Why Professed Christians Lack Zeal
IN THE New York Times, December 22, 1952, appeared the following item: “Roman Catholics who maintain a ‘half-ashamed outward adherence to the church’ are Catholics ‘in name only’ because they lack the knowledge, humility and gratitude necessary for loyalty to the church and Christ, the Rev. Vincent P. McFadden declared yesterday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“In the third of a series of Advent sermons, Father McFadden said that groups such as the Communists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses possessed ‘phenomenal zeal’ in making their attacks and that Roman Catholics ‘take these attacks right on the chin, without voicing a single protest’.
“Father McFadden, a missionary of St. Colomba’s Foreign Mission Society, remarked that charges that the church was intolerant and old-fashioned stemmed from ‘a pagan world’ in which ‘right and wrong have given place to expediency’.”
Note first the subtle slur in mentioning Communists and Jehovah’s witnesses in the same breath. The impression left by that upon his listeners is to associate Jehovah’s witnesses with Communists as though they had something in common, when the very opposite is true. Nothing is more Godless than communism, whereas none take God and the Bible more seriously than do Jehovah’s witnesses. Could it be that this lack of intellectual honesty on the part of the Catholic clergy accounts for the fact that Catholics “lack the knowledge, humility and gratitude necessary for loyalty to the church”? Be that as it may, one thing is certain, missionary V. P. McFadden cannot put the entire blame on the Catholics themselves, for these very people, upon becoming Jehovah’s witnesses, evince that “phenomenal zeal” he talks about. Evidently such have now acquired the “knowledge, humility and gratitude necessary for loyalty” to God’s congregation and Christ.
Is it just to blame the Catholic population for their lack of “knowledge, humility and gratitude”? Do they not go to the parochial grade schools and high schools and even Catholic colleges? Do they not learn the Catholic catechism as children, get confirmed in their church, attend communion, confession, mass, and hear Sunday sermons? Is there not an avalanche of Catholic publications, dailies, weeklies and monthlies, all for the purpose of giving Catholics the much-needed knowledge, not to say anything of Catholic radio and TV programs? Certainly if any class of people should be well posted on what to believe and equipped in mind and spirit to refute “attacks” on their religion and organization it should be Roman Catholics; yet here is the admission by a Catholic missionary that Catholics are lacking in these respects. Obviously there is something wrong with what they are taught.
And is it reasonable to expect the Catholic population to make a better showing than their religious leaders? Time and again these have made a lamentable showing in their discussion with Jehovah’s witnesses. They themselves do not have the answers; how can they give them to others? Such as the Catholic priest of a certain Austrian village who called at the home of one of his farmer parishioners who had been studying with one of Jehovah’s witnesses. The priest was asked by the farmer how he could reconcile the teaching of the Catholic Church that the soul is immortal with the statement found at Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die.” (Dy) The priest insisted that the Bible was spurious, not genuine, and so the farmer brought out another Bible and read the same text from it. Again the priest insisted that the Bible was spurious, whereupon the farmer revealed that this very Bible had been borrowed from the priest himself by a neighbor. The priest, becoming pale as death, snatched the Bible out of the farmer’s hands and left the house cursing and swearing. Yes, how can the common people be expected to make a confident reply when their religious leaders make such a poor showing? And as far as that goes, how can the clergy help but make a poor showing so long as they have chained to their necks a mass of tradition that finds no support in either reason or Scripture?
Apparently it is because of not having support in reason and Scripture for their beliefs that Catholics so frequently resort to mob action when coming up against the activity of Jehovah’s witnesses; like the Canadian mobs that ran out Jehovah’s witnesses missionaries from Joliette and Edmundston; and like the mob at Shawinigan Falls, Canada, in April, 1950, which wrecked a chapel belonging to the Christian Brethren, destroying everything in it, chairs, furniture, Bibles, and even wrecking a car standing outside. Their reason? They thought it was a meeting place of Jehovah’s witnesses!
Or like the Catholic mobs at Venlo, Netherlands, who harassed Jehovah’s witnesses going from door to door and standing on the streets, tearing their literature from them and ripping it up before their eyes, and who, 1,000 strong, stormed the meeting place of Jehovah’s witnesses, yelling, singing vulgar songs so as to drown out, for a time, a public Bible lecture. Or like the Catholics in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, Philippine Islands, concerning which the Philippine Free Press stated, “It seems incredible that the Catholic population of Santa Barbara should react so violently, in such an almost panic-stricken manner to the attempt by the witnesses of Jehovah to hold a meeting in town.” More examples could be cited.
Obviously Roman Catholics engaging in such mob action are lacking in knowledge as to what constitutes true Christianity, but can they solely be blamed when they are incited to such unchristian conduct by the priests? And are Jehovah’s witnesses to be blamed for trying to bring to such persons true Christian knowledge? Missionary McFadden speaks of a pagan world following expediency instead of being governed by principle, but what do such Catholics’ actions show? Is the use of violence to silence unpopular minorities being actuated by principle or by expediency? And what shall we say about enlisting the efforts of totalitarian rulers such as Franco of Spain, Trujillo of Dominican Republic and Perón of Argentina to ban the work of preaching God’s kingdom as done by Jehovah’s witnesses?
Give the people of good will knowledge and understanding concerning Jehovah God and his purposes and “phenomenal” zeal will follow naturally, and then it will not be necessary to resort to mobs and dictators to defend one’s teachings.