated Bosnians and Croats as less than fully human. Turks have treated Armenians as less than fully human.

The list goes on and on, each with government approval.

The only way to avoid such monstrosity is to recognize that law must be subject to truth, and when a government goes against what is true in its laws, it must be opposed.

There are graveyards filled with people because too many just decided that because a thing is a law, it must be acceptable.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thoughts on Accusations of Imposing Values

One thing I have heard is the accusation that Catholics are imposing our views on others who don't share them. It's wrong of us to do so, we're told.

To which my response is, "What the Hell do you think you're doing to us?"

It's not a flippant response. It's pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of the accusation. If it is wrong for Catholics to seek to change the society that it shares with others that do not agree with us then it is certainly wrong for others to seek to change the society when we disagree with them.

So long as someone holds to a moral relativism that denies any absolutes, then any accusations made against us also applies to them. If we're in the wrong, then so are they.

But, if there are moral absolutes, real right and wrong where one side can be right in such a way as to mean following  one side is not an opinion, then those who oppose us have the same obligation to demonstrate the truth about their beliefs as we are. Moreover, we have the same right as they do to explain and defend our beliefs. We have the same rights to show people that what we believe is true.

No, we're not forcing opinions on people who don't share them. We're sharing what we believe to be vitally important and trying to show how it is true. People are not forced to accept what we believe. If they accept what we believe, it is because they too are convinced that what we believe is true.

If someone wants to deny us that right, claim that we have no right to live as we feel we are called to live, no right to teach what we know to be true; if they want to lie about our beliefs and try to deny us the right to live according to our beliefs, then it is they—not us—who force views on others.

They are what they accuse us of being.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Accusations Without Proof in America

The American Justice System holds two principles that I consider relevant to today's discussion:

  1. Innocent until Proven Guilty
  2. Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

These principles mean that guilt (not innocence) must be proven when an accusation is made and that the guilt must be proven to the extent that no reasonable doubts of the evidence or its interpretation exist in the mind of the person called to make the decision.  In other words, the burden of proof is on the accuser to establish that the guilt of the accused is clear and not that the accused must demonstrate that he is innocent.

The principles are good ones and are designed to prevent the conviction of someone based on false accusations and misapplied evidence – so long as justice is sought.

When justice is not sought, it becomes easy to turn the concepts into a mockery. Invalid evidence can be permitted and relevant evidence is rejected. This can result in the evils of the innocent being punished and the guilty set free.

This seems to be what is going on with how Christian moral teaching is being recast as bigotry today. The accusation is made that unpopular Christian teaching X is motivated by bigotry, and thus needs to be opposed. The practitioners of Christian teaching X are therefore bigots and can be ostracized, sued, prosecuted, etc.

Now if we applied the two principles of justice proclaimed by our Justice System to these accusations, we would recognize that the accusers are the ones with the burden of proof. They would have to demonstrate how the unpopular Christian moral teaching is rooted in bigotry. But that is precisely what is not done.

Take for example the Christian teaching on Marriage. The accuser makes the claim that "opposing same sex marriage is homophobia," for example. This is the point which the accuser is obligated to prove. But, instead of proving it, the accuser assumes it is proven and calls for action to be taken against the person who believes in and supports the Christian teaching on marriage – which does not accept same sex "marriage."

That's a dangerous idea. Imagine if I alleged that atheists were disloyal Americans because they could not be trusted to swear their loyalty to the country before God? I could seize on the fact of their disbelief in God and twist it to declare that because they couldn't swear sincerely before God (because they don't believe in God) that it meant they were actively disloyal towards America. Perhaps some atheists are disloyal citizens, but it doesn't follow from the fact of their rejecting oaths before God that they do so because of disloyalty. So if I were to claim, without proving, that all atheists who were unwilling to swear their loyalty before God did so out of motives of disloyalty, and got people to accept this without proof, I could bash all atheists who disagreed with my views even if they were not disloyal citizens.

People can recognize the injustice of my hypothetical (and to some extent historical) example above. But what is not apparent to many is that this is exactly the charge leveled against Christians who stand up for their beliefs today. It is assumed that Christians who stand up for the moral teaching of the Church do so with the motivation of intolerance. Since intolerance must be oppressed, says the unqualified statements of today, Christian teaching must be opposed. But when we look at the accusation, it doesn't hold together.

Q: Why is Christian teaching on marriage intolerant?

A: Because it rejects the legitimacy of same sex "marriage."

Q: Why is rejecting the legitimacy of same sex "marriage" wrong?

A: Because it is intolerant.

That's called Arguing in a Circle. The point to be proven (that opposition to same sex "marriage" is intolerant) is assumed to be true when the truth of the point is exactly what is under dispute.

The fact is, a thing can be opposed for many different reasons and not all of them are based on bigotry. Yes, the Westboro Baptists practice a hateful form of bigotry in their actions of opposing homosexual acts. But that's not the only motivation for opposing them. The entirety of Christians who believe that homosexual acts are wrong can only be condemned for holding the Westboro position IF, and only IF, the entirety of these Christians have the same views as the Westboro Baptists.

But in fact, the Westboro Baptists and their "God Hates F*gs" signs come nowhere near the teaching of the Catholic Church which decrees in the Catechism:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 566. [Emphasis added]

So, the Catholic who behaves like a member of the Westboro Baptist Church is acting against Catholic teaching in behaving unjustly. It's one thing to say:

2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 568.

…and therefore reject sexuality being used outside of this context (it also rejects adultery, fornication, prostitution, mistresses, masturbation, divorce and remarriage, etc.)

It's quite another thing to say that we may do harm to those people with same sex attraction. The Catholic defense of marriage has nothing to do with the thugs out there who beat up people with same sex attraction. In fact, we condemn such behavior. It doesn't seek to deny that people with same sex attraction the same human rights others have. We say such behavior cannot be considered marriage.

We believe sexual relations can only be legitimately used in the concept of marriage between one man and one woman. We stand firm on this in the face of the polygamist, the adulterer, the fornicator and others. Even if they believe their behavior to be acceptable, we must say it is not.

However, we reject any claim that our beliefs are made out of malice or hatred for others, and we hold that no person can prove that our beliefs do have this malice and hatred. A just society will stop trying to persecute people for holding to our beliefs on the basis of a person claiming without justification that we act out of hatred.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Umm, Religious Freedom is Not Just Freedom From Being Jailed…

According to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act…

SEC. 2000e-2. [Section 703]

(a) Employer practices

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

According to the definitions in Title VII

The term “religion” includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.

What seems to follow from this, as I see it, is that our religious beliefs in faith and morals cannot be used as grounds for limiting our advancement, firing us or refusing to hire us because our religious beliefs require us to hold that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman, for example.

What this tells us is the current argument used by some is invalid. Our religious freedom rights are not merely referring to not being jailed for our beliefs. Neither the government, nor the employer, nor the union organizations can discriminate against us for our beliefs.

According to law, our freedom of religion – which affects all areas of our lives – cannot be used as a basis for ostracism. We're allowed to vote according to our beliefs. We're allowed to donate to political causes according to our beliefs. We're allowed to call for legislation which is in keeping with our beliefs. We can't be fired or demoted or harassed for our beliefs.

Of course, the question of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Who polices the police?) comes up here. Yes, according to law, we can't be persecuted for our beliefs. But in practice, we are. The mobs who call for people to be boycotted or fired because of their religious beliefs get away with it. Companies cave in. Judges enact unjust rulings. Politicians enact unjust laws. All in the name of "tolerance."

The only problem is, this behavior sanctified by the label of "tolerance" is remarkably similar to kinds of infamous injustice: Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade etc. in which people could point to Supreme Court rulings and declare that what they did was legal.

This is what happens when the elites of a society, political and cultural, become corrupted and seek to benefit their own views and use positions of authority to hinder or harm those they disagree with. This is the kind of system where we need to stop thinking "Democrat or Republican" or "Liberal or Conservative" and start electing people who think in terms of "is this true or not? Is this just or not?"

Otherwise our claims to freedom in America are a sham.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Will the Antichrist Catch Christians by Surprise?

Preliminary Note

Many people tend to fall into the false dilemma of "either A or B." If the author speaks of the dangers of A, it's assumed he supports B. This article, an expansion of one I wrote in 2011, is not written with the intent of praising liberalism (which today embraces some monstrous evils and calls them good)  but rather seeks to warn people to avoid thinking, "I'm not liberal so I'm safe."


I've noticed that whenever someone writes a religious novel about the antichrist what normally sticks out is the political views of the author. Basically, the antichrist is seen as a charismatic liberal. The Christians who are faithful have a conservative bent.

Modern Catholic takes on the subject tend to be similar to the Protestant "Left Behind" series. The remnant is conservative. An antipope comes to power who appeals to liberals and has to be opposed.

Such a scenario, Protestant or Catholic, is one not likely to do more than physical harm to the conservative Christian. So long as you vote Republican you're safe from being deceived it seems.

Scripture to Consider

But Scripture warns us about the faithful being deceived. 1 Tim 4:1 tells us,

"Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions"

Matthew 24:24 tells us,

"False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect."

And 1 Cor 10:12 reminds us,

"Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall."

So it seems that the faithful can be deceived. I don't think that means people will be deceived into making a 180° change in their way of thinking. St. Paul warns in 2 Cor 11:13-15 that false apostles abound and even the devil can appear as an angel of light.

Current Events to Ponder

The more I see how conservatives react to the Church teaching on Social Justice, the more I wonder if the antichrist will actually turn out to be some sort of conservative who promotes certain popular teachings and seeks to separate the conservative Catholic from union with the Pope who is portrayed as being in error. Certainly false seers like Maria Divine Mercy make such claims today.

Christ's Promise and the Church

But Christ's promise was to Peter and his successors, the rock on which He builds His Church. He promised to be with His Church always and that the gates of hell would not persevere against it. It seems to me that no matter how far our society declines, the true Church will always be found in communion with the See of St. Peter. If one places himself in opposition to the Pope, regardless of how his politics might appeal to us, we cannot follow such a person.

The Possible Deception

The devil doesn't have to turn a person into a radical proponent of abortion and so-called "gay marriage" to endanger his or her soul. It's just as effective to twist the values of a person just enough that he or she becomes the judge of the Christian teaching using the ruler of his or her ideology.

To the person who is certain he or she is right, the threat is failing to consider whether or not he or she has wandered astray in relation to what God calls them to be.

If the devil can persuade a person that only members of the contrary ideology can be deceived, that's a large part of the way to lead them into deception.

The Refuge

The refuge is to hold fast to the Church under the authority of the Pope. Christ the builder chose Peter as the rock on which He would build His Church. We believe that the successor of St. Peter is protected from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. Without such protection, no Christian could ever know if he or she was faithfully doing God's will or interpreting the Scriptures correctly.

The person who tries to claim that the Church under the leadership of the Pope can teach error in matters pertaining to salvation is effectively denying Christ will protect His Church from error. Because that means Jesus would not be doing what He promised, that is a denial of Jesus' ability or reliability.

To remain faithful to the Church under the Pope is not some sort of papalolatry. It's having faith in Jesus Christ. To believe that the Church has fallen or will fall is a sign of having lost faith in Jesus Christ.

That's all an antichrist needs to do to deceive the faithful.

Now mind you, I don't say this is HOW the end times will happen. But it is certainly a threat to souls that destroys faith in Christ without the person noticing that loss of faith.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


“You must unlearn what you have learned.”


As I follow more social media, I increasingly see that people no longer seek to understand the meaning of words. They automatically associate certain words with certain ideologies. Then, when someone uses one of these words, they are either praised or condemned depending on whether the word is associated with something they favor or something they despise.

The result is, people no longer listen. They assume that they know when they do not.

The problem is, the more important the words, the more serious the misunderstanding.  Thus, when it comes to the Church teaching -- which deals with the fate of the immortal soul,  the words are vitally important, and misunderstanding them can have the gravest results.


Since this modern assumption pushes us further away from truth, we must get rid of it. We have to stop thinking we know what a word means and go beyond our assumptions.

I believe the biggest stumbling block are the political assumptions we carry about. Say "Right to Life" and people automatically think you're a conservative.  Say "Social Justice" and people automatically assume you're liberal.

The Church, however teaches about our obligations concerning both issues. Are we to think that the Church is some sort of "right wing liberal" organization? Hardly.

Unfortunately, most people either want to use the Church authority in a sort of "capture the flag" when her approval is desired to give an ideology credibility, or they want to slap a label on the Church which allows them to ignore what they dislike.

Either Or? Neither Nor? Both And?

But this does not mean that the Church is "middle of the road" either. When truth is either-or, a compromise cannot exist. Either the unborn child is a human person or is not. If the unborn child is a person, abortion can never be justified. Appeals to "reproductive freedom" become asinine when what is at stake is a human right to exist.

In other areas, the moral obligation may be absolute, but the ways the obligation can be met are varied. The Church teaches on moral obligations in social justice. But the solution is not limited to socialism -- something that the Church rejects. Reforming health care does not make the support of Obamacare mandatory. In fact the Bishops are opposing it.

The Church doesn't have a "party platform." She teaches what way Christians are obliged to live, but doesn't say "You must embrace this specific political plan to do so."

In every age, the Church has spoken in teaching what is required, but leaves it to the people to implement policies reflecting the teachings... correcting the people when they go astray.

The Pervasive Perversion of Ideology

I'm always amazed that people who wouldn't trust a person of a disliked political faction to evaluate the weather, let alone the meaning of events, seem to have no trouble accepting and being scandalized by that faction's interpretation of Church teaching. The knee-jerk reaction to certain words mentioned seems to be enough to accuse the Church of being "The Republican party at prayer" according to liberals and "collectivist" or "socialist" according to conservatives.

Sometimes a particular party gets things very wrong. Abortion is an obvious example here in America. The Democratic party actively supports it, and the Catholic Church absolutely condemns it (and has condemned it long before America was even discovered, let alone established). Therefore, to the ideologue, the Catholic Church is against the Democratic party and therefore supports everything the Republican party stands for.

On the other side, when the Church speaks out on economic injustice, the Republican party treats it as if it was a ringing endorsement of the Democratic party platform in entirety.

This can lead the individual confused. "Is the Catholic Church pro-Democrat or pro-Republican?"

That's when I want to pound my head on a desk. The Church is neither in favor of one party or the other. It is only the pervasive ideologies perverting thinking that leads people to ask this, assuming either A or B without asking whether that is the only way to think on the issue. That's the fallacy of the false dilemma.

Contradictory or Contrary?

A problem we Americans have is the inability to distinguish between contradictory and contrary ideas.

Contradictory ideas are two ideas where they can't both be true, but one must be true. For example, it can't be raining and not raining at the same time and place. It either is or it isn't.

Contrary ideas are ideas can't both be true BUT both can be false. For example Red vs. Blue. An object can't be both all red and all blue. But it can be yellow, making the red vs. blue theory false.

So saying "Catholicism is either the True Religion or is not the True Religion" is an example of contradictory claims. One of them must be false and one must be true. A thing cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same way.

Saying "Either conservative or liberal" is an example of contrary claims. Their philosophies are in opposition and both cannot be true. But the rejection of elements of one does NOT mean the endorsement of the other. One could reject both ideologies as being false in some ways.

This is a vital point. Too many people argue that the bishops, being pro-life, must have a conservative bias. Too many people think that the Pope, speaking on moral flaws in capitalism must be liberal.

Never mind the fact that the Church has spoken on such issues since the 1st century AD.


Jesus won't ask us about our political affiliations when the final judgment comes. He'll ask us if we kept His commandments (John 14:10).

If our ideologies blind us to the holiness we are required to seek, they are a threat to our salvation. If we begin judging whether the teaching of the Church is conservative/liberal enough or too conservative/liberal, our ideology is a stumbling block to loving and serving Christ.

We'd better start unlearning our political factionalism and start learning to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

You Can't Be Both: Thougts on Certain Catholics Supporting Use of Torture

On  Facebook, there's an argument on a couple of dueling Catholic articles on Waterboarding and torture (a subject that I explored a few years back and concluded that unless the Church rules otherwise, my conscience tells me I must view Waterboarding as torture -- and thus something that may never be done).

What troubles me is the fact that those Catholics who support the use of Waterboarding as an interrogation technique, seem not to care whether or not it is torture as long as it is used for a good end (defense of America), and accuse those who oppose Waterboarding as sympathizing with terrorists.

I'll let readers study my other article for the reasons I oppose Waterboarding, using this article to explore the dangerous position some of its proponents hold.

The first thing to consider is this: According to Catholic teaching, "One may never do evil so that good may result from it." (CCC# 1789).

So logically we can say:
■ One may never do [evil] so that good may result from it.
■ The Church declares [X] is evil.
■ Therefore One may never do [X] so that good may result from it.

Now while a non Catholic will not recognize the authority of the Church (and thus need to be convinced by other explanations), the Catholic who would be faithful does need to recognize that the formal teaching of the Church is binding on them. So, when the Catholic Church defines something as intrinsically (always without exception for circumstances) evil, no Catholic can justify it as good.

So, what does the Catholic Church have to say about torture?  It says in CCC 2297:

"Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity."

In 2298, it goes on to say:

"In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors."

So, torture is contrary to the respect required due human dignity and the Church acknowledges that those within the Church who used torture in the past were wrong to do so -- which excludes appeals to the past to justify it.

So with our above argument as a framework, we can say:

■ One may never do [evil] so that good may result from it.
■ The Church declares [Torture] is [evil].
■ Therefore One may never do [Torture] so that good may result from it.

The result of this is it doesn't matter what the good is we are trying to bring about or the evil is we are trying to avoid, we MAY NOT use an evil means to accomplish this goal.

So, when it comes to Catholics supporting torture, one has to recognize this:

One can be a good Catholic or one can be a supporter of torture.

But you can't be both.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Insidious Poison of Rash Judgment

I follow many religious blogs. One thing that I find disturbing is the growing expectation that the Church under Pope Francis will take a wrong turn. Now, it's one thing to have opinions on ways of carrying out the Church teaching -- so long as it is done with respect and obedience to the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles.

However, it is quite a different matter when one places himself or herself as a judge over the teachings of the Church. That is, essentially, a vote of no confidence to the promises of Christ.

If Jesus is who we believe Him to be, then we can have faith that He will protect the Church under the Pope from teaching error in matters of faith and morals... even if branches of the Church should fall away.

Yes there have been times when we've had ineffectual or even bad popes. No, I don't think Pope Francis falls into these categories. But even when we did have such popes, they were protected from teaching error. Whenever there were divisions in the Church, our safety was in following the See of Peter. Not those in opposition to it.

So why are people thinking the Holy Spirit is on a coffee break during the pontificate of Pope Francis? Think about it... God protected His Church from even men like Alexander VI, John XII and Benedict IX. Pope Francis is certainly NOT a Pope like them. He is clearly a man who loves God and seeks to serve Him. Do you really think God will let him teach error?

I am inclined to think that the Pope is making them uncomfortable because he is hitting close to home. Yes, it's quite clear that the Church teaching is incompatible with modern liberalism. But Pope Francis is reminding them that conservatism is also incompatible -- that both political leanings fall short of what God commands us to do. Both political factions justify their positions as the right thing to do and demonize their opponents, but both have wrong ideas which we must reject.

Because following Christ isn't a matter of thinking "well I support A, B, and C and oppose D, E and F so I'm good enough." Following Christ covers the A-Z of our lives. I see Pope Francis reminding us of G-Z in our obligations. Our problem is we push everything into one of two categories, conservative and liberal. If anything sounds similar, we automatically categorize it as all-or-nothing supporting conservative or liberal agendas.

Now sometimes the Pope's "off the cuff" style may lead some to misinterpret what he said, or wrongly extrapolate on what they think this will mean. But we have an obligation to avoid rash judgment and calumny here:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
—of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
— of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
— of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

That means assuming that the Pope is some kind of leftist based on personal or media (which has proven to be untrustworthy) interpretation of his words is rash judgment and, if he spreads this view and leads others to believe it, they commit  calumny.

It's an insidious poison that seems to be afflicting some of those Catholics seeking to be faithful... The poison that makes them doubt the rock Jesus built His Church on.

Think about it the next time someone proclaims the Church is turning leftward or rightward.