excatholic4christ knows your faith better than you do

The blog excatholic4christ is written by a guy named Tom who, by his own account, was raised Catholic but never really had faith in Jesus until after he grew up, got married and had kids, and left the Catholic Church, at which point he “accepted Jesus Christ as [his] savior.” He writes, “Like most Catholics my ‘faith’ was just a part of my family and cultural baggage.

Tom evidently considers it a duty on his blog to criticize and condemn the Church at every opportunity. I suppose the purpose, as he sees it, is to keep people from being deceived into believing her teachings.

Since Tom never really knew Jesus while practicing Catholicism, and therefore lacked the one absolutely essential component of the true practice of the faith, it’s not surprising that he largely misunderstands it. As St. Augustine said, you must “believe so that you may understand”; and St. Anselm, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.” A nonbeliever necessarily lacks understanding.

I assume Tom would agree that a disbeliever in the Bible could never understand the Bible as well as a believer. Between an atheist biblical scholar and a Christian, all other things being equal, the Christian will have insights into the text which the atheist lacks. The same obviously applies to the Catholic faith: One who believes and practices the faith on a daily basis will thereby grow in understanding and insight, while the disbeliever will not. One who lacks belief in Christ necessarily has a large hole in his understanding and practice of Catholicism.

Tom’s implied claim that his twenty-some years of practicing the faith gave him insights into the faith and knowledge and understanding of its teachings, which believers in the faith lack, is therefore unconvincing.

For example he asserts that the Catholic Church teaches that one must “obey the Ten Commandments perfectly in order to be allowed into Heaven“. All of my Catholic readers will immediately recognize the error of that statement. I corrected him in a comment, and he replied by quoting an online Catholic dictionary, to the effect that being free of mortal sin is necessary to get into heaven. I said yes, we must be free of mortal sin, but venial sins don’t forfeit salvation. He then dismissed the Church’s distinction between mortal and venial sins, on the ground there is no official list of mortal and venial sins by which to distinguish them.

Obviously I had an answer to that assertion, but another feature of Tom’s blog is his tendency to give himself the last word. He moderates all comments before they appear on his blog, and my comment in reply simply disappeared (for neither the first nor the last time). Therefore Tom’s readers should know that when Tom has the last word in a comment thread, often it’s not because his guest commenter had nothing more to say. He was simply not allowed to say it. It’s easier to win a debate when you control who gets to speak.

Since I wasn’t allowed to respond to Tom’s last comment on his blog, I’ll do it here.

In answer to the argument that there is no list of mortal and venial sins, and no bold line by which to tell them apart, and therefore no meaningful distinction between them: The fact that he lacks understanding of the difference between them, doesn’t prove that the Church understands no difference. He may have lacked understanding of the difference between them while he was a practicing Catholic, but then again he also lacked faith in Jesus at the time, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this insight escaped him.

The difference between a mortal and venial sin has to do with whether the sin involves grave matter; whether the person knew it was a sin; and whether he did it with full deliberation and in his right mind. A sin that lacks any of these components is a venial sin. Now unless Tom insists that every sin ever committed is done with full knowledge, deliberation and consent, he must admit that venial sins exist according to the Catholic understanding. He may deny that there is any objective difference that affects one’s salvation, but he can’t deny that some sins meet the Catholic definition of venial.

It’s true that there is no list of sins labeled “mortal” and “venial”. The reason is that stealing, for example, may be venial or mortal depending on the amount stolen, and who it is stolen from. Stealing $20 from a rich man is venial, while stealing the same amount from a homeless man might be mortal, since it could cause him to go hungry. Sins that cause mild annoyance are venial, those that cause grave harm are mortal. Sometimes the gravity of a sin must be determined on a subjective basis.

But for the most part, Catholics who are well instructed in the faith have a working understanding of which sins are serious and which aren’t, and that suffices to get people through daily life. When in doubt whether a sin you’ve committed is mortal, you abstain from communion until you’ve confessed it to a priest.

There is no need to engage in drawn out, handwringing self-examination as to whether a sin is venial or mortal. It’s not as though venial sins are allowed and mortal sins aren’t; all sin is forbidden by definition. So a dilemma can never arise where you must decide whether to commit a sin based on whether it’s mortal or venial. If it’s a sin at all you mustn’t do it, and that should end the handwringing.

But the salient point in response to Tom’s post, is that perfect sinlessness is NOT necessary for salvation according to the Catholic religion.

It’s not my intention to criticize Tom for rejecting the Catholic faith. If he were to state a doctrine he disagreed with and give reasons for his disagreement, I could respect that. But Tom’s practice is to insist on his own understanding of Catholic doctrine, condemn that understanding as violating the teachings of Christ, and in doing so claim that he has debunked Catholicism itself, when actually he has only knocked down his own straw man.

Tom is welcome to post any comments he may choose in defense of his position here. I won’t delete them or “moderate” them out of existence.

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10 thoughts on “excatholic4christ knows your faith better than you do

  1. All I can say is, “About time!!!!” I have tried to post a comments also and mine never showed up either. That tells me right there he knows we are speaking the truth, when he deletes them or moderates them, because he cannot come back at us with anything, hence, “having the last word.” I finally just quit.

    I have never seen a blogger like him in my whole life. I mean I can understand deleting insane comments, but just because one speaks the truth is no reason to “delete” them.

    To me he is just very bitter for some reason and hates the Church and at times I think he hates those of us in it. I do not know why so many ex-Catholics always think they have to “prove their point.” If you do not like the Church, fine, leave. Be happy where you are at, and leave those of us who are happy where we are at alone.

    I am an ex-Protestant I do not try and tell each and every one of them they are always wrong. If they ask me why we do something I will explain it to them. If they start bashing me I quit, and move on.

    This man to me has never “moved on.” To me I would be trying to build up my Protestant brothers and sisters if I was happy where I was at. To me he is still stuck in the Catholic Church and their teachings. It seems like he is so obsessed with it, and cannot let it go. Thanks for this, I hope he reads it and leaves us alone. God Bless, SR

    Liked by 1 person

      • Absolute truth there! Can not add one thing that would make that statement any better. When I converted I was sent to hell so many times, my rear end is still burning! 🙂 As I look back it had nothing to do with what I did nor did not believe, it was in “protest” and total “hatred” of the Catholic Church. Thanks for making me think about that. God Bless, SR

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Tom has deleted two of my comments as well. Most recently on his post about merit where he claims that the Catholic Church teaches that we must earn our salvation by performing good works. He never posted a Catholic definition of merit. He just made up his own then refuted it.

    I posted one refutation, which he allowed and commented on (but did not refute). He even went so far as to say that we didn’t need to understand the difference between merit and earn. So I responded by asking him, among other things, where he got his definition of merit from. That was the comment he deleted.

    His blog reeks of bad faith.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One thing that I noticed is that if you make it appear that you’re opening with a weak argument and Tom can use it to his advantage he’ll allow it, but once you clamp down the weight of the truth using legitimate historical sources et al. He’ll allow the comments just like this blog post says until he realizes that he can’t win his narrative.

    It’s sad that Tom’s good news revolves around a lie, if he truly had the truth, he’d allow the comments to be open, as Agellius has stated here, he’d allow Tom to post anything. Angellius can do this because he knows no matter what his position will proof the far superior.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, I am confident that every argument against the faith can be answered. It’s even easier in the case of Tom since half the time I would win the argument simply by demonstrating what the Church actually teaches, as opposed to what he accuses it of teaching.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I assume Tom would agree that a disbeliever in the Bible could never understand the Bible as well as a believer. Between an atheist biblical scholar and a Christian, all other things being equal, the Christian will have insights into the text which the atheist lacks. ” I think that an atheist will have insights that a Christian doesn’t. Christians often fall into the traps of fundamentalism (“listen and believe”) and cleaving to traditional interpretations. An atheist can come at the material with a beginner’s mind. But I do agree that a believer will have insights that an atheist won’t, and those may be the more valuable.

    Like

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