A Plea for INTOLERANCE – by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

FultonSheencrop-770x439_c

By Fr. Richard Heilman on ROMAN CATHOLIC MAN

“Many a modern preacher is far less concerned with preaching Christ and Him crucified than he is with his popularity with his congregation. A want of intellectual backbone makes him straddle the ox of truth and the ass of nonsense.” -Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

A PLEA FOR INTOLERANCE

by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded. The man who can make up his mind in an orderly way, as a man might make up his bed, is called a bigot; but a man who cannot make up his mind, any more than he can make up for lost time, is called tolerant and broad-minded.

A bigoted man is one who refuses to accept a reason for anything; a broad-minded man is one who will accept anything for a reason—providing it is not a good reason. It is true that there is a demand for precision, exactness, and definiteness, but it is only for precision in scientific measurement, not in logic. The breakdown that has produced this natural broad-mindedness is mental, not moral. The evidence for this statement is threefold: the tendency to settle issues not by arguments but by words, the unqualified willingness to accept the authority of anyone on the subject of religion, and lastly the love of novelty.

The science of religion has a right to be heard scientifically through its qualified spokesmen, just as the science of physics or astronomy has a right to be heard through its qualified spokesmen. Religion is a science despite the fact the some would make it only a sentiment. Religion has its principles, natural and revealed, which are more exacting in their logic than mathematics. But the false notion of tolerance has obscured this fact from the eyes of many who are as intolerant about the smallest details of life as they are tolerant about their relations to God.

Another evidence of the breakdown of reason that has produced this weird fungus of broad-mindedness is the passion of novelty, as opposed to the love of truth. Truth is sacrificed for an epigram, the Divinity of Christ for a headline in the Monday morning newspaper. Many a modern preacher is far less concerned with preaching Christ and Him crucified than he is with his popularity with his congregation. A want of intellectual backbone makes him straddle the ox of truth and the ass of nonsense, paying compliments to Catholics because of “their great organization” and to sexologists because of “their honest challenge to the youth of this generation.” Bending the knee to the mob rather than God would probably make them scruple at ever playing the role of John the Baptist before a modern Herod. No accusing finger would be leveled at a divorce or one living in adultery; no voice would be thundered in the ears of the rich, saying with something of the intolerance of Divinity: “It is not lawful for thee to live with thy brother’s wife.” Rather would we hear: “Friends, times are changing!” The acids of modernity are eating away the fossils of orthodoxy.

Belief in the existence of God, in the Divinity of Christ, in the moral law, is considered passing fashions. The latest thing in this new tolerance is considered the true thing, as if truth were a fashion, like a hat, instead of an institution like a head.

The final argument for modern broad-mindedness is that truth is novelty and hence “truth” changes with the passing fancies of the moment. Like the chameleon that changes his colors to suit the vesture on which he is placed, so truth is supposed to change to fit the foibles and obliquities of the age. The nature of certain things is fixed, and none more so than the nature of truth. Truth may be contradicted a thousand times, but that only proves that it is strong enough to survive a thousand assaults. But for any one to say, “Some say this, some say that, therefore, there is no truth,” is about as logical as it would have been for Columbus who heard some say, “The earth is round”, and others say “The earth is flat” to conclude: “Therefore, there is no earth.” Like a carpenter who might throw away his rule and use each beam as a measuring rod, so, too, those who have thrown away the standard of objective truth have nothing left with which to measure but the mental fashion of the moment.

The giggling giddiness of novelty, the sentimental restlessness of a mind unhinged, and the unnatural fear of a good dose of hard thinking, all conjoin to produce a group of sophomoric latitudinarians who think there is no difference between God as Cause and God as a “mental projection”; who equate Christ and Buddha, and then enlarge their broad-mindedness into a sweeping synthesis that says not only that one Christian sect is as good as another, but even that one world-religion is just as good as another. The great god “Progress” is then enthroned on the altars of fashion, and as the hectic worshippers are asked, “Progress toward what?” the tolerant comes back with “More progress.” All the while sane men are wondering how there can be progress without direction and how there can be direction without a fixed point. And because they speak of a “fixed point”, they are said to be behind the times, when really they are beyond the times mentally and spiritually.

In the face of this false broadmindedness, what the world needs is intolerance. The world seems to have lost entirely the faculty of distinguishing between good and bad, the right and the wrong. There are some minds that believe that intolerance is always wrong, because they make “intolerance” mean hate, narrow-mindedness, and bigotry. These same minds believe that tolerance is always right because, for them, it means charity, broadmindedness, and American good nature.

What is tolerance? Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil and a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. But what is more important than the definition is the field of its application. The important point here is this: Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.

America is suffering not so much from intolerance, which is bigotry, as it is from tolerance, which is indifference to truth and error, and a philosophical nonchalance that has been interpreted as broad-mindedness. Greater tolerance, of course, is desirable, for there can never be too much charity shown to persons who differ with us. Our Blessed Lord Himself asked that we “love those who calumniate us, for they are always persons,” but He never told us to love the calumny.

In keeping with the Spirit of Christ, the Church encourages prayers for all those who are outside the pale of the Church and asks that the greatest charity be shown towards them. Charity, then, must be shown to persons and particularly those outside the fold, who by charity must be led back, that there may be one fold and one Shepherd. Shall God, Who refuses to look with an equally tolerant eye on all religions, be denied the name of “Wisdom” and be called an “Intolerant” God?

The Church is identified with Christ in both time and principle; She began thinking on His first principles and the harder She thought, the more dogmas She developed. She never forgot those dogmas; She remembered them and Her memory is Tradition. The dogmas of the Church are like bricks, solid things with which a man can build, not like straw, which is “religious experience” fit only for burning. The Church has been and will always be intolerant so far as the rights of God are concerned, for heresy, error, and untruth affect not personal matters on which She may yield, but a Divine Right in which there is no yielding. The truth is divine; the heretic is human. Due reparation made, the Church will admit the heretic back into the treasury of Her souls, but never the heresy into the treasure of Her Wisdom. Right is right even if nobody is right; and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong.

The attitude of the Church in relation to the modern world on this important question may be brought home by the story of the two women in the courtroom of Solomon. Both of them claimed a child. The lawful mother insisted on having the whole child or nothing, for a child is like truth—it cannot be divided without ruin. The unlawful mother, on the contrary, agreed to compromise. She was willing to divide the babe, and the babe would have died of broad-mindedness.

Edited. See full version HERE

CP&S Comment: Like it was spoken yesterday! Published in 1931, this talk by Ven. Fulton Sheen is as pertinent today as it was then. For the unedited Podcast and Father Z’s comments, see HERE.

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23 Responses to A Plea for INTOLERANCE – by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

  1. toadspittle says:

    “The science of religion has a right to be heard scientifically through its qualified spokesmen, just as the science of physics or astronomy has a right to be heard through its qualified spokesmen.”
    What total and utter tripe. How can religion be a “science,” when it’s impossible to subject any of it to scrutiny , or to examine, verify, or falsify – any single aspect of it? Doesn’t mean necessarily it’s not true – just that we cannot “know,” except by faith. Which means choosing to make “the leap of belief,” despite all.
    Surely anyone on here will agree? Nope. Probably not.

  2. Perhaps the worst thing about tolerance is this: tolerant people think they’re being virtuous by tolerating intolerant individuals. This is especially true of many Europeans, who will tolerate the most intolerant Muslims. The result? The result is all around us. Do I mean terrorism? Not only that, but also the mosques that have been going up across the continent.

    Try building a Christian church in Saudi Arabia, you’ll find out how tolerant people there are. You’d be accused of a crime.

    There is not a single church in all of Saudi Arabia, partly because any Saudi who abandons Islam for another religion comments a crime punishable by death. (Quran verses 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66)

    Now that’s real tolerance, isn’t it?

  3. Pingback: A Plea for INTOLERANCE – by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen — | Solutio Problematis Omnes (aka "The Catholic Linker")

  4. toadspittle says:

    Robert John (and the archbishop) have a point. Totalitarianism* in any form is not to be tolerated. Should we “…turn the other cheek to it”? Not me. I don’t have to.
    However, It might be thought that there was more than sufficient intolerance, back in 1931, what with Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin – that to go pleading for extra was hardly necessary.

    “Not only that, but also the mosques that have been going up across the continent.” Mosques are no more a threat than churches, Hindu Temples, or Quaker Meeting rooms.
    Banning mosques won’t stop one Islamic maniac with a suicide bomb.
    Any more than banning MacDonald’s restaurants will stop people getting pig fat.

    *Totalitarianism: A system wherein everything not compulsory – is forbidden.

  5. Robert says:

    Toad.
    God is ominiscient and omnipresent.
    It is so called Science that is ignoring God and not the other way round. I say so called because what we are seeing is no more nor less than the Temptation of the serpent. Science claiming the knowledge of Good and Evil! Science put across as if it was God. Science actually should help Us to see more and more of Gods wonders and glories!
    Faith and revelation cannot be scientifically proven, which is why they are Faith and revelation. Yes Faith and Revelation the science of the saints!

  6. toadspittle says:

    “Science claiming the knowledge of Good and Evil! Science put across as if it was God. Science actually should help Us to see more and more of Gods wonders and glories!”
    If “science” actually did that, it would be in error. In fact, science doesn’t “claim” anything, because it can’t. Nor does it have to. You seem to think “science” is a person, Robert. It is a process. Computer science, for example, is neither good nor evil. Its uses can be either, depending on one’s viewpoint, and/or how we choose to use it. Same as religion, really.

    “Science actually should help Us to see more and more of Gods wonders and glories!”
    And so the process of science does. What makes you think it doesn’t? You only have to look through a telescope, or a microscope.

    “Faith and revelation cannot be scientifically proven, which is why they are Faith and revelation.” Well, we agree absolutely on that one. Pity Fulton Sheen didn’t.

  7. Robert says:

    But as Aquinas pointed out with Science there comes a point were reason and rational reveal human inadequancy’s.
    The Fall left man in a State of blindness. This blindness distorts human reasoning and we see this with the justification of Sin. Human science ignores and justifies especially sins of the flesh. Then comes the argument against God. God must be unjust and His Laws wrong, offensive. Human reasoning (supported by human science) starts to argue with Christ ( the Church is His mystical body and notice the Church (traditional Church) is declared entrenched and outdated).
    Then comes the arguments and heated declaims against Christ. Sin becomes justified and God blamed for the woes and suffering of this world. Blame turns to anger and hatred (this is the igniting within that soul of the fire of Hell), then comes the turning away from Christ!
    Now Fulton Sheen refers to the Science of the Church, which of course accords with Dogma and Tradition, the sacraments. The fruit of the Science of the Church is Peace, Love and Charity.
    Fallen Man and his Science and its fruit? Nazism, Communism, Capitolism.
    Fulton Sheen is correct.

  8. toadspittle says:

    “But as Aquinas pointed out with Science there comes a point were reason and rational reveal human inadequancy’s.”
    Of course they do, because we are all inadequate. You might say a by-product of science is learning how little we really know – how inadequate we all are.

    “Human science ignores and justifies especially sins of the flesh. “
    Science doesn’t justify anything – neither sin nor virtue. It doesn’t have to. People justify things. Yes, science “ignores sin,” if you like to put it that way – because sin is not science’s business.
    Science makes a contraceptive pill, but science doesn’t care whether people use it or not (the manufacturers might.)

    “….God blamed for the woes and suffering of this world.”
    Atheists don’t blame God for anything. Although they probably blame belief in God, in all its numerous conflicting ways, for the planet’s woes and suffering. And they might have a point.
    Agnostics don’t know whether God is to blame or not. But, if He did create the world, knowing exactly in advance the way things would turn out.. well.

    “Now Fulton Sheen refers to the Science of the Church, which of course accords with Dogma and Tradition, the sacraments. The fruit of the Science of the Church is Peace, Love and Charity.”
    Then Fulton Sheen is simply misusing the word “science,” I suggest.

  9. Robert says:

    Toad thank you for voicing what others think.
    God looks into the Soul and intent and failing to resist the Temptation to Sin.
    1/ As Dawkins acknowledges Man knows there is a God. God gene?
    2/ The Atheist has deliberately killed their souls. The Atheist is spiritually dead and they experience the torments of Hell in this world.
    3/ Agnostics better named lukewarm. They want a foot in this world and in the next. They are spiritually blind and on the road to real death (spiritual)

    Leo XIII and the Popes on Aquinas “..Leo XIII: “This point is vital, that Bishops expend every effort to see that young men destined to be the hope of the Church should be imbued with the holy and heavenly doctrine of the Angelic Doctor. In those places where young men have devoted themselves to the patronage and doctrine of St. Thomas, true wisdom will flourish, drawn as it is from solid principles and explained by reason in an orderly fashion … Theology proceeding correctly and well according to the plan and method of Aquinas is in accordance with our command. Every day We become more clearly aware how powerfully Sacred Doctrine taught by its master and patron, Thomas, affords the greatest possible utility for both clergy and laity…”

    Fulton Sheen is quoting Aquinas
    Theology as Science
    When we think of “science,” we usually think of the study of the natural world and that which can be quantitatively measured—subjects such as biology and physics. Historically, though, of the “natural” sciences, only geometry and astronomy were part of the standard university curriculum. So what was a science? Augustine defined it as anything to do with knowledge of the temporal world. Thomas Aquinas considered theology a science because it encounters special and general revelation.

    Now science is subject to Gods Laws. No matter what secular science thinks! Man knows there is a God therefor Man cannot dabble with science contrary to Gods Laws!

    You mentioned the contraceptive pill. In Gods eyes Toad this is murder by intent! You forget that God creates the Eternal Soul.
    You and secular science are assuming, incorrectly, that contraception is material only. When does God create the Soul? Treating Man as a Beast ignores that Immortal Soul created by God. Beastility thats Darwinism! Sex for Man is procreation and God is the Father of the Eternal Soul, Man the material body (subject to Original Sin that is dust).
    When is the Soul Created? because it certainly is separate from the material body!

    Look at the Immaculate Conception and begin understanding the depths of that Dogma!
    In Gods eyes a man can be dead yet alive (spiritually). Contraception so called is killing bodies but leaving immortal living souls (who are unbaptised).

    What roads were followed by the 20th century?
    1/ WARS = hatred
    2/ Feminism = the serpent used Eve to seduce Adam. The rise of feminism is then equated to Genesis.
    3/ Mass Murder the greatest being contraception and Abortion and neither Stalin nor Hitler can come anywhere close to so called Christendom in the murder of infants!

  10. GC says:

    Then Fulton Sheen is simply misusing the word “science,” I suggest.

    I very much doubt that, Toad (2 above this). He wrote a book, Philosophy of Science (1934), and had a very distinguished doctoral degree in philosophy from the Louvain. I suspect he had a good idea of what he was talking about.

    You can read the book here if you want.

    Page 188:

    Just as biology is not the sum of the sciences of botany and zoology, but a new
    science, so too metaphysics is more than a synthesis of the empirical sciences. There is consequently no opposition of science with science, because they belong to different degrees of abstraction. Lower sciences are not merely coordinated by metaphysics,
    but rather they are ordered to it as their supreme end. Science deals only with an aspect of reality based on an abstraction, and therefore can never give us reality as such. Only the science which is disinterested in aspects and interested only in the
    intelligibility of things can completely satisfy the mind, and that science is metaphysics, which treats of the whole of reality — being as being — whereas the particular sciences treat only of an aspect of that whole. There is, then, a real relation between the empirical sciences and metaphysics, and a mere logical relation of
    correlation of the various branches of knowledge.

  11. toadspittle says:

    “As Dawkins acknowledges Man knows there is a God. God gene?”
    Dawkins acknowledges no such thing. He categorically states there is no God. I think he’s ill-advised to be so dogmatic.
    “Science deals only with an aspect of reality based on an abstraction, and therefore can never give us reality as such.”
    So, computer science, aviation science, and atomic science are “unreal,” are they, GC? OK. If you say so.

  12. Robert says:

    Thank you GC
    This is the reason why the Popes and especially Leo XIII (Vatican I) have cited the Doctor of the Church St Aquinas.
    The Science of God and knowledge that reveals Truth answers Pilate’s question of Our Lord.
    Lucia when asked about Hell “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
    Now consider that flesh includes food, gluttony as well as beastility.
    Secular Science that does not consider itself bound to God’s Laws is just a plaything of Satan.
    Yes Intolerance of those who would see their fellow humans in Hell for Eternity rather than correct them!

  13. Robert says:

    GC is correct Toad.
    Computer science is completely an abstraction based on interpretation of two states 0 and or 1.
    Aviation science? Well not as effective as nature with its variety of flying creatures upon which it is based. Atomic science? the atom was known to the greeks and to Aquinas!
    When you say real you mean material don’t you! Corporal but particle physics is about empty spaces. Real is interpreted as sense perceptions which doesn’t include the invisible (because not perceived by the senses).
    St Pio bilocuted (present in two or more places at the same time!) he also read souls and knew of their sins. The Cure D’Ars and other great saints read souls. The Eucharist miracle turns bread and wine into the body blood soul and divinity of Christ.
    Heaven and Hell are real and Eternity its is this world that is transitory that is the science of the saints.

  14. GC says:

    So, computer science, aviation science, and atomic science are “unreal,” are they, GC? OK. If you say so.

    Toad (3 above), pay attention. I think what the Archbishop was saying is that they deal with “aspects of reality”, not the totality thereof.

    If you could see the quality, for instance, of the virtually illiterate that we let into the computer science courses at our place (very well up in the THES* rankings, by the way) you might well find yourself disposed to agree; though we still got all their money.

    *The Times Higher Education Supplement

  15. toadspittle says:

    Nothing does, or can, deal with “the totality of reality,” GC – because nobody knows what it is. And possibly never will.
    So we proceed bit by bit. If you want ro call that “abstract” – go ahead.

    “I think what the Archbishop was saying…”
    Find the weasel word!
    (clue: it’s one of the ones that starts with a “t”)

  16. toadspittle says:

    “Computer science is completely an abstraction based on interpretation of two states 0 and or 1.”
    True enough, Robert. But what about the gadget you use to continually miss-spell “Bestiality.”? Is that abstract? Are mobile phones an abstraction? Are micro chips?

    [A moderator: Boring reams of RELATIVISM deleted.]

  17. Robert says:

    Toad
    Everything in this world is finite! Sorry but I find the blog software writer sticky. you use PHP backend to separate the front end from the backend data. The code is written in javascripting.
    Mobile phones are an abstraction they digitise data (convert sound/pictures etc..packets of actually ascii data which is converted back into a media format by the recipient). Micro chips? I suppose you are referring to what are called electronic registers (these registers are used to AND,OR,XOR the binary data streams (your media) ) the processes themselves are predictable and simple. Programming consists of using these registers to manipulate binary data.
    If you are interested Toad I would refer you to “World’s oldest computer is more ancient than first thought: Antikythera Mechanism which was created in 205 BC”
    Media is abstracted into binary and processed in these registers (this is what the micro chip is doing!).
    But the computer isn’t conscious. Its is man the user who is interpreting this data.
    Man with His Immortal Soul destined to leave the materialism of this world behind and go into an eternity. The question is the Science of God the Creator and Heaven or Hell these are Eternal and very Real.
    Beasts and the behaviour of a Beast is the yardstick for Me who believe that their parents are Apes.
    However if Man is not a beast! He is the Son of God the Father since the Fall of Adam a prodigal Son. Out of Love we seek to return to Our Father!
    The Son of a Beast that is the choice of this generation. I reject this my choice is the Son Of God most High!

  18. Robert says:

    For Toads benefit

    Ancient Egyptian Math Is Identical To Math Used In Modern Computers

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/16/ancient-egypt-math-computer_n_797806.html

  19. toadspittle says:

    “Everything in this world is finite!”
    I must have said this several dozen times, Roburt.
    And yet, damnation (or salvation) is infinite. apparently.
    Makes no sense. (to me.)

  20. Robert says:

    Toad
    The book that has been scorned derided and ignored is Genesis. This attack, on what is the most complex book of the Bible, was and is concurrent with the Great Apostacy of the West.
    The Sadducees (died out!) shared your beliefs.

    1. They were extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God’s involvement in everyday life.
    2. They denied any resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8).
    3. They denied any afterlife, holding that the soul perished at death, and therefore denying any penalty or reward after the earthly life.
    4. They denied the existence of a spiritual world, i.e., angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

    Toad Our Lord said MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD! To the Good thief THIS DAY YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.
    This world is just a place of exile. This world is finite because as Our Lord pointed out the Last Judgement.
    Life is Eternal! Man was Created with a Living Soul.
    Damnation? Adam and Eve were told they would die the death! Real Death is the death of the soul.
    Our Lord took on the Sin of the world (Original Sin) and opened the door of Heaven.
    Without Our Lord’s Passion and the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass (perpetuation of Calvary) it is impossible for MAN TO ENTER HEAVEN.
    Reparation is Gods Law on SIN. Sin cannot enter Heaven.
    If Our Lord is rejected then Man’s Reparation for SIN will be Eternal with no possibility of entry into Heaven (HELL).
    Now Toad as you say “..it makes no sense.(to me)…” and that is an honest answer but it also reveals the State of your soul. You are doing what the world does judging in human terms. Playing down a few mortal Sins etc.. But the children at Fatima were chosen to warn Man of the mortal danger facing Him as a race. That danger is to NOT see SIN for what it is Death.
    Man is called to live by Grace and see the world through spiritual eyes! SiN SEPARATES FROM GOD.

  21. toadspittle says:

    “The Sadducees (died out!) shared your beliefs.”
    I have every expectation of dying out myself, Rebot.
    “You are doing what the world does judging in human terms. “
    Yes, because they are the only terms any of us posses – including you.
    Human is what we are.
    Everything else is speculation.
    …Which might hit on the truth on occasions, but then it might not.

    In fact, I don’t agree with the Saducees in denying all that stuff, any more than I do with the Dawkins/Hawking/Hitchens* lot, who do likewise.
    I think we just don’t know.

    “Without Our Lord’s Passion and the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass (perpetuation of Calvary) it is impossible for MAN TO ENTER HEAVEN.”
    Poor old Aristotle. Poor old practically everybody who ever lived, come to that.

    *Mythical Athiest beast – The Dawkitching

  22. toadspittle says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVsbVAVSssc
    Highly recommended. Theological poetry, indeed.

  23. Robert says:

    Human terms?
    No Toad Man created in the image of God.
    Man has the knowledge of spirituality within Him.
    Human reasoning? You mean self delusion man has the knowledge of Truth within Him “I know my sheep my sheep know me!” .
    Self is your enemy to the truth. Self awareness is de facto self centred and this blinds the human.
    If you genuinely want to see the Truth then place God first, your neighbour second AND DENY YOURSELF!

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