GK Chesterton said, “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.”
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31-32).
There was a time when I believed that people with Doctor in their title, medical doctors or PhD’s, must be wise. I have long since come to understand that titles, especially in the areas of education and academia, are no guarantee of knowledge or wisdom. As Chesterton said, and I paraphrase, they are so-called worldly people who never understand even the world. They rely on a few maxims which are not true. Then they base their lives on them, worse they teach young people that they are true.
You will find many such people throughout history, people who believed in themselves. As Chesterton said, the insane asylums are full of people who believe in themselves. Napoleon, Genghis Kahn, Hitler and Stalin murdered and pillaged; they believed in themselves. Many modern scientists believe in themselves and are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. “The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes” (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy).
I find it interesting that only fifteen years ago, when I began teaching Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, I would meet a person who might discuss whether a man can be washed in the miraculous waters of Baptism, but there was no doubt at any rate that they needed washing. But today? Living in their small, darkened circles, even some religious leaders—not merely materialists—not only deny Baptism, but deny the need; they deny sin! (cf. Orthodoxy) Today even some Bishops and Cardinals in the Catholic Church will dispute original sin, which is the part of Christian Theology which can easily be proven! If they doubt it, I would be happy to drop them off at night, near my childhood home in Chicago, and there would be a good chance that they will come face to face with sin, in fact they might be on the short end of it!
I remember as a kid, the horror I felt when some kids took delight in torturing a cat. Today scientists cut the scalps from human babies and sew them on laboratory mice and call it science. They do not just deny God as atheists do or deny the relationship between God and man as Christians believe (cf. Orthodoxy), but they deny the child and think this is reasonable.
Here are a few modern maxims that are believed:
- It is a human right to take the life of a child.
- Marriage is meaningless.
- A man can become a woman.
Bishop Fulton Sheen shed light on the fact of sin and the battle taking place in the human heart when he said, “Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.”
Speaking of his impending death Jesus said, “Now my heart is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come. Now is the judgement of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12: 27; 31-32). “We know that any one born of God does not sin, but (Jesus) who was born of God keeps him, and the Evil One does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the Evil One” (1 John 5:18-19).
Reading these divine words gives us perfect awareness of what is really happening in the world, within the human story, considered in its depths. The human story is a confrontation between two forces: the force of attraction, whose source is in the wounded Heart of the Crucified-Risen One, and the power of Satan, who does not want to be ousted from his kingdom. The area in which the confrontation takes place is the human heart, it is human liberty.
At the trial before Pilate, the Governor asks Jesus whether he is a king; whether—which is the meaning of Pilate’s question—he has true and sovereign political power over a given territory. Jesus responds: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Jesus wants us to understand that his kingship is not that of the kings of this world but consists of the obedience of his subjects to his word, to his truth. Although He reigns over his subjects, it is not through force or power, but through the truth of which he is witness, which “all who are from the truth” receive through faith.
He who holds the entire world under his sway, instead dominates through lies. Jesus says of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The wording is dramatic. The first proposition— “He was a murderer from the beginning”—is explained by the second: “and he does not stand in the truth”. The murder which the devil performs consists in his not standing in the truth, not dwelling in the truth. It is murder, because he is seeking to extinguish, to kill in the heart of man truth, the desire for truth. By inducing man to unbelief, he wants man to close himself to the light of the Divine Revelation, which is the Word incarnate.
To summarize, this therefore is what is happening in the heart of man: Jesus, the Revelation of the Father, exerts a strong attraction to Himself. Satan works against this, to neutralize the attractive force of the Crucified-Risen One. The force of truth which makes us free acts on the heart of man. It is the Satanic force of the lie which makes slaves of us. —Cardinal Caffara, the fourth annual Rome Life Forum, May 19, 2017.