Regarding ‘The Epistemologic Works’
Website, Truth, Hell & the Catholic Faith
10 June 2008
My Dear [Relative], X-
This is Paul, your [relative], writing. You sent the email last week to both my wife & I, but since Paula doesn’t actively oversee The Epistemologic Works website (although she may, in the not-too-distant future, contribute to parts of it), then I’m the only one responding for now. However, I’m sharing your email with her so that she can, if she’d like, respond to you personally.
Before I forget, years ago you gave me a CD-ROM of the Bible in the King James Version (KJV). I can’t remember if it was for some special occasion or just because you thought I’d like it. Whichever, I never properly thanked you. Every few weeks or months I’d think about doing so but, due to the huge physical distance between us and our very different, busy lives, I’d never get around to it. I beg your pardon. The translation used on the disc is Protestant (meaning that it isn’t what real Catholics use), nevertheless, it’s been invaluable to me because the KJV is a classic rendering which is impossible for Protestants to honestly or intelligently refute when it clearly upholds the Catholic position on so many teachings & practices. That is to say, they can’t very well write it off as the biased product of Catholic scholarship when it came from their own translators and has been highly respected by Protestants everywhere for nearly four hundred years. Incidentally, you can look at where I’ve used your gift extensively in the Books & Articles section of the website --- namely, the Catholic Ritual Defended article and The Dogma of Baptism Upheld book. Each of them quotes from the KJV bible left-and-right.
Finally, I’m sorry I made you wonder whether or not I got your email. Paula mentioned to me yestreday how you wrote her asking if I’d gotten it. Unfortunately, I’ve got a lot of things to do trying to be a full-time Catholic missionary and having a large family at the same time. Hence --- and as I mention in the Contact & Donations section --- it will probably take awhile for me to get back to someone. Meaning, it could be a week or more sometimes. All the same, I assure you, I noticed your email almost as soon as you sent it (literally, within a few minutes of transmission). I wanted to read it right away. I knew if I did, though, that I’d get wrapped up in composing a response... which is why I’ve held off, getting other things done first. Now I’m ready! =)
As to your generous expression of respect for my efforts to research various religions & seek the truth, I humbly thank you. It’s nice that somebody could actually appreciate this. I am also happy (for obvious reasons) that you’re not “closed in any way” (as you put it) to the message of The Epistemologic Works website. Your words are pleasant & courteous, even delicately thoughtful. And you are quite right that it is “very difficult to seek out the truth when most of our days are spent working countless hours employed with a company that contributes to the functions of the current day to day necessities and privileges.” This problem of pre-occupation with worldly concerns is a common tactic of the Devil to keep people from seeking, finding or obeying God’s Commandments. It still breathes down my neck even as I write. It is rampant everywhere nowadays, but particularly acute in metropolitan areas.
As to caring about your concerns, I do indeed. Even were your soul not priceless & its eternal fate not crucial, your comments are important to me since they place a passing barometer into my hands by which I may gauge someone else’s perception or grasp of the website. I can’t guarantee I’ll act on any of your concerns today or in the future as you might wish, notwithstanding, I definitely take you, and them, seriously.
As to fear of Hell, I don’t think that it should be the sole driving force behind anyone’s interest in what I’m communicating on The Epistemologic Works. It is a necessary component --- especially for those who are both clueless & careless about Eternity --- but the best reason of all for people to treat my website with deep & sober reflection is simply this:
That they love the Creator of All That Exists more than anything else, and they truly want to know --- and obey --- what He designed human beings to accomplish. This Creator being the ontological source of all being (just a fancy way of saying how neither any of us nor anything at all could exist without Him continually willing it into existence out of nothing), He is therefore also (epistemologically speaking) the Source of All Truth Necessary to Know in order for us to fulfill our purpose... the purpose of being made to ‘look like Him’, of being made in His Image.
There is no other way for infinitesimal creatures like ourselves to show our love for this Infinite Creator, Whose Image we bear, than to obey what He commands. Failure to do so, whether through obstinate rebellion or lazy ignorance, is equivalent to hatred. That is to say, given that we are rebellious or lazy, then it is plain to see that we could not care less to fulfill His Purposeful Design for us, to do what He tells us to do. He gave us minds to know --- thus we can sincerely seek and we can intelligently find. He gave us wills to act --- thus we can freely choose and we can successfully obey. It is up to us to utilize our minds & wills correctly, just as they were designed for.
That said, here are my responses to your numerical comments or suggestions:
1.) I may owe you an apology on the “read this section first” statement near the beginning of the opening home page. I think you initially visited the site just before I linked the first of these statements to the webpage I intend someone to go to, and I’ve still not linked the other two similar statements due to my not yet getting the short articles ready to read. Hence, these “read this section first” statements have nothing directly to do with everything that follows below them on that opening home page. They are separate things altogether, meant to bring a person up to running speed on what they might need to know given that they are either calling themselves Catholic, Christian, or none-of-the-above.
Nonetheless, all that follows these statements apparently confused you in & of itself. I.e., all the stuff about the Virgin Mary. Or, at least, all the stuff insofar as you read. That’s probably because I have to take stock of my potential audience and, however unfair it is to some readers, decide who it is that a particular article or writing is aimed for. The article (or half-article really since it’s only the first half of the full article eventually to arrive) on Mary on the opening home page is designed for those who consider themselves Catholic and for those who call themselves Christian or born again. The first group will understand a lot of what I’m saying because they will claim to honor the Virgin Mary as Queen of Highest Heaven. The second group will understand a lot of what I’m saying, too, because they think honoring the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary is a bunch of nonsense, and they’re cocksure of their rightness. The article on Mary is intended to show the latter group how extremely wrong they are --- and uses the Bible to do so, which they claim to respect as their ‘highest’, ‘primary’ or ‘sole authority’ when it comes to religion. And the first group, if truly Catholic, will greatly benefit from my exposition since it will show how mistaken the second group is and how to combat that second group’s arguments against the Blessed Virgin Mary. Whereas (and there’s not much I can do about this right now) the third group --- those who neither consider themselves Catholic nor call themselves Christian or born again --- kind of get left out in the cold. The subject is not going to make much sense to them, I’m afraid, formatted as it is for the benefit of the first & second groups of people. That’s the group you fall into since, to my knowledge, you’ve never considered yourself Catholic and never called yourself Christian or born again. Ergo, the quotes from Sacred Scripture and comments following them are pretty inexplicable to you.
My solution for now? Look at the Questions & Answers section. There’s only two things in there at the present time (eventually there will be dozens upon dozens), but the one on the Roman Catholic Church is quite long, consisting of more than one hundred relatively small queries & rejoinders. These questions & answers will better approach you from where you are right now, not presuming extensive knowledge or experience upon your part about the Catholic Religion to start with. Watch for future Q&A’s to appear on all kinds of different subjects.
2.) You are correct about the four creeds. All four are now posted. You looked at the website just prior to me getting the fourth creed up on the site. Regarding the suggestion about listing a chronology, origin & independent source for them, I think that’s an excellent idea. I shall certainly try to work that into the site in the near future. In the meantime, if you look closely at the introductions to each of them (i.e., the webpage that lists the separate creeds by name & introduction, with links to each individually), you will find that I provide some of that information already in a narrative form. But concerning this making my argument more sound, it will only do so inasmuch as someone is willing to concede the Supreme Authority of the Roman Catholic Church to speak infallibly for God in telling us what we are to know, believe, profess & obey in order to save our immortal souls. Or, to put it another way, nobody’s going to take these creeds seriously --- and even if I do provide a list of information like you’ve suggested --- unless they first take the Catholic Church seriously that produced them.
3.) Regarding my educational background, I may decide in the intermediate future to provide that information to potential surfers. On the other hand, everything I present on The Epistemologic Works website should be able to stand on its own irregardless of me & the educational feathers in my cap. That is to say, anyone with a modest but adequate amount of intelligence and a sufficient amount of determination should be able to examine the dogma, scripture, evidence & reasoning on its pages and see for themselves how what I say is accurate & true --- and thus critical to act upon by becoming a real Roman Catholic.
4.) A simple summarization of very short length in laymen’s terms stating my Catholicity, along with a sequential list of sentences of logical reasons for why the Catholic Faith is the One True Faith, may just be a very excellent idea. I will certainly keep that in mind for months to come even if I don’t do anything now. Meanwhile, the same catch-22 hinders me. I have only so much time to do what I can do. I have to start somewhere. To whom do I address my efforts? Upon whom do I lavish my attention? Do I aim for those with big vocabularies & vast intellects, or do I shoot for people who are perfectly smart but who may not have the time, patience or interest to look very far if I don’t make things really easy? Or do I make things perfectly childlike, with Hemingway-type sentences and the kind of breezy writing that people find in newspaper ads or on Internet commercials?
Ultimately I want to do it all. I just can’t get it all done instantaneously. You’ll notice, though, that I have a section in the navigation bar to the left of the webpages of The Epistemologic Works, that doesn’t link to anything yet, called Straight & Simple. This is exactly what this section is planned to be --- very short, very simple, laymen’s terminology, nothing overwhelming, and everything tied up nice’n’sweet in its own little package, as it were. I even have a domain reserved for a complete & separate website of the same name --- Straight-and-Simple --- as soon as I can get around to constructing it in the next year or two. So your concern in this area will probably start to be addressed to your satisfaction in a short while.
For the time being I again direct you toward the Questions & Answers section. Too, take a look at Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus in the Books & Articles section. This book, in spite of its impressive-sounding Latin title that only a scholar could love, is actually a fairly easy read, at least to begin with (it does get rather involved after Chapter 33, although it will simplify after Chapter 72 --- the very last chapter that I have posted for it thus far). Take a close look at the first 33 chapters, which present the simple logic & solid facts about Catholicism --- especially the historical evidence --- pretty quickly, considering how thorough the subject matter is covered. Particularly focus your attention on Chapter 5, which gives a brief, concise & overarching list of the logical proof for Roman Catholicism, just as you’ve suggested. Of course, the book is targeted at those who call themselves Christian or born again (viz., Protestants). Ergo, you have to first believe in the existence of an Almighty Creator and respect the Bible highly before it’s going to make much of an impact on you. All the same, its lengthy historical evidence from Chapter 15 to Chapter 33 stands regardless of a person’s lack of belief in God’s existence or lack of respect for Sacred Scripture. (A future book aimed at those who are not Catholic & not Protestant, and who may not even claim to practice any specific religion --- but who claim to be intelligent and to respect the authority of pure reason itself --- will be forthcoming in the next five years, Heaven willing.)
Thank you again, X, for recognizing all of the time & effort I’ve put into the website & its subject matter. I pray that the tears which it nearly brought to your eyes and the way it touched your heart in seeing the passion & devotion I have for the Catholic Faith will bear fruit in your life... that you will someday convert. After all, I myself was not raised to be Catholic to begin with. I was taught to look down upon & despise the Catholic Religion. I thought of Catholics as stupid, and very wicked. Which they were, since most Catholics of the last one hundred years have been either bad Catholics or fake Catholics. I did not therefore become a Catholic because I thought it so very attractive. To the contrary, I hated the idea vehemently. There was only one thing that converted me and one thing alone: that it was indisputably true. Hence why you should learn to fear Hell as well, even if fear of Hell isn’t the best reason to convert in the long run (the love of Heaven and of God is the best reason by far). Because Hell is real. And would you tell a person who was trying to save you from a burning house that you really don’t fear your house being on fire, that your only concern is whether or not it’s true?
Of course not! Naturally you want to know if it’s really true. On the other hand, what person in his right mind wants to be burned up in a house that’s on fire, and all because he can’t bring himself to care enough to find out if it’s really true or not? The mere scream of someone that the building is on fire --- the mere sound of a fire alarm going off --- is enough to send a chill down the spine of a reasonable & intelligent person, compelling him to see for himself if what the alarm & others are saying is the reality, and not resting quietly till he does so with absolute certain knowledge of the matter one way or another. That is to say, this person will not discard the subject or fail to pursue it carefully until he finds out for sure, all sensible points for both sides of the argument examined meticulously, what the truth of the matter really is.
So it is with the Roman Catholic Religion. This is the religion that God made. God Himself is Roman Catholic... which is why, in making us in His Image, to look like Him, He designed us to be Roman Catholic, too. Forget the terms of the title for a moment --- ‘roman’ and ‘catholic’ --- these are simply words that came about in the course of human events by what we call the ‘accidents’ of history. The subject itself, however... Roman Catholicism... apart from the name of Roman Catholicism (that only came into existence later on), has always existed straight from out of timeless Eternity, divinely conceived by the Creator of All That Exists.
Now, maybe this is too much for you. Maybe your eyes are glazing over, or you’re snickering at the thought. But if you could be brought to the edge of tears by looking at my website and realizing the incredible sacrifice I’ve put into erecting it, then I think not. You are capable of grasping what I’ve just said. You are capable of understanding what I have just described. The only question is... will you take it seriously? And by that I mean, will you do what it takes to resolve all the uncertainties and all of the lack of knowledge about this subject matter in your mind? Will you pursue it till you get it figured out one way or another, or will you not?
I don’t expect you to convert overnight, my dear [relative]. And you’re free to do as you wish until the day that you die. Consequently, you can toss this email into the trash can and forget I ever sent it. Yet if you take it seriously... well, then, it’ll take you a while to figure everything out. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’ve put up the website. I’m doing everything possible on my end of things to make it as easy as possible for people like you on your end of things to get it understood. Nevertheless, even if you do take it seriously and return to my website regularly to continue reading & studying, to see what I’ve posted lately, or to correspond with me occasionally, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually do anything about it. It’s the old canard: you can bring a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. Likewise me & this site. I can, by the sheer force of dogma, scripture, evidence & reasoning, bring a person who looks at everything very carefully --- thinking it through thoroughly --- to the Roman Catholic Water of Eternal Life. I cannot, however, make anyone drink; I can’t make people profess & obey. That much is up to them, just as it is up to the person in a burning house to heed my warning and run out of the firetrap on his own in order to save his life.
So, it’s great that you say you want to know the truth! It’s wonderful that you say you want to understand better! Most folks won’t even declare that much. The proof in the pudding, though, is what you do in the coming months & years. I will gladly help you to understand better. I might even add a category to the site entitled For The Layman... =) Although, really, the Straight & Simple section is already intended to be the very thing that you envision. I also comprehend that the website is complicated and very hard to grasp. Perhaps I’ll become smarter in years to come about communicating things more easily for most people. The thing is, I know 99% of the potential surfers of the site --- barring a miracle of God’s Grace, of course --- are never going to bother looking at a website like this no matter what I do. Hence I’ve chosen to aim it, at first, toward persons who will really dig in and try hard to comprehend what Catholicism is down to its very marrow. Unfortunately, this leaves persons like you in a predicament. Provided you’re really sincere about wanting to know, then how are you to get it figured out when someone like me makes it sound so hard to understand? I therefore applaud you on your humility. Just the very fact that you would tell me that it’s hard to understand is an example of humility on your part. Leastwise, that’s the way I’m taking it. Ergo, talk to Paula & I as much as you would like in order to comprehend what you’re looking at on The Epistemologic Works. As long as we see evidence of good will in you, then we’ll bend over backwards in our busy lives to help you understand. And by this I don’t mean that you can’t express doubts or venture an unfavorable opinion about the Catholic Church once in awhile. I just mean that we see you actually working it through --- and that you really do acknowledge, once thoroughly or properly understood, where the Catholic Church is right, and really do change, once the knowledge is adequately digested, your life to accommodate this truth. In short, that you learn to obey what God has commanded.
But I’m probably getting way ahead of you for now. I apologize. That’s a result of the passion I have for this subject, which you remarked upon. At any rate, I have indeed done as you stated: “Please let me know your thoughts.” Here they are. The most important thing that either you or I can know, though, is the Thoughts of the Almighty Creator. Inasmuch as my thoughts are His Thoughts and I have successfully conveyed them to you, then you are in good stead. And this is Wisdom: that the Thoughts of God are Roman Catholic. We touch God, we embrace Him, by becoming a part of His Catholic Church, which is the Body of Jesus.
The blessing of God & God’s Son’s Mother be upon you along with all of my [familial] & neighborly love,
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To read my second & much longer letter to this same person, please see The World Offended. Or go to the Books & Articles section and look for the article of that name (all titles of books or articles are listed alphabetically, along with a synopsis of each).
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Pilate’s query met:
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