And You Will Know The Truth Book Summary

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Title: And You Will Know The Truth: How to Explain and Defend The Catholic Faith
Author: Sebastian R. Fama

TLDR: This book provides a comprehensive defense of Catholic teachings, addressing common criticisms and demonstrating the scriptural and historical basis for its doctrines and practices. It also explores the beliefs of various non-Catholic groups, highlighting their inconsistencies with biblical truth.

1. Creationism or Evolution?

This essay tackles the age-old debate between creationism and evolution, arguing that the evidence strongly supports the creationist viewpoint. Fama uses the analogy of radio waves – invisible yet demonstrably real through their effects – to argue for God’s existence. While unseen, God’s effects are readily apparent in the world around us.

Fama critiques evolution, highlighting its theoretical nature and the lack of observable evidence for its core claims. He points out the fossil record’s lack of transitional forms – the linchpin of the evolutionary process – and the inherent complexity of even supposedly simple life forms. He cites the intricate design of cells and DNA as evidence for intelligent design.

The essay also discusses irreducibly complex systems within the human body, like the digestive system, which could not function if simplified, challenging the gradual adaptation posited by evolution. Fama debunks the concept of “ape-men,” exposing the fragmented and often misrepresented nature of fossil evidence in this area. He further critiques theistic evolution, highlighting its incompatibility with observable laws of nature, such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Ultimately, Fama presents a stark choice: either an intelligent being created everything from nothing, or nothing created everything from nothing. He concludes that the former is far more logical and aligns with the evidence.

2. The Trinity

This essay delves into the complex doctrine of the Trinity, explaining its scriptural and logical basis. Fama acknowledges the initial difficulty in grasping the concept of one God existing in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He clarifies that the Trinity does not propose three separate beings, but rather one being comprised of three distinct persons.

The essay then delves into the logic of the Trinity. Fama posits that a perfect God, independent and all-powerful, needs nothing outside Himself. He argues that this God, being perfectly loving, requires an object for His love, which would have to be another person within Himself. Furthermore, God’s love, being creative and life-giving, naturally manifests in a third person.

Fama utilizes numerous scriptural examples to solidify the case for the Trinity. He emphasizes the Bible’s consistent teaching on the existence of only one God and the identification of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as divine. He explores passages that seemingly portray Jesus as subordinate to the Father, explaining them as reflecting Jesus’ human nature during the Incarnation. He argues that Jesus’ divine nature is evident in passages like Colossians 1:16, which attributes creation to Him.

Fama also addresses the use of the Greek word “proskuneo” (worshipped) in relation to both God and Jesus, highlighting the biblical prohibition against worshipping any other than the true God. Finally, he examines Acts 5:3-4, which equates lying to the Holy Spirit with lying to God, further solidifying the Holy Spirit’s divinity.

3. The Bible

This essay focuses on defending the Bible’s credibility and divine inspiration. Fama highlights its widespread translation, historical longevity, and internal consistency, despite being written by numerous authors over centuries. He addresses concerns about variances in existing manuscripts, attributing them primarily to “typos” that do not affect the core doctrines and teachings.

Fama points to the Dead Sea Scrolls as evidence for God’s preservation of Scripture. Their remarkable consistency with later manuscripts, despite being a thousand years older, confirms the accuracy of the biblical text. He discusses the alleged contradictions within the Bible, attributing them to a lack of contextual understanding. Fama emphasizes the importance of considering the historical context, literary style, and use of figures of speech like hyperbole when interpreting Scripture.

The essay then delves into archaeological evidence supporting biblical accounts, citing the discovery of Sodom and Gomorrah and the geological features of the Grand Canyon as examples. Fama argues that the existence of the Grand Canyon and large fossil beds supports the biblical account of a global flood.

Fama also provides examples of historical figures once thought to be fictional, like Gallio, whose existence has been validated by archaeological discoveries. He then shifts the focus to the Bible’s moral teachings, highlighting their societal impact. He links the rejection of biblical morality in the 1960s with a sharp rise in crime and social problems.

Finally, Fama discusses the transformative power of the Bible, referencing studies demonstrating the positive effects of Bible study on prison recidivism and the happiness and health of individuals active in faith communities.

4. The Church

This essay defends the Catholic Church as a visible institution established by Christ and the foundation of truth. Fama counters the notion of the Church being merely a collection of believers, highlighting Jesus’ consistent use of visible objects like a flock, a body, a house, and a kingdom to describe it. He emphasizes that the Church acts as a conduit for God’s truth, rather than determining it independently.

Fama explores the scriptural basis for the Church’s hierarchy, drawing upon passages detailing Peter’s leadership role, the Council of Jerusalem’s authoritative pronouncements, and the appointment of bishops and presbyters to oversee local churches. He emphasizes the warnings against false teachers and the importance of submitting to Church authority.

The essay further supports its claims with writings from the Early Church Fathers. Ignatius of Antioch’s call for obedience to bishops and Irenaeus’s affirmation of Rome’s superior authority provide evidence for the hierarchical structure and the primacy of the Roman Church in the early Church.

5. The Pope

This essay focuses on the biblical and historical basis for papal authority. Fama begins by analyzing Matthew 16:15-19, where Jesus confers upon Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the power to bind and loose. He emphasizes the significance of Peter’s new name – “Rock” – and debunks common arguments against this interpretation, highlighting linguistic and grammatical evidence supporting Peter’s central role.

Fama examines Jesus’ prayer for Peter in Luke 22:32, where He asks that Peter strengthen his brethren, and His entrusting Peter with the care of His sheep in John 21:15-17. He argues that these passages clearly depict Peter as the leader among the apostles and the one entrusted with shepherding the Church.

The essay also addresses the role of the Pope as the successor of Peter. It acknowledges the historical imperfections of individual Popes, but clarifies that papal infallibility is not a personal trait but a charism, or gift, granted by the Holy Spirit. It functions to prevent the Pope from officially teaching error in matters of faith or morals, ensuring the consistent preservation of Christ’s teachings.

Fama utilizes the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Irenaeus to demonstrate the early Church’s recognition of papal authority. He concludes by addressing the Protestant dismissal of the Papacy as a later corruption, highlighting the inherent contradiction in accepting a Bible whose canon was established by a supposedly corrupt Church.

6. Papal Infallibility

This essay seeks to clarify the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, addressing common misconceptions and establishing its scriptural and historical basis. Fama begins by debunking the notion that the Pope himself is infallible, emphasizing the necessity of free will for all, including the Pope. He clarifies that infallibility does not mean the Pope is incapable of sin, nor does it imply inspiration or special revelation.

Fama outlines the three conditions necessary for a papal pronouncement to be considered infallible: the Pope must speak ex cathedra (from the chair of Peter) in his official capacity, the decision must be binding on the whole Church, and it must be on a matter of faith or morals. He draws upon Matthew 16:19 – where Jesus grants Peter the power to bind and loose – to justify these conditions.

The essay further clarifies that infallibility extends to the college of bishops when they teach in union with the Pope, highlighting the precedent set by the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. It emphasizes that infallibility safeguards the Church from error, ensuring the consistent transmission of Christ’s teachings across generations.

Fama cites Cyprian and Irenaeus to demonstrate the early Church’s belief in the Church’s infallibility. He then addresses the three alleged examples of Popes teaching error: Popes Liberius, Vigilius, and Honorius. He argues that the first two were coerced, and thus do not qualify, while Pope Honorius was deceived and his statements misrepresented.

Fama concludes by highlighting the scarcity of credible examples of papal error, despite centuries of history, as evidence for the doctrine’s validity. He argues that the multitude of Protestant denominations, each claiming biblical authority while disagreeing on its interpretation, is the strongest proof of the need for papal infallibility.

7. The Canon of Scripture

This essay addresses the difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles, focusing on the seven deuterocanonical books present in the Catholic Old Testament but absent from the Protestant version. Fama explains that these books – Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees – were part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by the Apostles and the early Church.

Fama counters the argument that the shorter Palestinian canon should be preferred because it aligns with the current Jewish canon. He highlights that both canons originated from Jewish sources and that the Palestinian canon was not settled until the Council of Jamnia in 90 AD, after authority had passed from the Jewish leaders to the Church.

The essay then delves into the historical evidence for the Septuagint’s acceptance in the early Church, pointing to its widespread use by the Church Fathers and the fact that the New Testament quotes it three hundred times, compared to only fifty times for the Palestinian canon.

Fama addresses objections to the deuterocanonicals based on perceived historical inconsistencies, arguing that these books often employ symbolic language and should not be interpreted literally. He concludes by discussing the role of the Church in establishing the New Testament canon, highlighting the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, which affirmed both the Septuagint as the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament.

8. Scripture Alone

This essay critiques the Protestant doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” or “Scripture alone,” arguing that the Bible itself teaches the need for an authoritative Church to interpret and safeguard God’s truth. Fama examines 2 Timothy 3:16, often cited in support of Sola Scriptura, highlighting that it merely states Scripture’s profitability for teaching, not its exclusive authority.

Fama argues that Sola Scriptura contradicts itself, as Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy would have applied to a time when only the Old Testament existed, effectively excluding the New Testament. He further critiques the claim that the Holy Spirit teaches individuals directly, analyzing 1 John 2:26-27 in context to demonstrate that John is warning against false teachers, not advocating private interpretation.

The essay highlights the practical and historical problems with Sola Scriptura. It points to the impossibility of such a doctrine in the early Church, when Bibles were scarce and literacy low. Furthermore, the existence of over 28,000 Protestant denominations, all claiming biblical authority while disagreeing on its interpretation, stands as a testament to the inadequacy of Sola Scriptura.

Fama argues that private interpretation of Scripture, advocated by Sola Scriptura, resembles New Age thinking, where each individual determines their own reality. He concludes that Sola Scriptura, rather than promoting freedom, leads to flawed reasoning, theological disunity, and potentially eternal consequences.

9. Tradition

This essay defends the Catholic Church’s embrace of both Scripture and Sacred Tradition, arguing that they constitute a single deposit of God’s Word. Fama differentiates between Sacred Tradition – the teachings of the Apostles passed down through the Church – and human traditions, which are condemned by Scripture.

Fama utilizes 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where Paul instructs believers to hold fast to traditions taught orally or in writing, to demonstrate the equal weight given to both forms of tradition. He further cites 1 Corinthians 11:2, where Paul commends the Corinthians for maintaining the traditions he delivered to them.

The essay then examines the type of tradition condemned by Jesus in Mark 7:8-13. Fama highlights that Jesus is condemning traditions that contradict God’s commandments, while upholding the traditional interpretation of those commandments. He argues that Sacred Tradition, rooted in apostolic teaching, helps to correctly interpret and safeguard Scripture.

Fama points out that even Bible Christians rely on Catholic Tradition to determine the canon of Scripture and the authorship of biblical books. He concludes by citing early Church writers like Tertullian and Origen, who affirmed the importance of Sacred Tradition in preserving and understanding God’s truth.

10. Justification

This essay explores the Catholic Church’s understanding of justification, arguing for a biblical definition of faith that encompasses both belief and action. Fama affirms that “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), but clarifies that true faith, as taught by Scripture, is active and manifests itself in love and good works.

Fama cites various passages to support his claim, including Galatians 5:6 (“faith working through love”), 1 Corinthians 13:2 (“faith without love is nothing”), Romans 1:5 (“obedience of faith”), and James 2:17 (“faith without works is dead”). He argues that “believing,” in the biblical sense, signifies acting in accordance with one’s beliefs.

The essay then addresses the question of good works and salvation. Fama clarifies that good works do not earn salvation, but rather are the outward manifestation of true faith, enabled by God’s grace. He emphasizes that rejecting this grace is tantamount to rejecting Christ, the ultimate “unforgivable sin.”

Fama utilizes writings from Clement of Rome to demonstrate the early Church’s understanding of justification as a collaboration between God’s grace and human cooperation. He clarifies the role of sacraments as occasions of grace, enabling individuals to accept salvation and live a Christian life.

Finally, Fama addresses the question of losing salvation. He cites 1 Corinthians 6:8-10, which lists those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, and Paul’s own statements in 1 Corinthians 4:2-5 and 9:25-27, where he does not claim to be saved but rather strives to avoid disqualification. Fama concludes that salvation can be lost through unrepentant sin, emphasizing the ongoing need for submission to Christ.

11. Baptism

This essay focuses on the sacrament of Baptism, arguing for its scriptural basis and efficacy in removing sin and incorporating individuals into the body of Christ. Fama highlights biblical passages like 1 Corinthians 12:13 (“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body”) and Acts 22:16 (“Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins”).

Fama then delves into the question of infant baptism. While not explicitly addressed in Scripture, he argues that the practice is implied in passages like Acts 16:14-15, 16:29-34, and 1 Corinthians 1:16, where entire households are baptized. He further connects baptism with circumcision in Colossians 2:11-12, noting that circumcision was performed on infants on the eighth day after birth, a practice adopted by the early Church for infant baptism.

The essay refutes objections to infant baptism based on the need for personal commitment, arguing that the grace received at baptism nourishes faith and that a personal commitment later in life is a conscious decision to maintain that grace. Fama cites early Church writings from Irenaeus and Origen that support the practice of infant baptism.

He also addresses the use of pouring water on the forehead as a valid form of baptism, referencing the Didache and Tertullian’s writings. He acknowledges baptism of desire and baptism of blood as exceptional cases where God grants grace despite the lack of a water baptism.

12. The Mass

This essay defends the Catholic Mass as a true sacrifice, clarifying that it is not a re-sacrificing of Jesus but rather a participation in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Fama explains that there are two aspects to a sacrifice: the death of the victim and the offering up of its fruits by the high priest. While Jesus’ death occurred once, the fruits of his sacrifice are continuously applied to believers through the Mass.

Fama addresses the objection to rituals by some Bible Christians, arguing that Christianity, while fostering a personal relationship with God, is also a religion that incorporates rituals. He cites James 1:26-27, which refers to “religion” as ceremonial observance, highlighting the use of the same Greek word (“threskeia”) used to describe both Christianity and Judaism.

The essay then presents the scriptural basis for the Mass, drawing upon Malachi 1:11, which foresees a pure sacrifice offered among all nations, and Psalm 110:4, which identifies Jesus as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, who offered a sacrifice of bread and wine, prefiguring the Mass.

Fama cites Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch to demonstrate the early Church’s understanding of the Mass as a true sacrifice. He concludes by addressing those who “don’t get anything out of the Mass,” comparing it to a million-dollar check that seems insignificant to someone unaware of its value. He encourages individuals to pray for openness to the grace offered through the Mass.

13. The Eucharist

This essay focuses on the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence, arguing that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, as taught by Scripture and the Early Church Fathers. Fama anchors his argument in John 6:48-57, where Jesus proclaims, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

He rejects the interpretation of this passage as purely symbolic, pointing to the disciples’ reaction in verses 60 and 66, where many abandon Jesus because they find his words too hard to accept. Fama argues that these disciples, who readily embraced Jesus’ other challenging teachings, would not have deserted him over mere symbolism.

The essay then explores the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, analyzing Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:26-28: “Take and eat; this is my body… Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Fama emphasizes that Jesus’ words refer directly to the bread and wine he is holding, not to symbolic concepts.

Fama also examines Paul’s affirmation of the Real Presence in 1 Corinthians 10:16 and 11:27-29, where he warns against receiving the Eucharist unworthily, as this constitutes a sin against the Lord’s body and blood. He concludes by citing Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr, who clearly express the early Church’s belief in the Real Presence.

14. Confession

This essay defends the Catholic practice of Confession, arguing for its scriptural basis and necessity in receiving forgiveness and grace. Fama analyzes John 20:21-23, where Jesus bestows upon his Apostles the power to forgive and retain sins. He refutes the interpretation of this passage as referring to interpersonal forgiveness, highlighting Jesus’ qualification, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”

Fama then draws upon Mark 2:5-12, where Jesus demonstrates his authority to forgive sins by healing a paralytic, to clarify that John 20:21-23 refers to the forgiveness of sins that make salvation possible. He further argues that the power to retain sins implies the need for repentance, as taught in Acts 3:19.

The essay then delves into the practical implications of John 20:21-23. Fama argues that for priests to forgive or retain sins, they must know what the sins are, necessitating confession. He cites early Church writings from the Didache and Cyprian, which clearly support the practice of confessing sins to a priest.

Fama acknowledges that confession to a priest is not the only means of receiving forgiveness, citing the possibility of receiving forgiveness through perfect contrition in cases where confession is impossible. However, he emphasizes the grace received through confession, which strengthens individuals against future sin. He concludes by encouraging individuals to overcome any discomfort associated with confession, highlighting the healing and consolation offered through this sacrament.

15. Purgatory

This essay examines the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, arguing for its scriptural and historical basis as a place of purification for those who die in God’s grace but still require cleansing from venial sins and temporal punishments. Fama begins by referencing 1 John 5:17, which distinguishes between deadly and non-deadly sins, and the biblical requirement for purity to enter heaven.

He then examines the Old Testament concept of temporal punishment, citing the examples of Moses, Aaron, and David, who were forgiven their sins but still endured temporal consequences. Fama argues that Purgatory is the place where such temporal punishments are satisfied, allowing for the purification necessary for entry into heaven.

Fama utilizes Matthew 12:32, where Jesus speaks of forgiveness in the age to come, and Matthew 18:23-35, where He compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who imprisons a servant until he pays his debt, to support the existence of Purgatory. He further cites 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, where Paul describes individuals being saved “as through fire,” highlighting the purifying nature of this process.

The essay draws upon inscriptions from the catacombs and writings from Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and others to demonstrate the early Church’s belief in Purgatory and the efficacy of prayers for the dead. Fama also references 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, which describes the Jewish practice of praying for the dead, and writings from the Jewish historian Josephus, confirming its prevalence during Jesus’ time.

16. Indulgences

This essay addresses the controversial topic of Indulgences, clarifying its true nature and refuting accusations of the Church selling forgiveness. Fama acknowledges past abuses but argues that the doctrine itself should be judged on its merits. He emphasizes that indulgences cannot be bought and that the fees associated with Masses for the dead are for the priest’s services.

Fama explains that indulgences are granted for the remission of temporal punishment due to sin, drawing upon the biblical distinction between eternal and temporal punishments. He cites the example of King David, who, despite being forgiven, still endured temporal consequences for his sins. He argues that Purgatory is the place where such temporal punishments are satisfied.

The essay then discusses the purpose of indulgences, drawing upon Pope Paul VI’s “Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences,” which highlights their role in encouraging acts of piety, penance, and charity. Fama provides biblical support for these practices, emphasizing the importance of a contrite heart and genuine repentance.

He clarifies that indulgences are not the forgiveness of sins, but rather a remission of temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. He explains that indulgences can be applied to the souls in Purgatory through prayer, referencing early Church writings from Tertullian to support this practice.

Fama addresses the term “treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints,” clarifying that it refers to the prayers of Christ and the saints offered on behalf of believers. He concludes by arguing that indulgences are a logical extension of God’s mercy, providing a means to eliminate temporal punishment, just as Christ’s sacrifice eliminated eternal punishment.

17. Praying to Saints

This essay defends the Catholic practice of praying to saints, arguing that it is scriptural and does not equate saints with God. Fama addresses the common objection that praying to saints violates 1 Timothy 2:5 (“for there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”), clarifying that intercessory prayer is not the same type of mediation performed by Jesus in establishing the New Covenant.

He emphasizes that praying to saints does not replace prayer to God but rather complements it. Fama uses numerous biblical passages to support the practice, including Galatians 6:2 (“bear one another’s burdens”), James 5:16 (“pray for one another”), 1 Corinthians 12:13 (“we were all baptized into one body”), and Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, which depict angels and elders in heaven presenting the prayers of the saints to God.

The essay further argues that saints in heaven, being perfected and in God’s presence, are uniquely qualified to intercede for believers on earth. It highlights their love for us, as evidenced by the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). Fama also cites Matthew 18:10, which speaks of angels in heaven watching over children, implying their intercessory role.

He concludes by emphasizing the unique honor given to Mary, the Mother of God, whose intercession flows from her unique role in salvation history. He differentiates devotion to Mary from worship of God, citing even Protestant reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli, who acknowledged the legitimacy of asking for Mary’s prayers.

18. Mary Ever-Virgin

This essay addresses the claim that Mary had children other than Jesus, arguing that a careful examination of Scripture supports her perpetual virginity. Fama analyzes Matthew 1:24-25, which uses the word “until” in reference to Joseph having no relations with Mary until Jesus’ birth. He points out that the Greek word “heos,” translated as “until,” does not necessarily imply any change after Jesus’ birth.

Fama then examines the passages referring to Jesus’ brothers and sisters, arguing that the words “brother” and “sister” could refer to cousins, close relatives, or even friends in the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus. He compares this to Jesus’ use of the word “brethren” in Matthew 28:10 to refer to his disciples.

The essay further analyzes the Gospel accounts of the women at the foot of the cross, identifying James and Joseph, two of Jesus’ alleged brothers, as sons of another Mary, the wife of Cleophas. Fama points out that this Mary is clearly distinct from Jesus’ mother, who is consistently referred to as “the mother of Jesus” and never the mother of anyone else.

Fama emphasizes Jesus’ entrusting the care of his mother to John at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27) as evidence that He had no siblings. He also cites the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:34 (“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”) and the angel’s response, which affirms her perpetual virginity.

The essay concludes by noting that even Protestant reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli taught Mary’s perpetual virginity, based on their understanding of Scripture.

19. The Immaculate Conception

This essay defends the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, arguing that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. Fama draws upon Genesis 3:15, where God establishes enmity between the woman and the serpent, identifying the woman as Mary and the serpent’s seed as sin. He argues that the same enmity that exists between Christ and sin must also exist between Mary and Satan, implying her sinlessness.

Fama addresses the common interpretation of the woman in Genesis 3:15 as Eve, the nation of Israel, or the Church, highlighting their inadequacy. Eve was a sinner, Israel was often rebellious, and the Church was established by Christ, making it chronologically impossible for her to be the woman in Genesis 3:15.

The essay further analyzes the angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary in Luke 1:28: “Hail, full of grace.” Fama emphasizes that the Greek word “kecharitomene,” translated as “full of grace,” refers to a state of being already completed in the past, indicating Mary’s pre-existing fullness of grace, a prerequisite for sinlessness.

He clarifies that Mary’s sinlessness does not make her equal to God, drawing upon the example of Adam and Eve, who were also created sinless. Fama cites numerous early Church Fathers who referred to Mary as “all holy,” “all pure,” and “altogether without sin,” demonstrating the early Church’s belief in her Immaculate Conception.

Fama addresses the objection based on Romans 3:23 (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”), arguing that Paul is speaking within the context of Jewish and Gentile Christians, not making a universal statement that includes exceptions like babies and the mentally handicapped. He further clarifies that Mary, while preserved from sin, still needed a savior, just as all humanity does.

20. The Assumption

This essay explores the Catholic doctrine of the Assumption, arguing for its scriptural consistency and its logical connection to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Fama acknowledges that the Assumption is not explicitly defined in Scripture but highlights the biblical precedents of Enoch and Elijah, who were both taken bodily into heaven, demonstrating the possibility of Mary’s Assumption.

He then argues that Mary’s Assumption is a natural consequence of her Immaculate Conception. Since death and bodily corruption are the consequences of sin (Genesis 3:19), Mary, being sinless, would logically be preserved from these effects. Fama further emphasizes that the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” cannot be used to dismiss the Assumption, as the Bible itself teaches the authority of the Church to transmit and clarify God’s truth.

The essay then outlines the four key elements supporting the doctrine of the Assumption: (1) Scripture demonstrates its possibility, (2) Scripture indicates its likelihood, (3) Scripture confirms the Church’s authority to teach, and (4) the Church, exercising its authority, proclaims the Assumption as a reality.

Fama cites early Church writings from James of Sarugh, Gregory of Tours, and others to demonstrate the longstanding belief in Mary’s Assumption. He clarifies that the Church does not definitively state whether Mary died before her Assumption, only that she was “assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” after completing her earthly life.

Fama concludes by emphasizing that Mary’s Assumption does not make her equal to God, as it was accomplished by God’s power. He compares it to the future bodily resurrection of all believers, highlighting the unique honor bestowed upon Mary as the Mother of God.

21. The Rosary

This essay defends the Catholic practice of the Rosary, explaining its scriptural basis and refuting common misconceptions. Fama outlines the components of the Rosary: the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, and the Mysteries. He emphasizes the meditative nature of the Rosary, drawing upon Psalm 143:5, which speaks of meditating on God’s works.

Fama addresses the common objections to the Hail Mary, clarifying that its first part simply echoes the angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary in Luke 1:28 (“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”) and Elizabeth’s words in Luke 1:42 (“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb”). He argues that the final part, asking for Mary’s intercession, is consistent with the biblical call to “pray for one another” (James 5:16).

The essay utilizes 1 Corinthians 12:26 (“If one member suffers, all suffer together”) and Romans 12:5 (“we, though many, are one body in Christ”) to demonstrate the interconnectedness of believers, both in heaven and on earth, justifying the practice of asking for the prayers of saints. Fama also cites Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, which depict angels and saints in heaven presenting the prayers of believers to God.

He addresses the objection to repetition in prayer, based on Matthew 6:7, clarifying that Jesus condemns “vain repetitions,” not all repetition. Fama cites the numerous repetitions of “Praise the Lord” in Psalm 150 and Paul’s encouragement to sing hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19) as evidence for the legitimacy of repetitious prayer when done with a sincere heart.

22. Statues and Holy Pictures

This essay defends the Catholic practice of making and venerating statues and holy pictures, refuting accusations of idolatry. Fama analyzes Exodus 20:3-5, often cited in opposition to images, clarifying that God is prohibiting the worship of images, not their creation. He points to God’s own instructions to create images for the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and Solomon’s Temple as evidence for this interpretation.

Fama argues that images are not idols unless they are worshipped or given divine attributes. He compares venerating images of saints to cherishing pictures of loved ones, emphasizing the difference between expressing love and engaging in idolatry. He highlights the role of images in the early Church as visual aids for teaching the faith, particularly when literacy was low.

The essay further addresses the argument that Exodus 20:3-5 should be interpreted literally, pointing out the absurdity of such an interpretation, which would prohibit pictures of family and friends, historical figures, and even picture Bibles. Fama concludes by citing archaeological evidence for the use of images in the early Church, including paintings in the catacombs and a kneeler found in front of a cross in Herculaneum, demonstrating the acceptance of images among the early Christians.

23. Scapulars, Medals, and Relics

This essay defends the Catholic use of scapulars, medals, and relics, clarifying their purpose and refuting accusations of them being good luck charms or talismans. Fama explains the history of scapulars, originally part of monastic habits and later adopted by lay people associated with particular orders. He emphasizes that wearing a scapular is an act of devotion to the spirituality of the order it represents, similar to a sports fan wearing team colors.

Fama addresses the objection based on Mary’s promise associated with the brown scapular of Mount Carmel, which states, “Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire.” He clarifies that this promise is contingent upon the wearer remaining faithful to the grace received through prayer and devotion.

The essay then discusses the use of medals, citing their historical use in the early Church and comparing them to the reminders of God worn by the Israelites (Numbers 15:37-40). Fama emphasizes that medals are not magical but rather serve as reminders of the persons, places, events, or mysteries they depict.

Fama defends the veneration of relics, explaining that they are the remains or belongings of saints associated with miracles that testify to the holiness of the individuals they came from. He cites scriptural examples of healings associated with touching Jesus’ garment (Mark 5:25) and objects touched by Paul (Acts 19:12). He also points to the dead man being revived after touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21).

The essay concludes by referencing the veneration of Polycarp’s relics described in his martyrdom account, demonstrating the early Church’s acceptance of this practice. Fama emphasizes that scapulars, medals, and relics, when used properly, can enrich spiritual lives and draw individuals closer to God.

24. Call No Man Father

This essay tackles the objection to calling priests “Father,” often based on Matthew 23:9 (“Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven”). Fama argues that Jesus is condemning the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who craved titles and positions of honor, not the use of respectful titles in general.

He points out that Jesus himself uses the term “father” to refer to earthly fathers throughout the Gospels and cites Paul’s referring to himself as the father of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). Fama also references numerous instances in the New Testament where the title “father” is applied to patriarchs, family members, Jewish leaders, and Christian leaders.

The essay further clarifies that God is Father in the ultimate sense, while priests are fathers in a subordinate way, acting as spiritual guides and shepherds. It compares this to the use of the title “Pastor,” which signifies “shepherd,” even though Jesus declares himself to be the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:14-16).

Fama concludes by highlighting the hypocrisy of rejecting the title “Father” for priests while accepting titles like “Pastor” or “Reverend” for other Christian ministers. He emphasizes that titles are not problematic in themselves, but rather the motivation behind their use.

25. The Rapture

This essay critiques the doctrine of the Rapture, arguing that it contradicts Scripture and was a relatively recent invention in Christian theology. Fama clarifies the difference between the Catholic view of the Second Coming, where Jesus judges the living and the dead, and the Rapture, which proposes a separate event where believers are taken up to heaven before a period of tribulation on earth.

Fama analyzes 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, often cited in support of the Rapture, highlighting that Paul is comforting believers about the fate of those who have died, not describing a separate event from the Second Coming. He argues that the phrase “caught up in the clouds” simply illustrates the swiftness of Christ’s return.

He then examines Matthew 24:36-44, which describes some being taken and others left behind, interpreting it as the separation of the righteous and the wicked at the final judgment, not a rapture event. Fama emphasizes that the passage’s conclusion, which speaks of the wicked being punished in hell, leaves no one remaining on earth.

The essay then systematically dismantles the Rapture doctrine, highlighting its inconsistencies with Scripture. Fama argues that:

  • Jesus will come back to earth only once, not twice (for a Rapture and a final judgment).
  • Jesus must stay in heaven until the end times, leaving no time for a pre-judgment Rapture.
  • When Jesus returns, He will come all the way down to earth, not hover above it, as the Rapture requires.
  • Jesus will judge the living and the dead at His return, leaving no one on earth.

Fama concludes that the Rapture doctrine is unsupported by Scripture and lacks any mention in the writings of the Early Church Fathers or the traditional creeds. He highlights its origin in the late 1800s, arguing that its absence from Church teaching for eighteen centuries renders Jesus’ promise in John 16:13 – that the Holy Spirit would lead the Apostles into all truth – meaningless.

26. Abstinence

This essay explores the significance of sexual abstinence before marriage, highlighting its physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. Fama challenges the common justification for fornication – “There’s nothing wrong with sleeping with someone you really love” – pointing out its hypocrisy, particularly when applied to one’s own daughters.

He argues that women also instinctively recognize the wrongness of fornication, evidenced by their attempts to justify it by claiming they are not sleeping with “a lot of men.” Fama emphasizes that an act’s morality is determined by its intrinsic nature, not by the frequency of its occurrence.

The essay then delves into the harmful consequences of fornication. It discusses the physical dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, citing statistics demonstrating the failure of “safe sex” ideology. Fama also highlights the psychological effects of casual sex, including depression, low self-esteem, promiscuity, and suicidal tendencies.

He addresses the spiritual ramifications of fornication, emphasizing its contradiction of Christian teaching and the biblical warnings against those who practice it. Fama challenges the notion that God’s love condones all behavior, citing biblical passages that clearly condemn fornication.

The essay concludes by highlighting the positive effects of adhering to Christian sexual ethics. It references studies showing that married couples experience greater sexual satisfaction and lower rates of sexual dysfunction, concluding that abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage are the best path to both safe and fulfilling sexual experiences.

27. Contraception

This essay examines the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, arguing for its harmful consequences and advocating for Natural Family Planning (NFP) as a licit alternative. Fama highlights the historical consensus against contraception in all Christian traditions until the Anglican Church’s shift in 1930, attributing the current widespread acceptance of contraception to a departure from traditional Christian teaching.

He draws upon the story of Onan in Genesis 38:6-10, who was killed by God for “spilling his seed on the ground” to avoid impregnating his brother’s widow, interpreting it as a condemnation of contraception. Fama then analyzes New Testament passages condemning sorcery, noting the Greek words used (“pharmekeia” and “pharmakeus”) refer primarily to drugs and potions, specifically those used for harmful purposes like contraception.

The essay further utilizes writings from early Church Fathers like Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and John Chrysostom, who consistently condemned contraception as a violation of natural law and God’s design for marriage. Fama emphasizes the two dimensions of the conjugal act – procreative and unitive – arguing that contraception separates these aspects, reducing sex to self-gratification.

He argues that the widespread use of contraception has fueled the sexual revolution, contributing to an increase in adultery, sexually transmitted diseases, and the objectification of women. Fama also discusses the potential link between contraception and abortion, noting that some contraceptives act as abortifacients, preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The essay concludes by advocating for NFP as a morally acceptable and effective means of regulating births. Fama highlights its respect for the woman’s body and the integrity of the conjugal act, promoting mutual responsibility, stronger marriages, and greater marital intimacy.

28. Natural Family Planning

This essay focuses on Natural Family Planning (NFP) as a morally acceptable and effective alternative to contraception. Fama explains how NFP works, emphasizing its reliance on observing and charting a woman’s natural cycles, rather than altering her bodily functions through artificial means.

He addresses the common misconception that NFP is simply the Rhythm Method, clarifying that NFP incorporates additional indicators like basal body temperature and cervical mucus to more accurately determine a woman’s fertile periods. Fama emphasizes that NFP is just as effective as contraception in regulating births, with the added benefit of causing no harm to the woman’s body.

The essay argues that NFP respects the procreative dimension of the conjugal act, while contraception separates sex from its inherent purpose of bringing forth life. Fama compares contraception to chewing and spitting out food to avoid calories, highlighting the unnatural disruption of a natural process.

He further emphasizes the positive impact of NFP on marriages, citing studies demonstrating lower divorce rates, more frequent intercourse, and greater intimacy and communication among NFP couples. Fama concludes by advocating for NFP as a means of promoting mutual responsibility, stronger families, and a deeper understanding of God’s design for marriage.

29. Marriage

This essay defends the institution of marriage against modern criticisms, highlighting its biblical basis and its contribution to a stable society. Fama addresses the misconception that women vow blind obedience to their husbands in Catholic marriage ceremonies, clarifying that the vows focus on mutual love, commitment, and fidelity.

He analyzes Ephesians 5:22-33, often cited to justify male dominance in marriage, emphasizing Paul’s initial call for mutual submission “out of reverence for Christ.” Fama explains that while the husband is given a leadership role, this does not entitle him to tyranny but rather calls for him to imitate Christ’s self-sacrificial love for the Church.

The essay clarifies that the husband’s leadership is akin to a “point man” in the military, a position of responsibility and potential sacrifice. Fama cites St. John Chrysostom’s exhortation for husbands to love their wives even to the point of laying down their lives for them.

He addresses concerns about abusive husbands, citing Pope Pius XI’s encyclical “On Christian Marriage,” which allows for separation in such cases to protect the wife and children. Fama emphasizes that the “for better, for worse” clause does not require enduring abuse but rather points to the permanence of the marital bond, even when separation is necessary.

The essay then critiques the notion that cohabitation is equivalent to marriage. Fama cites studies demonstrating higher rates of divorce, infidelity, and domestic violence among couples who cohabit before marriage, concluding that marriage, not cohabitation, fosters stability and commitment.

He concludes by highlighting the positive impact of marriage on individuals and society, promoting emotional, physical, and economic well-being. Fama emphasizes that marriage, raised to the level of a sacrament by Christ, provides graces that empower couples to live out their vows.

30. Divorce and Remarriage

This essay addresses the Catholic Church’s stance on divorce and remarriage, highlighting its basis in Jesus’ teachings and clarifying permissible exceptions. Fama analyzes Luke 16:18, where Jesus declares that “everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” and Romans 7:2-3, which affirms the permanence of marriage until death.

He addresses the apparent exception in Matthew 5:32, where Jesus allows divorce “on the ground of unchastity.” Fama clarifies that the Greek word “porneia,” translated as “unchastity,” refers to an invalid marriage, such as cohabitation, not to adultery within a valid marriage.

The essay emphasizes that the bonds of a valid marriage, established by God (Mark 10:9), cannot be broken short of death. However, Fama acknowledges that separation may be necessary in cases of abuse or danger to the spouses or children, citing Pope Pius XI’s support for “imperfect separation” in such circumstances.

He further clarifies that even when separation is permissible, remarriage is not allowed while the former spouse is alive, drawing upon 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Fama then discusses the possibility of annulment in cases where a marriage was invalid from the beginning due to pre-existing conditions that prevented a true sacramental union.

31. Annulment

This essay clarifies the nature of annulment in the Catholic Church, differentiating it from divorce. Fama explains that an annulment is not a dissolution of a marriage but a declaration that a valid sacramental marriage never existed, even if a civil marriage was recognized by the state.

He emphasizes that the annulment process focuses on the conditions present at the time of the marriage, not on subsequent events. Fama outlines the three key requirements for a valid marriage: (1) understanding of what constitutes a sacramental marriage, (2) freedom and willingness to enter into such a commitment, and (3) capability of fulfilling the obligations of marriage.

The essay then delves into the various grounds for annulment, categorized as formal and documentary cases. Formal cases include psychological factors (immaturity, mental illness, etc.), simulation of consent (exclusion of essential elements like fidelity or openness to children), and force and fear (coercion or pressure to marry). Documentary cases include defects of form (improper marriage ceremony) and previous bond (a prior valid marriage).

Fama clarifies that annulment does not affect the legitimacy of children born from the marriage and that the fee for the process is nominal and can be waived in cases of financial hardship. He concludes by encouraging those considering annulment to consult with their parish priest for a thorough understanding of the process.

32. Abortion

This essay defends the pro-life stance, arguing that abortion is morally wrong because it involves the killing of a human being. Fama refutes the claim that a fetus is “just a blob of tissue,” highlighting the scientific evidence for the unique and developing human life present from the moment of conception.

He cites the early stages of fetal development, detailing the formation of the heart, brainwaves, and other vital organs, emphasizing that a fetus is a human being, regardless of its size or stage of development. Fama also discusses the capacity of unborn babies to experience pain, touch, and other sensations, further affirming their humanity.

The essay addresses the argument that women have a right to choose what happens to their bodies, clarifying that abortion involves the baby’s body, not simply the mother’s. Fama exposes the deception employed by abortion providers, who often discourage women from viewing ultrasounds to conceal the reality of the developing human life within them.

He criticizes the use of viability as a justification for abortion, arguing that viability, defined as the capacity for independent existence, is an arbitrary standard that would also exclude infants and some handicapped individuals. Fama also discusses the physical and psychological risks associated with abortion, including infections, bleeding, depression, and Post-Abortive Syndrome.

The essay concludes by denouncing abortion as the killing of innocent human life and advocating for alternatives like adoption. Fama challenges the pro-choice stance as a callous disregard for the most vulnerable members of society, motivated by political expediency and self-interest.

33. Women’s Ordination

This essay addresses the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood, defending the Catholic Church’s position of reserving ordination to men. Fama clarifies that the Church’s stance is not based on prejudice or a belief in female inferiority, but rather on respecting the different roles assigned to men and women by God.

He emphasizes that the primary function of a priest is to offer sacrifice, a role fulfilled exclusively by men in both the Old and New Testaments. Fama highlights Jesus’ choice of twelve male Apostles as the foundation for the priesthood, arguing that if He had intended to include women, He would have established that precedent.

The essay further utilizes Pope John Paul II’s “Apostolic Letter on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) to support its claims. It notes that Mary, the Mother of God, did not receive the ministerial priesthood, demonstrating that the exclusion of women from ordination is not a judgment on their dignity but rather a faithful adherence to God’s plan.

Fama clarifies that God calls individuals to the priesthood, not the Church, and that the Church simply authenticates these calls. He argues that if God were calling women to the priesthood, He would have done so throughout history. The absence of women priests suggests that either God has not called women to this role or that those who were called have declined.

The essay concludes by emphasizing Pope John Paul II’s definitive statement in “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” that the Church has no authority to ordain women and that this judgment should be accepted by all the faithful.

34. Traditionalists

This essay examines the Traditionalist movement within Catholicism, which rejects the Second Vatican Council and the changes that followed, arguing that their claims are unfounded and ultimately schismatic. Fama addresses the Traditionalist argument that Vatican II was a pastoral council, not a doctrinal one, and therefore its teachings are not binding. He argues that no such distinction exists and that an ecumenical council is inherently authoritative, regardless of its approach.

Fama further clarifies that the pastoral nature of Vatican II referred to its emphasis on dialogue and outreach, not a lack of doctrinal weight. He cites the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” and “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,” both produced by Vatican II, as evidence of its doctrinal authority.

The essay then examines the Traditionalist claim that Vatican II contradicts earlier councils like Trent. Fama argues that Trent’s condemnations were directed at heretics who had rejected the faith, while Vatican II’s pastoral tone was aimed at engaging with the wider world and highlighting common ground with other religions.

He addresses the Traditionalist concern about liturgical abuses and the dissenting teachings of some Catholic universities, acknowledging their validity but emphasizing that these do not justify schism. Fama advocates for working for change within the Church, rather than abandoning it.

The essay then analyzes the Sedevacantist branch of Traditionalism, which claims there has been no valid Pope since 1958 because subsequent Popes have embraced Vatican II. Fama refutes this claim, citing Pope Pius XII’s statement in “Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis,” which clarifies that even a heretical Pope is still a valid Pope, and highlighting the protection offered by papal infallibility.

Fama concludes by addressing various other Traditionalist beliefs that contradict official Catholic teaching, including the denial of salvation outside the Church, the belief that Christ died only for the elect, and the practice of appointing their own bishops, which results in automatic excommunication.

35. The Words of Consecration

This essay addresses the Traditionalist objection to the changes made to the words of consecration in the new Mass (Novus Ordo), arguing that these changes do not invalidate the Mass. Fama focuses on the alteration in the consecration of the wine, where the phrase “shed for many” in the Tridentine liturgy was changed to “shed for you and for all” in the new liturgy.

He refutes the Traditionalist claim that this change implies Christ died for the damned, arguing that the Church’s intention was to clarify the meaning, not alter it. Fama draws upon John 6:54, where Jesus declares, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you,” highlighting the universal scope of Christ’s sacrifice.

The essay further cites John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:15, and 1 John 2:2, all of which emphasize that Christ died for the world, not just for a select few. Fama argues that the words “many” and “all” are used interchangeably in Scripture, citing Mark 10:45 and 1 Timothy 2:6 as examples.

He further contends that since the Mass is the same sacrifice as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, the consecration words must reflect the same purpose. If Christ died for all on the cross, then His blood is shed for all in the Mass.

Fama then addresses the Traditionalist appeal to “Quo Primum,” a bull issued by Pope St. Pius V in 1570, which mandated the use of the Tridentine liturgy “in perpetuity.” He argues that “Quo Primum” was a disciplinary decree, not a doctrinal one, and therefore subject to change. Its purpose was to address liturgical abuses prevalent at the time, not to restrict future Popes.

Fama cites Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Mediator Dei,” which affirms the Pope’s sole authority to introduce and modify liturgical rites, further supporting the legitimacy of the changes made to the Mass. He concludes that Pope Paul VI acted within his authority when he promulgated the new liturgy and that the Traditionalist arguments are ultimately unfounded.

36. Salvation Outside the Church?

This essay examines the often misunderstood Catholic doctrine of “No Salvation Outside the Church,” clarifying its meaning and addressing common objections. Fama acknowledges the controversial nature of this doctrine, highlighting that it does not mean only Catholics can go to heaven or that Catholics are superior to others.

He explains that the Church is simply affirming its belief that Jesus established one plan of salvation, implying that all other plans are inadequate. Fama draws upon Vatican II’s “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium),” which states that those who are genuinely unaware of the Gospel and the Church, but who seek God with a sincere heart and strive to do His will, can attain salvation.

The essay clarifies that this applies to those who are invincibly ignorant, meaning they have no way of knowing the truth about the Catholic Church. Fama differentiates this from indifference, which rejects the Church’s claims without genuine inquiry, and emphasizes that God judges individuals based on the knowledge they have.

He cites the Baltimore Catechism, used before Vatican II, which teaches that only mortal sin, committed with full knowledge and consent, leads to hell. Fama also utilizes pre-Vatican II statements from Pope Pius IX, who affirmed the possibility of salvation for those in “invincible ignorance,” and writings from Clement I, who spoke of God offering repentance to those willing to turn to Him, even if they were “aliens to God.”

The essay then analyzes 1 Corinthians 4:5, where Paul emphasizes that God judges the “purposes of the heart,” and Romans 2:13-16, which states that Gentiles who do by nature what the Law requires are “a law to themselves,” demonstrating that God takes into account individual circumstances and motivations.

Fama concludes by highlighting Vatican II’s affirmation that those who knowingly reject the Catholic Church, despite recognizing its necessity, cannot be saved. He emphasizes that the Church’s teaching on salvation outside the Church balances God’s justice and mercy, holding individuals accountable for the truth they have access to.

37. The Word of Faith Movement

This essay critiques the Word of Faith Movement, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, exposing its unbiblical teachings and highlighting its harmful consequences. Fama identifies the movement’s core beliefs, including the idea that faith is a force that compels God to act, that words create reality, and that believers should experience constant health and prosperity.

He challenges the Word of Faith claim that believers should never be sick, citing Isaiah 53:5 (“By His wounds you have been healed”) and clarifying that this refers to spiritual healing, not physical healing. Fama examines Matthew 8:16-17, which fulfills Isaiah 53:4’s prophecy about Jesus healing the sick, arguing that this does not constitute a promise of perpetual physical health for believers.

The essay further cites Jesus’ statement in Matthew 9:12 (“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick”) and Sirach 38:1-4, which encourages honoring physicians and using medicine, to refute the Word of Faith rejection of medical treatment. Fama also uses Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) as evidence that even faithful believers can experience physical ailments.

He exposes the Word of Faith tendency to deny sickness, attributing it to demonic deception, highlighting the danger of ignoring physical symptoms and the potential for serious consequences. Fama then addresses the movement’s focus on material wealth, contrasting it with biblical teachings that warn against the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10) and encourage storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

The essay criticizes the Word of Faith practice of soliciting large donations as “vows of faith,” exposing its manipulative nature and its exploitation of vulnerable individuals. Fama further criticizes the movement’s claims of equality with God, citing statements from various Faith teachers that border on blasphemy.

He concludes by highlighting the movement’s harmful consequences, including individuals neglecting medical treatment, suffering financial hardship, and even losing faith due to disillusionment with its unfulfilled promises. Fama warns against the Word of Faith Movement’s distortion of the Gospel, urging readers to adhere to sound biblical doctrine.

38. Jehovah’s Witnesses

This essay critiques the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, arguing that they contradict Scripture and demonstrate a history of failed prophecies and harmful teachings. Fama addresses the Witnesses’ claim to be “God’s Visible Organization” and “His prophet,” highlighting their numerous failed predictions about the end of the world and the destruction of churches.

He then examines their rejection of the Trinity, drawing upon Genesis 1:26-27 (“Let us make man in our image… God created man in his image”) to demonstrate the plurality of persons within the Godhead. Fama clarifies that Jesus’ subordination to the Father reflects his human nature during the Incarnation, not a denial of his divinity.

The essay cites John 2:18-21, where Jesus claims to raise His own body from the dead, and Acts 5:30, which attributes Jesus’ resurrection to God, to argue for Jesus’ divinity. It further utilizes Isaiah 9:6, which calls Jesus “Mighty God,” and Colossians 2:9, which states that “in Him [Jesus] dwells the fullness of deity.”

Fama refutes the Witnesses’ claim that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, citing Acts 13:2 and 28:25, which depict the Holy Spirit speaking and acting with intentionality. He further draws upon Acts 5:3-4, which equates lying to the Holy Spirit with lying to God, and 2 Corinthians 3:17 (“The Lord is the Spirit”).

The essay then addresses the Witnesses’ denial of eternal punishment in hell, analyzing Matthew 25:41, which speaks of “everlasting fire,” and Revelation 21:8, which describes hell as “the second death,” implying continued existence after physical death. Fama argues that hell-fire cannot symbolize non-existence, as this would contradict the purpose of symbolic language.

He further analyzes Jesus’ statement about Judas in Matthew 26:24 (“It would have been better for that man if he had never been born”), arguing that it implies Judas’ eternal punishment, not annihilation. Fama concludes by exposing the Witnesses’ misinterpretations of Scripture and their history of harmful teachings, including the prohibition against blood transfusions, urging readers to adhere to the true Gospel message.

39. Seventh Day Adventists

This essay examines two key distinctives of Seventh Day Adventism – Sabbath worship and the belief in soul sleep – arguing that they contradict Scripture and the teachings of the Early Church. Fama addresses the Adventists’ claim that Christians should worship on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, acknowledging the Catholic Church’s shift to Sunday worship but defending its legitimacy under the New Covenant.

He argues that the New Covenant brought changes to various aspects of religious practice, citing the replacement of circumcision with baptism, the prohibition of divorce, and the cessation of animal sacrifices. Fama cites Colossians 2:14-16, which states that Christians are not to be judged for observing Sabbaths or festivals, and Galatians 4:9-11, where Paul expresses concern about the Galatians reverting to “observing days, and months, and seasons, and years.”

The essay highlights early Church writings that confirm Sunday as the Christian day of worship, citing the Didache and Ignatius of Antioch, both dating from the early second century. Fama further examines Acts 20:7, which describes the disciples gathering to “break bread” on the first day of the week, and 1 Corinthians 16:2, which instructs the Corinthians to set aside contributions on the first day of the week, suggesting that Sunday was the day for Christian gatherings and worship.

Fama then addresses the Adventist belief in soul sleep, which proposes that the dead remain unconscious until the final judgment. He analyzes Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 and 9:5, 10, often cited to support soul sleep, arguing that these passages reflect the author’s human perspective, not necessarily God’s revelation. He points to Ecclesiastes 3:11, where the author acknowledges the limitations of human understanding regarding God’s plan.

The essay then contrasts the Old Testament’s partial revelation with the New Testament’s clearer teachings on the afterlife, citing 2 Timothy 1:10, which speaks of Christ abolishing death and bringing “life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Fama examines Matthew 25:46 (“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”), arguing that this contradicts the Adventist belief in annihilation for the damned.

He further refutes soul sleep by analyzing Luke 16:19-31, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which depicts both men as conscious immediately after death, one in heaven and the other in hell. Fama concludes by citing early Church writings from Justin Martyr, who affirmed the belief in eternal punishment, demonstrating the consistency of Catholic teaching with the Bible and the understanding of the early Christians.

40. Mormons

This essay critiques the teachings of Mormonism, arguing that they contradict Scripture, rely on unverified claims, and promote harmful doctrines. Fama outlines the origins of Mormonism, highlighting Joseph Smith’s alleged vision and his discovery of golden plates, which he translated into the Book of Mormon.

He challenges the Book of Mormon’s claim that Jesus visited America after His ascension, citing the lack of archaeological evidence and its contradiction of biblical accounts that place Jesus in heaven until the end times. Fama also critiques the Mormon belief in a physical God the Father who was once a man and progressed to godhood, referencing Psalm 93:2, John 4:24, and Numbers 23:19, which affirm God’s eternal, spiritual nature.

The essay further exposes Mormonism’s polytheistic belief in multiple gods, contrasting it with the Bible’s consistent affirmation of one God. Fama analyzes the Mormon teaching on eternal marriage, which contradicts Jesus’ statement in Luke 20:27-35 that there is no marriage in heaven. He also criticizes the Mormon practice of sealing and unsealing marriages, which effectively condones divorce despite Jesus’ prohibition against it (Mark 10:10-12).

Fama then addresses the Mormon teaching on race, citing the Book of Mormon’s depiction of dark skin as a curse and Brigham Young’s statements linking black skin to the sin of Cain. He argues that this doctrine reflects the prejudices of Joseph Smith’s time, not divine revelation.

The essay criticizes the Mormon reliance on ongoing revelation to justify changes in doctrine, arguing that this undermines God’s immutability and trustworthiness. Fama further challenges the Mormon reliance on personal “testimony” or feelings as a means of verifying truth, emphasizing the subjective and unreliable nature of emotions.

He concludes by highlighting Mormonism’s numerous contradictions with Scripture, its reliance on unverifiable claims, and its history of harmful teachings, including polygamy and the denigration of people of color. Fama argues that Mormonism, rather than restoring Christianity, has distorted its core message.

41. Freemasons

This essay examines the incompatibility of Catholicism and Freemasonry, highlighting the Church’s consistent condemnation of the Lodge and exposing its religious nature and anti-Catholic teachings. Fama cites the “Declaration on Masonic Associations,” which reaffirms the Church’s ban on membership in Masonic organizations, declaring that such involvement constitutes grave sin.

He argues that Freemasonry, despite its claims to the contrary, is a religion, citing the “New Catholic Encyclopedia’s” description of its temples, altars, prayers, moral code, worship, vestments, feast days, afterlife beliefs, hierarchy, and rituals. Fama further exposes the Masonic prohibition against discussing religion, arguing that it serves to shield its unorthodox teachings from scrutiny and promote their acceptance through repeated exposure.

The essay then analyzes the Masonic principle of religious indifferentism, which claims all religions are essentially the same, contrasting it with the biblical affirmation of one true God and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Fama cites Masonic writings that denounce the God of the Bible, exposing the hypocrisy of their claim to embrace all faiths while rejecting Christianity’s God.

He critiques the Masonic concept of “light,” which refers to the supposed truth and wisdom attained through the Lodge, contrasting it with Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would lead His followers into all truth (John 16:13). Fama further reveals the pagan influences present in higher degrees of Freemasonry, including the incorporation of Egyptian, Scandinavian, Hindu, Greek, Persian, and Jewish Kabbalistic beliefs and practices.

The essay then focuses on the 30th degree of the Scottish Rite, which requires candidates to renounce any religious affiliations that might “bias their minds” or interfere with their Masonic obligations. Fama argues that this oath directly contradicts Catholic teaching and effectively compels Catholic Masons to abandon their faith.

He further exposes the anti-Catholic ritual in the 30th degree, where candidates trample on a papal tiara while denouncing the Pope as an impostor. Fama critiques the blood oaths required of Masons at each degree, arguing that they violate the Second Commandment by invoking God’s name in vain.

The essay concludes by acknowledging the charitable works of Freemasonry but emphasizing that this does not excuse its deception, idolatry, and hostility towards the Catholic Church. Fama urges Catholics to avoid Masonic organizations, highlighting their incompatibility with the Christian faith.

42. Divination

This essay explores the dangers of divination, arguing that occult practices, despite their seemingly harmless or comforting nature, derive their power from demonic sources and can lead to spiritual harm. Fama defines divination as any attempt to gain hidden knowledge through supernatural means, listing various forms, including Ouija boards, psychic hotlines, Tarot cards, ESP, clairvoyance, and fortune-telling.

He emphasizes that divination is condemned by Scripture, citing Deuteronomy 18:9-12, which lists various occult practices as “abominations to the LORD,” and 2 Kings 17:17-18, which describes Israel’s punishment for engaging in divination. Fama further utilizes 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, which warns that “Satan masquerades as an angel of light,” and Matthew 24:24, which speaks of false prophets performing “signs and wonders” to deceive, to highlight the deceptive nature of occult practices.

The essay analyzes Acts 16:16-18, where Paul encounters a slave girl with an “oracular spirit” who brings profit to her owners through fortune-telling. Paul exorcises the demon from her, demonstrating the demonic source of her abilities. Fama argues that divination often uses “cheese in the trap” tactics, appealing to people’s desires for comfort or connection with deceased loved ones, while concealing its true demonic nature.

He warns against opening oneself to demonic influences through divination, emphasizing that even seemingly benign practices can lead to spiritual harm. Fama argues that prolonged participation can result in demonic oppression or possession, and even in less severe cases, it can weaken one’s faith and potentially influence others to engage in harmful practices.

The essay concludes by citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which condemns all forms of divination as contradicting the honor, respect, and loving fear owed to God alone. Fama emphasizes the choice between submitting to a loving God or a deceptive enemy, urging readers to avoid any form of occult involvement.

43. Our Debt to the Catholic Church

This essay highlights the Catholic Church’s contributions to Western Civilization, arguing that its positive impact reflects the truth of its teachings. Fama acknowledges the scandals that have plagued the Church throughout history, but emphasizes that the Church should be judged by the actions of its faithful members, not those who betray its principles.

He refutes attempts to portray aberrations as the norm, arguing that the Church’s long history of service and contributions far outweighs the failings of individuals. Fama then details the Church’s role in preserving literacy and education after the fall of Rome, highlighting the work of monasteries in copying and preserving ancient texts and establishing schools that would eventually evolve into universities.

The essay discusses the Church’s pioneering role in establishing hospitals, driven by the Gospel’s call to care for the sick. Fama cites statistics on the vast network of Catholic charities operating today, providing food, shelter, counseling, housing assistance, and other services to millions of people in need.

He further highlights the Church’s influence on the development of Western law, drawing upon its system of canon law as a foundation for legal principles and procedures. Fama credits Fr. Francisco de Vitoria with establishing the basis for international law, recognizing the inherent dignity and equality of all people.

The essay then explores the Church’s role in fostering scientific inquiry, attributing this to its understanding of God as a God of order who created the universe according to rational laws. Fama highlights the contributions of Catholic scientists like Roger Bacon and the Jesuits, who made significant advancements in fields like astronomy, mathematics, optics, magnetism, and electricity.

He concludes by acknowledging the Church’s impact on art, architecture, culture, and agriculture, arguing that these achievements stemmed from its commitment to truth, beauty, and service to humanity. Fama contends that the Catholic Church, despite its imperfections, has played a vital role in shaping Western Civilization for the better.

44. Knowledge is not Enough

This essay emphasizes the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, arguing that knowledge of doctrine is insufficient for true Christian faith. Fama cites Pope John Paul II’s statement that “Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are brought into a personal relationship with God,” and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s assertion that catechesis is about leading people to a relationship with Jesus, not just transmitting knowledge.

He uses the analogy of marriage to illustrate the desired relationship between God and believers, highlighting the mutual self-giving and intimate connection that characterize a true covenant. Fama argues that simply reading the Bible or understanding doctrine is like knowing someone’s biography but not having a personal connection with them.

The essay criticizes those who prioritize feelings over doctrine, arguing that sound doctrine is essential for discerning the guidance of the Holy Spirit from the deceptions of the enemy. Fama emphasizes the importance of aligning one’s beliefs with God’s revelation, rather than creating a “god of our own making.”

He then uses Psalm 42:1 (“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”) to illustrate the natural longing for God that arises from a true relationship with Him. Fama draws upon Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things in him who strengthens me”) and John 15:5 (“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”) to highlight the dependence on God’s grace for spiritual growth and good works.

The essay encourages readers to ask for God’s grace, referencing Luke 11:9-13, which assures that “the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Fama emphasizes that the grace received at baptism must be actively cooperated with to be effective.

He concludes by providing a simple prayer of commitment to Jesus, acknowledging sinfulness and inviting Christ to transform one’s life. Fama emphasizes that this prayer is not magical, but rather a starting point for a genuine pursuit of God, leading to the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Doctrinal Concordance of the Bible

This section provides a comprehensive list of biblical passages arranged by doctrine, demonstrating the scriptural basis for Catholic teachings. The doctrines covered include the Church, Apostolic Succession, the Pope/Infallibility, the Bible, Tradition, Justification, Baptism, Sunday Worship, the Mass, the Real Presence, Confession/Reconciliation, Purgatory, Praying to Saints, Mary Ever-Virgin, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Mother of God, Statues and Images, Relics, Holy Medals and Scapulars, the Trinity, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, the Holy Spirit is a Person, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Celibacy, Anointing of the Sick, Chastity, Matrimony, Artificial Birth Control, Divorce and Remarriage, Homosexuality, and the Rapture.

Each doctrine is accompanied by a series of relevant biblical verses, allowing readers to easily see the scriptural support for Catholic beliefs and practices. The concordance effectively counters the common Protestant claim that Catholicism is unbiblical, demonstrating the harmony between Catholic teaching and the Word of God.

Introduction to the Early Church Fathers

This section introduces the writings of the Early Church Fathers, highlighting their significance in understanding and defending the Catholic faith. Fama defines the Early Church Fathers as the leaders and teachers of the early Church, spanning the first eight centuries of Christian history. He emphasizes the value of their writings, which provide a window into the beliefs and practices of the early Christians.

The introduction explains that the Early Church Fathers, especially the Apostolic Fathers (those who were direct disciples of the Apostles), provide strong evidence against the Protestant claim that Catholicism arose from later corruptions. Their writings, dating back to the first and second centuries, clearly depict a Church with a hierarchical structure, sacraments like infant baptism and the Eucharist, belief in the primacy of Rome, the intercession of saints, and the Immaculate Conception of Mary, all of which are hallmarks of Catholicism.

Fama clarifies that while the Early Fathers sometimes disagreed on minor points not yet definitively settled by the Church, their overall teachings were unmistakably Catholic. He concludes by citing John Henry Newman’s observation that “The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant,” highlighting the historical continuity between the early Church and the Catholic Church.

Early Church Fathers Quotations

This section comprises a series of quotations from the Early Church Fathers, arranged by doctrine, demonstrating the consistency of Catholic teachings with the beliefs and practices of the early Christians. The doctrines covered include Creation out of Nothing, the Church, the Primacy of Peter/Rome, Peter’s Presence in Rome, Apostolic Succession, Tradition, Justification, Baptism, the Mass, the Real Presence, Confession/Reconciliation, Purgatory, Intercession of the Saints, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Mother of God, Contraception, Divorce and Remarriage, the Divinity of Christ, the Trinity, Hell, the Sabbath/Lord’s Day, and the Filioque Clause.

Each doctrine is accompanied by a collection of quotations from various Early Church Fathers, spanning the first eight centuries of Church history. These quotations offer a compelling testament to the historical roots of Catholic beliefs and practices, effectively dismantling the Protestant claim that these teachings were later inventions.

How Old is Your Church?

This section provides a brief list of various Christian denominations and their founding dates, highlighting the relative youth of Protestantism compared to the Catholic Church. The list includes the Catholic Church (founded by Jesus Christ in 33 AD), the Orthodox Church (separated from the Catholic Church in 1054 AD), and a variety of Protestant denominations, all founded after the 16th century.

This simple chart visually demonstrates the historical continuity of the Catholic Church, tracing its origins back to Christ himself. It effectively challenges the claim that Protestantism represents a return to “original” Christianity, exposing its relatively recent emergence in the broader scope of Christian history.

For Further Study

This final section provides a list of recommended books for those seeking a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith. The books cover a wide range of topics, from general apologetics and Church history to specific doctrinal issues, offering resources for both beginners and those seeking more in-depth study.

The list includes works from prominent Catholic authors like Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn, and Mark Shea, as well as books addressing specific apologetic challenges, such as responding to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists. This comprehensive resource list equips readers to continue their journey of exploring and defending the Catholic faith, providing a solid foundation for further growth and engagement.


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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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