In search of Thomas Abell (Invicta veritas)

In 1532, Thomas Abel (should be spelled Abell) published his Invicta veritas, unconquered truth, as a response to the question posed by King Henry the 8th. The long scholarly response to the king essentially stated an unpopular position, is it moral (legal in the eyes of the Catholic Church) to set aside his first marriage to become wedded to a new wife. With this framework of truth-seeking in place, I would like to ask your indulgence in reading this entry in my blog.

Perhaps this isn’t the place or the forum to pose these thoughts, as it often just opens a person to ridicule rather than thoughtful discussion. Then again where is it appropriate and what makes one place more so than others?

Here are my thoughts and it requires no response other than for you who read these ideas may give it further consideration.

Map of countries by total population.1 – If I’m born in India, what religion would I likely be a member?
2 – If I’m born in Syria, what religion would I most probably be a member?
3 – If I was born in Italy, the same question is posed.
4 – Again, if I was born in the United States?
5 – Finally, if I was born in Sweden what might I be?

If you answered the questions in your mind, the answers might tend to follow;
1 – Hindu (3rd in popularity approximately, 14% of world population)
2 – Islam (2nd in world popularity, 20% of world population)
3 – Christian (most likely Catholic – Catholicism is the leading Christian faith by a significant margin)
4 – Christian (indeterminate denomination – Christianity is 33% of world population)
5 – Atheist or Agnostic

These aren’t all the choices, just general consensus often made by parents and passed on through their children. I didn’t include Judaism or Buddhism but the question which follows includes the same premise.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...If I’m a member of the Catholic church I’m told that I will go to heaven by staying a practicing Catholic. Likewise this applies for those who are Baptist, Mormon or Presbyterian. If I stay true to Islam, follow the Prophet Muhammad, I will go to paradise. All of these religions except one believe if you are a member in good standing with them, you will achieve paradise after you die. Hinduism is the exception. Atheism isn’t a theology and makes no claims about a paradisaical afterlife.

Now here’s the question.. . . Why would God, Allah or Supreme Being of your own choosing, allow you to be born in a country or to parents who would raise you in a religion that condemns you to some place other than paradise? Even in this world of the Internet, it’s likely you will confine your thought about this life and the possibility of the next based on your culture and parents. The United States is probably as diverse of a culture as can be found anywhere in the world but we still can understand there will be entire nations which won’t know much about anything outside of their experience. So, imagining there is this loving, caring. omniscient creator, why would this ‘super parent’ condemn most of the world to a fate perhaps worse than death?

Michelangelo's painting of the sin of Adam and...For those of the Christian faith, the answer lies with Jesus Christ, but again, step outside your comfort zone for a moment and just ask, does this atonement apply to those who will never join your specific organization let alone hear about it? The idea which Christians generally subscribe is no one has been innocent since the choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden. All persons born thereafter require a sacrifice of another super-natural being which is Jesus Christ. This automatically condemns at least 67% of the world population. The numbers become even more astronomically skewed toward condemnation when you look at the view of each denomination which insists their small minority is the only one that gets you to the top.

I’m a parent of 4 adult children and I look at each one with their vast difference in opinion and the way they conduct their lives. I love each of them even though there are a number of ways in which we differ. Of course I’m imperfect, so allowances have to be made for this question, but how could I condemn any of my unique, special and lovely children to some horrible fate because they don’t see things the way I do?

First page of the first issue of the ...

First page of the first issue of the Elder’s Journal of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kirtland, Ohio October, 1837. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Religious practices and beliefs throughout the world are influenced by many factors:

* What the religion’s book(s) say.

* How passages in those books are interpreted by theologians, clergy, scholars and the lay member.

* The impact of scientific findings.

* Individuals’ personal experience, and above all:

* The culture in which the religion is embedded.

These are my thoughts, what do you think?

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3 thoughts on “In search of Thomas Abell (Invicta veritas)

  1. Greg Ward

    Very thoughtful post and thank you for reading my blog and including the link. Your questions are one mankind has long struggled over. I am no theologian certainly, and I also cannot speak knowledgeably about other faith traditions. However as for Catholicism, I believe your statements are common misconceptions and misunderstandings. God condemns no one to hell, no one is predestined for punishment – the greatest of which is eternal separation from God. God desires no one to perish. Man can only condemn himself by rejecting God and living in a state of mortal sin. Catholics do not reject anything that is true in other religions. Being a “practicing Catholic” is insufficient for heaven – unless by practicing you mean more than formality. Though we believe that salvation comes only through the sacrifice of Christ, we also believe he died for all, not for some. It is much more complex than I can state in comments, but a quick read of the Catholic Catechism can do a much better job than I in explaining. God’s love is infinite, whereas my ability to explain is certainly not.

    1. Mike Livingston Post author

      Thank you for your well considered response. Perhaps my point is lost in the manner I described. I agree ‘not predestined for punishment’, never the less, condemned because of not being a participant in that religion. You restated it yourself, “Man can only condemn himself by rejecting God” and one of the ways to accomplish that is to not be a believing practicing member of the Catholic Church. This was a problem for my grandparents wanting to have an approved marriage. Their solution, accomplished through the priest was to have my grandmother convert to Catholicism from her Baptist faith. Her Baptist friends thought she was an apostate and now condemned however, through Catholicism she found comfort.
      One of the questions I raised, does the atonement apply to those who will never join your specific organization let alone hear about it? Clearly if you’re a Muslim or a Hindu “salvation comes only through the sacrifice of Christ” could be considered a problem.

      1. Greg Ward

        Thanks for your response. Ultimately, though Catholics insist all salvation comes through Christ, we also affirm that only God can know the state of one’s soul, and that no one is condemned except through their own fault. Pope Pius IX said “that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord, who knows the heart and thoughts of man, will, in His infinite goodness, not suffer any one to be lost forever without his own fault.”

        Sorry for the long quote, but he clearly says it better than I could concerning those who have never heard of Christ. As you mentioned with your grandparents, I know that some Protestant denominations have a drastically different view, some believing in predestination and/or the “select few” who will be saved. Needless to say Catholics reject those beliefs as man’s arrogance in dictating to an all-powerful Creator.

        Very very complex and difficult subject. I had to really examine my own beliefs to answer you – thank you.

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