I am in the midst of a spiritual crisis and don’t know which way to go.
I’ve spent my entire adult life moving from church to church. No one Church ever seems to be completely right, at least not for long. So I keep moving around. And the more I move the more confusing it gets.
It has always been important for me to be in the right church - the true church. My problem is that I can never figure out what that is. And I’m beginning to believe it doesn’t exist.
It seems that no matter whose books I read about the subject or what I learn the arguments/reasons always seem to make sense, as long as I don’t compare them with the opposing views from other Churches. If I do, then I’m back to square one again. Everyone makes sense to me, in their own way. Like everything is in a million shades of grey and nothing stands out.
Most people that I talked to in the past had rather simplistic, almost childlike, views on religion. I wish I could accept those, since my life would be simpler and calmer, but my mind can’t stop there. I want/need to know “The Truth”.
I’ve asked God more than once where I’m supposed to be, but so far He’s been silent on the subject.
I know that an internet forum is not the best place to try to resolve this and I wish that I had someone very wise I could discuss this with in person, but I don’t.
I was where you are once. Sometimes I find myself doubting still today, but I take Jesus word that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. After a couple of months of searching, I find my self right back where I never thought I’d be: the Catholic Church. If you want to dive deeper to find the true faith, I suggest reading the early church fathers to get an idea of what early Christianity was like. Then, compare it to all churches that you see today. Don’t forget to be prayerful.
May God guide you,
If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because He called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world as Our Lord was rejected by men. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its Voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. But only that which is Divine can be infinitely hated and infinitely loved. Therefore the Church is Divine.
You, OP are a “cafeteria Christian” looking
for the things on the menu that satisfies
your deepest longings. You are RIGHT in
becoming a Christian, b/c Jesus is the Bread
of Life, the Bread that is offered is the flesh
of our Creator God come down from heaven
is in the Catholic Church, as confirmed by
John chapter 6, also it rests on the Seven
Pillars(Prov. 9:1) which are set on the found-
ation of the Apostles and Prophets w/ Christ
as it’s Cornerstone(Eph. 2:19) and built BY
CHRIST on the rock of Peter, the first Pope.
(Matt. 16). So, the First Church is also the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,
you need search no longer, come Home,
ella03, dear searching child of God!!
The advice you have been given to read the Early Church Fathers and to consider Bishop Sheen’s comment is excellent! Pearls of wisdom.
In my spiritual journey, there have been two parts thus far. The first is what I would call “Mere Christianity” – or “who do you say that I am: Lord, Liar or Lunatic – and what are you going to do about that/ how will you respond?” I chose “Lord.” Becoming a Christian was the foundational decision and that brought me into CS Lewis’ foyer or hallway with rooms that went off into the various churches.
The second part was what I would call answering the question of whether Christ established His Church on this earth and if He did, then which one was that! The Catholic Church says they are that Church. No other church claims that history or divine appointment. So is the Roman Catholic Church Christ’s Church, A Devilish Imposter or Simply Delusional – and what are you going to do about that/ how will you respond?
It took me a lot of reading, a lot of prayer, a lot of research to come to the conclusion that Christ’s Church was the Catholic Church. It was not readily apparent to me.
What had to happen was the collapse of my Protestant paradigm or worldview. And collapse it did. Why? No denomination in Protestant Land could seem to agree with any other denomination as to what Christian orthodoxy and doctrines should be. The only thing they could agree upon was that “the Catholics were wrong.” Just “how wrong” was also a source of dispute ranging from “a little off on doctrines” to “damnable heresy.”
What Protestantism showed itself to be was a matter of individual conscience and private judgment – it was all a matter of personal opinion and no group could tell any other group they were wrong. The idea was to find the Protestant church that best matched what I believed (what I thought was correct teaching). No Protestant group had divine decree to teach with binding authority. The Catholics were the only ones to claim such authority.
Basically, as a Protestant, I believed in me and I found a group of like-minded individuals as a church who also believed in me. (Actually, we believed in “us”.) If something happened where I came to change my beliefs, then I moved on to a different church that better represented “my new, revised and improved beliefs.” I was the decider of truth as a Protestant. With Catholicism, the Church is the decider (pillar and foundation) of truth.
In my journey, I found the following websites very helpful: Coming Home International, Catholic Bridge, Called to Communion: Reformation Meets Rome, Calling All Converts, and of course, Catholic Answers. You will be in my prayers. God bless.
Okay I respect Holy Orthodoxy I really do but that was an attack on Catholics and I don’t think you should be doing stuff like that here. I don’t feel that really contribute to the conversation especially since we Catholics believe that Orthodox have valid Apostolic succession a Valid Presbyterate and valid Bishops. I think that was kind of uncalled for.
English translations of many of the early Christian writings can be found at the Catholic website New Advent and at the non-Catholic website Christian Classic Ethereal Library. If you can only read a few, I recommend The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache) by an unknown author and Clement I of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians, written about the year 80; Ignatius of Antioch’s various epistles written about 107; and Justin Martyr’s First Apology, written about 155, especially chapter 61-67.
When I was nearing 30 years old I went through the same crisis of faith as you, dear ella03, so I can fully sympathize with your dilemma.
I too prayed that God would direct me to the Church in which I could find the truth. I was tired of trying to find it according to my own lights. What held me back was my own preconceptions of what that Church should look like and be like. I had known only Protestant churches all my life. I’d started out Episcopalian and had experienced a couple of Baptist ones, attended a Mass of consecration of a nun as a very little child (which didn’t really stay with me, being I was so young), but ended up in the Assemblies of God a few years after my father died because my mother decided that’s where we would go.
I attended and earned a B. A. in Bible from an Assemblies of God Bible college, but by then I was no longer satisfied with it. I longed for more depth in my prayer life and spirituality. I found the services and their lay life lacking in both. I don’t fault anyone for that. They meant well and there are many good Christian people in the “movement,” as it was called, but it no long helped me.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what drew me to the Catholic Church in particular. I had a lot of hang-ups about the Catholic faith for many, many years. But I did some reading about the Catholic faith by Catholics instead of just by those who opposed it. I found all my objections shallow and sometimes silly. Mary was my biggest hurdle, but praying the Stations of the Cross opened my eyes to the fact that she was there with Jesus at the worst moment in his life, standing by him no matter what. I realized she does the same for us, if we let her. I understood then that she is our Mother, too. One who loves us and cares for us, only wanting us to know and love her Son as she does.
Anyway, the upshot was I was received into the Catholic Church many years ago now and have been fully satisfied with her teachings, her liturgies, her prayer and spiritual life. Her depths are the depths of Christ himself because he founded her and gave her to us to lead us into all truth, and to nourish us in the faith he founded for our salvation and happiness now, and for eternity.
I was raised in a mainline Protestant Church and fell away while a young adult. Over the years I never lost my faith in God, but I searched for a church home to actually practice my faith and have a sense of community. I had some similar experiences as you have had, at times even questioning why it mattered.
The I went to my first Mass. I had very little understanding of what was actually going on, but I understood the message God was sending. I was home! I knew God was telling me this is where you belong, this is where My Truth is. I converted and never looked back.
Only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches can make a legitimate historical claim as to being the Church established by Jesus.
Read the Patristic work closely…pay attention to the terminology used. They are talking about altars, adoring the Eucharist, the Mass as a sacrifice, baptismal regeneration and submission to the Bishops, etc, etc.
Thank you all for your help, and many thanks to the moderators for removing posts that were uncharitable. That is the last thing I need, or want.
I didn’t have the time yet to read everything, but I do have a few thoughts.
Both the Eastern Orthodox and the RC church claim to be the original. But historically the EO and the RCC were one church until they began to seriously drift apart in the 700-800’s. The splitting of them into two distinct churches didn’t occur until 1054 AD.
The quote from Sheen - Orthodoxy would fit all the criteria he outlines as well as the RCC. In fact in a lot of places in the world today it could apply to Christianity in general.
The Church Fathers contradict each other, or various church teachings, often enough to be seriously problematic. RC, EO & Protestant sources all can quote the Fathers that back their various beliefs.
Confession in the EO and RCC is a frequent necessity and a requirement for Church membership. But it wasn’t that way in the early church.
The Immaculate conception is a dogma now. But St Thomas Aquinas doubted it was true.
Papal infallibility wasn’t a required belief for any Catholic before 1870, but it is today. Thomas More was a papal minimalist who never believed that the churches authority rested in any individual. John Fisher never committed himself to the teaching. Why are they saints and someone holding their views today is not considered a good Catholic?
The modern doctrine of Sola Scriptura wasn’t found in the early Church, but it has changed since the Reformation.
Is the rock the church is founded on Peter, Peter’s confession, or Christ. There are strong arguments for each interpretation.
I am continually frustrated in my desire to identify the “one true church”. Every source, except polemical ones, can be used to support multiple beliefs. I sometimes wonder if it is even possible for any institutional entity to be the “one true Church”. It seems they all vary, to a greater or lesser degree, from both original Christianity and from their own history.
I know that the Bible says that the gates of Hell would not prevail, but perhaps that isn’t about institutions - but about faith in Christ.
Please don’t look upon any of this as an attempt to be argumentative - it’s really not that. It is an honest search and I do appreciate any help.
This granny is more snarky than wise. I would suggest starting with these three truths.
God as Creator exists.
God as Creator interacts personally with each individual human.
Every individual human has the inherent capacity to interact with God as Creator.
In your opening post you mentioned “I’ve asked God more than once where I’m supposed to be, but so far He’s been silent on the subject.” Therefore, you are comfortable with truth 3. For you, truth 1 is a no brainer. At this point, having a silent God Who apparently has the capability of listening is a big step in the right direction. I kid you not.
Loving the Creator of the world’s beauty, especially the beauty of endless stars, is a gift to our magnificent Creator. You are interacting with God. This brings us to the question based on point 2. How does God interact personally with each individual human, especially you?
Personally, I believe in the historic existence of Adam and Eve; therefore, I constantly refer to the truths flowing from the first three amazing chapters of Genesis.
Here is God’s primary interaction with yourself. Genesis 1: 27 usccb.org/bible/genesis/1
“Then God said: Let us make* human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
Being in the image of God refers to our rational spiritual soul. Even with our material decomposing anatomy, we are now a “spiritual” being.
Paragraphs 355-356, [FONT=Arial]Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition say: [/FONT] scborromeo.org/ccc/para/355.htm scborromeo.org/ccc/para/356.htm
**CCC 355 **“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is “in the image of God”; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created “male and female”; (IV) God established him in His friendship.
**CCC 356 **Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”. He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity:
[INDENT]The following paragraph in small print is from St. Catherine of Siena
What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.
It should be common sense, with all the great truths above, that God would have some kind of physical organization to help humans know Him. We need to remember that God gave humans the gift of intellective free choice. Humans could choose to reject God. With His wisdom, God did give us a proper church. John 3: 16-17 and chapter 14, Gospel of John.
However, the road to that church had some pot holes. The first human Adam rejected God by his freely chosen disobedience. To understand the truth of the road to the Catholic Church, we have to return to the first three chapters of Genesis.
Have you heard of the development of doctrine? It’s important for understanding why the Church sometimes waits centuries to declare as doctrine what has been believed/practiced long before. Not everything was explicitly revealed to the Apostles by Christ–one of the reasons he promised them that the Holy Spirit would “guide them into all truth.” If they already had all the truth, why would the Holy Spirit need to guide them? Evidence of this development of doctrine is found in Acts 15 with the First Council of Jerusalem in which the Apostles had to decide if circumcision was needed for Gentile converts, among other issues.
Scholars/theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas speculate about many theological issues, but they don’t have the authority to declare anything as doctrine. That is up to the Magisterium of the Church (the bishops in union with the pope). Certainly the Magisterium reads/listens to theologians, but the final decision is theirs only.
As for everything promised by Christ being for all believers and not limited to the ministerial priesthood, that is not determined by biblical interpretation alone. Indeed, the NT did not come before the founding of the Church and the Church operating with the authority Christ gave to her. Again, witness how although the Apostles consulted Scripture in making their decision regarding circumcision, they didn’t slavishly stick to the text, but saw that it was no longer necessary since Christ has fulfilled the law. Even so, many Judaizers, as St. Paul called them, tried to go on saying that circumcision was needed. So even in the very first days of the Church people were trying to usurp the Apostles’ authority, but that authority held for centuries until Christianity had spread and become powerful, with emperors now in the mix. In those centuries some tried to make the Church bend to their will. The result is the Church withstood several heresies, Arianism being the strongest one that nearly swamped the true faith. There’s a long and complex history involved, but it all boils down to authority–who has it from Christ and who doesn’t.
The Orthodox are recognized as having valid sacraments, etc. but the Church considers them in schism over papal authority and other issues. That all rests on whether or not Christ gave Peter the “keys of the kingdom” as his chief steward, or not. If he did, then the Church’s claim to being the Church Christ founded is correct. If not, I fear no one can make that claim–not even the Orthodox since it would mean there is no steward of God only bishops who can decide anything they want on their own. And if that is true, there would be no way to know which of them had the authority to make decisions for all, for there are not many truths, but only the Truth–which Christ passed down to Peter and the Apostles with Peter the one with the final say in matters of faith and morals.