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The "P-2865" Test

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Scientists have all kinds of tests. They might want to test drinking water for the presence of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), or test a sample of concrete for buckling under compression, or test a chemical compound to find out its enthalpy change using a constant-pressure adiabatic flame calorimeter, etc.

Catholic theologians have tests too, of which the most important is probably the "P-2865 Test". It's a rather simple test. You just take the 2865 Paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (they are numbered) and three colored pens, then read all the paragraphs, circling their numbers as you go: red if you disagree, green if you agree, and yellow otherwise.

Once you are finished, the results are fairly easy to interpret. If you didn't even use the red pen, you're a Catholic. If you used another color apart from green, a competent theologian can probably tell you, not only what is your major religion (or lack thereof), but if you're a non-Catholic Christian, he can probably tell which type you are. Indeed, by plotting your answers on a chart, the characteristics of the resulting curve will tell the theologian whether you are an Evangelical Christian, or a Born-Again Christian, or a Baptist, or an Anglican, etc.

Some people will argue that they can be Catholics, even if they pop the cap off the red pen. This is almost certainly not true (see among others "Excommunication, that Gesture of Love!"). In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a Catholic is that he or she will have the firm intention of circling all the paragraph numbers in green, before even reading them! If you are a non-Catholic, you can take my word for this: for whatever mysterious reason, when you truly convert to Catholicism, you discover the teachings of the Catholic Church as if they were old friends. Even things you had never thought about, when you come across them in the official teachings of the Church, will at once seem appropriate, logical, even obvious!

Why then would non-Catholics take this "P-2865" test? There is at least one good reason, and one slightly silly reason. The good reason is that God loves us, that He sent His only son Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sins, and open the gates of Heaven to those who convert and believe in the teachings of Christ, faithfully transmitted by the Catholic Church:

A detailed study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will prove of great benefit, for the Catechism presents faithfully and systematically [...] the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition of the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers, Doctors and Saints of the Church, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the Faith of the People of God
[Tertio Millennio Adveniente, #42].

The slightly silly reason is to avoid looking silly! Indeed, one of the best ways to lose face in front of a crowd is to rant against the Catholic Church, then have a smart aleck Catholic ask whether you've actually seen the official teachings of the Catholic Church. It's difficult to be more silly than somebody who asserts without knowing what they are talking about! On the contrary, if you've taken the P-2865 test, you can avoid instant humiliation (but remain cautious, some of those smart aleck Catholics might still be able to show serious inconsistencies in your facts and logic).

So, do you have three pens?

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