St. Augustine on Discovering Truth

May 29th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

We make judgments about corporeal objects because they are below us, and we say not only that they are or are not this way, but also that they ought to be this way or ought not to be… We make these judgments according to the inner rules of truth which we perceive in common. But no one makes judgments about the rules themselves. When a man says that the eternal is more powerful than the temporal, and that seven plus three are ten, he does not say that it ought to be so; he knows it is this way, and does not correct it as an examiner would, but he rejoices as if he has made a discovery. (St. Augustine On Free Choice of the Will, 2.12)

This is something similar to the discovery of the Catholic Church as opposed to the judgments one makes, as a Protestant, of any given Protestant community. A Catholic cannot judge even a local Church as if it were something below him in nature. The local Church is the particular as the Catholic Church is the universal in the same way that a man is particular and mankind is universal. The local Church is catholic (‘of the whole’) and is therefore above the Catholic man.

Now I’ve never met a Protestant who would say “First Presbyterian Church is below me,” but then we don’t usually go around saying “this block of wood is below me.” It is our actions and our judgments that show that we believe the block to be below us. We judge that the block is square…fair enough. But then we judge that it ought to be shaped like a car, and we carve it until it conforms to our judgment. Likewise, by judging what the “Church” ought to be [in conformity with one’s personal interpretation of the Scriptures] the Protestant shows that he places the Church below him as if it were a natural thing.

In contrast, the Catholic apprehends the Church as supernatural and therefore above him. We do not only say that we believe the Church is above us, we demonstrate this by rejoicing in the discovery of the Church just as one rejoices in discovering any truth. The mathematician rejoices at discovering mathematical rules, not at conforming them to his own judgment. He knows he can’t do such a thing because the rules of math are above him. Likewise, the theologian knows that God’s truth is above him, and he rejoices when he discovers the Church which is “the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

Later in the same work St. Augustine says, “In accordance with the truth, we make judgments about our minds, yet we cannot make judgments about the truth.” Likewise, the Catholic judges his mind according to the Church.   He does not seek to find a Church that conforms with his judgment, neither does he try to conform the Church to his judgment. He seeks to conform his judgment to the Church just as he seeks to conform his mind to the truth.

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  1. Tim,

    I struggled with this as a Protestant. I was convinced that if a particular denomination did not fit in with my pet theory or latest theological trend then I must leave it and move on to the more “correct church.” This cycle occurred it seemed ad infinitum. As my views crested or developed on a given subject I would move from one theological camp to the next. I could not stay still as it were since I followed Him who said that he was Truth incarnate. As Christians we are lovers of truth and it is natural for us to seek after it as a bee does honey.

    As a Protestant though I came to realize as many x-Protestants have done (e.g., John Neuaus) that if I was to be true to my Protestant principles I must at once reject the Protestant epistemological methodology as untenable. For to Protestants man is totally depraved in both moral actions and the intellect. Thus, it slowly dawned on me that it was extremely questionable to rely on my own standards and judgements alone in picking and choosing which of the historic doctrines of the faith I considered to be “valid” and which were “corruptions.” On what grounds did I accept the Trinity yet reject Purgatory? Both doctrines were held by many of the Council Fathers that were responsible for the complex Chalcedonian formula of the Holy Trinity. On the “clear testimony of Scripture” someone may respond. But this cannot be an answer since the complex equation of the Trinity (as it is fully developed in Chalcedon and beyond) is not exactly “clear” from a plain reading of Scripture.

    In principle then such a procedure at arriving at the truth is precarious to say the least. Such a procedure I came to realize was a modern innovation, – one that begun with full gusto at the Enlightenment and proceeded in a downward autonomous and individualistic spiral ever since. In contrast with this starting point, it seemed much better to take the advice of the earliest Christian thinkers and understand Christianity in, with and through, the Mind of Christ, i.e., the Christian Communities interpretive tradition. The Spirit did not leave His Church orphans, much less blind and groping for Christian truth, left to re-invent the wheel as it were with every fresh generation.

    “Christian is my name, and Catholic my surname. The one designates me, while the other makes me specific.” -Pacian of Barcelona, (Three Letters to the Novatianist Sympronian. 1, 4).
    ______________________

    R. E. Aguirre
    Editor., Paradoseis Journal
    Contributor., Paradoseis Journal Blog
    Contributor., Called To Communion

  2. Well said.

  3. You contradict yourself here. If the Church is really above us, then a Protestant who makes claims about how Church ought to be is not making the Church below him. He’s not making a judgement about the truth, simply identifying it and rejoicing in the discovery (to paraphrase Augustine a little bit).

  4. Eddie, a contradiction is a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. You have not shown any two of my propositions to be incompatible.

    We do not judge how things ought to be if they are above us. (See the above arguments) We judge how things ought to be if they are below us. Truth is above us; we do not make judgments about how truth should be for this very reason. Songs are below us; that is why we make judgments about how they should be.

    Making a judgment about how the Church should be is emphatically not a discovery of the Church. Discovering and rejoicing in truth is discovering the way the Church is and adjusting our judgments accordingly, not the other way around. The former is the Catholic model – the latter is the Protestant model.

    What you’ve done is made the (false) claim that I contradicted myself (without any support for your assertion). Then you reversed St. Augustine’s logic and said that instead of [judging how something ought to be] being evidence of a thing being below you, you claimed that it is evidence of a discovery of something above you. That is exactly the opposite of what St. Augustine said in the quotation above. Then you claimed to be paraphrasing St. Augustine. You aren’t paraphrasing at all- you are saying the very opposite of what he said.

  5. I apologize if I was a bit confusing with how terse I was. Let me expand a little bit on it.

    Augustine lays out two options, 1) judging how something ought to be by our interior sense of what is right, and 2) identifying something as it is, because of its conformity to a standard exterior to ourselves.

    Now we’d both agree that the Church is above us, but you made the claim that the Protestant does not do that in practice, but is that true? Or does a Roman do the same thing? You see, the quote you chose says nothing about what external standards we’re to use in regards to recognizing the Church’s conformity.

    Now let’s look at your claims. First, you claim that the Protestant judges how the Church ought to be according to their personal interpretation. Second you claim that the Roman “apprehends” how the Church ought to be according to how it already is (supernatural and above him), instead of how a Protestant does it.

    Do these contradict though? That would hinge on what standard one who chooses Rome uses, because both the Protestant and the Roman agree that the Church is supernatural (a work of God, not of man) and above the individual. (I’m excluding the Anabaptist tradition here since neither side accepted them.)

    For one could say that you are doing nothing different than the Protestant. One from Rome simply says that the Church is in conformity to their personal interpretation of Church Tradition, thereby doing the same thing you claim the Protestant does. The Protestant can then claim that they simply apprehend how the Church ought to be according to how it already is for whichever denomination they’re in.

  6. Eddie J, (re: #5)

    This objection was addressed recently in The Tu Quoque post.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  7. Eddie,

    Do these contradict though? That would hinge on what standard one who chooses Rome uses,

    No it would not depend on that. It would depend on whether or not the statements, in themselves, were incompatible with one another. That is what it means for two propositions or statements to contradict. (One or both of them might be wrong without contradicting each other). You should be claiming that my statements are wrong not that they contradict themselves. You have not shown any contradiction in my statements and you should retract that accusation unless you’re prepared to show one.

    As for your objection, your argument is known as the “tu quoque” objection. (“You too”)
    First, if your objection is true, then it would mean that both Catholics and Protestants are guilty of putting the Church below us. It does not show in any way that Protestants do not put the Church below them. I see that Bryan has linked to his post refuting your argument. I encourage you to read that.

  8. Thank you Bryan. I realize there is a lot that has been said before me here and I’m new to the site, so please forgive the “chat room” phenomenon of a new comer jumping in, and having to state everything again!

    My thinking in these regards is right in line with Jason’s. Of course, that could be because we’re both connected to the PCA/OPC and knew each other at Westminster California, but I like to think we both came to the same conclusions on our own (he from a very different starting point than I). Which I noticed in your post, just as he did, right from the outset:

    “So why is discovering the Catholic Church through the study of history, Scripture and tradition not equivalent to discovering a confession that agrees with one’s own interpretation of Scripture, and how does the difference explain why the Catholic Church so discovered can remain authoritative while the Protestant confession cannot?”

    That statement already assumes the Protestant doesn’t come to their conclusion by a study of history, Scripture, and tradition to discover their confession. ‘Cause that’s how the Reformers did it, and it’s how I came to where I am now as well.

  9. I don’t get it, who is the “Roman” that Eddie J is referring to? Does he mean “Catholic”? Because the Roman Empire is no longer in existence and, therefore, neither are the Romans. So, I guess he must have meant “Catholic” but thought that “Roman” sounded a lot less condescending and nice. All things in Christian charity, I guess.

  10. Tim,

    If two people do the same thing, but come to different conclusions, they contradict each other. Your statements are in conflict with each other because each does the same thing but comes to a different conclusion. I simply tried to clarify/show that by stating the rules/source each uses is different, but the method is the same. Yes, it is the tu quoque that I’m referring to, though I didn’t use that term.

    And no, I’m not convinced Bryan’s argument refutes the tu quoque objection. (Thus why I’m not backing down from it!)

  11. Eddie (#8):

    “So why is discovering the Catholic Church through the study of history, Scripture and tradition not equivalent to discovering a confession that agrees with one’s own interpretation of Scripture, and how does the difference explain why the Catholic Church so discovered can remain authoritative while the Protestant confession cannot?”

    That statement already assumes the Protestant doesn’t come to their conclusion by a study of history, Scripture, and tradition to discover their confession. ‘Cause that’s how the Reformers did it, and it’s how I came to where I am now as well.

    In the course of answering the question that he raised and that you quote, Bryan made no such assumption as you ascribe to him. Like the rest of us, he is well aware that some people who have the time, temperament, and education conduct such a study and become Protestant. But you should also be aware that there are educated people, such as Bryan himself, who conduct such a study and become Catholic. The essence of the Protestant tu quoque objection Bryan is addressing is that, given the similarity of method and point of departure, the inquirer who becomes Catholic ends up in epistemically no better a position than the one who becomes Protestant. That’s the objection Bryan devoted his post to answering.

    If you want to press that objection, then please do as he and Tim suggest, and press it over in the combox to the appropriate post. That way everybody can discern for themselves whether you’re following his argument or not.

  12. Eddie, (re: #8)

    My purpose in that thread is not to argue that the Catholic Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church Christ founded (even though I believe that this is what the Catholic Church is). My purpose there in that thread is only to explain why the tu quoque is false.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Eddie,

    When you’ve been shown to be wrong, the best thing to do is admit it, learn from it, and move on. But instead you’re shifting your position. Originally you said I contradicted myself:

    You contradict yourself here.

    I explained that I didn’t. Now you said:

    If two people do the same thing, but come to different conclusions, they contradict each other. Your statements are in conflict with each other because each does the same thing but comes to a different conclusion.

    Why don’t you do this: write out the two statements of mine that you think are in contradiction with each other and then explain why statement 1 contradicts statement 2. I can’t tell what you’re referring to above. At first it sounds like “two people” are involved, not just one. You originally said my statements contradict each other which would involve only one person (me).

  14. Michael,

    I’m a bit confused as to what you’re saying. My comments here were designed to say that we are in the same position because we lay claim to the same methodology (recognizing truth as opposed to declaring something to be truth). As I understand Tim, he is addressing methodology here. I wasn’t saying the Roman position is undermined nor that the Protestant position is elevated.

    Bryan,

    It was not my intention to argue that point (which church is the real church) either. I merely wanted to briefly address why I didn’t think linking to your post shut down discussion of the matter at hand about recognizing truth.

    Tim,

    I feel like you’re mad at me and I’m trying to figure out why, and I hope it is not simply because we disagree. Please do note that simply stating you didn’t contradict yourself is not an argument or proof that you were consistent. Nor would I ask you to try to prove that negative statement.

    As for your request:

    “Likewise, by judging what the “Church” ought to be [in conformity with one’s personal interpretation of the Scriptures] the Protestant shows that he places the Church below him as if it were a natural thing.”

    and

    “In contrast, the Catholic apprehends the Church as supernatural and therefore above him.”

    I tried to point out before that each of these is referring to a system/standard that is assumed and not mentioned. A system/standard that is the same for each party involved, which led both Michael and Bryan to understand that I was referring to tu quoque. Yet because the same standard leads to two seemingly opposite conclusions, they contradict each other. It’s like saying, “1+1=2, but in contrast 1+1=3.”

    I do apologize that my follow up post was confusing. I used an example to start it off to perhaps help clarify what I thought was a definition problem with “contradict.” I did not label it as such, and am sorry it made things worse instead of better.

  15. In other words, what I’m saying is this:

    Does the one who turns to Rome or the one who turns to a Protestant tradition say, “I recognize that to be the truth because it is,” or do they say, “I recognize that to be the truth because I think it is.”

    As Bryan pointed out in his linked post, both those in Rome and in the Protestant realms would argue that Scripture is truth and we recognize it as such. Both then would argue that they recognize the truth in the Bible to point to a certain church government or another.

    So let me re-write things a little bit:

    “Likewise, by judging what the “Church” ought to be [in conformity with one’s personal interpretation of Sacred Tradition] the Roman shows that he places the Church below him as if it were a natural thing.”

    Now who here would say that they conform Sacred Tradition to their own personal interpretation, and thus chose to become united with Rome? Probably none of you gentlemen. So why is it that the Protestant *must* be doing that to Scripture? Such an explanation I could not find in this post.

    I think we both claim to recognize the truth as it is, not as it “seems to me”. I don’t think Protestantism is spiritual post-modernism, nor to be purely identified to Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism in methodology.

  16. Eddie,

    I’m not mad at you — not sure what I said could have indicated that. I’m pointing out that you’re making an error in your logic. The two statements you posted do not contradict each other. (They might be wrong – which is what you’re really trying to claim I think) but they don’t logically contradict each other. It is entirely possible (and logically compatible) to say that Protestants believe or do one thing and Catholics believe or do another.

    Here’s a breakdown to make it clearer.

    1. Protestants use system A but
    2. Catholics use system B

    You reply: “But A is the same as B therefore 1 contradicts 2”

    That is false (even if A is the same as B which it isn’t as Bryan showed in his post).

    Consider someone who says:

    1. Catholics trust Tradition but
    2. Protestants trust the Bible

    A Catholic replies “you contradicted yourself because by trusting the Bible, Protestants are inherently trusting Tradition.” Irrespective of whether Protestants also trust Tradition, the Catholic is wrong. The statements do not inherently contradict themselves.

    Please direct further objections to the tu quoque to the combox of that article. You may also want to read some more about the tu quoque fallacy before you continue to use it.

  17. Eddie, since you don’t seem interested in discussing this topic in the combox to Bryan’s post about this very topic, you might be interested in my own post about it.

  18. Tim,

    I think I see where we aren’t seeing eye to eye. Using your breakdown, I saw you as saying:

    1. Protestants use system A which results in X.
    and
    2. Romans use system A which results in Y.

    Same system, different results, thus a contradiction (see my math example of 1+1=2 or 3). Whereas you don’t agree that both use system A, thus there is no contradiction in your mind. Now I know, and that’s half the battle.

    I will make my way on over to the tu quoque thread and drop this one as asked, but I’m not sure when I can comment on it. It is long, so are the comments, and I’ve got a busy night ahead of me!

    (Just so you know Michael, I’m not avoiding you or the topic, just don’t have the time at the moment to do both threads!)

  19. Ok ok, a question on this one before I drop it. If I understand you correctly Tim, you’re saying that the Church is true for those who look to Rome because it is the Church. Whereas a Protestant would say the Church is true insofar as it agrees with Scripture, thus leading to the question of, “Whose interpretation of Scripture would that be?”

    Might I ask then if this reasoning is left at its circular stage, and thus not very different from the claims of other religions (ie: We are the true community of God because we are the true community of God.)? Or does Rome take it further than that?

  20. Eddie,

    You said, “Now I know, and that’s half the battle.”

    No, you’re still claiming the same thing that you claimed in the beginning (that I contradicted myself). I must not be making myself clear enough because what you repeated does not reflect an understanding of what I said. You said, “same system different result therefore contradiction.” Firstly, I never said “same system different result” so I did not contradict myself. Secondly, if what I took to be two systems were actually one system then my error would not be one of self contradiction but of mistaking one system for two. Thats a different thing.

    Even with the overly generous assumption that you could make a case for the tu quoque fallacy not being a fallacy in this case, I would not have made two contradictory propositions. I would have made two compatible propositions where one or both of them were false. Let me see if I can give you an easier example.

    1. Zebras are reptiles but
    2. Elephants are mammals.

    According to the rationale you’re using, these two statements are contradictory because zebras are really mammals – not reptiles. But those two propositions are not contradictory – they are entirely compatible. One of them is false, but they are compatible.

    We need to get these basic laws of logic down before we can carry out meaningful dialogue. As for your second question, I suggest that you read Bryan Cross & Dr. Neal Judisch on Sola versus solo Scriptura. That will help you understand the argument we’re making. The “tu quoque” objection was anticipated and refuted in that article, and as it was the only rebuttal brought up by Protestants in the huge combox (nearly 900 comments) it was repeatedly refuted in there. The recent post above was a more detailed explanation of why that objection is false.

    I hope we can have some mutually beneficial discussion; I know we got off on the wrong foot. But I can assure you that we’re all reasonable people here (maybe we’re flat wrong – but dangit we can be reasoned with!)

  21. Tim,

    I would kindly ask you to re-read post 18, and take note of the difference I made between what I *thought* you were saying, and how it was different from what you later made clear you *were* saying.

  22. Eddie,

    I mis-read 18. But now that I’ve re-read it, you’re still wrong. Here’s the bottom line. You said that I contradicted myself. I have shown that I didn’t. Instead of retracting your mistake, you say things like “thus there is no contradiction in your mind. ” (my emphasis of course)

    That’s not charitable because it sounds like in reality there *is* a contradiction but in my mind there isn’t. There is no contradiction, in my mind or in reality. If there is a contradiction, then you need to show it or stop claiming (or even implying) that there is one. In fact, the Christian thing to do would be to admit your mistake.

    Even if I was saying what you *thought* I was saying, there still wouldn’t have been a contradiction. If I need to explain, then just ask. But if you’ll re-read the definition I gave of a contradiction above, I think you can figure out why that’s not a contradiction.

  23. Tim,

    I fear we’re at an impasse. The examples I’ve given to prove my point and the ones you’ve given for yours fall precisely into what I explained in post #18. You were posting examples of different processes, I posted of the same, highlighting our different views of your assumptions.

    I think you points are in contradiction because I think you’re using the same methodology for both parties. You think you’re points are not in contradiction because you’re using different methodology for both parties.

    It’s different in *our* minds.

    I’ll have to check out tu quoque, and then we’ll know which of us is actually right (maybe). Until then, to pursue this further will only bring heat instead of light.

  24. Ack, I slaughtered “your” in that last post, it’s late, I need sleep.

  25. Eddie,

    Even if I had said what you thought I was saying, it would still not be a contradiction. You have in no way demonstrated anything I *actually* said or anything you *thought* I said to be a contradiction.

    So your theory is that:

    1. A does X which results in Y
    2. B does X which results in Z

    You think that is a contradiction but it is not. Let’s look at an example:

    1. Lions (A) hunt deer (X) which results in a fast chase through the jungle (Y)
    2. Humans (B) hunt deer (X) which results in a man sitting up in a tree (Z)

    These statements are both true and compatible. There is no contradiction. I have already shown that what I *actually* said was not a contradiction. Now I have shown that even what you *thought* I said would not have been a contradiction.

    The statements may even be wrong and not be a contradiction. Just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it’s a contradiction. (See the example above #20) Or to use this formula:

    1. Lions (A) hunt deer (X) which results in a tornado (Y)
    2. Humans (A) hunt deer (X) which results in uncontrollable fits of break dancing (Z)

    There is no contradiction although both statements are incorrect. They are perfectly compatible with one another. When you say that someone contradicts themselves, then you need to show that two or more of their propositions are incompatible with one another. No two statements I have made (nor even statements you thought I made) were incompatible with one another.

  26. Tim,

    “Humans (A) hunt deer (X) which results in uncontrollable fits of break dancing (Z)”

    This could be true for hip-hop hunters who get entirely too excited about hunting deer. So, not only is it not a contradiction, but it may also be a genuine possibility.

  27. Hip-hop rednecks who break dace as a result of deer hunting… Now *that* would be worth watching.

  28. Boom. This post hit me like a ton of bricks Tim. Here is how this started to hit home in the Reformed “trenches” for me. I homeschool my kids and as I started to go through the Catechism for Young Children (based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism) that’s the one used at my Reformed church for little kids, I noticed I did not like some of the questions. Can you guess what I did? I CHANGED the questions and answers to fit my interpretation of Scripture. (removing “Covenant of Works” and Zwinglian Sacramentology for example) I felt very, very strange after doing that. I can’t explain it but it was as if I had done something dirty. But in the end I told myself that after all it was only a catechism and not Scripture and it had been made by mere men and I am a mere man so why not change it to suit my convictions? The “dirty” feeling I had did not go away though.
    I know now that that “feeling” (God help me if Bojidar reads this!) was my conscience telling me to beware of the Reformed hermeneutical paradigm I found myself in. That paradigm has no way for me to distinguish between my own “feelings” and opinions about Scripture (which are not desirable to me) and the actual content of the truth which I know the Scriptures contain. This paradigm results in the ridiculous spectacle of an untrained, somewhat simpleminded, well meaning Dad like me, changing the content of the faith being handed to my children by my church to suit my tastes. And certainly if that content needed enough changing, then I would just find a different Reformed denomination that suits me better (CREC for example).

    Michael Liccione said it well here:

    It is evident that intelligent, well-informed people can study the same dataset, and even be disturbed by the same problems, and yet come to mutually incompatible theological conclusions about how to interpret the data so as to solve the problems. The question then arises: how is one to tell the difference between conclusions that are only personal opinions, and conclusions that actually express the assent of faith as distinct from opinion? My argument is that, if the Protestant hermeneutical paradigm were correct, then one could not tell the difference, whereas if the Catholic HP is correct, one can. And I take it as self-evident that such is a reason to prefer the Catholic HP..

    For me this is super obvious because I am not one of those “intelligent, well-informed people”, so how can I expect to find the right needle in the haystack when they can’t? Under the Catholic hermeneutical paradigm it is simply a fact that one CAN tell the difference between truth and opinion. Under the Protestant hermeneutical paradigm, one cannot. If someone objects that I still need to choose a paradigm and so am still unsure of the truth, that argument just seems like sophistry.
    Tim’s point has no contradiction. These two paradigms are objectively polar opposite and for me this concept is not some abstract reality. I have seen it in action and felt the deep disappointment and frustration at trying to make the Reformed paradigm work. My family’s change to the Catholic paradigm is not based on emotion either. It is based on a love of and a desire for TRUTH.

    Recently some of my siblings and extended family found out that I will be joining the “Whore of Babylon” as my nephew so gently said it, and believe me, there is not much incentive for me here OTHER than truth. Today I will inform my Pastor whom I love dearly of this decision and this causes me much sadness to have to leave my church family. And I doubt I will be sent off with a ticker tape parade and well wishing. So far it has been nothing but people saying that I need to study more and that I just don’t understand, or that I have gone liberal and have no respect for the Scripture. Being accused of blasphemy, being told that I was probably never really a Christian, and so forth. I am starting to see that the rift between these 2 opposing paradigms is far wider a gash than I could have imagined.

    Peace,

    David Meyer

  29. David,

    I’ll say a prayer for you today.

  30. David – prayers going up for you brother. I know what it feels like – a lot of us do.

    “But he who loses his life for Me and the gospel, will find it.”

  31. David,

    My prayers are also with you. Like Tim and others I KNOW what you are going through.

    Your brother in Christ,

    -Ray

  32. David, I’ve offered prayer for you. I’m delighted that my writing has been of help to you. Thank the Lord.

  33. David,

    Welcome to the club… my family is a collection of Evangelical Christians (choose your own adventure) and Reformed. Upon hearing about my decision to leave it all behind and head to the “Whore of Babylon”, I was dealt with blow after condescending and insulting blow from family members I truly love and respect. I refused to let it destroy my relationships with them, even though I’m sure they would have been willing to let me ride off into the sunset. I have absorbed every attack with as much love and understanding as possible because I love them all so much. A few of them opened up to “debate” Catholicism with me at some point and we had a very fruitful Scripture-led discussion. At least now they accept that some Catholics might be “saved”. That stage in heart softening was the first one I encountered that gave me the courage to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church many years later… hopefully the same will happen to them.

    I wish I had the same patience with those who leave condescending and uninformed comments on blogs as I do with my family. I should. It’s easy to love your family members, it’s not so easy to answer Christ’s call to love those outside of your family/friends circle in the same way. Defend the faith in charity and protect the bonds of your family relationships as much as you can. Take the abuse with understanding. The most painful things I heard were comments relating to my wife and children and their eternal salvation, but I refuse to let those things ruin my relationship with my family members.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers as well.

  34. Thanks a lot guys, for your prayers and encouragement. Keep up the good work you do here even when you are tempted to exasperation. People are reading. And I know from personal experience that often the more frustrated they sound, the more they are seeing the truth.

    Michael, Bryan, Ray and Tim, you guys have been a tremendous help to me and you can take credit that your quick, spot on, even tempered and very intelligent responses on this site have been the impetus for my decision.

    My family and I thank you.

    David

  35. David,

    Be assured of prayers on my family’s end for you. I remember one day after preaching at my church walking by myself to my manse. I felt so alone. I felt the heaviness of God upon me and I was agitated with God. I looked up to heaven and said, “why must I think of You all the time, why can’t I just be left to do what I love to do, preaching Scripture, leading Bible studies, why must I wrestle with this, who cares if the Petrine ministry is of the essence of the Church?” As I finished my complaint, I sensed these words come to me, “It is a grace to think of Me always.”

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