Does anyone find it strange that

There seems to be no way to rationally question the faith? If I ask a question to my pastors that they can’t answer, they tend to resort to “It’s a mystery we can’t understand” or “Just have faith” or “You’re just seeing what the devil wants you to see!” or “I don’t want to bore you with the philosophical arguments. We’ll leave that to the theologians who probably have it all figured out.”

Very, very, very few of them have bothered to refer me to some outside source for answers. (i.e. I was once referred to read Mere Christianity, but ultimately found it unsatisfying). If they can answer a question, one the one hand I just have to take their word for it, but on the other hand I can see a lot of their answers being a result of cognitive distortions (something which I’ve come to identify after taking several trips to the therapist)

If I reject some aspect of the faith, do I go to hell? It seems like the last resort that if I don’t just accept the dogma, or “just have faith”, then I HAVE to believe it, otherwise I’m doomed with an eternity of hellfire—a notion no one can empirically verify of course because it takes place after we die.

I guess it depends on what you are asking, but it IS true that some things simply have to be taken by faith.

I’d encourage you to look up some of the apologist recommendations on CA. There’s a tract (or article, can’t remember) titled “The Apologist’s Bookshelf” which lists an incredible amount of literature that might help with some of your questions. Remember, our priests are called for lots of reasons, and some have different strengths than others. If you can’t get the answer in one place, do not be discouraged! Sometimes it takes a little digging, but it’s totally worth the effort to understand the Church and it’s teachings.

If I reject some aspect of the faith, do I go to hell? It seems like the last resort that if I don’t just accept the dogma, or “just have faith”, then I HAVE to believe it, otherwise I’m doomed with an eternity of hellfire—a notion no one can empirically verify of course because it takes place after we die.

If you reject an important aspect of the faith, and you do it DESPITE knowing that the Catholic faith is true and taught by God, then yes, you do have to worry about going to Hell. Beyond that, there’s a lot of leeway.

A lot more people probably go to Hell for deciding (against their well-formed conscience) that a sin isn’t a sin because they say so, and that they don’t have to feel contrite about it or confess it or change their ways. Or for deciding that they’re God and can do bad stuff to other people without turning a hair.

That said, you do have a duty to God and to yourself not to reject Church teachings without actually looking into them, in depth, and to be honest in your consideration, and to pray. If you make snap decisions, it’s harder to be fair in your thoughts afterwards. When I’ve had tough questions, sometimes I don’t find the answer for ten or twenty years. So it’s a good idea to say to yourself, “I don’t really understand this teaching, so I won’t reject it but I’ll keep looking into it.”

Re:

it’s a mystery

  • That’s really supposed to be for those topics that are like fractals, where the further you get into them, the more complicated and beautiful they get, and the more you realize it’s beyond you. If it’s beyond human cognition to fully understand, that’s different from “This is a really big and complicated topic that’s hard to explain.” Not everybody knows the difference.

Re: lack of info provided -

First of all, you need to distinguish between two different groups: “my pastors and CCD teachers” and “all pastors, preachers, bishops, professors, and CCD teachers ever.” They aren’t the same.

Second, you need to be a little bit understanding. Most priests, CCD teachers, etc. are not trained theologians or trained apologists. Seminary training is only as good as the seminary and teachers that year. Some places are gangbusters, and other places are just filling priests with useless classes. If they can’t answer your question easily or think of a source for you on the spot, they may be afraid that whatever they’d answer would turn out to be wrong. (Sometimes it’s better not to say anything than to be loudly wrong and lead somebody else astray. And oof, I’ve done that in my time and it isn’t pretty.)

Third, obviously not everybody really wants a deep theological explanation when they start asking questions. Some people just want to be reassured or given moral guidance (or distract the class and get the teacher off on a tangent). If your pastors, etc., have encountered a lot of people who aren’t really concerned about Christology and just need to hear about loving one’s neighbor, they may assume you’re like that, too.

So my advice would be that, if you want deep theological info, you tell these folks that you want deep theological info. They may have a whole drawer in their heads marked “Stuff I haven’t thought about since seminary.” Heck, they may have books for you. If you have questions that go beyond Catholic Answers type stuff, you probably want to try a good theologian, or ask one to recommend you somebody. Scott Hahn knows a lot of trustworthy scholars, for instance, so you might want to give his crew an email.

But mostly, if you have theology questions they can’t answer, it obviously means that your parish needs somebody to be interested in theology. And that person might be you.

Good luck!

How bout just ask a specific question? I suppose you can rationally question the faith. No one is stopping you.

But when God does things like heals the blind and walks on water, who can explain it, it is substantiated by many witnesses. It’s unlikely that it could have been fabricated and a lie passed of down through 20 centuries when so many people could have contradicted it.

Someone else can explain this historical logic better than I, but anyways, we can’t explain how God did it rationally, we can only observe that the historical record indicates, he did these things.

(just an example of one “mystery”)

Alright, so this theology is something some or most priests, pastors, etc are trained in? What do they use for training material? Are there any texts that they refer to?

If they are simply using the CCC, I’d have to say that most of the theology there is what I would call “high level”, or on the assumption that everything that’s being discussed (such as Original Sin, God being All-Good and All-Knowing and Love) as already accepted by whoever is reading it. Is there some kind of grassroots thing?

And are most people really ok with this? I understand that there is supposed to be more virtue in simply accepting dogma without questioning, but you have to admit that we haven’t really done a good job of encouraging critical thinking on our own within the church.

try reading the bible. it’s all about faith from genesis to revelation. without faith, there is no church. that’s where atheists and agnostics get tripped up. they want an explanation for everything, even though there is no explanation for what they do believe.

Every objection to every teaching of the Catholic Faith can be answered, but not necessarily by every Catholic priest (which is an unreasonable expectation in its own right).

Why don’t you post some specific questions in the proper forum here rather than complaining that your priest isn’t’ giving you a rational answer. Alternatively, you can study St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae which probably can answer all of the questions you have in a highly rational way (Thomas probably brings up better, and more rational, objections to the Faith than you too). Or you could read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church which also provides very rational answers to many common questions (although not in a Q & A format).

As to your last question, if you reject a part of the Faith, then yes you could be choosing Hell over Heaven (as you will be falling into formal heresy) and be damned. But, there is nothing wrong with questioning an aspect of the Faith, in seeking to understand why we believe what we do. It ultimately depends on whether you say, “I can’t understand teaching x and plan on studying it” or if you say “the Church is wrong on teaching x and I am right.” The first is fine, the second could land you in Hell.

This statement shows an absurd ignorance of Church history. The Church has been (and continues to be) the biggest defender of human reason in the history of the world. It seems you might have uncritically accepted the anti-Church narrative that is peddled in secular society.

A bit presumptuous. I’ve been an incredibly active member of the church for 22 years but have never really bothered to delve into the theology until now. And it’s not an anti-Church narrative I’m gobbling up. I can think for myself and draw my own conclusions without the aid of anyone else.

Fair enough. I’ve read parts of the Summa and am not completely satisfied, tbh. What happens when none of the answers satisfy me and I’m forced to reject them though my own logical faculties and reasoning? Both the Summa and the CCC only operates on making several assumptions and logical jumps I simply cannot follow or agree with.

Re: Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas

Actually, even the Summa Theologica assumes that you’ve read some of his previous books. A lot of people don’t realize that the Summa Theologica’s version of the proofs of God’s existence is actually the Cliffs Notes version of the proofs given in Aquinas’ more focused book, Contra Gentiles. There’s a lot of stuff like that.

Heh, we’re just not very educated from a medieval scholar’s POV; they expect everybody to get the references, because most of their readers had read all the same books they had. Of course, that’s no reason not to look into cool stuff like Aquinas’ theology, but it helps a lot to do Bible study first. And to do logic, rhetoric, grammar, music, math, and science before that. :slight_smile: But since we mostly aren’t in a position to get educated the same way, it helps to bear the differences in education in mind. (After a while, you can tell there’s a reference you’re missing, and then you can use a search engine to figure it out. That kind of thing.)

Re: take on faith -

Well, everybody takes some things on faith. Most people don’t lose a lot of sleep over whether their version of blue is the same as what everybody else means by blue. Most people don’t worry about whether the infibulator doohickey in their left widget in their car is properly working. (They don’t worry unless something happens, anyway.) We trust the grocery store to sell us food and not plastic, and the grocery store trusts the farmers, and the farmers trust the seed companies, and the seed companies trust their farmers and biologists.

Nobody but God can learn and know every single thing in the world with perfect knowledge. No human has time to test and research every possible topic. At some point, we have to make decisions as to what we will take on faith or accept by authority.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t supposed to ask questions or think hard. Catholicism is nothing if not a religion full of people who love freaky questions. Many of these folks have ended up with “Saint” as a title. Pick the questions that really interest you and go digging.

Wonderful! Since you’re able to do the critical thinking, I’d encourage you to take the time to “delve into the theology” and see if you can’t find some answers to questions that you have. And if that brings up more questions, see if you can’t find those answers, too. Sure and after that point, you might find that there are other people’s questions that you can find the answers to. Then you’d be well on your way to deepening your faith, as well as providing a valuable service to assist others within your parish and community.

It is not strange. There is tremendous depth to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Some beliefs took hundreds of years to be better understood. To answer some questions in a few minutes does not do justice to the subject. That is why there are entire books on many different subjects, written by people much smarter than me. Learning about Catholicism is a life-long quest, and it is amazing how the many topics fit together and complement each other to provide a greater fullness of understanding.

DGB

You need to think about how the Church basically works. There are things in this world that cannot be concluded by reason alone. For example what was before the big bang? No one knows and right now we have no tool to find out.

However, God gave humans the divine revelation. It is a collection of important information that God gave us, though the prophets and finally though Jesus.

The Church is only protecting this information. We believe some things only because God said so, but this information cannot be decide by reason alone anyway.

Saved, you may want to consider a more academic approach to deepening your knowledge of the Faith by pursuing a degree in a theological field. Many faithful, strong seminaries are now offering lay people the chance to study on their campuses and earn Master’s and Doctorate degrees. Generally (although not always), these seminaries ground their academic programs in a basic knowledge of philosophy and then expand on that foundation as coursework progresses thru Christology, Ecclesiology, Morality, Church History, Canon Law, etc. There are of course also good and faithful colleges and universities that offer great programs - some even online. Perhaps you can find answers by pursuing deeper knowledge?

Merry Christmas

faith crisis after 22 years probably isn’t all that uncommon. a lot of catholics were poorly catechized, and to be honest, at that age, much is too difficult to understand. if you love your faith, you will keep searching, asking, learning. but don’t harden your heart, seek God, and you will find Him. He’s right here with us. God bless.

Well,this is maybe an interesting aside question, I think. It could best be answered by a priest or a seminarian. All priests are supposed to be very well grounded in multiple aspets of theoogy. Their study time is roughly equivalent to if not exceeding that of a medical doctor.

But aside from book learning, much of what they come to know is at best also learned on their knees. Part of their learning comes from the Church Fathers down though the ages, maybe you should read some of them. It’s like diving into an ocean, make sure your tank is well pressurized, full of oxygen and ready to explore the depths…Careful with those stingrays too, they sometimes have a nasty disposition. :eek:

(And if perchance you happen to pass by a little blue, gold, and purple coral reef with a house sign, * “Icthians”*, stop in and say hello.)

Quick Question…Why are you “forced to reject them” (whatever it might be)?

Peace
James

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