Bookmark and Share
My Photo


    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


« What was the point of Pope John Paul II's... | Main | Dr. Ralph McInerny, requiescat in pace »

Friday, January 29, 2010



Carl, I don't quite get the gist here, since most people I know who believe like this still seek God and try to be good. They do not use the pluralism idea as license. They say, "I love God and try to do what's right. But I can't believe any one religion has all the answers. If I hear Him outside the Church, then it is proof they Church is not exclusively right. We all know it is the product of mixed up if well-meaning men."



There is a great incidental irony here that people that think this way tend to sell their political and religious freedom in the name of "tolerance" and are blithely unaware until it is gone.

There is more than a shortage of catechesis at work, there is also a lack of history and basic philosophy. Such people not only do not know God, they don't know humanity either. If they truly understood humanity they would go looking for the truth about God.

Even so, the words of Jesus you would think would disturb such a person, such as when he promised to bring a sword. The point is, they are not thinking at all. Thinking implies a search for truth, and that is not what they are about.

If they are not thinking, all that is left is to say that such people are poseurs. They are taking a stance, posing for a portrait in life, practicing a lifestyle. Culturally the Catholic faith feels good to them, quite understandably, so they see no need to leave, even while practicing other things that feel good to them.

This was always the core problem with ALPHA. If you looked at the program closely, it was designed to present a "Christian lifestyle." This inevitably led to the experiential as a way to make it meaningful, and so it became in many instances an open-ended "charismatic" experience un-focused, unbounded and a wide open door to the spirit world, much like such grotesque phenomena as the "Toronto Blessing." (The two have a common pedigree)

We can sympathize with those who in desperation leave the Church for fundamentalist churches who preach the gospel (although truncated) without apology. God bless those Bishops and priests who preach with clarity and make the "lifestyle" Catholics uncomfortable.

Magister Christianus

From the CSM article cited above comes this. "Although she is a devoted Roman Catholic, she says she doesn’t 'believe it’s the one true path and anything else is flirting with the devil.'" LJ above comments that "there is also a lack of history and basic philosophy." Exactly. Put the language of faith and religion aside for a moment. We are thrust back upon Aristotle's basic law of non-contradiction, that there cannot be both A and not-A. If a person claims to be a devoted Roman Catholic, then, given the teaching of Roman Catholicism, it is impossible to believe that there are other true paths to God. If a person claims to believe this, then he either does not fully understand the terms of what he thinks he believes, or is being willfully perverse by irrationally maintaining what he knows he cannot rationally maintain.

Make no mistake, such a person can be a very nice person, quite delightful, in fact. But maintaining contradictions is illogical, and therefore false.

For more on Aristotle's law of non-contradiction, see:

No Man

Plus, blame it also on deficiency of prayer/meditation.

Fr. Powell 12/22/2009: "Pantheism (All-is-God) is a cheap dorm room spirituality deeply pondered by sophomore philosophers after one too many hits on the bong. Quoting scientism's prima donna, Richard Dawkins, 'pantheism is a sexed-up atheism.' As Douthat notes, for R.D., this is a compliment."

IMHO: one is not Christian if one gives credence to any other "belief systems" - that is pantheism or polytheism, I don't know and don't care which. It's wrong.

Brian J. Schuettler

One Truth being taught by One Church in obedience to the Holy Spirit, preaching Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer and Him crucified. The Truth is that simple...everything else is, as they say, commentary. Freedom without Christ is slavery.

Steve Cianca


In response to your query, I think part of the problem is that many such Catholics misunderstand the nature of the Church's claim to truth. In their minds, the position that the Church represents the one true faith means that there is no truth to be found anywhere else. This of course is absurd. The Church has always recognized that God has revealed Himself in other ways, through, for example, natural law or His creation. We as Catholics have always subscribed to the truth of the Old Testament--God's revelation to the Jews. What the Church's claim really means is that the fullness of God's revelation is to be found in the Church--the Body of Christ, Who is the Word Made Flesh.

Another part of the problem is that many "syncretist" Catholics are intellectually--if not lazy, then out of shape. Most of what they believe is based on feelings or habits, not on "faith seeking understanding." For them, as long as they are sincere, it doesn't really matter what they believe. One doesn't critique other faith traditions because that would be "judgmental," a cultural no-no.

Finally, such Catholics as you describe feel free to mix and match elements of various religions because for them, the point is to be able to keep all your options open in perpetuity. As Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out, for such people, freedom always trumps truth, and the commitment and decision-making that taking truth seriously entails.


Magister Christianus,

Exactly. Your mention of the law of non-contradiction brings to mind the soliloquy of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged. He spoke of the "blank-out". While I don't agree with Rand's atheistic conclusion, the premise of reason as distinctly human is the right one.

It would seem that syncretists and any other type of relativists, theoretical or practical, like the person cited, have suffered at least a "brown-out" of reason. We know they have it, because they can still communicate, and we know that all language depends upon logic and order to be anything other than a series of unintelligible grunts and whistles. But such people have stopped asking the question "why?"

Proper catechesis, in my opinion, must start with the question "why?", must encourage the question "why?" and must proceed to answer the question "why?", ultimately coming to the final conclusion that Jesus Christ is the answer to that question, incarnate.

But it seems to me that it is far better to be dissatisfied with the answer than to stop asking the question.


A very interesting article, Carl. It provides some understanding of the viewpoint of a relative who does some of this "syncretist" exploration. One needs to pray for others who may be in error, while remembering that possession of the truth can be sabotaged by pride or lack of charity.


I find some of your comments very disturbing since I have people in my own family that have strayed from their Catholic Faith and worship in other Christian church denominations. I am so grateful that they and some others still believe in Jesus that, taking care not to compromise my own Catholic beliefs, I treat them very gently and continue to pray for their conversion. I have come to believe that Jesus is still with them and that eventually the Grace of the Holy Spirit will guide them back home. As for myself and many parents and families, this has been a most painful time for me, but the only way I can deal with it is to continue to model my own Faith and pray for them. If there is a better way, I would like to hear about it.

Term Paper

The Church has always recognized that God has revealed Himself in other ways, through, for example, natural law or His creation.

Term Paper

I am so grateful that they and some others still believe in Jesus that, taking care not to compromise my own Catholic beliefs, I treat them very gently and continue to pray for their conversion.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight


Ignatius Press

Catholic World Report


Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad