The Folly of the Cross blog is an attempt to help me collect my thoughts and systematize them into a written form. I plan to cover the big topics; life, the universe, and particularly God. The latter will particularly be from the perspective of historic Christianity, or what is often called classical theism.
A blog seemed to serve my purposes better than say a journal or book. Blogs afford the added ability to have others interact with your ideas and give feedback.
I have come to believe that one of the best ways to work towards truth is through dialog with others. Philosophy is a conversation (Socratic dialectic). It is an exchange and interaction of ideas. This is true whether it is in person, in real-time, or responding to other philosopher’s written works.
Explaining my ideas to others helps me to sharpen my own understanding of things. I can also expand my own horizons when I try to understand another’s point of view.
For whatever reason, you have stumbled across this place, welcome. I hope you find any information contained here useful in some manner. I welcome you to join me on my journey to uncover truth.
After a search for the foundation of truth lead me into Christianity, I spent the next 6 years as a Confessional Lutheran.
After becoming acquainted with the philosophy of Aristotelian-Thomism and Catholic natural law, I began to see many philosophical and theological errors in Protestant thought, generally. This lead me to research Catholicism closer and try and find out why they were so right about a great many things, especially in moral philosophy, but were wrong on core theological principles. Specifically, I wanted to know how the Catholic Church, with all its many brilliant thinkers throughout the ages of the Church, could be wrong on the most fundamental theological principle of salvation by faith alone wrong (sola fide).
My research into what the Catholic Church teaches on justification ended up catching me completely off guard, as I quickly realized they did not teach at all what I thought they did and their position on justification seemed to be more biblical, logical, and inline with the historical beliefs of the Christian community than Lutheran thought. A deeper look into many more topics lead me to conclude that the Catholic Church is who She claims to be: the mystical body of Christ instituted by Christ Himself to dispense His graces through the sacraments and guard and protect Christ’s people throughout all time.
Key Points of Doctrine:
God – The only true God is one in essence, three in persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; St Matthew 28:19–21]
Man and Original Sin – Mankind was created perfect in the image and likeness of God. This means that Adam and Eve had perfect fear, love, and trust in God and were given a preternatural grace of original justice. They were in good standing with God. [Genesis 1:26,27] This grace of original justice was lost in the fall when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [Genesis 3] From this point onward, every person is born with original sin [Psalm 51:5], that is without this original justice and is thus guilty before God [Romans 3:9–18]. This inherited guilt of sin is called “original sin.” The punishment for original sin is death and damnation [Romans 3:23; 5:12].
Jesus, the Son of God – For us and for our salvation, the Son of God took on man’s nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary and became man. [St John 1:14] His name is Jesus. [St Matthew 1:21] Jesus is God, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. [St John 1:1; 20:28] Jesus has two natures: divine and human, which are forever united in the one person. He was truly born, suffered, was crucified and buried that He might be a sacrifice for all sin and reconcile us to the Father. [See Romans 4:25; St John 1:29; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23–25] On the third day He was resurrected from the dead, and, after appearing to His disciples, ascended into heaven where He sits at the right Hand of God. [1 Corinthians 15:3–6; St Mark 16:19] Jesus is the only Savior of mankind. [St John 14:6; Acts 4:12]
Justification – We cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own strength, merits, or works (CCC 2010), but we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, through faith, by the merit won for us by Christ’s atoning sacrifice of Himself for us on the cross (CCC 1992). In baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit and are infused with sanctifying grace (Romans 5:5). This gives us back the original justice Adam and Eve lost when God transforms sinful nature into a renewed, righteous nature (Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17) free from original sin. At initial conversion, God alone calls to repentance, gifts us with faith, and draws us to the baptismal waters (CCC 2010). At any point, we have the ability to reject these gifts and call from God (CCC 1993).
The Means of Grace – God instituted the seven sacraments to provide us with help and strength as we navigate through life.
CCC 1210 Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life:1 they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.
In particular, the holy Eucharist is the pinnacle of all the sacraments and is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324).
Good Works/Obedience of Faith – Good works and obedience to God’s law are necessary. After we receive initial justification and enter back into God’s family, we are then under the New Law which only through the graces of God that He continually infuses in us are we able to fulfill (Rom. 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14, John 15:5, Matt 19:26). After initial justification, we are held accountable and judged for the deeds we do or don’t do in God’s grace (James 2:24-26, Matthew 25:31-46, Romans 2:6-13, Revelation 20:11-15, Galatians 6:7-8, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 2:23, Mat. 16:27). It is not faith alone that earns us final salvation as faith cannot cover evil deeds once you were initially justified and engrafted into God’s family (1 John 5:16-17, Matt 7:21, Galatians 6:8, Gal. 5:19-21, 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Unity of the Church
I believe Jesus gave Peter the keys to His kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19) and these keys are a reference from Jesus back to Isaiah 22 where King Hezekiah (King of Isreal at the time) gave the keys to the Davidic kingdom to his prime minister to rule in the king’s stead. Jesus instituted the one Holy Catholic and apostolic Church through Peter, His royal steward while He is in Heaven, that continues today. I pray that one day there will be a mass reunification of all Christian denominations in the Catholic Church. This is most certainly God’s will (Rom 16:17, Jn 10:16, 1Cor 1:10, Jn 17:17-23). I pray that anyone who belongs to a Church that is “protesting” the Catholic Church, at least stops to see if they truly know what they are protesting, not simply what their church tells them they are protesting. I think non-Catholics will be surprised to learn that they greatly misunderstand what Catholics teach and believe and will be surprised to know what gifts await them to aid them on their journey to God within the Catholic fold.
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
– Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
I also believe that we have lost much ancient wisdom. I believe that a return to classical theism is what is sorely needed in the church. By classical theism I mean:
Divine Simplicity – such that God is the ground of all being, containing no potentials or parts.
Divine Attributes – as God contains no potentials and is pure actuality, some attributes necessarily follow: there can be only one God, He is immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent, perfectly just, etc.
Moderate Realism – such as found in the Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) tradition. Transcendentals are a real part of the world and exist as forms in the objects within they adhere. The ground of all these forms is in the mind of God.
Essentialism – I believe that all things contain essences and are able to act according to the powers that inhere in the form of that essence. I believe the modern scientific project is incoherent if essences are not real.
Classical Arguments for God – I believe the strongest arguments for God are those which posit God as a necessary being, whose essence is to exist, and who gives all being their existence. Arguments from the Principle of Sufficient Reason, arguments from change (God as the unmoved-mover), divine simplicity, and God’s essence equaling His existence I believe are all sound and valid and I have not read any compelling objections to them. These arguments create the conditions whereby God not existing would mean the world is incoherent; it just exists as a brute fact with no purpose, value or meaning.
Teleology – I believe things act according to their natures because there are final causes (teleological causes) that inform everything. Once again, I believe the modern scientific project is incoherent if teleological causes are not real. I believe humans are special in creation in that we are the only things that have the ability to not act according to our telos (free will). This is why human actions alone are questions of morality. I believe that morality is incoherent without a teleological view of human action.