Karl Adam & Alleged Church Approval

I have just read the following:

In its own words, your RCC admit : ''We Catholics ACKNOWLEDGE readily, WITHOUT ANY SHAME, NAY WITH PRIDE, that CATHOLICISM CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED with primitive Christianity, nor even WITH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, in the same way that the great oak cannot be identified with the tiny acorn. There is no mechanical identity, but an organic identity. And we go further and say that thousands of years hence Catholicism will probably be even richer, more luxuriant, more manifold in dogma, morals, law and worship than the Catholicism of the present day. A religious historian of the fifth millennium A.D. will without difficulty discover in Catholicism conceptions and forms and practices which derive from India, China and Japan, and he will have to recognize a far more obvious complex of opposites."

(Karl Adam, The spirit of Catholicism, Macmillan, NY, NY 1928, chap. 1, p. 2, Endorsed by Council Vatican II 1962-1965)
Adam was a Roman Catholic priest. His book ‘‘The spirit of Catholicism’’ is a Roman Catholic authority, bearing the Nihil Obstat (nothing opposes) of the Censor Board of the Archdiocese of New York and Imprimatur (Permission granted to print) by the late Cardinal Heyes.)

I understand that the above quote is cherry-picked. I also understand that it is on a lot of anti-Catholic sites and so it has probably been discussed here on CAF. I’m not good at searching here so maybe I have missed the threads but I just can’t find them.

I can’t find any Catholic sites which refute the quote. When I google the quote I am taken to sites but they seem to be about everything but the quote.

Help? :o

What is the source of that which you posted? Is it copied and pasted from some other site?

They only made it to page 2 in the book before they found a quote they could cherry pick to mean what they want it to mean. :stuck_out_tongue:

The quote you provide leaves off a key phrase from the actual quote:

“We Catholics acknowledge readily, without any shame, nay with pride, that Catholicism cannot be identified simply and wholly with primitive Christianity, nor even with the Gospel of Christ, in the same way that the great oak cannot be identified with the tiny acorn.”

It might seem a small omission, but it really strikes to the heart of what Adam is saying. It is pretty clear that he is speaking with a fair bit of drama to make his point. And the point is that Catholicism is a dynamic, organic faith. It does not remain stagnant and static. It develops. An acorn does not look like an oak tree, but everything that will necessarily lead to the oak tree is present in the acorn.

They go ALL CAPS on the phrases that imply (to them) that Adam is admitting that modern Catholicism bears no resemblance to early Christianity. And yet they seem to gloss over his point that “There is no mechanical identity, but an organic identity.” In other words, there is a real common identity, but it is one of essence, not external trappings.

To interpret this passage as being an admission that there is a disconnect between modern Catholicism and early Christianity is exactly the opposite of the point that Adam is making. They would do well to read the whole book. It is really quite good. :slight_smile:

Also, at the end of the quote, Adam mentions a “complex of opposites.” Your source conveniently leaves off the next few sentences:

“It is quite true, Catholicism is a union of contraries. But contraries are not contradictories. Wherever there is life, there you must have conflict and contrary.”

The evil one is a liar and the father of lies. So, you know which spirit such hate-filled sites follow. If only they knew.

I have found it far better to ignore them and simply pray for them. Let the Holy Spirit work on them.

The part highlighted in red above is the key.

The mighty oak is the same organism as the tiny acorn that sprouted many years earlier. I am the same person as the chubby-faced baby whose pictures adorn my mother’s walls and scrapbooks. The Church is the same today as the fledgling band of disciples that huddled fearfully in an upper room on the day of Pentecost.

Haven’t had the pleasure of reading the book myself but it seems to me that the author was simply pointing out the Church has grown and developed structurally and doctrinally over time in much the same way a human being grows and develops physically and mentally from infancy to adulthood. An infant bears little physical and mental resemblance to its adult self yet they are the same being.

Even within the pages of the Acts of the Apostles such growth and development of the Church can be seen. For instance, the office of deacon was not created until Acts 6 and the use of Church councils didn’t start until Acts 15.

I asked for the source. I was told I have proved that I am an imbecile as the source was posted. I asked the poster if she had read the book, if she had read the chapter, if she had capitalized the words herself or if they were capitalized in the original.

So far she has refused to answer my questions. I’m pretty sure she copied and pasted it from an anti-Catholic site.

I’ve asked her again to answer my questions as they are not difficult. She appears to be ignoring me.

:frowning: A person that resorts to calling you names is not interested in carrying on a respectful two-sided conversation.

I have heard a good way to illustrate that point is to propose the following. What if I asked if you would like to see a recent picture of my 25 year old son. And then I showed you a picture of someone that looked like a 2 month old. You would be shocked with horror. You would feel sad for me and my son. Something would tell you that this is not a normal child.

Yes, the early church had no defined canon back then. There was disagreement over which books belong to the collected body of Sacred Scripture. Of course, there was no unified collected work, no ONE BOOK, the Bible, as such a thing did not yet exist. There were no hammered out definitions explaining how Jesus was truly man and truly God.

The challenge for them is to be more like the early church and to stop believing in the invention of Sola Scriptura, Bible Alone.

:smiley: Thanks - I found the book online and checked it. It was easy to find the section because of what you posted. I also found someone with a hard copy of the book and it has the deleted words, too.

:slight_smile: Thank you, everyone, for your help. I had googled it before but couldn’t find anything about it. Maybe there was a glitch; I’ve had that happen before. Yesterday I googled it again and the book itself in the EWTN Library popped up. So I was able to not only verify that words were deleted but that there is no capitalization in the original.

I also found someone with a hard copy of the book and it’s the same.

Now the person who doctored the quote has claimed she used what she calls “3 ellipses (…)”. There was no ellipsis. She said that she does use capitalization for emphasis and that it is acceptable because it is commonly done. I told her that it is acceptable if it is noted. She failed to note it.

She has still not answered the questions I asked her.

Those little words that were deleted do change the meaning of the quote.

Unfortunately, most people on this particular forum don’t check sources. They just accept whatever is posted as long as it fits with what they already believe.

That’s why people now believe the Pope hired J.K. Rowling to re-write the Bible for children and that the Vatican owns a telescope named Lucifer and that Catholics pray to Lucifer during Easter.

Name-calling is extremely common on this particular forum. I mean horrible, foul names. I’m used to it. It’s not going to stop.

I’m going to read the book. It seems to be very good. :slight_smile:

Thank you all again - so much. I was a bit worried about this one, especially when I wasn’t able to verify the quote at first.

God bless you for continuing the conversation with them. Yes, sadly too many people just accept such assertions and quotations at face value. It’s always beneficial to seek out the larger context (not to mention verify that the quote is correct). Sometimes the internet can be like a game of Telephone. Things get lost when the same stuff gets copied and pasted over and over again. :stuck_out_tongue:

Paul says this : Galatians 1: 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

So the quote by Mr. Adam is either in error, or the CC is.

Adam isn’t saying that the Church preaches another Gospel. He’s saying that there is “organic identity.”

No Christian group today is simply identical with the first-century Church. If your community says it is, it is lying (whether deliberately or out of ignorance).

That is why it irks me when Catholics say things like “why not belong to the Church Christ founded?” Sure, Catholics believe (and I believe–I am Catholic by intention though not yet by full communion) that Christ founded the Catholic Church. That is, Christ gave authority to Peter and the Apostles and revealed truth to them which the Catholic Church has preserved. And over the centuries, under the guidance of the Spirit, the Church’s understanding of that truth and ways of practicing that truth have developed. So that when apologists say without qualification, “the Catholic Church existed in the first century,” it can sound as if they’re saying “it looked exactly the same,” when obviously it didn’t. And whether the developments were sound or not can’t be proven by strictly historical methods. Faith is involved.

However, those Protestants who want to get back to the “primitive Church” are engaging in a hopeless task. You can’t go home again. You can’t recreate the early Church. Attempts to do so result in a thoroughly modern form of Christianity which fools itself into thinking itself ancient, having in fact lost more continuity with the primitive Church than it has gained.


Perhaps… But getting further away from the first church on purpose… Actually taking pride in the fact that you no longer resemble the early church as mr Adam says, and looking forward to the future in which you look even less like the early church ? Why is this appealing rather than appalling ?

For the same reason it is appealing for a human being to grow to full maturity. It is neither desirable nor fitting for a fully grown adult to behave like an infant.

I see… so the early Church, with all of the apostles and knowing Jesus personally did’nt have the full truth. Somehow the further we get away from the origin of our faith, the more WE have it right ?

Not more truth but a deeper understanding and wider application of it. Not ‘getting away’ from our origins in the sense of deviating from them, but in the sense of development over time.

From Vatican II’s document on the word of God, Dei Verbum, no. 8:

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.

The words of the holy fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16).

Just for fun, I put some interesting “current” thinking in red. No need to wait thousands of years; the “changes” are expected momentarily or have already appeared according to some people.

Seriously, I am very grateful for Catholic Answers Forums. Here, we have the defense of true Catholicism.:thumbsup:

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