By their fruits you shall know them
– Jesus (Matthew 7:20)
The plurality of religious beliefs, the presence of religious fanatics and the false martyrdom of killing in the name of God, lead many to consider all claims of certainty about God as suspect. Further, there are philosophical hurdles in understanding how any finite creature could come to know an Absolute Being. So how can anyone be certain of something infinite?
Unsurprisingly many people decide that agnosticism or scepticism are the most sensible attitudes, believing that ‘no one really knows’. And yet since the time of Jesus, there has been a steady flow of witnesses who claim personal encounter with God through Jesus, and these people have formed, built, and grown a Church with the following features:
- Creed – essentially unchanging over nearly 2000 years
- Continuity – largest continuously existing institution on earth despite frequent persecution, sometimes intense.
- Charity – arguably the largest charitable organisation ever (see Resources page for reference)
- Intellectual Foundations – profound, stable, & coherent understanding (cf. worldly philosophies which come & go)
- Holiness – in sublimity of doctrine & in the lives of the Saints
- Prophetic Fulfilment – hallmark features of the Church were foretold in the Old Testament, and by Jesus himself, improbable by chance or human effort alone.
Saint John Henry Newman, a highly intelligent and holy man, well-versed in philosophy, was passionate about the question of certainty and the relations between faith and reason. He acknowledged the many difficulties that Christian faith poses, but he was very clear about his own certainty:
Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt
– John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua
So, is certainty credible? Examine the witnesses carefully. Examine the Church in Her key features, as indicated above. Look beyond the popular media. Discern the form.
Yes, there is credibility, for the fruit of such conviction is a citadel, unmovable in its core foundations and continually growing whilst the world changes.
More detailed argument here: “Is Certainty of God Credible?” (Blog 21st Nov 2022):