Test your Catholic faith know-how with OSV's religion quiz

Last fall, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put out a U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey in which atheists did better than Christians in answering some basic questions about such matters as, “Which Bible figure is most closely associated with leading the exodus from Egypt?” (In case you were wondering, the correct answer was “Charlton Heston.” And if you believe that, odds are you are Christian and not an atheist — at least according to the Pew poll.)  

The reason atheists did better is that, being at war with all mankind about the thing that matters to it most, they oppose all theists and are wary of the whole broad spectrum of religious belief (though with a particular focus on Christ, to be sure). Christians, in contrast, can hold up their end when talking about Christianity, but have never boned up on Jewish, Mormon, Islamic or Hindu teachings since, well, they’re Christian. 

Anyway, not to be outdone by our atheist crosstown rivals, I thought it would be a good thing to offer our own quiz and see if we can’t increase our batting average with a second try. However, since OSV’s readers are largely Catholic, I thought we should focus on our knowledge of the Catholic faith and not spend time on Mormonism, Shinto, ancestor worship, Zoroastrianism, or the Seventh Seed in the Spirit Peculiar Baptists. After all, it’s best to have one’s own house in order before minding others’. 

Accordingly, give this quiz a shot and see what your Catholic theological knowledge quotient (TKQ) is! A link to all the answers is at the end of the questions.

Mark Shea is senior content editor at Catholic Exchange.com and writes the Catholic and Enjoying It! blog at markshea.blogspot.com. He writes from Washington state. 

Catholic TKQ test 

Circle the letter or letters that best fit the question, then click link below to see the correct answers. 

1. According to Scripture, the universe was created 

A. because God was lonely and needed somebody to talk to. 

B. from nothing by the word of God. 

C. because God needed a laboratory in which to learn new things. 

D. by Stephen Hawking. 

2. Which answer is false? The Immaculate Conception is 

A. the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary. 

B. the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother. 

C. the term to refer to the fact that Mary was preserved from all sin from the moment of her conception. 

D. a dogma proclaimed by the Church in 1854. 

3. The two greatest commandments are 

A. “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make any graven image.” 

B. “Don’t judge” and “Be tolerant.” 

C. “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

D. “Don’t shoplift” and “Be Kind. Rewind.” 

4. Catholic teaching about sex includes the proposition that 

A. sex is OK if you really and truly love each other and that’s all that matters. 

B. artificial contraception is fine if you mean well. 

C. if you have a really good reason, such as economic ruin or disgrace, abortion is OK. 

D. sex is a blessing intended solely for the Sacrament of Matrimony between one man and one woman, and is intended to make them one flesh and to be open to the begetting of children. 

5. Catholic just war doctrine teaches 

A. all’s fair in love and war. 

B. it is legitimate to deliberately target civilians if that’s what it takes to win. 

C. the ends justify the means. 

D. the Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.” 

6. The Holy Spirit is 

A. that sense of warmth and family we all feel toward one another as we gather at the altar on Christmas morning. 

B. an idea created by the New Testament writers since nobody mentions it in the Old Testament. 

C. an angel who got promoted to membership in the Trinity because God the Father liked him. 

D. God, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, who exists from all eternity and who is, with the Father and the Son, worshipped and glorified by the angels and saints. 

7. The Incarnation refers to 

A. when Jesus was “born again” at Bethlehem after a previous life in another body. 

B. when an ordinary man named Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and God chose to adopt him and turn him into the Son of God because of his good character. 

C. the moment when God the Father turned into God the Son in the womb of Mary. 

D. the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son taking on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin and being born at Bethlehem. 

8. The Bible is 

A. the inspired and inerrant word of God teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. 

B. a collection of Bronze Age myths and fables, but no serious theologian takes it as “the word of God” anymore. 

C. the Big Book of Everything, given to us by God in order to determine the age of the universe, all knowledge of science, and the date of important world events like the establishment of the state of Israel and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

D. a baffling patchwork of confusing and dull source materials that nobody but a professional can understand, so the Church says not to read it because it will just get you all mixed up. 

9. The Eucharist is 

A. a beautiful symbol of our togetherness that we invest with the spirit of Love and thereby transform into the “body” and “blood” of Jesus in a process called “transsignification.” 

B. whatever you believe it in your heart to be. 

C. merely a reminder of something that happened a long time ago when Jesus suffered. 

D. the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ fully present under the appearance of bread and wine and offered in sacrifice to God the Father. It is also a meal whereby we feed on Jesus and become participants in his divinized human life and are graced to live as members of his one body. Finally, it is a living participation in his ongoing work of salvation whereby we “make present” the one sacrificial offering of his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. 

10. The Resurrection is 

A. a wish fulfillment fantasy that early Christians gradually incorporated into the story of a gentle rabbi they loved and missed. 

B. the reality of the Christian faith, without which absolutely none of Christianity makes sense, founded on the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in a glorified body on the third day and seen by many witnesses until his glorious ascension. Virtually all these witnesses went to violent deaths after lives of extreme hardship, bearing witness to the Resurrection. 

C. a hallucination experienced by more than 500 people at once, on multiple occasions, involving hearing, sight, taste and touch. 

D. a blunder due to the fact that Jesus merely swooned on the cross, then woke up three days later in a freezing tomb dressed in winding bandages welded to his skin by his countless scourging wounds. Then he stumbled over to a multi-ton rock on his wounded feet, shoved it aside with his wounded hands and, gasping in agony from the wound to his heart, overpowered the sleeping guard and staggered through Jerusalem unnoticed till he banged on the door of the apostles and, bleeding from almost every pore and in desperate need of immediate medical attention, convinced them he was the Conqueror of Death. 

11. The Church is 

A. a purely human institution standing between man and his Savior. 

B. the invention of the Emperor Constantine, who took an obscure religion that honored the memory of a dead rabbi and turned it into a tool of the Empire by proclaiming the dead rabbi to be a “god” at Council of Nicaea. 

C. a collection of celibate old men who want to tell us what to do. 

D. Me and my like-minded friends. 

E. the body of Christ, founded by Jesus himself to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, made of baptized Christians as of living stones, in union with one another through faith and the sacraments and built on the Rock who is Peter and on the apostles as the foundation, visible in the world and in union with the bishops and pope, particularly in the celebration of the Mass. 

12. Mary is 

A. Mother of God 

B. Ever-Virgin 

C. Immaculately Conceived 

D. Assumed into Heaven 

E. All of the above 

F. None of the above 

13. Limbo is 

A. a dogma the Church discontinued at the Second Vatican Council due to popular demand. 

B. a theological theory that is currently in eclipse among most Catholic theologians. 

C. a doctrine all true Catholics are bound to hold. 

D. an invention of Dante Alighieri that illiterate medieval Catholics came to believe because they don’t know anything about the Bible. 

14. The doctrine of the Trinity means 

A. that we believe in three Gods. 

B. that we believe in the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. 

C. that we believe in one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

D. that we believe God was called the Father before the Incarnation, then became the Son during the lifetime of Jesus, then turned into the Holy Spirit when he went back to heaven. 

E. that the Father created the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

15. Concerning the afterlife, Catholics believe 

A. that the dead are asleep and have no consciousness of things on earth. 

B. that the goal of the Christian life is to strip off our sinful bodies and become angels. 

C. that people who go to hell can work hard and get out of it, and that’s what purgatory is. 

D. in life after life after death — that is, that the goal of the Christian life is not to be a disembodied spirit in some empty void, but, on the Last Day, a resurrected human being with a glorified body like Jesus’ in a new heaven and new earth.

Answers to the religion pop quiz here»