The Broad & Comfortable Road to Lukewarm Christianity & Destruction

July-August 2004By Frederick W. Marks

Frederick W. Marks, former Professor of History at Purdue and St. John’s Universities, is the author of six books, including, most recently, A Brief for Belief: The Case for Catholicism (Queenship Publishing Company).

In a recent talk, Avery Cardinal Dulles observed that “more education is needed to convince people that they ought to fear God.”1 Coming from an eminent theologian, such counsel should attract attention. But will it be heeded?

The Catholic pulpit in America has long been short on formation. Funeral Masses have turned into canonization ceremonies while good pastoral advice for the scrupulous is commonly dispensed to the unscrupulous. One is likely to hear that God is “nothing but love and mercy” or that no one can “earn” salvation — half truths at best. For example, the Bible states clearly that in God there is “mercy and anger alike,” and Jesus declared that “he who loves me keeps my commandments.”2

Catholic homilists with both feet on the ground will not imitate pop psychiatry, which specializes in the painless removal of guilt. Lulling assurances are out of touch with the Gospel. Jesus, who inaugurated his public ministry with the word “repent” (Mt. 4:17), advised the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Likewise, in the case of the man cured at the Pool of Bethesda, it was advised “sin no more lest something worse befall thee” (Jn. 5:14).

Queried on the subject of how many would be saved, our Lord replied “few” because the “gate” to Heaven is “narrow” (Mt. 7:13-14). “Few” may be taken to mean “relatively few” since no one knows the date of the Last Judgment; indeed the population of Heaven may be numbered in the billions. There is no way to pinpoint the precise meaning of the word “few.” Nonetheless, it is sobering that Jesus chose the image of a narrow gate. Augustine believed it “certain that few are saved,” and he was not alone.3 Virtually every saint, pope, father, and doctor of the Church who ever spoke or wrote unequivocally on the subject, took Jesus literally. Saints Polycarp, Irenaeus, Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Robert Bellarmine, Peter Canisius, Alphonsus Liguori, Elizabeth Seton, Peter Eymard, Josemaría Escrivá, and Faustina Kowalska, to name but a few, all subscribed, either implicitly or explicitly, to the principle of the narrow gate.4 And to the saints may be added such luminaries as Innocent III, Thomas à Kempis, Cardinal Newman, and Sister Lucia of Fatima.5

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Commentary on Aristotles's on sense perception ( In Librum De Sesu) 63.8 ( On 988b6) " Anaxagoras ,who introduced Mind and Empedocles, who introduced Affinity, assumed that these factors are perfect and that they are the source of all perfection. But they did not mean that these represent final states toward which all things subject to physical change tend, but only that they are factors which can be calked perfect in the sense that they make things what they are. "
On Fear : " In civilized life... It has at last become possible for large numbers of people to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a pang of genuine fear. Many of us need an attack of mental disease to teach us the meaning of the word. Hence the possibility of so much blindly optimistic philosophy and religion" ( William James,psychology ,XXIV)
Dates: Anaxagoras: ( 500-428BCE), Aristotle ( 384BCE-322),Empedocles(490BCE-430) and William James( Jan11,1842- August 26,1910)
Posted by: laguerre12
July 03, 2012 12:35 PM EDT
Alfred North( 1861-1947 Mathematician and philosopher)
" the science of pure mathematics in the developments may claim to be the most original creation of the human spirit"
Posted by: laguerre12
July 03, 2012 04:38 PM EDT
Ingersoll ,Robert( 1833-1899 " the great agnostic") speech Manhattan Liberal Club,printed in Truth- seeking Weekly Periodicals ,Feb 28,1892
" hope: is the only universal liars who never loses his reputation for veracity "
Posted by: laguerre12
July 03, 2012 04:47 PM EDT
"Despite the United States " hope to heard a new Republican herald a new Republican order for the wold , the founding fathers were sure their creation would not endure forever.They predicted monarchy or aristocracy would succeed it once class differences became to great .John Adams ( 1735-1876) was the greatest of the pessimist who warned America too would be taken over by either an Aristocracy or the poor led by demagogues if a strong executive and balanced government did not check them both " ( The Philosophy of Law ; Encyclopedia) Posted by: laguerre12
July 03, 2012 05:29 PM EDT
Please let me add another to one of the first five endnotes: Saint Leonard of Port Maurice. His most famous sermon was "The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved."

Does Hans Urs von Balthasar fail the lex parsimoniae?
Posted by: wpjmd
July 05, 2012 04:45 PM EDT
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