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Where to Find True Religion

Last night, I was writing to a friend who had written to me about the theory of evolution, which I reject. As I replied, I wrote, “No doctor, saint or Pope ever held or taught it. It was proposed by a non-Catholic, became popular among non-Catholics and Catholics in Academia caved to it.”

I believe that.

In this morning’s Scripture reading at Morning Prayer, we learn where to look for true religion–and what to avoid:

“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”

Hebrews 13:7-9a

First, the Christians were told to “remember [their] leaders”, that is, the faithful men who actually evangelized them. Those faithful men are the true Christians.

Second, the Christians were told to consider the end of their lives, lives which ended in union with Christ’s Death and Resurrection. Those faithful men are the true Christians.

Third, Christians were told to “imitate their faith”. Those faithful men are the true Christians.

Fourth, Christians are assured that while their faithful leaders die and are replaced by others, who may not be like them, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The Lord of those men remains the Lord of all men today, no matter what newcomers may say.

Fifth, Christians are warned “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” By the word “strange” here is not meant “weird” teaching. There are many wackos teaching in the name of Christianity, but false teachers can also appear very cool or very intelligent. What Christians are told is to not be carried away by different teaching. The teaching of those faithful leaders, the end of whose life was known to the Christians, was the true Christian doctrine and anything different was to be ignored.

This passage teaches us to judge teachings not by the plausibility of their arguments, but by the ends of the lives of their sources. Many today will argue that this kind of reasoning is “ad hominem“, but the truth cannot be a fallacy. Strange teachings may deceive us, but there is no deception in the ends of the lives of teachers.

“But we cannot know the ends of the lives of present teachers!”

Exactly, which is why we also should not follow their teaching, no matter how plausible it may appear.

True religion is found in the mouths and writings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church who have finished the race and proven themselves faithful and true. We should never abandon them for “strange teachings” that have no precedent among proven leaders.

WCM

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