Vol.II No.IV Pg.2
May 1965

Does Error Have "Rights"?

Robert F. Turner

"Catholic Principles of Politics," a Roman Catholic approved textbook, says: "Error has not the same rights as truth. Since the profession and practice of error are contrary to human welfare, how can error have rights?" (P. 318)

We can agree with this philosophy, and feel that God's ultimate judgement will prove its truth; but we can not agree that the Roman Church is our standard of truth, hence the one to enjoy all "rights" here and now. By "error" the writers of this book mean anything contrary to the doctrines of the RC church. (p. 314)

To the objection that the foregoing can be turned against Catholics by a non-Catholic state, the writers say, "If such a State should prohibit Catholic worship or preaching on the plea that it was wrong and injurious to the community, the assumption would be false;--" (I.E., we're right and you have no right to say we are wrong. RFT) (p. 318)

Of course such a doctrine puts the product (the church) before the Word which produces the church. In a predominantly Catholic country, with the union of church and state, civil authorities could be used to curb your teaching of the word of God. (P. 317; above book authored by J. A. Ryan and F. J. Boland; MacMillan Co., 1941.) What the Roman church has clearly stated and avowed (this book bears the "Nihil Obstat" of their Censor Librorum, Arthur J. Scanlan; and the "Imprimatur" of Francis J. Spellman, then Archbishop of NewYork) many Protestants and others disavow -- but practice. With some their written creeds and disciplines are the standards of truth, and woe to him who is opposed. They may call it "advice" instead of "church authority" but as "Raccoon" John Smith once said, "I'd as soon be decreed, as advised, to death."

God does not use carnal means (and that includes the sword, economic boycott, power politics, and name-calling) to build His cause. All men are free agents (Jn. 6:45) drawn to God by truth which commends itself to their conscience. (2 Cor. 4:2) Teaching His word, we seek to bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor.10: 2-5) This battle is for the hearts of men. The victory can not be forced -- and hence the "right of error" is recognized in this day of grace.

Zealous love for souls has nothing in common with high-handed arrogance of religious intolerance.