Faith and certainty

This thread was created to continue from the questions about Islam round 4 thread, and focuses the discussion around certainty in faith and how this is achieved.

The question is directed to members of all religions, and is not to attack or entrap any particular faith or group.

How do you know that the revelations you believe in are from God?. What are the fundamental principles of the faith you hold to be true which proves it is from God? and how did you become certain your faith is the truth?

Simply answering by
"I believe it’s from God because the bible/quran/etc… says so…" or
"I believe it’s true because my parents / pastor / priest / imam told me it’s true…" or
"It’s the faith I was brought up in"

by themselves, the responses above are not sufficient because in the first case the origin of the book itself is put to question, and secondly, citing other people is not considered to be decisive evidence.

I believe the Bible is from God because it is a story of prophecy. Who else can inspire prohecy except for God - the creator of time?

By the fruits and teachings.

What are the fundamental principles of the faith you hold to be true which proves it is from God?

I admire in Christianity that it concentrate on heavenly principles rather than earthy ones like Islam, beside for me personally the 3 years teachings of YHWH’s Word outperformed the 23 years teachings of Muhammed.

and how did you become certain your faith is the truth?

I’ll let my soul judge on that.

Well I had a conversion back to the faith that was something I have never encountered before or since. It was a major awakening internally. That experience was primarily what did it for me, but there is also examination of many miraculous occurrences that have happened over the years of the church such as (Garabandal, Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, San Giovanni Rotondo etc) that I have studied which adds to the validity of my Christian faith.

Admittedly, all of our answers will be based on “faith” simply because none of us were alive at the time of Jesus/Muhammad/Joseph Smith etc.

Some of the reasons I believe Catholicism/Christianity is from God are because I believe:

  • Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies as the Messiah promised to God’s people
  • Early Church Fathers - those who were present at the time of Jesus and His disciples and who then spread the Gospel (i.e St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Justin Martyr)
  • The Bible is a record of Jesus’ life and teachings as taught and passed down through the ECF
  • Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, mercy, redemption
  • The lives of the Saints including those who saw visions of Jesus and/or Blessed Mother, i.e. St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
  • Saints who bore the Stigmata - the wounds of Christ, i.e. St. Padre Pio (1887-1968)
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes (1858)
  • Our Lady of Fatima (1917)
  • Eucharistic Miracles (i.e therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html) - this one also confirms the teachings of our faith that Jesus gave us His Body and Blood as recorded in the Bible at the Last Supper and as celebrated at each Mass.

In my own personal life, I also believe because I have had prayers answered by Jesus through St. Therese, St. Joseph, St. Anthony (and others) and through praying the rosary. I’ve also experienced the peace of God in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the peace of His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

An interesting discussion, but one that I think is important for members of any faith to seriously ask. It’s one thing to say, “I am a Christian,” or “I am a Muslim,” or “I am a Buddhist,” and it’s another thing to know what that really means. Not only is this important for apologetics should we ever enter into it (intentionally or unintentionally), but also for our own personal edification and spiritual growth.

What drove me towards Christianity in general and Orthodoxy in particular partially has to do with my own hectic spiritual path, which I know was under the guidance of our Lord.

I was born to a Roman Catholic father and Episcopal mother, and as might be expected from a mixed faith marriage I wasn’t given as strong a spiritual upbringing as I should have. In high school I took an amateur interest in theology and, through a naivety that often colors youth I came to the idea of universalism and that all religions were the same. This led me to agnosticism…which eventually downgraded to full blown atheism in college.

After I graduated and got a job, I felt something draw me towards a supreme being again. This is something that cannot be explained in any way, and even I can’t explain how it works. Calvinists call it Irresistible Grace, but whatever it was, it compelled me towards religion. I don’t know what it was…perhaps it was the fact that I liked Lawrence of Arabia as a kid or I always enjoyed Middle Eastern history, but…I felt myself compelled towards Islam. I bought the Koran, read it, did initial research into the faith, attended a local mosque, and finally took the shahadah.

In Islam, there are several key teachings regarding Christianity:

[LIST=1]
*]Christ is simply a prophet and not the Son of God.
*]Christ’s crucifixion did not happen as Christians believe - there are actually several trains of thought regarding this in Islamic tradition: some believe it never happened and it was made up; some believe Judas replaced Jesus; some believe in the swoon theory (Jesus didn’t actually die and woke up later).
*]Early Christianity was distorted.
*]The Bible was corrupted.
[/LIST]

I embraced all of these ideals without question. I began to heavily research Islam to strengthen my faith and defend it against critics. After a short debate with an Evangelical regarding the gospels, I realized rather humbly that I didn’t know as much about Christianity as I thought I did. From then on I began to research heavily into Christianity: comparing the gospels together, researching history, and understanding the Islamic opinion regarding it all.

At the same time, I visited an Orthodox church nearby my apartment out of curiosity. I didn’t know anything about Orthodoxy, and still had an interest in comparative religion. I wasn’t at all pleased with the services at first, but they had a bookstore sale going on and I bought some books on their history and spoke with some on their theology. What I discovered was that the Orthodox Church claimed to be the apostolic Church which had continued the teachings of the apostles since the time of Christ. Contrary to the popular opinion that the Roman Catholic church had popped out of nowhere in the 4th century, there was a unified church that kept the teachings of Christ well up to the Schism and beyond.

After further research, some realities hit me:

[LIST=1]
*]I could not continue to argue that the Bible was corrupt while attempting to prove Islam with the Bible. I could do one or the other, but could not do both without some intellectual dishonesty.
*]Supposed “contradictions” I had previously known in the gospels suddenly began to resolve themselves for me, and I found that, instead of contradicting one another, they were merely complimentary - I also found some that bore no theological shift from what the original writers had intended. Further research showed that at the time of Islam’s advent there were thousands of manuscripts across the Middle East, and I began to wonder how one could gather them all and tarnish them in such a way as to destroy Christ’s original teachings.
*]I found that, contrary to what I believed, there was ample evidence of Trinitarian and divine Christ thought from the time of the early Church Fathers well into the eighth century. I found it hard to believe that somewhere along the line the theology had been tarnished - I could not find where this had happened. Orthodoxy, in a way, made Christianity real to me, because it showed that the teachings of the apostles were preserved by the grace of God through godly men.
*]I could not, nor I ever, deny that the crucifixion ever happened, or that it didn’t happen as the Christians believed. To me, this would be the greatest conspiracy in the history of mankind. The crucifixion was a reality for me.
[/LIST]

It was a bit like C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel that I found myself being turned to Christ by the evidence before me. I didn’t have a Pauline moment where I was knocked off my horse and immediately converted (I think many are disappointed by that), but gradually the Lord took me from the modern era to the 7th century, finally to 33 AD where that crucifixion and resurrection occurred. Obviously, I’ve shortened this a bit and left a lot of details out (especially in regards to my research into Islam, out of respect for famdigy and his request not to turn this into an attack against other faiths), but this is the gist of why I believe what I believe. The testimony of the facts that support Christ and his Church made me realize the Divine Truth that stood before me - when one encounters such Truth, they can either deny it or embrace it, and I finally chose to embrace it.

Doxa soi, kyrie, doxa soi…

I don’t know :slight_smile: I don’t need to. And if you gave me a proof of the absolute truthfulness of it, I would tear it up & throw it away. Faith that can be proved to be true, is not faith. If you have a religion to offer that can be proved true, please don’t give it to me :slight_smile:

I believe in a Person - not in my ability to prove to all and sundry that what I believe is true. That would be ridiculous - it would reduce faith to being certain only until someone along & proved it was uncertain. As for becoming certain - that is the work of a lifetime; & it’s not mere brain-work: it takes up the entire personality; everything that one is, has, does.

Over to you :slight_smile:

Bump :slight_smile:

(quote cut to conserve space)

I like how you studied and discovered the truth. I read your blog and the story about your conversion. It was a fascinating read, along with the others articles you have up there :thumbsup:

I was born and raised Catholic, fell away, and came back to the only faith that could hold any truth for me.
I studied the many things to do with the Catholic religion, and found it to be the only truth, and the only religion whose Saviour has any truth.
Ive also studied a few other religions, but none of them hold water, i found questions cant be answered by them.
And not only that, ive had so many blessings happen to me being a Catholic, and some of them i would call miracles, so i cant ignore these facts as well.
I just feel in my heart and soul im on the right path.

I believe God looks on the heart. I believe God is more concerned how I treat my neighbor than what religious tenets I hold. I believe God is more concerned with my trying to have made this world a better place when I leave it than when I entered it than following any prophet or priest or iman or minister.

I would rather use scripture to “check” my life against the life of the Son of God and trust in my own experience with Him than follow any creed or religious body. It is more important to live in community and seek mercy and do justice than have my name on any church roster.

It is a matter of faith that I chose to trust that the One who loves me most…knows me best. It is a matter of faith that I believe it is His work in me and my life lived for Him that matters…not what I necessarily believe about Him…since He is Eteranal Infinite God and I am finite often mistaken man. It is His work within me and my faithfulness to Him which I demonstrate by how I treat those around me and whom I come in contact with and seek to answer “that of God” in each of them, than what doctrines and dogmas I hold dear.

Any “certainty” that exists is in Him…not in me.

Thank you. :slight_smile:

I think God revealed himself to the people whom he liberated from slavery in Egypt. He brought them safely through the sea and then to the mountain, where he spoke. He told them to worship him. These marvelous events were burned into their memories, and they passed down this information to their descendants in a careful manner. I believe their account. This is contained in the Torah. The remainder of the account of God’s dealings with them until the time of Christ is in rest of the Old Testament. He showed himself in his actions, and his people remembered those actions. Those actions instruct me just as they instructed those people released from slavery.

I believe in God apart from that, on account of what I see in the world that he created, because of the beauty that he has made, but you asked about revelation. I think it is there, with Moses leading the people from Egypt, and in those amazing events, that God is revealing himself and forming a people who will be his, and they will worship him. On account of them, other nations see and come to believe.

There have been other amazing events where God has shown himself. Some of these are in the life of Jesus. He was born from a woman who was a virgin, and he rose from the dead. I don’t historically doubt that it happened. The important details of his life and what he spoke were witnessed by his followers.

Since I accept that God has revealed himself and since I think he has done so for a purpose, therefore I think God will make it possible for future generations to hear of those deeds and know of his purpose. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the relevant information was lost.

What i find interesting, is that you are not willing to believe the Bible which was written by those who lived and witnessed what happened. Yet you, or most other religious people are willing to fight to the death when someone questions your book of faith. You are even willing to accept accounts of history about most anything, accept when it comes to the Bible. What gives with that logic?

I’m rather disappointed that our Muslim friends here haven’t contributed much to this thread. I’m still interested in hearing why they believe Muhammad’s revelations are from God (as opposed to having man-made or demonic origins). The only reasons I’ve seen so far (in the other thread) are that he was nice and was trustworthy in business. :shrug: It was alluded to the other thread that there were signs and miracles, but no concrete evidence of such was given.

Perhaps I’m just impatient and need to give this thread more time to develop. ?? :o

Famdigy-In part, it is because of the miracles and prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. These are summarized below:
The Miracles of Jesus Christ

  1. Stilling the Storm Matt
  2. Feeding the 5000
  3. Walking on the Water
  4. Feeding the 4000
  5. Temple Tax in the Fish’s Mouth
  6. Withering the Fig Tree
  7. Draught of Fish
  8. Turning Water into Wine
  9. Second Draught of Fish

Healing Miracles
General Healings

  1. Cleansing of a Leper
  2. Healing a Centurion’s Servant
  3. Healing Peter’s Mother-in-law
  4. Healing the Sick at evening
  5. Healing a paralytic
  6. Healing the Hemorrhaging woman
  7. Healing Two Blind Men
  8. Healing a Man’s Withered Hand
  9. Healing the Gentile Woman’s Daughter
  10. Healing the Epileptic Boy
  11. Healing a Blind Men
  12. Healing a Deaf Mute
  13. Healing a Blind Man at Bethsaida
  14. Healing the Infirm, Bent Woman
  15. Healing the Man with Dropsy
  16. Cleansing the Ten Lepers
  17. Restoring a Servant’s Ear
  18. Healing the Nobleman’s Son (of fever)
  19. Healing an Infirm Man at Bethesda
  20. Healing the Man born blind

Resurrections

  1. Raising the Ruler’s Daughter
  2. Raising of a Widow’s Son at Nain
  3. Raising of Lazarus
    Casting out Demons
  4. Demons entering a herd of swine
  5. Curing a Demon-possessed Mute
  6. Casting Out an Unclean Spirit
  7. Curing a Demon-possessed, Blind and Mute man

(H/T bcbsr.com/survey/jmrcls.html for the list)

Because of space limitations, I’ll address the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus in my next post
Regards,
SteveLohr

Here are eight old testament prophecies concerning the Messiah:

  1. Micah foretells Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2
    2.-Malachi, Isaiah predicts John the Baptist. Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1
    3.-Zechariah in approx 520-480 CE predicts that Jesus would arrive on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9
    4.-King David may have predicted that Jesus would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9
    5.-King David may have predicted the crucifixion. Psalm 22:16
    6.-Zechariah may have predicted the price of Judas for betraying Jesus. Also the ultimate use of the money. Zechariah 11:4-13
    7.-Isaiah predicted Jesus’ remaining silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7
    8.-Isaiah predicted Jesus would be crucified with thieves. Isaiah 53:12

The odds of just these eight prophecies being fulfilled in one man is roughly
1:100,000,000,000,000,000
(Source: Stoner, Peter, Science Speaks. Chicago: Moody Press, 1963, pg. 100-07. A copy is available at geocities.com/stonerdon/science_speaks.html )

However, There are more prophecies:

-The Messiah was to be born from a virgin. Isaiah 7:14.
-Messiah was to enter Jerusalem in triumph. Zechariah 9:9
-The Messiah was to die as a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5
-The Messiah would be from the seed of Abraham (Gen 22:18-Matt 1:1)
-The Messiah would come from the linage of Isaac (Gen 21:12-Luke 3:34)
-The Messiah would be from the linage of Jacob (Num 24:17-Luke 3:34)
-The Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10-Luke 3:33)
-The Messiah would not respond to his accusers (Isaiah 53:7-Matt 27:12-19)
-The Messiah would be wounded and bruised (Isaiah 53:5-Matt 27:26)
-The Messiah would be smitten and spit upon (Isaiah 50:6-Matt 26:67)
-The Messiah would be mocked (Psalms 22:2-8-Matt 27:31
-The Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced (Psalms 22:16-Luke 23:33)
-The Messiah would make intercession for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12-Luke 23:34)
-The Messiah would be hated by His own people (Isaiah 53:3-John 7:5, 48)
-The Messiah would be hated without cause (Psalms 69:4-John 15:25)
-The Messiah’s friends would stand far off (Psalm 38:11-Luke 23:49)
-People shook their heads at Him (Psalms 109:25-Matt 27:39)
-They divided His garments and cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18-John 19:23, 24)
-He was to suffer thirst (Psalms 69:21)
-They offered him gall and vinegar to drink (Psalms 69:21-Matt 27:34)
-He cried aloud ‘My God, My God” (Psalms 22:1-Matt 27:46
-He committed his Spirit (Psalm 31:5-Luke 23:46)
-His bones were not broken (Psalms 34:20-John 19:33)
-His heart was broken (Psalms 22:14-John 19:34)
-His side was pierced (Zech 12:10-John 19:34)
-Darkness would come over the land (Amos 8:9-Matt 27:45)
-He would be buried in a rich man’s grave (Isaiah 53:9-Matt 27:57-60)
-The Messiah would be from the line of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-Luke 3:23, 32)
-The Messiah would be from the House of David (Jerm 23:5-Luke 3:23, 31)
-The Messiah would be called Lord (Psalms 110:1-Luke 2:11)
-The Messiah would be a prophet (Deut 18:18-Matt 21:11)
-The Messiah would be a priest (Psalms 110:4-Heb 3:1)
-The Messiah would be a judge (Isaiah 33:22-John 5:30)
-The Messiah would be a King (Psalms 2:6-Matt 27:37)
-The Messiah would have the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-Matt 3:16-17)
-The Messiah would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5, 6-Matt 9:35)
-The Messiah would teach in parables (Psalm 78:2-Matt 13:34)
-The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend (Psalms 41:9-Matt 10:4)
-The Messiah would be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:12-Matt 26:15)
-The money would be thrown in God’s house (Zech 11:13-Matt 27:5)
-The Messiah would be forsaken by His disciples (Zech 13:7-Mark 14:50)
-The Messiah would be accused by false witnesses (Psalm 35:11-Matt 26:59-61)

Odds of forty-three of the prophecies being fulfilled are 10 raised to the 156th power, i.e., :
1:100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000

(Source: Stoner, Peter, Science Speaks. Chicago: Moody Press, 1963, pg. 100-07. A copy is available at geocities.com/stonerdon/science_speaks.html )

Just to compare, the total number of atoms in the known universe is approximately 10 raised to the 80th power. In short, the odds of these prophecies being fulfilled in one man is vastly greater than the number of atoms in this universe!

Regards,
SteveLohr

Bump. :slight_smile:

Perhaps our newer Muslim poster would like to contribute to this thread. :slight_smile:

BRILLIANT response! I absolutely love it. God bless. :slight_smile:

Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11: 1) and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10: 14-17). Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.
Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.
All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.
Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include1 an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Heb. 11: 4);2 a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and3 an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that he gives to his saints. Jesus pointed out some obstacles to faith in John 5: 44 and John 12: 39-42 (cf. James 1: 6-8).
The most complete and systematic exposition on faith is the Lectures on Faith, prepared for and delivered in the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1832. Other references to faith include JST Gen. 14: 26-36; Rom. 10: 14-17; 2 Cor. 5: 7; Eph. 2: 8-9; Heb. 11: 1-40; James 2: 14-26; 1 Pet. 1: 8-9;

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