Brothers talk Thomism, Gospel accuracy, and the birth of early Christianity at St. Mary's
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic
Does God exist, and were the Gospel writers liars? Two Dominican monks, Brother Jonathan Landry and Brother Julian Dugas, discussed these questions in a presentation June 28 at St. Mary's Church in east Vancouver.
Their lecture, titled, "Apologetics: Defending the Faith," was the first the two brothers had ever presented.
"What can we know about God's nature? He is the Prime Mover, He Who came first, before everything else," began Brother Landry. "The first movements in the universe came from God."
The introduction included many of the famous philosophical proofs from St. Thomas Aquinas. This was not a surprise, since Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, was a fellow Dominican back in the 13th century.
"God is the source of perfection; therefore God is the means to be unlimited perfection," continued Brother Landry.
Brother Dugas went on with a presentation of the world's different monotheistic religions. To be true, he said, religion had to pass a four-part test.
First, did the religion in question have universality, or accessibility? Second, did it produce good fruits, or positive works? Third, was there clarity, deepness of doctrine? And finally, was there coherence in all its teachings, and had those tenets remained intact through time?
The brothers tackled Islam first. "Islam is split into sects, the four major ones Sunni, Shi'a, Sufism, and Ahmadiyya," Brother Landry explained. "How can this religion pass the fourth question of coherence?"
Judaism was the first religion that God made His presence known in. But, "God wanted everyone to worship, and believe in Him, not just one people specifically," Brother Dugas pointed out. Therefore, Judaism failed on the question of universality.
Protestantism also failed on the question of universality, since "there was too much division, and the Church of England is a prime example. God isn't just accessible to England," Brother Landry commented. King Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic Church meant Anglicanism failed on coherence in all its teachings.
By a process of elimination, the brothers argued that Catholicism was the prime religion. The Church is united, it is "universal, when others are not, and not all of the other churches believe in apostolic succession."
They went on to the second part of their presentation, a defence of the Gospels.
If Christianity was a lie, then the written record of "Jesus's ministry, the miracles, the resurrection, was really the most complicated lie in history," Brother Landry exclaimed.
The Dominicans said the Scriptures must be correct, since so many historians, Romans among them, corroborate the events of the Gospels. One pertinent fact remains, they said: Christ came from God.
After the presentation, perhaps the most interesting question from the audience was how could predominantly Catholic countries declare war?
"The country may have a lot of Catholics; that doesn't mean every citizen acts wholly Roman Catholic, especially the political leaders. They might have their own agenda," Brother Dugas concluded.