Dennis Whiting, a long-time friend of the Trust and Friend of St. George relates that someone asked him to “indicate what consolation, inner strength, my Christian faith brought to me in my personal life. I was nonplussed by this as I don’t see my faith as primarily some kind of comfort blanket, so I replied that the best I could do was to give an account of what I actually believed”.
I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
The existence of the universe strongly implies a creator. It is not in our experience that things spring into existence out of nothing nor does it happen within recorded history. The popular notion of a big bang: a proposition that primal nothingness suddenly exploded into everything -just like that! – is not rational. It is a barricade put up to block out man’s natural supposition that the creation points to a creator.
The gap in time of billions of years postulated between a supposed big bang and the present does not make a perverse idea sensible – it only baffles our imagination and blurs our critical faculties. Immense periods of time are needed to make a creator-less creation plausible but the arguments put forward for them are based on false premises.
The hypothesis of macro-evolution has become a philosophical article of faith for millions. It is not shown by experimental data or observation. The scientific method does not demonstrate it! Christianity teaches that the whole human race is descended from a single, fully human pair.
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
The life on earth of our Divine Redeemer is given in barest outline here but, unpacked and expounded in line with the New Testament scriptures and the teaching of the Church, we see the doctrine of the Holy Trinity – not three Gods but three Persons in one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity has taken on our human nature and is therefore doubly our Lord, both as our Creator and as our brother man – sharer in our physical limitations and sufferings. But why the Incarnation of God as man? It is in fulfilment of the promise that the Lord God gives (in figurative language) to our first parents after they have fallen into sin from their original state of grace and virtue.
The disobedience of Adam and Eve brings in a world of suffering and death. But the promise of a Redeemer to come lies behind the whole of the Old Testament. Sinful man can never satisfy the justice of God. But God in his mercy sends his Only Begotten Son to pay the price by his incarnation, suffering and death and redeem us from our slavery to sin and the devil.
He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
At the moment of his death on the cross, the soul of Jesus Christ (in his human nature) separates from his body and goes to Limbo ( a pain-free part of Hell) where the souls of the just have been awaiting their redemption. What is the soul? It is the principle of life that animates living things. Plants and animals have a principle of life – a soul – which dies when the body dies. But the principle of life in man, who is made in the image of God, is a spiritual, immortal soul which survives the death of the body. Human parents generate the bodies of their offspring according to the laws of nature, as with other animals, but human parents do not have the capacity to generate an immortal soul. Each new human soul is separately created by God.
On the cross, Jesus Christ, “Son of Man”, High Priest of the human race, offers his life as a sacrifice “for many”. His body lies in the tomb until the beginning of Easter Sunday. Then, as a sign that His sacrifice has been accepted by God, his soul is reunited to His glorified body, no longer restricted by doors and barricades. His Resurrection appearances to His disciples are recorded in the Gospels. Influential modern theologians who fancy that they can dispense with the physical resurrection of our Lord are simply relapsing into the Gnostic heresy denounced in the early Christian era. Man was created as body-and-soul and the soul separated from the body after death and until the general resurrection exists in a temporarily incomplete state.
Our Lord was on earth for 40 days after his resurrection. Then, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles Ch.1, while his Apostles looked on “he was raised up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.” They find two angels standing beside them, who tell them: “This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven.” This refers to the coming of Jesus Christ in the final judgement at the end of time. Until then, the Lord Jesus in his glorified human body sits “at the right hand of God the Father almighty” thus signifying that the gates of heaven, barred since the original sin of Adam and Eve, are now open to mankind.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Ten days after the Ascension came the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost(also known as the Holy Spirit) descended upon the Apostles, launching the holy Catholic Church under the infallible guidance of God.
The Communion of Saints refers to the Church being a great family of believers – both living and dead. God has willed that we should help one another in the scheme of salvation. Thus Catholics pray for the dea
d (who may be in Purgatory) and pray to the saints in Heaven. And we have a particular veneration for the Virgin Mary – Mother of God. This is in contradistinction to evangelical Protestants who see the all-important link between the individual soul and its saviour Jesus Christ as excluding all other devotions.
The forgiveness of sins is effected initially by the sacrament of Baptism and thereafter by the repeated sacrament of Penance. The resurrection of the body (of every human being who ever existed) takes place at the end of time. Although the omnipotence of God is not frustrated by other means of disposal of the dead, Catholics believe that it is more appropriate to be buried than cremated.
What does it mean to say and believe the Credo – to adhere with heart and soul to the traditional teaching of the Church which is so very much at odds with the modern understanding of the origins of the universe and the origins of the human race? I am not a universal expert who can explain or explain away everything that scientists claim to have proved that is adverse to the faith although it does seem that, in vital areas, speculative theories have been elevated to the status of false certainties. This is because men run away from the idea of God – or of a God who intervenes in human destiny.
Nor should we play around with the idea of two co-existing realities so that I can put on one hat and be a follower of the modern scientific consensus and wear my other hat and be a follower of the Lord Jesus. No! Truth and reality are one. The descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles at Pentecost is the guarantee that that the Church will teach truth. Individual churchmen may be fallible and corrupt – and all too often down the ages have been – but the Roman Catholic Church as a divine institution is guarded from teaching falsehood. So how come the Church is apparently in such a mess today?
Towards the beginning of the modern age it started with the Reformation, when the Protestants asserted that in post-Apostolic times the Church had gone astray in its beliefs and that the Holy Ghost had only recovered the situation after 1200 years or more through spokesmen such as Luther and Calvin. This struck a grave blow against the unity of Christendom. Then came the French Revolution and modern liberalism that puts God on one side and proclaims that man is his own god. First the Protestant churches and then, more recently, the Catholic Church have caved in to these liberal notions and have tried to square the circle by assuming that the so-called Rights of Man can be reconciled with the rights of God. But this is not possible!
Holy Scripture does foresee that in the last days before the Second Coming of Christ the Church will be virtually overthrown and there will be a temporary triumph of the Antichrist. I don’t believe that we are in these last days yet: rather the present age is a kind of dress rehearsal and the true faith will be restored for a season until the final conflict comes. Who knows? As Jesus said to the Apostles immediately before his Ascension: “It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father has put in his own power.”
From youth to age I have not lived a life of particular piety or devotion but I have always felt intensely the force of the big EITHER/OR.
EITHER the Gospel record is the literal, historical truth: in which case the life, death and resurrection of Our Blessed Saviour is the central, pivotal event in the life of each and every one of us. OR it is not: in which case all the teaching of the Church, all the passionate sermons, all the libraries of devotional books are so much hot air.