Epistemology, logic and trust... How to know which church is right?

Hello Everyone,
I was slowly rediscovering Christianity during last few years and I’ve decided to make a really informed and intellectually satisfying choice about a Church to join. After months of reading official documents, apologetic and theological books, and finally of hundreds of forum discussions and flame wars, my only reflection is that the choice of a denomination is essentially epistemological. I tried to build some sort of meta-argumentation which might help in my quest for faith and I failed. I am wondering whether anyone might help me to find any flaw in it. Here is my reasoning:
1.The Bible was written in a precise historical context and its final form was sanctioned by specific authorities in well defined circumstances. Even though I recognize the essential role of the Scripture, there is no doubt it is a part of the Holy Tradition. I need the Holy Tradition not only to interpret the Bible (one’s reason is not sufficient) but simply to believe that it is really the Word of God. In other words I feel there is a logical fallacy in Sola Scriptura of Protestants. Therefore, when considering which “Church” is right, I rejected all forms of Protestantism.
2. Ok, the Holy Tradition is great. There were 7 ecumenical Councils in the first millennium explaining Christ’s message and what heretical beliefs are. And then came Photius and the subsequent schism. I have read hundreds of orthodox-catholic polemics. The arguments of both groups were VERY convincing and I couldn’t decide who is right. I realized that not only I am not able to interpret the Bible but that the Holy Tradition also needs to be explained. Aha! Here is a point for Catholics because what I needed was the Magisterium. Cardinals and Popes interpreting and explaining the teaching of the Bible and of the Holy Tradition. I love orthodox theology but I just feel that in the Orthodox Church there is no consensus on some issues only because for the last 1000 years there was no authority capable of imposing any consensus. In other words it is sometimes quite difficult to discern what the Orthodox Church really teaches from what is an individual theologian’s opinion. Not to mention that the administrative chaos of different overlapping jurisdictions does not encourage conversions.
3.So far so good. So I am in the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that Pope Francis is a fantastic leader. To understand better the Church I went back to the documents of the SVII. I read, among others, “Dignitatis humanae” and I felt it is a beautiful and wise document. And then it started. All my Catholic friends who treat religion seriously (I know many people who attend the Catholic mass but their faith is very superficial) are traditionalists. Even if not all of them are openly Lefebvrists, all of them believe that the sin of modernism is more and more omnipresent in the Church and that Pope Francis is actually a terrible pope. More importantly even, they believe the Latin mass is much more powerful and more beautiful that the modern one (I actually agree) and that many SVII documents and especially Dignitatis humanae are contrary to the not-so-old teachings of the Holy Magisterium. Their arguments are pretty much solid. One of my friends told me: “well, here you have all the evidence, use your reason and you’ll see we are right”. Wait what? I decided that I am not able to interpret the Bible on my own, that my reason is not sufficient to decide which tradition (orthodox or catholic) is right and now I am expected to use reason to decide whether the modern teachings of Magisterium are conform with the older ones? My trad friends do not seem that to understand that if I agree with them, I would undermine the whole reasoning that brought me to the Catholic Church. How am I supposed to interpret teachings of the Magisterium if the Magisterium is presumed to change its own teaching? I could as well use the reason to interpret the Bible on my own or perhaps I should have chosen to join the Orthodox Church. Or maybe the Anglican one (it was C.S Lewis who brought me back to Christianity, so it would be a reasonable choice) Honestly, I am at loss. Is there any flaw in my logic?
I would be eternally grateful (perhaps literally) to any person who actually reads this and may help me in any way.
Best,

which teachings contradict? so far, i have found none

it’s one thing to like older traditions, quite another to critize post vat II as not being catholic enough.

don’t worry, i had the same questions but then i realized something. did the church before vat II have no problems? why was vat II called in the first place? it was to figure out ways to present the same deposit to a changing society, new ways to accomplish this, not new teachings. frankly, considering what happened in the 60s and 70s, do you really think the latin mass would have been understandable for many people? even today. yes it’s beautiful, but it’s also quite intellectual. there is nothing wrong with a simpler mass framework. it waslly hasn’t changed all that much.

it all comes down to whose authority you trust more, Jesus or a bunch of other people.

and remember what he told the pharisees, don’t get so stuck up on your traditions that you cna’t notice anything else. traditions are not bad but we can’t become inflexible. as long as the newer changes aren’t sinful, there isn’t a problem

that’s the conclusion i’ve drawn after my studies anyways. i hope that helps a little

forgot to put this part in. Jesus also said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. so either it’s true or it isn’t

I personally think that Faith must first begin with basics. Things which are so well taken for granted, that they hardly figure into our discernments.

We must look upon religion (I think) as a source of Divine Revelation. If we believe in God, and further, we believe that God HAS revealed himself in someway to us, then we must find THAT religion which has HIS Divine Revelations. This means we AREN’T looking for the religion which has the most cogent human knowledge, although, that SHOULD be there too. In fact, we are looking for a Divine Religion. One founded by, and upheld by God Himself. Otherwise we are chasing after human institutions, which all must have some things which are good, and other things which are perhaps less so.

That is how I would steer my quest. IOW, I would look for the Divine hallmarks that SHOULD accompany any religion claiming to have Divine Revelation. That, I think, would make sorting things out a little more within the scale of normal human reasoning. :wink:

Not sure but too me it appears the gospels are believed canonized by God why too me only the Priest reads the gospels in the mass and before the decon is allowed to read the gospels to the congregation he needs to recieve a blessing from the priest. This all goes to the verse that says only one is to be a father thru the preaching of the gospel but to give the glory to the Father too me is about John 16:13-15 that THE FATHER takes of Christ which too me is in part why day in an day out they have the responsibility to read the gospel and confession. When one goes to confession granted Jesus is the intercessor yet its also about the Father in the confessional due when a Priest recieves holy orders it appears the FATHER takes of Christ . Had a problem with a decon wanted me to call a priest father thought it heresy to believe the FATHER in the priesthood too me the decon simply did not understand the reason catholics call priest father is that the Priest have been taken of those in Christ by the FATHER to preach the gospel. Too me the four living creatures in Ezikiel is about the very throne of God where the spirit goes there they go that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and the Catholic Church feels a special measure given to these gospels that only the Priest is allowed to read to the congregation.

Not sure but too me it appears the gospels are believed canonized by God why too me only the Priest reads the gospels in the mass and before the decon is allowed to read the gospels to the congregation he needs to recieve a blessing from the priest. This all goes to the verse that says only one is to be a father thru the preaching of the gospel 1 Cor. 4:14–15 but to give the glory to the Father too me is about John 16:13-15 that THE FATHER takes of Christ which too me is in part why day in an day out they have the responsibility to read the gospel and confession. When one goes to confession granted Jesus is the intercessor yet its also about the Father in the confessional due when a Priest recieves holy orders it appears the FATHER takes of Christ . Had a problem with a decon wanted me to call a priest father thought it heresy to believe the FATHER in the priesthood too me the decon simply did not understand the reason catholics call priest father is that the Priest have been taken of those in Christ by the FATHER to preach the gospel. Too me the four living creatures in Ezikiel is about the very throne of God where the spirit goes there they go that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and the Catholic Church feels a special measure given to these gospels that only the Priest is allowed to read to the congregation. :rolleyes:

While I agree with you on C.S. Lewis being a very sound guide, the genesis of the Anglican Church, for me, is big question mark regarding it as an option. There are a number of excellent Anglican scholars (Wright, Bauckham besides Lewis) which says something about the theological soundness that can be found there. However, given that much of its theology derives FROM Catholicism seems to point beyond these scholars in a definite direction. Recall, also, that Lewis was heavily influenced away from atheism by Tolkien (a Catholic.)

A very excellent Orthodox philosopher and theologian is David Bentley Hart.

I am not clear that, besides on the issue of Papal authority, Orthodox theology is very different from Catholicism, other than, perhaps, emphasis.

It sounds like you have been a diligent reader of Church documents. If you haven’t spent some time with the Catechism, that would be a good resource. Also, you might look into what the actual issues are with “Lefebvrists” vis a vis the Church and whether there is sufficient warrant for this group to remain at odds with the Church, in particular, regarding the actual genesis of the discord.

Several “angles” might be profitable in terms of making a sound decision.

  1. Spend some time reading the early Church Fathers and compare their writings to the Catechism to determine whether the Church has, indeed, remained faithful to the Gospel message and mission.

  2. Read current Catholic philosophers (such as Peter Kreeft a big fan of Lewis, Edward Feser a modern and eminently readable interpreter of Aquinas) to get a better sense of the “bigger philosophical picture” behind Catholicism.

  3. Read some of the historical literature that attempts to get at what happened to create the divisions that have occurred.

  4. Pray sincerely for guidance from the Holy Spirit to make a sound decision.

  5. Read the Gospels and other NT letters to develop a deep sense of the authentic mission and message of Jesus then relate your readings to the Catechism (Scripture and early Church Fathers are huge reference points for the Catechism.)

Not sure but too me it appears the gospels are believed canonized by God why too me only the Priest reads the gospels in the mass and before the decon is allowed to read the gospels to the congregation he needs to recieve a blessing from the priest. This all goes to the verse that says only one is to be a father thru the preaching of the gospel 1 Cor. 4:14–15 but to give the glory to the Father too me is about John 16:13-15 that THE FATHER takes of Christ which too me is in part why day in an day out they have the responsibility to read the gospel and confession. When one goes to confession granted Jesus is the intercessor yet its also about the Father in the confessional due when a Priest recieves holy orders it appears the FATHER takes of Christ . Had a problem with a decon wanted me to call a priest father thought it heresy to believe the FATHER in the priesthood too me the decon simply did not understand the reason catholics call priest father is that the Priest have been taken of those in Christ by the FATHER to preach the gospel. Too me the four living creatures in Ezikiel is about the very throne of God where the spirit goes there they go that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and the Catholic Church feels a special measure given to these gospels that only the Priest is allowed to read to the congregation.
It just seems to me that questions like calling a priest father is the issue due too me its only " in Christ " that Paul said he he became a father to the congregation thru the preaching of the gospel yet perhaps let God be true and every man a liar? If the deacon is right its more like father (biological father) so just undecided which way is the correct interpretation yet from his position can understand why the deacon felt my position was a protostant position how I was interpreting the catholic churches positon why the Catholic Church call priests Father.

Not sure but too me it appears the gospels are believed canonized by God why too me only the Priest reads the gospels in the mass and before the decon is allowed to read the gospels to the congregation he needs to recieve a blessing from the priest. This all goes to the verse that says only one is to be a father thru the preaching of the gospel 1 Cor. 4:14–15 but to give the glory to the Father too me is about John 16:13-15 that THE FATHER takes of Christ which too me is in part why day in an day out they have the responsibility to read the gospel and confession. When one goes to confession granted Jesus is the intercessor yet its also about the Father in the confessional due when a Priest recieves holy orders it appears the FATHER takes of Christ . Had a problem with a decon wanted me to call a priest father thought it heresy to believe the FATHER in the priesthood too me the decon simply did not understand the reason catholics call priest father is that the Priest have been taken of those in Christ by the FATHER to preach the gospel. Too me the four living creatures in Ezikiel is about the very throne of God where the spirit goes there they go that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and the Catholic Church feels a special measure given to these gospels that only the Priest is allowed to read to the congregation.
It just seems to me that questions like calling a priest father is the issue due too me its only " in Christ " that Paul said he he became a father to the congregation thru the preaching of the gospel yet perhaps let God be true and every man a liar? If the deacon is right its more like father (biological father) so just undecided which way is the correct interpretation yet from his position can understand why the deacon felt my position was a protostant position how I was interpreting the catholic churches positon why the Catholic Church call priests Father. It does appear that Priests have been taken of Christ by the Father thus one priest to another its about the Fatherhood includes pastoring why both our positions together appear the more right due this fatherhood by the Father is still in Christ. John 16:15

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