Why Catholicism?

I suppose my basic reason for becoming Catholic is basic Christian doctrine: the Creation and the Incarnation. If you accept them then the Catholic Church makes more sense than the protestant churches, which tend to dematerialize things. If the things of this world mean something, so much so that God could become a particular man, why shouldn’t the Church be particular too? And why not have sacraments, saints, bishops and all the rest of it?

Only Roman Catholicism is adequate to life as I find it. The Eastern Orthodox Church can’t decide new issues without an effective final authority, and can’t stand up to the state, because there’s no effective transnational organization. Mysticism, personal piety and respect for the powers that be are good things but other things are good too, and religion should take them into account. It’s a problem for example that there’s no such thing as an Eastern Orthodox university.

But why be Christian at all? One answer is to ask what else there is. Views that deny creation don’t account for the reality of the world around us, in particular the reality of good and evil. If there’s no creation then existence is fundamentally neutral and good and evil become subjective add-ons. That’s not the way things seem to me though.

As to non-Christian religions that recognize creation, Judaism is a temporary dispensation for a particular group of people. Why not accept that its promise has been fulfilled and go beyond it? Islam in contrast claims a false completeness because it treats a text rather than a person as the uncreated word of God. That leads it to exaggerate the extent to which we can fully possess God’s law here and now, and gives it something of a totalitarian tendency. Only Catholic Christianity combines concreteness, universality and open-endedness in a way that makes it sufficient as an account of life as we find it.

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