I am ashamed of this, but I used to have doubts over the divine status of Jesus Christ. It isn’t because of atheism, but rather Judaism. I was informed as to why the Jews (no disrespect) today don’t believe in the divine status of Christ and I began having doubts. This occurred only for me to research the Scriptures and make the full judgement that Jesus is the Messiah and the Lord. Is this really sinful to have such doubts about God? Thank you.
Having questions isn’t a sin. In fact, questioning can be a good thing as it can strengthen your faith. It’s only a sin when one completely repudiates the Christian faith or knowingly rejects a doctrine that as Catholics we are required to believe.
I don’t think it would be sinful necessarily to entertain doubts, but you should also see this as an opportunity to strengthen your faith. There are a couple of things that can help here.
Consider first CS Lewis’ famous “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” argument. The life and words and actions of Jesus are very well attested–better so than nearly any other historical figure from the period. We know that he claimed divine status for himself. Either he was who he said he was–and was thus God; or he was a very bad man who knew he was not God and yet claimed to be; or he was insane–the gap between finite man and the infinite God is so great, that to make claims of divinity that are untrue would have to be insane; to claim one is a butterfly or Napoleon at least puts you in the realm of beings somewhere closer to who you are. To claim you are God would be beyond absurdity. And yet Jesus did not act or speak as a bad man, nor as a lunatic. We could then posit that he was very likely divine. This argument, of course, can be a bit unsatisfying to one whose presuppositions question the historicity of the Gospels or the meaning of certain of Jesus’ sayings that we would argue point to his divinity, but to one who is already a Christian and is struggling, it can help us to think things through.
The other thing to consider is based on the dogmatic definitions of the Church. We believe that Christ came to save us. We believe that he is fully God and fully man. If he were not fully God, he could not repay the debt to the infinite God that was rendered by our disobedience at the fall. If he were not fully man, then our nature would not be saved by his action. So we believe that he had to have been fully God and fully man.
Lastly, consider the fact that the Church has been around since that time and has kept the same faith–surely if Jesus were lying, or if his followers–many of whom went to death for their faith–were lying, the Church would have fallen by the wayside long ago. There were dozens of Messianic claimants in the time of Jesus, and a good many were put to death by the Romans as well. How many of them do you know the names of? Just one, because he was truly God and truly man, and rose gloriously from the dead after his death on the Cross.
I would recommend reading Lewis’ Mere Christianity, as well as St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. Peter Kreeft’s book Fundamentals of the Faith and his website (www.peterkreeft.com) also have some helpful insights. I hope this helps, and know of my prayers.
One of the things I saw, edward_george, is that the Messiah would speak in parables as Jesus did. I do know that there were false messiahs in that time, but Jesus Christ fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies (even though the Jews say he did not). I saw that the odds of someone fulfilling them all is extremely unlikely, so he must have been the prophesied Messiah.
If your doubts are willful, then they are sinful. God bless you.
There’s the old expression – I believe it’s usually attributed to Bl. Cardinal Newman – that a “thousand difficulties don’t make a doubt.”
What this means is that there is a categorical difference between, on the one hand, experiencing involuntary doubt and, on the other hand, engaging in voluntary doubt.
The Catechism sums up the difference like this:
**2088 **The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.
Regarding Judaism, I think that Roy Schoeman, on a recent episode of Catholic Answers Live, really hit the nail on the head with one of his comments.
I’m paraphrasing extremely liberally, but his comment spoke to the idea that a lot of modern, rabbinic Judaism has created an apologetic method that is a direct result of Christianity; it is an attempt to prevent Jews from apostatizing, and in a sense has moved the goal posts of messianic expectation to specifically exclude Jesus of Nazareth.
Now, I know very little about orthodox Judaism, but I do know some, and I would concur with the heart of Mr. Schoeman’s comments. You can listen to his appearance here: catholic.com/radio/shows/the-jewish-roots-of-catholicism-26687
I would also recommend his website: salvationisfromthejews.com/
… as well as his radio program: radiomaria.us/salvation-is-from-the-jews/
In fact, I was even a guest on his radio program once, and while I won’t tell you which one it was, I admit that I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Schoeman.
I would also recommend Dr. Michael Brown, insofar as much of his work with Jews is concerned. (Roy mentioned Dr. Brown’s Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus books during his appearance on CAL. While I haven’t read them, I have seen and read through this: realmessiah.com/answers_to_objections)