Opening Catholic Doctrine

I begin Catholic Doctrine thusly.

1.  With some logic exercises so students understand what logically is implied by affirming some Catholic teachings and denying others.
2.  With a reading from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity so students understand that "being Christian" means assenting to certain beliefs.  No one is saying you are a "bad person" if you don't agree with teaching of the Church.  You are just not Christian.
3.  With research projects into major reference sources for Catholic teaching so students can find their own answers.

These three steps can diffuse a lot!  No more teacher on the defensive, no more students putting all the burden of proof on the teacher, no more students on the defensive, more interested in defending their integrity than in trying to understand the teaching.

I don't like to be on the defensive, explaining every single Catholic teaching to students--trying by a series of victorious explanations to convince someone that the Church is worth considering. The Catholic Faith is not worth believing because she has a sum of worthy beliefs, or more worthy beliefs, better explanations than other Faiths.

I find it helpful to explain--right away--that every time a Catholic encounters a doctrine he can not understand, he comes to the ultimate claim of the Church that she is founded by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. If you believe that, then the particular teaching must be guided by the Holy Spirit. If you don't understand that teaching, you probably don't have all the information and need to study and pray more about it. If you think the teaching is wrong, then you don't actually believe the Church was founded by Christ or you don't believe it is continually guided by the Holy Spirit so as to guard against "mistaken teachings."

What does not make sense is picking and choosing beliefs--that always implies doubt of the Holy Spirit's involvement. And if you doubt the Holy Spirit's involvement, you don't believe the Church is what she says she is. It seems to me very important that someone who becomes or stays Catholic know exactly what he is getting into.

Stay tuned for longer posts on the three opening steps.



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