Ben Sinner #1
What would be a good rebuttal for each one of these?
1) The first question to answer is:
How do we know when God is speaking to us?
The only reliable, factual answer, is that Jesus Christ claimed to be God
Who else, except the Christ, claimed to be God and proved it?
The reality is that:
Fact 1: There was a man called Jesus.
Fact 2: He claimed to be a messenger sent from God.
Fact 3: He did enough to prove that He was such a messenger.
Fact 4: Crowds followed Jesus and He had an inner circle to whom he spoke much more.
Fact 5: He commissioned His followers to continue His teaching and founded His Church.
Fact 6: Jesus affirmed that God would protect that teaching.
Obviously, the Resurrection of Jesus is the key, as the existence and faith of the Catholic communities is not self-explanatory, but dependent on the fact of the spectacular historical Jesus and the fact of His Resurrection.
Why should Jesus take precedence over all others?
The historian Eusebius in his Church history, 4.3, 1.2, tells us that writing about 123 A.D., apologist Quadratus cited those in his day who had been cured or raised from the dead by Jesus of Nazareth – prime witnesses – long after the miracles, crucifixion and death of the Son of God. No other religious founder claimed to be God and proved it – not Mohammed of Islam, not in Hinduism, not in Buddhism, not in Taoism, not in Confucianism.
His miracles “were so frequent, the eyewitnesses so numerous, and the evidence so stark, that not even Christ’s enemies disputed the fact of their occurrence. Instead they ascribed them to the power of the devil, or defied Him to perform another one in His own favour.” (See Mt 12:24; 27:39-42;Jn11:47).Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Sheehan/Joseph, Saint Austin Press, 2001, p 104].
The evidence of history which attests Christ as the Son of God, sent to redeem humanity, also attests, to this day, to His reality and His truths through the facts of the miracle of the Sun at Fatima, the medically attested miracles that take place at Lourdes, and the Eucharistic miracles.
2) The second question is:
Has God Himself given us definite instructions as to His means to lead us to Him? Very definitely.
**By founding His own Church on Peter the rock. Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, mandated for all of mankind through four promises to Peter alone: **
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve, also].
**Sole authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).
His Catholic Church, with His Supreme Vicar, the Pope, thus offers to all the means of salvation which only Christ has authorised.
*Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus *(literally, “outside the Church, there is no salvation”). Some people have wished to understand this saying in the most literal sense: that is, that the person who is not formally a practicing Catholic cannot be saved. The Church has condemned such an interpretation (cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3870-3873).
This is not to say that the maxim is false. Properly understood, it is quite true. The Latin word extra can mean either “without” or “outside.” The correct interpretation and sense of the maxim is that we cannot be saved without the Church. It is through the Church, which carries on and makes present the salvific work of Jesus Christ in the world, that all who are saved reach heaven (even if it is perhaps only there that they realize it). Those who, through no fault of their own, have never known Christ or his Church can still be saved. But their salvation, too, is the effect of Jesus working through his Church. In a positive sense, this theological principle “means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC 846). [My emphasis]
Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine, OSV].
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium:
16. “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.”