18 August 2009

 

No Room for Doubt

One of the biggest problems facing the world is posed by religions whose followers believe that they have the one and only "answer" and that all others are condemned to hell.

Such a belief, though not in its most extreme form, is set out by Michael Brucciani in his letter to the Leicester Mercury shown below.

Constantine and the Church
Saturday, August 15, 2009, 09:30

I fear that Patrick Trigg's understanding of Catholic doctrine and history is a bit wobbly (Mailbox, August 6). The monotheistic religions do not worship the same god.

In revealing the Holy Trinity, the mystery of three divine persons in one God, Jesus Christ allows us to identify the one, true God. Those who reject Christ as God, have made for themselves a different god.

Catholics accept that Christ, as God and man, teaches the eternal truth that leads to the resurrection of the body and eternal happiness in heaven.

When the divinity of Christ was attacked by the Arian heresy, Emperor Constantine helped to arrange the Council of Nicaea in 325AD. This confirmed what had always been taught and believed by the Church. In denying the divinity of Christ, the Arians removed the foundation of all belief in the Catholic Faith. They became physically aggressive in promoting this false teaching, thereby cutting off their families from the means of salvation. As a last resort, the civil authorities, with the support of the Catholic Church, suppressed this danger to the souls of future generations and to civil order.

As for Constantine, his victory in 312AD, fought under the sign of the Christian Cross, confirmed him as Emperor of the Roman Empire. He recognised the power of God and the truth taught by the Catholic Church. He saw the civilising effects of Christianity over the pagan people. This influenced him to be magnanimous towards his enemies, a rare thing in a pagan world.

Before his death, he was baptised and so must have accepted the full teaching of the Catholic Church, including the divinity of Christ.

Michael Brucciani, Hallaton.

I have sent a response to the Mercury http://tinyurl.com/lesk8g that appears below.

Dear Sir,

I read with interest Michael Brucciani's letter (Mailbox, August 15) in which he sets out the details of one of the many schisms in early Christianity:

“When the divinity of Christ was attacked by the Arian heresy, Emperor Constantine helped to arrange the Council of Nicaea in 325AD. This confirmed what had always been taught and believed by the Church. In denying the divinity of Christ, the Arians removed the foundation of all belief in the Catholic Faith. They became physically aggressive in promoting this false teaching, thereby cutting off their families from the means of salvation. As a last resort, the civil authorities, with the support of the Catholic Church, suppressed this danger to the souls of future generations and to civil order”.

The final paragraph encapsulates the problem caused by absolutist religions whose believers have no doubts about their “faith”. If you believe that there is only one way to salvation (or to avoid hell) then anything that might cause your children not to believe threatens their eternal soul. This threat is therefore perceived by believers as much more dangerous than the threat of violence, or even death, to their children.

Consequently heresy is seen as the greatest crime that can be committed and the most barbarous forms of death penalty are reserved for it. This explains much of the religious violence that has occurred over the centuries and is still extant.

Such beliefs remain a threat to a peaceful society and trying to ensure that such absolutist religions do not gain any form of power is one of the reasons that I am a member of Leicester Secular Society.

There is further information on this topic available on the Society's blog which can be found at www.leicestersecularsociety.org.uk {this last paragraph was cut by the Mercury}.

John Catt Loughborough


This quote from Calvin defending the decision to burn Michael Servetus alive for denying the trinity and opposing infant baptism makes the point.

“Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory.”

To all fundamentalists, those who disagree with them are seen as a threat to the true faith. This remains particularly so with some Islamic sects. The fate of "non-believers" (shown below) is indicated in the Qur'an and other texts considered sacred in Islam.

If you truly believe that a terrible fate lies in store for any of your family or friends who fail to conform to "the faith", then it is easy to see why it can be seen as good to "eliminate" those of a different or no faith. Of course this is also one of the reasons that the most fervent followers of religion insist on sending their children to "faith" (sectarian) schools since they want to protect them from the dangers of doubt.

Probably the most important thing we can foster in society is doubt. If we accept we can be wrong, then it becomes almost impossible to advocate "totalitarian" government and laws, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Communist or Fascist.

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