Has hell prevailed against the Church - how do we measure?


#1

I responded to a post in another thread, admittedly off topic and it was suggested I start another thread with the content of my responce. So here goes. I’ll start with what I wrote in the other thread and tack on the question which is the premise of this thread.

Other thread:

My experience, compounded by a very distressing discussion just yesterday, is that there is no other group so strongly anti-catholic, then a catholic who has no idea of what thier faith is about.

My discussion became so distressing I was almost convinced that the entire idea of catholicism is false simply because the vast majority of catholics are no more “catholic” then an individual from another faith or an individual from no faith at all.

Christ said, Satan will not prevail against His church. Which of course means if Satan does prevail, the concept of the Christian God is meaningless. I’d pose the question (in lew of the conversation I had yesterday as well my catholic experience in general) is, Has Satan prevailed?

I don’t think Satan has prevailed because I think if Christ’s church has not withstood the test of time, it’s not because Satan prevailed. That would give credence to the idea of Christ.

I’d lean more towards the “idea” that since there is little evidence of a true church (as we understand the church to be) that the situation is not that Satan prevailed,but rather, there is no Christ and therefore no Satan.

How do we define “prevailed”? If there is one fool left who believed in Christianity, has Satan not pervailed? There may be more then one, but Catholicism is certainly a minority. I’d suggest a vast minority. I’d suggest, an almost significant (relatively speaking)presence in the world. ( I know there are 1 billion but of that 1 billion how many know what is means to be catholic?) I think it can be reasonably argued. that Satan (or lackthereof,) has prevailed.

It was one very discouraging conversation as you can probably tell from the content of this reply. I am asking myself, “Am I the fool”?

Question (problem I am having):

Christ stated a couple of things that I find relevant here. “The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church” and, “Go forth and preach the Good News to all nations” (both off the top of my head…paraphrased). We are instructed that Faith should never go against reason. Is it reasonable to think the Church has not failed when so few Christians understand the teachings of the Catholic(the one true) church?

The “word” of Chritianity has certainly spread all over the world. Butin any one given community (certainly here in the USA) the word has not been heard.

Maybe some will say they disagree with statistical approach to my problem. I believe the number of Catholics who have a “reasonable” understanding of the Catholicism is in the single percentage points. I firmly feel this way based on my experiences. Since coming back to a Faith and attempting to learn all I can I find I am alone. Other then virtual reality,CAF, EWTN etc. I am alone in my Catholic faith amongst Catholic friends (who vehemently deny anythhing I suggest such as Apostolic succession), and Catholic family.

By my experience, by any conservative measure I can manifest, the Church has not “prevailed” over anything at all. The Church is very lonely place indeed.

BTW, I am not giving up. In fact I am off to Mass right now :slight_smile: . I’m simply troubled.


#2

It’s a mistake to think that the Church is not indefectible because her members are sinners or uncatechized.

Why?

To the degree that a member of the Church lacks Charity or is opposed to the teaching of the Church, he is out of communion with the Church. He has become a member of the Church only by number and not by character.

The holiness of the Church herself depends on the holiness of Christ, which is guaranteed not to be lacking. It is also guaranteed that in each age there will be a sufficient number of holy members of the Church.

Satan cannot prevail against the Church because he cannot prevail against Christ.

It is true, however, that the catholicity of the Church is wounded. In other words, the unity of the Church is not fully manifested everywhere in the way that it should be. This does not mean that Hell has prevailed but only that the Church Militant is just that–militant. She is a pilgrim on a journey to Heaven, where the Kingdom of God, which is already present in the Church, will be fully and definitively established.

So yes, the Church on earth is in constant need of purification, of re-committing herself to her Lord and to her mission because of the human element of the Church. However, Christ’s guarantee that Hell will not prevail is true because the indefectibility of the Church depends on Christ himself.

The Church has sinners for her members, but she herself is not sinful and, therefore, not conquered by the forces of Hell.


#3

How do we define "prevailed"? If there is one fool left who believed in Christianity, has Satan not pervailed? There may be more then one, but Catholicism is certainly a minority. I’d suggest a vast minority. I’d suggest, an almost significant (relatively speaking)presence in the world. ( I know there are 1 billion but of that 1 billion how many know what is means to be catholic?) I think it can be reasonably argued. that Satan (or lackthereof,) has prevailed.

I am interested in this question as well. You make an excellent point in posing it.

While I find it disturbing and terribly unsettling that our current culture is in such stark opposition to all things Catholic, what causes me the most despair is that this same opposition exists within the Church, among Catholics themsevles. Even on an internet site like CAF, commonly understood to be dedicated to traditional Catholic teaching, I find other Catholics who are often more combative and more heterdox than some non-Catholics. This is where I also begin to ask the same question as the OP because one begins to feel like the lone voice in the wilderness.

When Christ promised that the Church would prevail, did He mean here on earth or at the Judgement? Are we to expect His triumphant return even if there are only a handful of believers left?


#4

Satan did not prevail over Gideon’s army, which contained only 300 people.

Satan did not prevail over Israel through whom the promise came, despite only 7,000 men remaining who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

Numbers aren’t everything, and with God, they’re very little.

Jeremy


#5

Good question. I’d like to think He meant that while attacked and diminishing, it makes a startling comeback. However I can’t say I hold out much hope in believing this will take place in my lifetime, if at all, given the current condition of the church at large.

Along this point, I have to wonder if Catholic Orthodoxy (or even to a lesser extent, a reasonable Catholic understanding) is too much of an intellectual pursuit to bare any fruit?

I’m not at all suggesting that Catholicism is on par with rocket science but it does seem that to truly understand Catholicism it requires a greater degree of research and study then what the vast majority of people in this world today are going to put forth towards a pursuit outside thier immediate profession. People don’t even like to study what they need to study to get through; high school, college and other required studies to maintain thier life’s status and responsibilities. Never mind “religion”.

If a person puts forth little or no effort to understand such topics as the reaosn why we believe Marriage to be a sacrament; apostolic succession; Mariology; True presence in the Eucharist and so much more. I’d suggest that all of these things, if simply elluded to and not studied, seem to defy reason. I’m not questioing these things myself I believe in all the teachings of the church. I’m simply suggesting that without study these things seem unreasonable. They certainly did to me. Further I find when I attempt to discuss these with some (most) people (even Catholics), they find these issues contemptable or laughable.

I may not have given up on the Faith, but I have given up any degree of preaching it.

Why, I wonder, would God design His plan in such a way that it is ignored because humans will not invest the time?


#6

Has hell prevailed against the the church? Iv been asking myself this for a while now, its such a devastating claim that nobody wants to face up to. The catholic church was once a powerful organisation that held a great deal of power, its no longer the case. In fact i would have to say its the complete oppisite, the unfortunate truth of reality is that nobody around me cares about the catholic faith, absolutely no one, and i went to a catholic school and have a very large catholic family.
Pornography is normal, fornification is normal, divorce is normal, the church is seen by most people i know as a complete joke.
I often ask God why? How could he let this happen? Its soo much harder to have faith when everybody around you doesnt. In my oppinion the church will fade away in next 50 years, and i dont care how many people disagree, there just not being realists and choosing only to believe the fairytale image of society they have in their own mind. The truth really hurts.


#7

How much power and prestige do you think the Catholic church had for its first 300 years when it was under persecution alike from Jews AND Pagan Rome??? Were fornication, pornography, and divorce not the norm then too??? (If you think they weren’t you know nothing about pagan Rome!)

But was the Catholic church then any the less Christ’s own Church founded on the Rock against which hell would not prevail???

Numbers, money, political influence - they matter not a bit.


#8

[quote=Mijoy2]Is it reasonable to think the Church has not failed when so few Christians understand the teachings of the Catholic(the one true) church?
[/quote]

There is only one road that leads to the Truth that is the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Having said that, along that journey, each of us discover the joys of that road in different ways. For me, I must admit, that the intellectual aspects are quite invigorating. Yet I understand that the intellectual journey isn’t for everyone. The case in point I can bring to the table is my wife. For her, the spiritual journey has been more invigorating. She doesn’t get nearly as excited about the intellectual aspects of the faith as I do, yet when she looks at the Catholic faith through spiritual lenses, it makes much more sense to her.

Intellectually speaking, the Sacrament of marriage makes sense to me. Spiritually speaking, the Sacrament of marriage makes sense to my wife. Together we mutually understand the intellectual and the spiritual aspects of the Catholic teaching of Sacramental marriage.

My point is that although few will find the road to Catholic truth, it is certainly scriptural (Matthew 7:13-14):

13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. 14 How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Just because the Catholic Church is a complex set of doctrines and dogmas of what the Truth is, you don’t necessarily need to fully understand them to become a Catholic. When my wife and I married, she was not a Catholic but now she is. What drew her to the faith was not the complex intellectual teachings of the faith, but instead it was the simple and clear spirituality it offers.

The road is narrow, but those who find it are varied in their understanding on how to know the road. At least in my own life I have found very real examples of how satan has not prevailed against the Church founded by Christ. Perhaps there are few who really see the Truth of the Catholic faith. It’s not so bad being a voice in the wilderness. If you can’t see the Truth through intellectual lenses, try spiritual lenses. It’s really not that difficult unless you chose to ignore the signs. No matter what, let God lead you to the Truth in whatever method he choses to reveal it to you.


#9

How many would prove that the Devil had not prevailed? Would it take 1,000, or would 10,000 be necessary to prove that the devil was loosing? If the Church had 10,000,000 strong Catholics and only 10 weak ones, would the devil be loosing then? There are still those in the Church who don’t understand…

When the Church first started there were only a couple hundred - was the devil winning then?

If you think about the times when the Church was doing well, practically the whole known world was Catholic, yet since only a small minority could read how many understood the faith? They may have been obedient, but they were taught obedience was more important than personal discernment. Those same people changed religion on a dime when a new authority came into power, they were taught obedience to authority, not to a specific group.

Today the number of Catholics who understand and believe the faith is much greater than in the early church. Furthermore those same Catholics were raised in a time of self-empowerment, they were taught obedience was a less valued virtue than making your own decisions. Yet these same people, after carefully discerning, choose to be obedient to the Church, even when it puts them at odds with society.

Perhaps I’m just in a good parish, but I’ve seen numerous priests, religious men and women, married couples and other laity who were truly striving to live the faith. They may not have understood it all, maybe even believed heresies out of ignorance, but they were on the path to salvation. I don’t see the devil prevailing against this Church.

Even on this thread alone there are how many who lament that there are those in the Church who are weak in their faith, but in order to say that you have to believe that you are strong in your faith. In order to say the devil is winning by those souls who don’t understand and believe everything the church teaches, you have to believe that you do. Do you understand everything she teaches? Do you believe everything?

The Church is in a battle ground, there are times that she will appear weak in the eyes of the world, times when she appears as nothing. Doesn’t Christ say blessed are the poor, meek and persecuted? When the Church was “strongest” in the eyes of the world it was spiritually weak. Now that it is weakening in the eyes of the world, we can hope and pray for a spiritual strengthening. The early Church was very weak, her children being slaughtered left and right, yet there were many spiritual blessings abundant at that time. We should pray for the same spiritual strengthening in these trials, the grace to persevere.


#10

One problem I think is that some people (especially on this message board) get so caught up in the words and formulas which are used to express the faith, that they fail to see that the Lord transcends those words. The Church is perfectly never-wrong, but the Church does not (yet) teach the perfect Truth, not this side of heaven. The words we use are just the best formulas that some scholars have come up with to express the mystery of our faith in human terms. The Eastern Catholics are very good at understanding the unknowable mystery side of Catholicism.

Another aspect is that much of the Church is not clearly manifest in the world. Some of the most effective Catholics are those who live a life of contemplative prayer, they rarely come into contact with many, but when they do they infuse them with such light that it transforms their faith completely, like Christ transfigured on the mountaintop, it happened so briefly, and so few saw it, yet it’s a profound moment in the history of our salvation.

Finally, the biggest problem is that those who are intellectuals, who have such a solid grasp of doctrine that they are unable to understand the vagueness of the external world attack those who have the love of Christ and trust in Him to give them an infectious purity even as they outwardly seem to make compromises to reach out and bring people up in the world, these unorthodox Catholics are accused of being ‘cafeteria Catholics’. At the same time, the more practically minded attack the more scrupulous for ignoring the problems of the real world. It’s a case of the body being divided against itself.


#11

The way I look at it, Our Lord’s promise is that there will always be His Church here to proclaim the truth and call people to follow that Truth, Who is Jesus Himself.

When you think about it, just the simple fact that there is still a Vatican, and a Pope, who make clear what Our Lord’s thinking is on various matters to those who want to follow Jesus - that continued existence, in itself, after all these centuries is pretty amazing. This correct information is protected and maintained by HIS CHURCH.

How many people listen to the call and obey it is a different matter, right? And let’s face it, God doesn’t force people to follow Him, and He doesn’t usually advertise on a zeppelin sent from heaven. He wants us to share the life-giving Word He has sent forth and we have been lucky enough to have received. I’m as guilty as anybody, but we all share a small portion of the responsibility for the widespread disobedience of the well-known precepts of the Catholic Church. We have to start with ourselves, and work outward. If we are successful within ourselves, our success with others, either through word or example or simply through the power of prayer, will be assured. It takes sacrifice and faith and trust in Him.

So I feel His promise has been kept. HE has kept His part of the bargain. And let’s not forget that many of his saints have also done quite a good job, even up to the present day. We all know people who are great Christians, or at least have heard of some. There are saints canonized regularly by the Pope, and each one of them is a “success story”.

It’s just that on the more everyday level, for most of us and our acquaintances, the situation is, as usual, that God has kept His promise but the human side of the contract has been … well, somewhat less reliable.


#12

**Your not alone. **ntrmin.org/open_letter_to_rc_apologists.htm


#13

Wow–what an article!


#14

It is a good article.

The writer seems to want to join the Church and have all his problems resolved. yes, you can go for that easy option. Simply make it a rule that you will always obey, always agree with what your bishop says. That’s a perfectly acceptable Catholic attitude. However it is not intellectually satisfying.

The truth is that there are not always easy answers. For instance Jews see the Church as having paved the way for the Nazi Holocaust, and missionaries as predatory. So how are we meant to respond to that? Should we point to the various weaknesses in Jewish thought and then accept that we will get the blame when thigns go horribly wrong in the Middle East? or should we agree that, since they ask, we won’t missionise to the Jews? There isn’t an easy answer, and there weren’t easy answers in 1939 or during the Spanish Inquisition either.

So option 1 is to say “bishop says no need to evangelise Jews, so I won’t try to evangelise Jews”.
Option 2 is to discuss the pros and cons and come to your own opinion, not necessarily to disobey a direct instruction from the bishop, but certainly to make it clear that you don’t see eye to eye with him. However whether you come to the conclusion that Jews should be aggressively evangelised or not, there will always be plenty of people both inside the Church and without who disagree with you, often violently.


#15

That artical made a lot of sense, in fact I almost feel the same way. What kind of Catholic should one be?


#16

Interesting that there is no way to respond to the author of this article…

But in response, Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all truth. The only way to be guided to truth is to have a guide, or a central authority outside of ourselves. The author recognized this deficit in the non-catholic Churches. Either Christ gave us a central authority or abandoned us to chaos.

If Vatican II was not infallible (or this pope is not valid) then who is the central authority? There isn’t one. Since I cannot believe that Christ abandoned us the only logical conclusion is that VII was in fact a true council, that the central authority of the Pope still stands.

As for the whole question on whether or not to preach to the Jews, the bishops are not infallible in and of themselves, but they are to be obeyed. If he said don’t preach, then don’t. There are many saints who faced this same dilemma, where they knew God was calling them to preach, but obedience to the bishop kept them silent. They then prayed that if it was truly the Lord’s will the bishop would allow preaching. When they waited in obedience their preaching often lead to great fruits and many converts.


#17

how bout an X Catholic? :smiley:


#18

Your going to get slammed for that one:eek: LOL You better go to Ephesians 6 and put that armor of God on:thumbsup: :wink:

:knight2:


#19

If one has a central authority, why does one need the Holy Spirit? Your statement makes no sense. We were guaranteed the Holy Spirit and given the Word of God, not a central authority all wearing the same uniforms.

If Vatican II was not infallible (or this pope is not valid) then who is the central authority? There isn’t one. Since I cannot believe that Christ abandoned us the only logical conclusion is that VII was in fact a true council, that the central authority of the Pope still stands.

Your equating a lack of central authority with abandonment is a false presumption. There was no central authority for most of the first millenium of the church.

As for the whole question on whether or not to preach to the Jews, the bishops are not infallible in and of themselves, but they are to be obeyed. If he said don’t preach, then don’t. There are many saints who faced this same dilemma, where they knew God was calling them to preach, but obedience to the bishop kept them silent. They then prayed that if it was truly the Lord’s will the bishop would allow preaching. When they waited in obedience their preaching often lead to great fruits and many converts.

**Acts 5:29
Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! **


#20

:amen: :wink:


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