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Christ to Catholicism
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Memo to the Censor
This volume is intended as a textbook for Catholic colleges and universities, to be used in the junior or senior years or in specialized courses on the undergraduate level. While its emphasis is primarily doctrinal, the framework is historical, on the recommendation of teachers of college religion with years of experience in the classroom.
Besides the substantial text as given in the following pages, a number of inserts and an appendix are planned, pending discussion with the Loyola University Press. These will include a graphic illustration of the Churchs growth down the centuries, the evolution of Protestant and other bodies from Catholic Christianity, the Churchs expansion throughout the world and in the United States, and current data on Church membership, conversions and comparable statistics. Any suggestions on these or other items to improve the book will be gratefully received by the writer.
As indicated in the Introduction, an effort was made to penetrate beneath the surface and go beyond what may be considered a popular manual in college religion. Here again the procedure was suggested by teachers who feel that the student is quite capable of such penetration and, in fact, needs it if religion is ever to match the academic respect enjoyed by other courses in the college curriculum.
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION Why Study About the Church? Various Approaches to Ecclesiology Principles and Methodology Origin of the Church Identification of the True Church Nature of the Church Relation to Other Persons and Societies
Part One: Apologetic Foundations
I. THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM The Kingdom of Heaven and Earth Fulfillment of the Messianic Prophecies Calling of the Twelve Apostles Uniformity of Doctrine Community of Worship and Ritual The Primacy of Peter and His Successors Simon Peter as the Leading Apostle Promise and Conferral of the Primacy Only Peter Receives the Primacy Primacy of Authority Authority Given to Peters Successors Church as a Permanent Institution Need of Infallible Authority Unity of the Church and Final Authority
II. APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE SEE OF PETER The Primacy in the Acts of the Apostles Election of Matthias the Apostle Beginning of the Christian Apostolate First Apostolic Miracles Witness to the Name of Jesus Exercise of Judicial Power Visitation of the Christian Communities Presiding at the Council of Jerusalem St. Peter in Rome First Epistle of St. Peter Clement of Rome to the Corinthians Gaius the Presbyter on the Tombs of the Apostles Tomb of St. Peter at the Vatican
III. TRADITION OF THE ROMAN PRIMACY Clement of Rome to the Corinthians Easter Controversy Tertullian and Montanism St. Cyprian and the Rebaptism of Heretics Christological Heresies Gnosticism, Ireneus and Rome Modalism and Tritheism From Ephesus to the Vatican Council
IV. RECOGNIZING THE TRUE CHURCH Phenomenal Propagation of Catholic Christianity First Three Centuries of the Christian Era Growth of the Church in Modern Times Exalted Sanctity and Miracles Historical Evidence of Holiness Miracles as the Fruit of Sanctity Inexhaustible Fruitfulness in Benefiting Mankind Revelation Identified by the Catholic Church Church as Custodian of the Revealed Word Natural Benefits Derived from Divine Revelation The Catholic Unity of Roman Catholicism Catholic Unity in Faith and Doctrine Disunity Outside of Roman Catholicism The Churchs Invincible Stability Constancy of Apostolic Doctrine Stability of Catholic Worship and Government
Part Two: Dogmatic Ecclesiology
V. DEFINITION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH The Church as a Visible, Juridical Society The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ
VI. THE CHURCH AS A VISIBLE BODY The Catholic Church is a Body Consequences of the Churchs Bodily Character Visible Perceptibility Uniting in Multiplicity Sustenance through the Sacraments Membership in the Mystical Body Incorporation in the Church through Baptism Profession of the True Faith Status of Baptized Non-Catholics Schismatics Excluded from the Church Excommunication from the Mystical Body
VII. THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST Christ the Originator of His Body Preparation of the Mystical Body Birth of the Church on the Cross The Churchs Manifestation at Pentecost Christ the Head of the Mystical Body Pre-eminence of Jesus Christ Invisible Ruler of the Church Government through a Visible Head From Christ through the Bishops Mutual Need of Head and Members Principle of Similarity Plenitude and Communication The Soul of the Mystical Body The Holy Spirit as the Soul of the Church Soul of the Church is the Spirit of Christ Mystical Body as the Whole Christ Christ the Savior of the Mystical Body
VIII. THE CHURCH AS THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST Mystical Higher Than a Moral Unity Mystical Versus Physical Body of Christ Visible Source of Invisible Grace Supernatural Providence through External Media Mystical as a Causal Conjunction of the Material and Spiritual
IX. PAPAL INFALLIBILITY Meaning of Infallibility Infallibility of the Apostles Infallibility of the Bishops Under the Roman Pontiff The Vatican Definition History of the Opposition to Papal Infallibility Council of Constance Councils of Basle and Florence Luther and the Protestant Reformers Gallicanism and Jansenism The Evidence of Scripture and Tradition Primacy Includes Infallibility Witness of Tradition from Apostolic Times Historical Testimony to an Infallible Primacy Subject and Conditions of Papal Infallibility Papal Infallibility as Personal Separate Infallibility Is Papal Infallibility Absolute Object and Scope of Infallible Teaching Solution of Historical Problems Liberius versus Athanasius Zosimus and the Pelagians Vigilius Change of Mind Honorius Condemned as a Heretic John XXII on the Beatific Vision Galileos Condemnation
X. NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH The Ancient Tradition Teaching of the Church Statement of the Problem Salvation without Actual Membership St. Ambrose on the Death of Valentinian St. Augustine and Catholic Catechumen's Priority of Faith to Baptism According to St. Bernard Baptism of Desire in the Summa Theologica Pius IX on Invincible Ignorance Vatican Definition of Salvific Faith Tentative Solutions Melchior Cano St. Robert Bellarmine Non-Catholics Related to the Church by Intention and Desire Necessity of the Church by Divine Mandate Necessity of the Church as a Means of Salvation Meaning of Adherence to the Church by Implicit Intention The Church as an Instrument of Grace for Non-Catholics Knowledge of the Minimal Essentials of Salvation Indispensable Acceptance of Revelation The Obligation of Baptism Belief in the Trinity and Incarnation Universal Source of Supernatural Grace Communication of the Holy Spirit Only in and through the Church of Which Christ is Head Sacrifice of the Mass for all Mankind Prayers and Sacrifices for the Non-Catholic World
XI. THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT Origins of the World Council of Churches Constitution of the World Council of Churches Concept of Non-Catholic Unity Unity Derived from the Person of Christ Unity of the Church in its Earthly Pilgrimage Churchs Unity Partially Realized Confessions of Disunity Historical Review of Christian Disunity Proposed Remedies Evaluation of Ecumenical Theology Uncertainty about the Nature of the Church Lutheran Concept of Inevitable Disunity Practice in Contradiction to Theory Prospects for the Future Catholic Attitude toward the Ecumenical Movement Desire of Reunion Presenting the Catholic Position Ecumenical Meetings with Non-Catholics Unity Based on Truth
XII. PRINCIPLES OF CHURCH AND STATE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Duties of Citizenship in the New Testament Loyalty Under Duress Edict of Milan Catholicism Established as the State of Religion Gelasian Formula of Two Powers in the World Gregorian Reformation Boniface VIII and Papal Absolutism Protestant Equality of the Temporal and Spiritual Power Cooperation of Church and State Against Slavery Syllabus of Errors Errors Regarding the Church and Her Rights Errors Regarding Education Errors Regarding Christian Marriage Leo XIII on Separation of Church and State Separation as Anti-Christianity Catholicism Without Preferential Status Constitution of Eire and Leonine Principles Two Basic Issues Divine Limitation of Civil Authority Principles of Religious Tolerance
XIII. COOPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE IN THE UNITED STATES Authentic Meaning of the First Amendment Historical Background Purpose and Scope of the First Amendment Disestablishment Not Separation Leading Decisions of the Supreme Court Inviolability of Church-Affiliated Institutions Restriction of Religious Liberty for the Common Good Freedom to Propagate the Christian Religion Fourteenth Amendment Applied to Religious Freedom Freedom of Education Under Religious Auspices Free Textbooks to Parochial School Children Transportation to Denominational Schools Religious Exemption from Civil Duties and Practices Immunity from Prosecution for Personal Belief First Amendment Means Cooperation of Church and State Sectarian Influence on National Legislation Anti-Lottery Crusade Protection of Christian Science National prohibition Pacifists and Conscientious Objectors American Representation at the Vatican Legislation Affecting the Welfare of the Nation Federal Approval of Chaplaincies Inviolability of professional Religious Secrecy Religious Observances Authorized by Congress The Churches and Slavery Clerical Exemptions Unwritten Legislation
XIV. CATHOLIC ESTIMATE OF CHURCH AND STATE IN AMERICA Address of Bishop Carroll to George Washington Approval of American Religious Freedom No Divided Allegiance Encroachment on the Churchs Rights Directives to the Civil Government Catholic Motivation to Patriotism REFERENCES
We need motivation to study any subject, whether secular or religious, and some sort of method to make the study effective. Otherwise interest lags or even disappears, and what may be very useful or important is not taken seriously. And conversely, the better defined our motives for learning a field of knowledge, the more profit we derive from the investigation.
The science of the church is no exception. There is no prima facie evidence why a Catholic should know more than his basic obligations to the Church and how to remain a faithful member of the society to which he belongs. On reflection, however, we can see many reasons why a deeper understanding is more than useful, especially in modern times, and in several ways becomes essential for those who profess what the world around them does not believe.
Why Study About the Church
Since the Church is a divine institution which the Son of God personally established and during His visible stay on earth revealed as a continuance of the Incarnation, it would be less than ungrateful not to learn all we can about that marvelous reality which Christ so loved that He delivered Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her and present to Himself the Church in all her glory. If knowledge of any kind ennobles the human mind, and its value is determined by the sublimity of what is known, knowledge of the Church must rank near the acme of created science because it deals with nothing less than God, dwelling in His creatures and uniting them in a Body of which He is the invisible Head.
It is a platitude in Psychology that a thing is appreciated if it is understood. Although the Church is a mystery and therefore not fully comprehensible this side of heaven, it is nevertheless a truth susceptible of many levels of penetration. The deeper the penetration and clearer the insight, the more devoted will a Catholic become in the practice of his faith and more disposed to garner of its supernatural benefits. Is it permissible for a Catholic to be ignorant of what he possesses when even those who have no sympathy with Catholicism may admire its visible qualities almost to adulation? The Roman Church, wrote Harnack, is the most comprehensive and the vastest, the most complicated and yet at the same time the most uniform structure which, as far as we know, history has produced. All the powers of the human mind and soul, and all the elemental forces at mankinds disposal, have had a hand in creating it.  Should a Catholic be so little informed that he could not make an equally favorable judgment about the society to which he belongs?
Following in the footsteps of her Founder, the Church has been a sign of contradiction to her enemies and a scandal to those outside of her fold. She has been opposed over the centuries as no other institution in history, and opposition is still one of the marks of her divinity. Catholics have to know how to meet the arguments leveled against their faith, if they are to preserve themselves inviolate from the criticism and hostility to which their profession is widely subject. For more than a century the area of conflict has been largely ecclesiological; where formerly the objections to Catholicism were on one of the dogmas, they are now directed against the foundation of the Church herselfher claim to juridical descent from Christ and the apostles, her profession of infallibility in matters of doctrine and morals, her title to independence of the state in all that concerns the spiritual welfare of her members, her right to tell the world that she is the unique channel of salvation and proclaim the obligations that even those who do not belong to her must keep if they are to reach eternal happiness.
Not everyone who is not a Catholic is opposed to the Church and, certainly in America, the majority seem well disposed to what she stands for and even ready to listen to her message and credentials. This imposes the corresponding duty on the faithful to make the Church better known and her teachings respected, not only among the unlearned but also in educated circles and among those who are most influential to affect the welfare of society. All of which presupposes more than uncommon knowledge of the Churchs origins, the scope of her ecclesiastical system and the perfect consonance of her doctrine, even the most abstruse, with sound reason and the deepest religious instincts of human nature.
Various Approaches to Ecclesiology
Depending on the end in view and the purpose for which the Church is investigated, different approaches are possible to the science of ecclesiology.
At the broadest level, the Church may be studied as a historical entity. We can trace her beginnings in the New Testament, through the apostolic age and the Fathers, up to the present time. In this way, the Church is treated as any other civil or religious institution, whose ancestry and development are a matter of record; persons, places and events are empirically verified and a consequent body of data is assembled for further and deeper analysis along theological lines. The historical method has the advantage of dealing with specific facts which no one may controvert and, even on this level, the Church appears as a phenomenon without parallel in the story of the human race. Moreover without this foundation in history, a study of the Church would lack the fiber and substance it requires to meet the current need for defending Catholicism against the assaults of historical criticism from men like Harnack, Lightfoot and Latourette. Harnack alone has published over twenty volumes on the origins of Christianity, with a concentration on the early patristic age. It would be naïve to suppose that a Catholic could answer without preparation a statement like Latourettes, that In the nineteenth century Protestantism had the larger share in the propagation of the faith and displayed the greater proportionate growth. 
Another approach to the Church is the defensive or apologetic, which means the very opposite of regret or exculpation. It is the positive and forthright presentation of the Churchs right to be accepted as a divine legate, speaking in the name of God and empowered by Him to lead men to their appointed destiny. Using the materials quarried out of history, and combining these with the latest researches in biblical archeology, linguistics and even positive science, the apologetics of the Church establish her origins and prove that, alone of all institutions since the time of Christ, she has remained substantially unchanged in doctrine, discipline and juridical structure. From the Church as a visible phenomenon we are led, and can lead others, to believe in Him who is her invisible Head. In the words of St. Augustine, Christ we have not seen, but we have the Church; let us therefore believe in Him. The Apostles saw Christ, they believed in the Church which they did not see. Let us who see the Church believe in Christ whom we do not yet see.  As knowledge of the Church increases, faith in her Founder grows apace.
But more important than history of defense, and in fact, the purpose of both, is to study the Church dogmatically as a composite of mysterious truths that we may see now only darkly but are destined one day to understand with perfect clarity. Enlightened by faith we know that appearances are deceptive, that the Church is more than a visible society with a ruling hierarchy; as described in revelation she is the Spouse of Christ, the Temple of God, the Mystical Body, the heavenly Kingdom---where every concept is so rich in doctrinal meaning that a lifetime of study would not exhaust the contents. With food for the mind and meditation, knowledge of the Church also furnishes the most powerful stimulus for the practice of virtue. An isolated doctrine like the Churchs necessity for salvation, when thoroughly grasped, becomes an inspiration for apostolic zeal; our common incorporation in the Body of Christ becomes the motive for generous sacrifice and reparation; and the Churchs indefectibility a mainstay for proclaiming the laws of God with absolute conviction to an unbelieving world.
Principles and Methodology
In setting up the present volume, the basic principle which the author followed was to study the Church as a living reality that is not divorced from space and time. As far as possible, the abstract ideas of technical theology are clothed in the historical context in which they originally occurred, thus giving them an added dimension and greater intelligibility. Also the sequence of treatment is generally chronological, beginning with the gospel of the Kingdom, through the Church of the apostles, to the present day, when the great moral and social issues are being solved under the Churchs guidance.
The over-all plan covers four principal aspects of institutional Christianity, founded by Christ and identified with the Catholic Church of which the Roman Pontiff is visible head:
Origins of the Church. Starting with Christs vocation of the apostles, the Churchs origins are delineated from the gospel narrative, the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul, and carried through the first three centuries up to the Edict of Constantine. The main point is to establish the Church as a visible institution with a primacy of jurisdiction vested in St. Peter and his successors in the Roman See.
Identification of the True Church. Still on the apologetic plane, we examine the various claims of existing religious bodies to being, among Christians, the Church of Christ, and among others, sanctioned by God. Since only the Catholic Church has proved her claim by the performance of miraculous signs, only she (like Christ) has a right to proclaim her divine authority.
Nature of the Church. Having seen that the Church is authorized by God, we are in a position to accept her teaching about herself, her nature and function in human society. She regards herself as the Mystical body of Christ, whose purpose is to sanctify mankind and bring them, in union with Christ their Head, into the heavenly Kingdom of which the Church on earth is the militant counterpart. In order to safeguard the deposit of faith committed to her by Christ, the Church was endowed with the prerogative of infallibility, which makes the work of sanctification possible.
Relation to Other Persons and Societies. Not everyone belongs to the Church; yet no one can be saved except through her. Just what this means and how it can be done is epitomized in the formula Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Correlative to the Churchs necessity for non-Catholics is their ecumenical effort to find some kind of unity which, though unwitting, is a movement in the direction of the true Church. Finally and inevitably, the Churchs claim to being a perfect society has come into conflict with political institutions and given rise to the problem of Church and State. Although the tension is as old as Christianity, the new character of civil society and religious pluralism (as in America) has radically affected the Churchs condition in modern times.
In the composition of this volume, the author had in mind a reading audience of American students in Catholic colleges and universities. Every phase of the subject was influenced by this orientation. By preference, issues and problems that have special bearing on the national scene were emphasized. Thus papal infallibility, the necessity of the Church for salvation, and Church-State relations are examined with a penetration which the author feels is not beyond the competence of men and women who need to understand these areas of their faith as clearly and profoundly as possible. The extensive treatment of the Mystical Body has a corresponding purpose, to lay the groundwork for a theological concept of society as the Catholic answer to Communist idealism.
Studies made in recent years agree that college people are capable of doing challenging work in the field of sacred doctrine and are as willing to expend themselves in theology as in the other disciplines of a university. Certainly the intellectual demands are just as great. It is hoped that Christ to Catholicism will contribute to this end, by offering the basic principles of ecclesiology in a language and form which appeal to the will and motivation without diluting the science of the Church or losing those elements which satisfy the mind.
Introduction - References
Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
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