Through the last few weeks I have had this question posed to me.
“How do you know Catholicism is the right faith? What about Judaism, Scientology, or other Christian religions like Methodists, Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses?”
First it was a friend of mine, who is still struggling with trying to figure out what she believes. She was deeply Catholic, but since this question was posed to her it has really shaken her. I tried to answer it for her, but I couldn’t. Then more recently in an online debate the question came up again, and I just couldn’t answer it.
The fact that I cannot answer it does not really affect my faith personally, but not having an answer really make me look foolish when arguing apologetics. It also concerns me that I cannot help my friends when they struggle with this.
So, long story short, how does a Catholic answer this? How can we argue we are the correct faith in the face of all the other religions out there?
I think you need to pose a question back: “What would proof of the correct faith look like to you? What ‘proof’ would you accept?”
Until you know what the person will accept as ‘proof’, there’s no point in proceeding. And by getting the person to actually think about the question, you will be helping them to clear up a lot of fuzzy thinking they may have on the question.
And when they’ve answered the question, you can ask them how their own faith or outlook holds up to their standard.
Essentially by doing these things you are leveling the playing field to prepare for an honest and fruitful discussion.
She was not alll that “deeply Catholic” if she was shaken by this simple question. We know because if someone carefully studies the Early Church writings and Church history, the only Church that matches is the Catholic Church. al others have pits and pieces but are all incomplete in the end. They do range from major issues and incompleteness like Scientology, Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses, to single issues like those of the Orthodox.
How about a few facts about the age of various religions? Consider these:
If you are a…
Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Catholic Church, in the year 1517.
Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in 1560.
Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.
Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an off-shoot of the Church of England, founded by Samuel Seabury in the American colonies in the 17th century.
Methodist, your religion was launched by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
Unitarian, Theophilus Lindley founded your church in London in 1774.
Mormon, (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, N>Y> in 1829.
Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launced it in Amsterdam in 1606.
Dutch Reformed, you recognize Michaelis Jones as founder, because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.
Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.
If you belong to the religious organizations known as “Church of the Nazarene”, “Pentecostal Gospel”, “Holiness Church”, “Pilgrim Holiness Church”, “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past fifty years.
If your are a Roman Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ the Son of God, and that it has not changed since that time. --The Liguorian.
This is not something that can be seen merely from the “head”. When all religions are thrown up in the air, it’s time to use the four levels of happiness. The person asking the question needs to clarify what would ultimately satisfy him. What meaning and purppose is he looking for?
Here’s a way to help them sort it out:
The Four Levels of Happiness:
I. Material Pleasures and Possessions
II. Egotistical Accomplishments
III. Intimate Relationships of Love with other Human Beings
IV. Intimate Relationship with God
In the end, our existence is summed up in one word: LOVE. Human Sexuality manifests this supreme reality. The marital act points towards the ultimate fulfillment: to give and receive intimate love in intellect and will for all eternity. Heaven will be an endless spiritual orgasm.
In heaven, all of us shall know fully where everyone else was in their whole life with God in every instant, and they shall all know the same of us. The spiritual unity and intimacy we will have in heaven is incomprehensible. And, God, who is Infinite Knowledge and Love, will be the glue that binds us. The vision of God is what shall make it impossible for us to sin. For the beauty is so indescribable, one cannot look away.
Therefore, Buddhism is not as attractive, seeing as the goal is to to “not exist”. SImilarly, the Nirvana of Hinduism cannot compare. Islam is deficient because it denies the Trinity. In Islam, God is but One in Person, removing the Infinite Family of Love within God’s One Nature that is the Trinity.
If they sincerely ask themselves what they are looking for, they will see that it is the heaven of the Catholic Church.
Adding to some of the other fine responses…typically non-Christian religions tend to revolve around “revelation” received by an individual, not a multitude of witnesses who were willing to die for what they taught like Christianity has. Muhammed is the channel for Islam. The Mormons have Joseph Smith.
Well apparently they have appeal since more than a billion people follow them. I think most people have a feeling for what suits them. That may be based on faulty or no evidence but its real to them. There is much in buddhism that is quite attractive, and may Christians practice forms of mediation and yoga that are spiritual in nature. Islam is huge, and while one cannot accept radical islam, most Muslims seem loving and law abiding and good people in general. I in fact find more to complain about with protestants because I find their position illogical. They violate what God has so far kept in promise that he would not desert his people.
This is a good position. I believe it presents a rational and reasonable position. From my experience (I have many friends from various religious backgrounds) most people are generally friendly and caring with moments of violence and hatred derived from fear of real or imagined things.
But, this is my reasoning as to why Catholicism works for me… and although I really don’t like to… I will provide my key sticking points with each faith that really prevents me from following them.
Islam - Although mainstream Islam preaches peace and non-violence I have difficulty following a prophet who carried out invasions and genocidal slaughters of non-Muslims. This is notated in the Q’uran.
Buddhism - Buddhism is an off-shoot of Hinduism and also contains many respectable beliefs of peace and love. However, there are variety of Buddhist followings. While Buddhists believe in gods they don’t believe in their existence in the same concept we do. They believe gods are just a higher level of existence but are going through the same struggle of death and rebirth as us… they’re just higher up the chain. Buddhism also doesn’t address the issue of a God or the creation of existence. For all intensive purposes… they are agnostics. It is the indifference towards a creator or deity that makes me hesitant. Catholicism, however, provides so much more to me that Buddhism does not satiate my religious hunger.
Hinduism - It’s polytheistic. Polytheism has many theological and rational issues.
Judaism - I believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetical writings of the messiah. Judaism would require me to deny that belief.
Atheism - I think it is illogical to say that something with as many varying concepts as God does not exist in any form. One cannot prove that God does not exist.
Protestantism - Many sects and very fragmented. I think their position is illogical.
That’s it for now. I can go into more detail later, but I’m exhausted and I’m off to bed. :sleep:
Mohammad initially spread his faith through war and genocide. It’s difficult to follow a faith that was born from one who perpetuated war.
Buddhism is a very respectable faith, but it is indifferent towards the creation of existence or the existence of a deity.
However, with Catholicism there were prophetical writings outlining what one would expect in the messiah. Jesus fulfilled these prophetical writings through various documented miracles and other actions. From this messiah came a church which was passed on to Peter and subsequent Popes. Catholicism has maintained this lineage for the last 2,000 years. Not sure what other faiths can hold that water.
Christianity is the correct religion because God has revealed his true nature to us through it.
God is love and that fact is proven through Christ’s sacrifice of love for us. Buddhism reflects the words of a wise philosopher and is not an actual religion. Islam proves it is invalid by defining God as a master of brutality which mimics the brutality of men.
Hinduism counts rats as holy and has many false Gods like women with twelve arms or an elephant head.
If the entire world practiced the teachings of Christ tomorrow we would live in peace. Can we say that about Islam or any other religion that defines God as anything other than love? Christ’s teachings are perfect.
Have you actually read the Hebrew Scriptures? Jewish law came directly from God, the exact same God that Catholics say they worship, as did exactly the same prophecies that Catholics claim Jesus fulfilled. The Scriptures that Catholics claim as sacred canon explicitly say so.
Jesus’ claim to being God rests on His fulfilling those prophecies that said He was the Messiah of the Jews. If they are man-made prophecies then on what basis would Jesus claim divinity?
It boils down to the fact that if Judaism is not founded by God, then Christianity as a fulfillment of Judaism is on incredibly shaky ground to claim Christianity is founded by God.
Point A. he said "practiced"
Point B. The United States is universalist today and commits the same atrocities, invasion of other countries, torture and so on. So universalism is no different.
Point C. Reading history and understanding history are two different things. For example, in the middle centuries if you burned a church it would be considered an act of terrorism akin today of the bombing in Oklahoma city. As a nation how should the mid century church/state have responded? It had an obligation (if one understands God gives governments the sword) to protect the citizens from terrorists.
Is the universalist church/state of today any different? Are they practicing their religion? Doesn’t that universalist religion include invasion and torture?
Reading history vs. understanding the world in which they lived is the difference between projecting onto history a 21st century mentality of how you think their society should be vs. how they understood their society to be. A vast ocean of difference.
Why is the vastly superior universalist doing the exact same things it condemns in previous centuries?
As to the answer to the topic. If once accepts the monotheism of Judaism and believes Jesus to be the messiah then the catholic faith, historically is the truth.
To answer the original question then is really to eye Judaism against the other religions. Really it can only be come by through faith.
But, IMHO (which doesn’t mean a whole lot) Christianity (authentic Christianity and Judaism) is the only one that isn’t narcissistic but rather centered on others; with the souls of all men and their relationship with God. It isn’t about “What I can get out of it.” (at least for catholics and most protestants)