Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Best of The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the March 17, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Your answers seem to say we can reason our way to faith, but many believe they are saved by faith: “The just man shall live by faith” (Rom 1: 17). It’s a gift from God. How do you explain that to sincere inquirers such as many of us are? I await your response.

A. Kindly allow the Q.B. scrivener to respond with a question: Why must it be “either-or,” faith or reason? Why not “both-and,” faith and reason? Both are gifts from God.

A person cannot be led into faith by logical reason, but a person can overcome obstacles to faith by reason. The final step into faith may be just a millimeter long, but it’s still a leap of faith into the unknown. The will to take that leap into faith is a great grace – a gift from God.

Using human reason to research the development of doctrines, we can get rid of a lot of dis-information that clutters the path to faith. Once the obstructions are removed by reason, the person is open to a little nudge, or a huge shove, to take the leap into faith.

Listen to converts to the Catholic faith. Each person has a different story, but the essential parts are the same.

Q. We’re seeing casinos gaining ground in nearly every state. What is the Catholic position on gambling? I haven’t heard priests’ sermons on this topic, so maybe you can set the record straight.

A. Gambling is not sinful. Traditional Catholic theology rates gambling as a kind of contract. If you want to impress your friends, tell them it’s an aleatory contract (from the Latin alea, for “chance”). When you walk in the door you’re willing to take a chance.

Moral theologians, who have never met an issue they could not sub­divide, present these safeguards: 1. The game must be totally honest, with no attempt to deceive – e.g., no loaded dice, marked deck, etc. The odds of winning and losing must be known. 2. Equal opportunity for all players to win or lose. 3. Civil authorities must approve. (Of course. They get a percentage, too.)

Proceed with caution. Compulsive gambling is a known progressive behavior disorder in which an individual has a psychologically uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. It can easily become a disease, like alcoholism or drug addiction.

Q. The real story of God’s creation in Genesis is beautiful. Moses relates the simple story as he was inspired. We cannot improve on God’s words, so why do people keep debating Evolution vs. Creation to make it something for civil law to decide?

A. If you have some evidence that Moses wrote any part of Genesis you should bring that to the attention of the community of Scripture scholars.

A great deal of exhaustive study has been done since the 1943 encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu gave the green light to encourage Biblical research. Scholars generally agree that at least three, maybe six or eight, different versions overlap in the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

Good Scripture scholars go about their work like detectives sifting through ancient languages looking for clues. They know Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic well enough to finish crossword puzzles in those languages.

About 20 years ago a group of five men, none of them familiar with Biblical languages, took it upon themselves to edit and publish their own Bible for their denomination, The New World Translation. It’s of such poor quality that no other denomination will use it.

But I digress.

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