The Catholic's ready answer
a popular vindication of Christian beliefs and practices against the attacks of modern criticism
It is not many years since Father P. X, Brors, of the German Province of the Society of Jesus, sent forth to the world a small volume entitled “Modemes ABC’’ (Modem ABC), of which the scope and to a great extent the contents were identical with those of the work which we now present to the English-speaking public.
Written in German and intended to meet the controversial needs of the Author’s own countrymen, the little book soon justified its appearance in the field of polemics — at least if we may so judge by its great popularity. German Catholics of average education found in the ^'Modemes A B C” an arsenal from which they could draw defensive weapons which were not less effective than easily handled.
The number and the variety of the subjects treated and the ability with which they were discuss^ enabled the reader to give apt replies to all manner of objections brought against revealed religion and the teachings of the Church. Recognizing the merit of the work, we very readily ac- ceded to a request of the Messrs. Benziger Brothers to reproduce it in its vernacular.
The mere translation was accomplished in a comparatively short space of time; and if we could have been satisfied with a bare rendering of the original into English The Catholic's Ready Answer would have seen the light of day long before the present date; but as we proceeded with ^e translation we became more and more convinced that the new version, to meet the requirements of polemics in English-speaking countries, must diverge in some respects from the original.
The need for such adaptation, of not a few omissions, and of a considerable number of additions seemed imperative. There was one peculiarity of the work which was quite distinctive of it and to which it doubtless owed much of its success, but which, nevertheless, we thought might be a drawback in regard to one class of readers whom we were anxious to reach. In the treatment of important subjects such as the Eucharist,
Miracles, and Socialism the subject- matter was in each case broken up, distributed under a number of distinct captions, and despatched in short articles, which were crisp and to the point and served to equip the reader with ready answers, especially useful in an emergency. Very much of this character we have indeed sought to preserve in the work we have now sent to the press; but in order to meet the wants of sincere inquirers after the truth, who are very numerous in English-speak- ing countries, and who would probably prefer a more full, thorough, and continuous discussion of the more important subjects, we have thought it advisable in some cases to unite of the original in articles of exceptional length. In the place of the subordinate topics thus left untreated separately, cross-references, aided by the in- dex at the end of the volume, will point them out to the reader in the logical position they occupy in the longer articles.
This method we have adopted the more readily as we have desired to make the work serve the purpose of a treatise, brief but fairly complete, on the evidence of religion. Finally, notwithstanding the general comprehensiveness of the original, it left untouched a certain number of subjects, e.g., Christian Science, Pragmatism, theosophy, which of late years have arrested the attention of the Christian apologist. Articles on these subjects we have thought it our duty to supply. In the pursuit of these aims, we have not been unaware that our book has been gradually assuming the character of a new work instead of being simply an English version of the old one. If this has be^, in some sense, inevitable, and if it compasses the object we have had in view, our act of contrition for having tampered with the able work of a skilled controversialist will perhaps be somewhat qualified.
Both in the original and in the English adaptation the work, though chiefly polemical in its scope, does not strictly confine itself to controversy, but endeavours to inculcate right notions of individual duty, especially as bearing on situations in which conscientious persons often find themselves in the very complex life of the present age.
This is particularly the case in the articles on Mixed Marriag^, Divorces, Labor Unions, and Education, which we trust will be helpful to those whose principles are in danger of being warped under the influence of their environment. "whilst thanking the Author of the ^'Modemes ABC’' for his permission both to translate and to adapt the work, let us express the hope that in the not distant future he may be gratified to know that the seeds of truth which he has sown broadcast in his native land have, by propagation, borne fruit beyond the sea.
Some contents :
An agnostic query - "Why trouble ourselves about matters such as god's existence, of which, however important they may be, we do know nothing?" (Huxley) 7
See "Religion, a change of," and "The church of christ - how to find it."
Apes and men
The ape theory - man bears so striking a resemblance to the ape that we are forced to conclude that he is descended from the ape 13
Objection - the heroes of the old testament are represented as being special favourites of the almighty. On the other hand, they seem to have had many vices. What, then, are we to think of the bible as a teacher of morality or as a divinely inspired book? 16
Protestant position - the bible teaches all necessary truth to all who approach the study of it in the right spirit. In the scriptures, god speaks to the human soul, and no interpreter of his word is needed but the soul itself, enlightened by the holy spirit 18
Bible, the, and modern thought
Objection - the bible is for many reasons deserving of veneration, but it is quite out of harmony with modern thought. The science, the aspirations, and the general point of view of the modern world are at the opposite pole from the contents of the bible 22
Objection - the bible contains many stories that remind us forcibly of the myths of early pagan history. How can we be expected to believe the story of the serpent tempting eve - that of the flood, with its fabulous quantity of water - that of noe collecting the countless species of animals? - and then, is not god frequently represented in a strangely human way - when, for instance, he is described as taking slime and forming it into a human body, or as shaping adam's rib into a woman - or when he is said to be moved to wrath or to repent of his creation of man? 29
Bible, the, and the people
An accusation - it is notoriously the settled policy of Rome to withhold the Bible from the people: witness the number of decrees on the subject in the history of the papacy. Versions of the bible in the language of the people have been an object of the church's special aversion 37
Bible, the, and science
Objections - according to the bible the world was made in six days, whereas geology proves that enormous periods of time were required to bring the earth to its present condition. The earth, which astronomy has shown to be only a satellite of the sun, is represented by the bible as having been created before the sun; and the heavenly bodies, generally, are described as though they were lamps hung in the heavens to light the earth 44
Bible, the, and tradition
Protestant view - the bible alone is the Christian's rule of faith 48
Blessed virgin, the
Objections - to a non-catholic, devotion to the virgin mary seems to be given a very undue prominence in catholic worship: witness the feasts of Mary and the frequent devotions to mary. Besides, there is little or nothing to distinguish this homage from real worship of one of god's creatures 54
See "Labor unions"
Catholic and protestant countries
The charge - the leading countries of the world today are protestant. Great Britain, Germany, and the united states are the foremost nations in point of political power, commerce and industry, and general enlightenment; whilst catholic countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Ireland are very unprogressive, and France is apparently on the decline 58
A prejudice - "Take from the catholic church the compulsory celibacy of its priests, and the universal sway of the church is at an end." celibacy is unbiblical and its effect on morality is dubious. - tschackert 68
Ceremonies in public worship
Erroneous view - the public worship of the catholic church captivates the senses, but it savours little of adoration in spirit and in truth. - tschackert 65
A thoughtless assertion - the world owes its existence to chance. 67
The new religion - "Christian science is based on teachings of scripture which it interprets, giving the christ principle in divine metaphysics which heals the sick and sinner. It explains the cause and effect as mental and shows the scientific relation of man to god." - mrs. Eddy's "Science and health" 68
A modern pronouncement - one of the results of modern criticism is that Jesus of Nazareth no longer stands upon the lofty eminence on which his adorers had placed him. He now takes rank only with those great men who approach nearest to the divine. In the light of modern criticism, his miracles are shorn of their supernatural character. Neither his words nor his works prove him to have been more than man 74
Church of Christ, the - how to find it
Objection - if the true church of christ is still in existence the claimants to that title are so numerous that the problem of finding the church is beyond the powers of any but extraordinary minds. The average man might be excused if he gave up the search 97
Church, the, as mediator
Objection - the church thrusts herself between christ and mankind; and yet christ is our one mediator with god. None the less the church has lost the world-subduing power she once possessed 119
Church, the, and salvation
Objection - Catholics are taught that outside the church of Rome there is no salvation. It is a poor recommendation of the roman religion that it sends the majority of men to eternal perdition 122
Communion under one kind
Objection - "The cuppe of the lord is not to be denied to the laye people. For both the parts of the lord's sacrament, by christie's ordinance and commandment, ought to have ministered to all Christian men alike." - thirty-nine articles of the church of England, art. 20. 125
Confession divinely instituted
Objection - it is not in the power of the creature to forgive offences committed against the creator; hence confession, in which the priest presumes to pardon sins, can not be of divine institution 129
Confession and the people
Some common accusations - confession - at least private confession - is an invention of the priests. It is the secret force by which the roman church enslaves the consciences of the people. One of the worst features of auricular confession is the practice of questioning penitents about their sins 136
See "God's existence"
Creeds and deeds
Erroneous view - right conduct does not seem to depend much upon formulas of belief. There are good and bad men in all religions. The great thing, after all, is to do what is right 141
Objection - what is to prevent a Christian - catholic or non-catholic - from directing that his body be burned after his death? There is nothing intrinsically wrong in cremation and it may be made an important factor in public sanitation 144
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