Q&A: On Christian Behavior

This isn't so much as an exclusively Catholic apologetic, but is a common argument against the Christian faith. In fact, CS Lewis considered it the only argument against Chrsitianity that could hold any weight at all. If the Christian faith is the true faith, why do Christians behave as they do? All Christian groups, Catholic and non-Catholic are approached with such questions when scandels arise and are questioned on their behavior. The world often judges Catholics based on the recent priest scandals as well as the behavior of individual Catholics and Catholic leaders. The answer to this question is the answer of nothing less than the cross.

Why do Christians behave badly if their faith is the answer? Christians have free will as do all people. And the cross is the remedy to that free will when it chooses against God. It is no mistake that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is broken down into four sections (Creed, Sacraments, Life in Christ, and Prayer) places its treatsie on free will, grace, faith, and salvation in the section on "Life in Christ" and how we are to behave as Christians.

"With so many Catholics behaving like they do, how can the Catholic Church be the one true Church?"

The biggest problem with this question really is that it is a fallacy in logic. Simply, Catholics have sources of grace which God makes available to us, but Catholics still can, and many times do choose sin. The inclination to sin (called concupiscence) is present in all of us, even as believers. The difference is, as believers we have sources of grace through which we can overcome temptation and live in that grace. Only through the grace of God alone can we live as God wants us to live and say no to temptation and be able to avoid sin against God. However, we sometimes fall into temptation as Christians and we must depend on the grace of God and His forgiveness (through the sacrament of reconciliation) to be able to pick ourselves up again. We still retain the free will as believers to choose God, or to choose not God. St. Paul warns of falling away as does Jesus himself (Matthew 24:13, Romans 11:22, Phil 2:12). It is the sad truth, though God does not will it, that some Catholics will choose to remain outside of the grace of God and commit serious sin. This sin though does not invalidate the truth and reality of the Catholic faith any more than good, moral Catholics can prove the authenticity of the Catholic faith. There are moral athiests, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians. The evaulation of a faith based on the morality of some of its people is not adequate enough a measuring stick by itself. To our original question I could as much ask the question "With so many Catholic saints bahaving as they do and have, how can the Catholic Church not be the one true Church?" Both questions are fallacies in thinking. Besides it is ultimately very hard to judge how many "good Catholics" there are to how many "bad Catholics" there may be. The Church does not see its job though to kick people out who don't fit certian standards. The Church is, as the old cliche states, a "hospital for sinners". God did not come to save the righteous man, but the sinful man. And of course St. Paul reminds us that this is not a license to sin all the more so that grace may abound. Grace abounds aplenty through prayer, fasting, and good works.

How then do we measure if the Catholic Church is the one true Church? That ultimately is the question of apologetics and often catechetics in its early stages. The answer leads to another question which is "Must I be a member of the Church Jesus founded?" Whether you are a critic of the Church, or a high school religion teacher looking for answers students have asked, I must say that we need to look further than our Christian behavior to answer the questions. Really the answer lies again in the cross of Christ on Calvary. As a convert the measure for me was that the Church stood on all three pillars - Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. It offered authority, given by Christ, that no other Christian sect can come close to even claiming to have. This authority gives assurance for the hope that we have in us.