12 September 2013

Catechism: can you pass the test?

Take the Catechism test! Below you will find a practice exam that I gave my pre-theology Catechism class. Catholics will often express ideas about the faith that are ambiguous; that is, they have a grip on some small part of the truth but let the whole truth fly away. This test challenges you to use the Tried and True Method of Thomas Aquinas to ferret out the ambiguities and clarify each statement. NB. these statements cover roughly paragraphs 1-141 of the CCC.

Can you pass the test?
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All of the statements below are ambiguous. As a theologian, your task is parse each statement in such a way that it unambiguously expresses a truth about the faith. Refer to the CCC for the appropriate language.


REMEMBER: never deny; rarely affirm; always distinguish!


1. God created man out of necessity.

2. God sent His Son as our Redeemer to save us from sin. . .whether we want to be saved or not.

3. The human desire for God is something that we cultivate over time.

4. We can find truth and happiness most anywhere.

5. Natural reason tells us about God.

6. Our language about God is limited, so we really can't say anything true about Him.

7. The CCC says, “We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect. . .” (42). This means that we shouldn't use male pronouns and images to depict God.

8. The CCC says that God “creates and sustains” all of creation. This means that God and creation are basically the same.

9. God is constantly revealing Himself to us through scripture, Christ, and created things.

10. The apostolic tradition gave us scripture; therefore, our bishops can decide what's true and false in the Bible.

11. All truths of the faith are equally important to our salvation.
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18 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:14 AM

    I did not pass , too ambiguous , for me .

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  2. Ooh! Fun! Lucky students. If I can use the CCC, then I'm pretty sure I can pass. Otherwise there are a couple I would have trouble with.

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    1. Don't be too quick. Even the CCC needs to be parsed. Merely quoting the proper paragraph won't save you. . .

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    2. But I've already been studying and discussing the CCC with Drew - we've gone through some of this already - my CCC is quite full of underlining and highlights and page markers, etc.... This weekend I'll give it a shot. Do I have a time limit? That may be the deciding factor.

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    3. Treat it like a practice test. . .that's how I presented it to my guys.

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    4. Tricksy little Dominican . . . before I invest time in this which I should really be spending writing and collecting the HIPAA/HITECH stuff (any excuse not to spend time on THAT!), let me be sure I understand the test. You want the statements analyzed and then explained so as to make them un-ambiguous, based on the CCC?

      For example, off the top of my head and rambling a bit with #3, The human desire for God is something that we cultivate over time: The desire for God is written on the human heart, and God constantly is drawing us to Himself. Because of this we have a vital bond with God, and we have a natural desire for Him, but that bond can be forgotten or rejected by us. He continues to call us, but this search for Him requires and demands effort both of intellect and of will on our part. We, over time through prayer, through study, discover ways of "knowing" Him - one primary way is through His revelation to us - which we, through grace, respond to. It is a gradual revelation, "cultivated over time", but cultivated as a response to Him and His revelation.

      Is something like that what you are looking for? Obviously put together more coherently, completely, and actually using the CCC, but is that at least on the right track?

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    5. Exactly. It is true that we cultivate a desire for God over time; however, without the initial gift of the desire for God, we would have nothing to cultivate.

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    6. Finally, I have gotten to a real keyboard! I had trouble with a couple of them, distilling them to a short statement, but still keeping them unambiguous. Here ya go:

      1. God freely created man to make him to share in His own blessed life. Man was created for the Glory of God in order to manifest His perfection.

      2. God sent His Son as our Redeemer to save us from sin. . .and invites men to become His adopted children and heirs to His blessed life.

      3. The human desire for God is something that we cultivate over time as a response to the initial gift of the desire for God.

      4. Having a natural desire for truth and happiness (which is of divine origin), we are drawn to the One who alone can fulfill this desire. "Only in God will find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for...." (27)

      5. Through Revelation in faith, natural reason can tell us about God.

      6. "Our knowledge of God is limited, so our language about Him is equally so." We can only speak of Him from our limited human ways of knowing and thinking, so even though our limited language cannot exhaust the mystery of God, we can speak of Him by taking His creatures' perfections as a starting point.

      7. The CCC says, “We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect. . .” (42). This means that our human words constantly fall short of the mystery of God. He speaks to us in human words, and we call Him "Father" (male pronouns) because He has been revealed to us in those terms.

      8. The CCC says that God “creates and sustains” all of creation. He is infinitely greater than all His works. All of creation exists in utter dependence upon Him, its Creator.

      9. God is constantly and gradually revealing Himself to us through scripture, Christ, and created things. Though Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit to us.

      10. The apostolic tradition gave us scripture; our bishops have been given "their own position of teaching authority", and the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome. They are "servants" of the Word of God.

      11. All truths of the faith are important to our salvation, however there is an order (or hierarchy) of truths since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.

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  3. Whats considered as pass/fail? if by the "old" method of 70% correct is pass then I miserably failed but if "new" liberalmethod of 40 to 50 % correct is pass then I passed!!! LOL Thank you Father! we need things like this to 'fortify'our faith so to speak.

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    1. Brian, I'm a Dominican. There is no curve on a theology exam. You either get an "O" (Orthodox) or an "H" (Heretic). We'll leave unspoken what happens to seminarians who get an "H."

      ;-)

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  4. Anonymous1:14 PM

    My daughter, a senior at Christian Brothers Academy, wants to study Theology on the next level. I can't wait to present this to her. This will be a great primer.

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    1. Good for her! Hope she does well. . .

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  5. Anonymous6:36 PM

    1. God created man out of necessity.
    F

    2. God sent His Son as our Redeemer to save us from sin. . .whether we want to be saved or not.
    T

    3. The human desire for God is something that we cultivate over time.
    F

    4. We can find truth and happiness most anywhere.
    F

    5. Natural reason tells us about God.
    T

    6. Our language about God is limited, so we really can't say anything true about Him.
    F

    7. The CCC says, “We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect. . .” (42). This means that we shouldn't use male pronouns and images to depict God.
    F

    8. The CCC says that God “creates and sustains” all of creation. This means that God and creation are basically the same.
    F

    9. God is constantly revealing Himself to us through scripture, Christ, and created things.
    T

    10. The apostolic tradition gave us scripture; therefore, our bishops can decide what's true and false in the Bible.
    T

    11. All truths of the faith are equally important to our salvation.
    T

    How did I do? I better get back to CC class!

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    Replies
    1. You got 100% correct and 100% incorrect. Each statement is ambiguous; meaning, depending on how key words and phrases are defined, the statement is either true or false. So, for example, #6 is true if by "can't say anything about Him," you mean "can't say anything absolutely true about Him." It's false, however, if you mean "can't articulate a single true thing about Him." The distinction is btw "anything at all true" and "anything absolutely true."

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  6. Anonymous8:01 PM

    here goes nothing....
    1. God created man out of necessity.
    God created man out of love, because he loves us.

    2. God sent His Son as our Redeemer to save us from sin. . .whether we want to be saved or not.
    God sent His Son for our Redemption for all who wish to receive him - free will.

    3. The human desire for God is something that we cultivate over time.
    The human desire for God is written our hearts and with proper work, His work- our cooperation with grace, can be cultivated, grown.

    4. We can find truth and happiness most anywhere.
    HE is the way, truth and life.

    5. Natural reason tells us about God.
    Natural Law is written on every man's heart, soul, because he wishes to do good and avoid bad, sin. This can only be obtained through our submission to a higher reason and interpreter, God.

    6. Our language about God is limited, so we really can't say anything true about Him.
    We can through our stating what he is not.

    7. The CCC says, “We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect. . .” (42). This means that we shouldn't use male pronouns and images to depict God.
    Our images and languages will always fall short in describing God because he transcends all things! The male pronouns should remain not because he is male, as he has no gender, but because he chose to reveal himself that way because of us who do have gender.

    8. The CCC says that God “creates and sustains” all of creation. This means that God and creation are basically the same.
    God is the creator and we are creature. He created us and the world and keeps them in existence, sustaining life. All creation gives glory to God. But not all creation IS God.

    9. God is constantly revealing Himself to us through scripture, Christ, and created things.
    God's revelation was complete through the incarnation - Jesus. We still have the capability to grow and understand more but he has already done it all through Christ.

    10. The apostolic tradition gave us scripture; therefore, our bishops can decide what's true and false in the Bible. Our Bishops teach, sanctify and guide us IN UNION the Church.

    11. All truths of the faith are equally important to our salvation.


    Mrs. Hopey

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    1. Pretty good! You got the gist of all of these. I would quibble with a few of your answers, but you clarified the ambiguities well. Congrats.

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  7. Anonymous6:34 AM

    yay! Dr. Marshall had a free book during the summer, Thomas Aquinas in 50 pages, that FINALLY clicked with me. I have done all the required courses in addition to a logic course, but something is finally getting through in seeing the ambiguities! I am just a beginner but this means a lot in that I can steer my way better!
    Dr. Marshall's book wasn't the only thing but was the point where I started to really see and understand - how to apply.
    Mrs Hopey

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