First post...a few questions

First I apologize if this thread is not in the right spot. I have a few questions that I need the answers to and I hope I can be led to them. For starters I’m protestant but have been studying up on catholicism for about two years now off and on. My background is typical of many protestants. Grew up on a protestant family, attended many different churches, heard the usual warnings about the catholic faith etc…I started this research into catholicism two years ago when I got frustrated with not being able to find a church I can grow spiritually with. I am frustrated on how churches in general are not standing up for God’s laws and how they are compromising their own faith to appease society. Anyway to keep this fairly short, I have done enough research to know that most if not all the protestant claims against the church are not true. My questions have to do with authority and what Christ meant when he spoke of the church.

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

  2. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure? I heard both sides to this quesion and I know protestants believe in the invisible church etc…I heard protestant pasters say that yes they disagree on issues with other churches but that’s not a big deal. They say as long as you accept Christ that’s all that matters the rest is all theological debates and that God won’t hold it against us.

Anyway sorry again if I posted this in the wrong place but those questions have been bothering me. I do feel God is with me in this as I quest for answers and I have been praying for guidance. God bless!

Welcome to CAF :wave: As a convert I can relate to the misunderstandings you were taught as well as your concerns about churches giving way to the norms of society instead of the Gospel. I too searched a long time and did a lot of reading, praying, and discerning before I was received into the Catholic Church. So, welcome to the journey. I hope we can help sort some things out with you. :slight_smile:

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

Well, there is a difference between individuals discerning what God wants them to be/do and deciding matters of faith and morals for the whole of the Church. The very first challenge regarding faith and morals took place soon after the Church had been founded. The whole account is in Acts, specially in Acts 15, in which the first Church council was held at Jerusalem. All who gathered, Peter (head over all), James (the Bishop of Jerusalem), Paul and Barabbas, other Church leaders and those who were insisting that the Gentiles had to follow the precepts of the Law in order to be saved and be members of the Church. That council prayed, conferred, cited Scripture and then came to a decision that was binding on the whole Church everywhere. The Church has followed the same pattern ever since because Jesus gave the Church the right and the duty to make such determinations.

  1. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure? I heard both sides to this quesion and I know protestants believe in the invisible church etc…I heard protestant pasters say that yes they disagree on issues with other churches but that’s not a big deal. They say as long as you accept Christ that’s all that matters the rest is all theological debates and that God won’t hold it against us.

The answer is both/and. The Church is visible with a visible structure as well as spiritual and invisible. In the Nicene Creed we declare that we believe in what is visible and invisible. It’s invisible in that all who are baptized are united to the Church, even those imperfectly united, such as our Protestant brethren. But, there is a visible head and leaders the Church calls the Magisterium, made up of the Pope and all the bishops of the Church, whose authority came from Christ handed down through the Apostles. It’s all there in the NT for anyone to see who reads it without preconceived ideas about what consitutes leadership, how is it given and passed on.

Anyway sorry again if I posted this in the wrong place but those questions have been bothering me. I do feel God is with me in this as I quest for answers and I have been praying for guidance. God bless!

Questions in good faith are always welcome, so ask away. :tiphat: Indeed, God is with us as we search for answers. As you have cited, there are absolute truths that cannot be violated without violating the Gospel itself. The Church is well aware of this, which is why she maintains the same doctrines she has always taught and will do so until Jesus comes again.

You have my prayers in your discernment process. Please mention me, as well. :smiley:

Welcome. I converted from a Baptist background, so I understand some of what you are going through. Authority of the Church is a big one to understand.

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

We don’t know God’s will, that’s why Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into all truth. Knowing how God’s will is acting in our lives is something we will never fully understand, but the Church will be protected from ever teaching error on faith and morals.

  1. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure? I heard both sides to this quesion and I know protestants believe in the invisible church etc…I heard protestant pasters say that yes they disagree on issues with other churches but that’s not a big deal. They say as long as you accept Christ that’s all that matters the rest is all theological debates and that God won’t hold it against us.

If that belief is right, then why did Jesus command us to be one? Why did Jesus tell us if our brother is sinning, to take him to the Church? (How can we “take him to the church” if there are four churches on one city corner, each preaching something different?) Why would St. Paul tell Timothy that he would know how to behave, if he remained in the Church? (if there are many churches, how do you know which one to belong in? If the church can teach error, how will you know how to behave?)

Anyway sorry again if I posted this in the wrong place but those questions have been bothering me. I do feel God is with me in this as I quest for answers and I have been praying for guidance. God bless!

Keep asking questions, that’s what this message board is for!

Welcome! This the right spot to ask. :slight_smile:

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

“Decide” isn’t the right word here, but I’ll skip over that bit for now. It would have to have some authority to declare what is/isn’t God’s Will, wouldn’t it? Otherwise, no one would ever know what God’s Will truly is, because all you’d have are millions or billions of different personal opinions about what God’s Will is.

  1. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure?

Let’s see what the Bible says! And then we can apply some logical conclusions to what Scripture actually shows us. :slight_smile:
Which Church is THE Church that Christ Established?

They’re partially correct. We aren’t saved by being Catholic or Baptist or whatever. There is no theology quiz to get into heaven.

Catholics believe that we are saved by the Grace of Christian Baptism, and by nothing else - not faith, or works, or belief, or knowledge, or religious denomination, or “personal relationships” or by anything else.

If we die with our Baptismal Grace intact (in a “state of Grace”) then we are assured salvation, regardless of anything else.

It is possible to forfeit our Baptismal Grace through intentional and deliberate mortal sin. If we loose our sate of Grace, we cannot restore it through faith, or works, or belief, or knowledge, or religious denomination, or “personal relationships” or by anything else. We can restore it through the Grace of Sacramental Confession, and by nothing else.

Most protestants practice valid Christian Baptism in the eyes of the Catholic Church, so the Church teaches that most protestants attain saving (Baptismal) Grace. If a Baptized protestant avoids subsequent mortal sin, he is guaranteed salvation. He does not even need to sit on the Group-W Bench and fill out additional forms to get a waiver.

If a Baptized protestant commits mortal sin, however… well, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen, 'cause he ain’t got a lot of options.

Why is it not a big deal? Are there multiple truths for any given thing? Can you explain how an absolutely true and Divine thing such as the doctrines of faith, can be other than divine? Did I miss something? Shouldn’t we ask, "which true is truth?

JoeT

Thanks for all the kind replies. I will defiantly check out those posted readings recommended. And to answer Joe it was your point exactly that got me on the path to find out the truth for mysel. I mean every religious group or church can claim that they are led by the holy spiri. But when they can’t agree on what’s God’s will and basic theology then how can that be? I’ve also heard a lot of far fetched conspiracy theories that I heard some speakers use that claim the true church had to go into hiding while the church of Rome came into power. That’s why authority is important for me to understand and I’m glad I am close to the answers. I never felt that any church I attended ever had that.

I think you’ve got something backwards. Anybody can wield authority. Find the truth first and He will make known the authority. There is but one conclusion.

The Church in Rome never ‘came to power’, she was commissioned by Christ to teach and Baptize this is her ordained power; she only ‘came’ to reside in Rome. She was commissioned to teach a Divine Truth. Thus, she is a Divine organ as only the Divine can teach divinely. Like there is only one truth there is only one faith, one doctrine (body of divine knowledge), and one Church.

Without reservation we can say God is Truth. And without reservation we can say truth is immutable. We can continue on the nature of truth it is:

[LIST]
*]As God exists so too does an absolute and objective Truth exist. (see Summa Prima Q,2,3)
*]As God is Immutable so too is Truth immutable (see Summa Prima Q,9, 1).
*]As God is Eternal so too “God is His own uniform being; and hence as He is His own essence, so He is His own eternity.” thus Truth is eternal. (see Summa Prima Q,10 2)
*]As God is Spiritual. “…it follows that there is no accident in God” Whereby Truth is spiritual (see Summa Prima Q,3,3 & 6).
*]As God is unconstrained by space, time or matter so too is Truth unconfined by space, time or matter. (See Summa Prima Q,3,1).
*]As God is superior to man so too is God’s law (Divine law) is superior to man’s law (see PRIMA SECUNDÆ PARTIS Q,91,4).
[/LIST]
From which we can say that Truth is God and like God immutable and absolute.

The Psalms render a concise picture of God’s Truth:

I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments I have not forgotten. Psalm 118:30 (Truth is the measure by which we are judged)

And take not thou the word of truth utterly out of my mouth: for in thy words, I have hoped exceedingly. Psalm 118:43 (Truth is from God)

I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are equity: and in thy truth thou hast humbled me. Psalm 118:75 (Truth humbles our intellect)

All thy statutes are truth: they have persecuted me unjustly, do thou help me. Psalm 118:86 (Truth is dogmatic)

Thy truth unto all generations: thou hast founded the earth, and it continueth. Psalm 118:90 (Truth is eternal)

Thou hast commanded justice thy testimonies: and thy truth exceedingly. Psalm 118:138 (God’s justice is Truth)

Thy justice is justice for ever: and thy law is the truth. Psalm 118:142 (God’s law is Truth and unchanging). {This is particularly important given that we are judged by the same laws of God as Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, etc. The claim of modernists, all things change is untrue.}

Thou art near, O Lord: and all thy ways are truth. Psalm 118:151 (God’s ways are Truth)

The beginning of thy words is truth: all the judgments of thy justice are forever. Psalm 118:160 (God’s words are eternal)

When you find ‘the truth’ you’ll find God, you’ll find His Body which is the Church. Saying to Peter, “I will build my church [on you], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” was truth as well.

JoeT

Well if anyone gets into conflict with society and the government because of our stand for God and His laws it will definitely be us Catholics.:smiley:

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

Consider this…by what authority were you taught that? What if you disagree with them? Have a look at this CA tract. “What’s Your Authority?”

  1. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure? I heard both sides to this quesion and I know protestants believe in the invisible church etc…I heard protestant pasters say that yes they disagree on issues with other churches but that’s not a big deal. They say as long as you accept Christ that’s all that matters the rest is all theological debates and that God won’t hold it against us.

Here ya go. This should answer some of your questions as well as get you thinking.
How Do We Know It’s the True Church?

I can also recommend this from a very holy Catholic Bishop. Radio Replies Vol 1 - Bishop Sheen intro

Anyway sorry again if I posted this in the wrong place but those questions have been bothering me. I do feel God is with me in this as I quest for answers and I have been praying for guidance. God bless!

No biggie. We’re here for you. :thumbsup:

Thank you Joe. Very incitefull points. Just for the record I don’t personally believe all those protestant claims Against the church. I have discovered the flaws behind those false accusations. I began this journey with trying to find the truth without bias and in prayer. A year ago I had myself convinced I wanted to convert to catholic but I gave in to my own fears and went with what was comfortable and known to me. I’ll spare you the long story but a few months ago I felt a pull to go back into researching the catholic faith again. I find myself being drawn to this so I am taking this very seriously. Thank again for all the great comments.

I don’t believe any Protestant really believes these things, I think they ‘want’ to believe them to support their own consciences. After all, Catholicism is their root and trunk and if the root or trunk is rotten, then so too is any branch, .

JoeT

Thanks again everyone for your help. I read those links you all recommended and I found them very helpful. To answer Joe’s last comment, I certainly can’t speak for all protestants nor do I want to, but I think many of them are used to their own personal approach to their faith. It’s easy to overlook how the church started when you take the attitude of ‘what’s in the past is the past’. Whether or not the reformation was justified, it happened and here we are now. I grew up being taught that the holy spirit was with the reformation. Now we have many churches and protestants can pick and choose what church fits THEIR own tastes so to speak. If you don’t like what one paste preaches or you don’t like the music or you don’t feel comfortable with the congregation, you can simply find a church that fits your needs. It was that frustration that got me on this path to look into the catholic faith. It became too much about ME and not enough about God. Are we to go to church to please ourselves or to worship God in a manner that pleases him? It seems like as society changes the protestants churches have to change to keep people in the pews. If a pastor angers a congregation by preaching unpopular topics, then the pews will start to get empty and that pastor will be replaced by another one who will make people feel good again. I just don’t see authority with that. Some people get discouraged by that and get their ‘teaching’ from TV evangelists, which can be very harmful depending on who it is. A lot of people are looking for the answers looking for justification and there are a lot of false teachers out there. There is a saying …people will believe a falsehood or partial truth because they want it to be true or they fear it might be true. I think protestants want to believe they are justified in breaking from the catholic church and they fear the consequences if they change that belief. Like a double edged sword. I know I initially struggled with that when I first started questioning my own beliefs.

You raise some good points:

  1. Authority: This is extremely important. Who has it and why needs to be answered and understood. Jesus sent certain people whom he commissioned and ordained–the Apostles. Who did they send to represent them? On whom did they lay their hands for ministry? Is there such a thing as apostolic succession or not? Many Protestants side-step or explain these issues away, but they are vital.

In the Catholic Church the congregation doesn’t determine who will pastor them–the bishop does that. They may appeal, but usually the parish conforms itself to the senior pastor not the other way around. The God-given authority of the bishop trumps the feelings of those under his care, for like a good parent he needs to consider what is best for us not what is popular.

  1. Who is God? Many people worship their version of God instead of the real one, don’t they? One that conforms to their ideas about who and what God is. Catholics can and do fall into this trap, as well, but it’s not institutionalized the way it is in many Protestant churches. God is God and may do as he pleases. This is the teaching of the Catholic Church. He makes the rules, not us. He directs as he sees fit and chooses whom he pleases to do his will. This idea can be hard for modern people to fully accept because we are so used to picking and choosing what pleases us. The Church stands against this idea even when her own people are confused on this issue.

  2. Willingness to know the truth. A great many Protestant people sincerely believe they have the fullness of truth within their faith communities. They were brought up in their beliefs, learned it from those they trusted and have never considered that there is any other way of thinking. At least, that’s how it was when I was growing up a few decades ago. Now, more and more people have no faith community and don’t care if they know “the truth” because it has no relevance to their lives. They don’t believe there is such a thing as “the truth” only wishy-washy “truth that works for me.”

The desire to know the truth and live by it is a grace that God gives us. It is latent in most people, but they ignore it or push it aside as unobtainable. This is why we pray daily that hearts will be opened to know the truth and to live it. This is very hard in an age in which self-indulgence has become the highest goal of most, and the truths, when taught/preached, are openly ridiculed by the common man, not merely the haughty elite. Decades of tearing down the authority and truths of the Church by some within it and many outside it have done their job all too well.

All of us who care about the truth and wish to see as many brought to it as possible have our job cut out for us. I see you are one of those who are striving to do that. Welcome to the fight. Many God direct you deeper and deeper into his truth and grace.

You do know there is a very simple solution? Simply go to Mass. (I’m assuming you’ve never been to a Catholic Mass.)

First go to a week day Mass, then after you’ve gone a few times go to a Sunday Mass. Particularly notice, the central position of the communion, the Holy Eucharist. Notice, that the Scriptures are read, notice that their is participation of the pew warmers, notice that prayers are said for the Church, the Pope, the Bishops, and the laity and of course ‘thanksgiving’.

Then formulate questions. Such as “what just happened!”

JoeT

They could make that claim, but they don’t. I don’t know of any protestant Church that claims to be infallibly led by the Holy Spirit.

Not to nitpick but Jesse didn’t make that claim, either, only that every church claims to be led by the Holy Spirit–not that they all claim to be infallibly led. And that’s part of the problem Jesse sees–that they have no authority to be claiming anything at all since the promise of infallibility wasn’t made to all and sundry, but only to the Church Christ founded.

  1. If there was one church Christ established did this church have authority to decide what was God’s will even though I was taught we sometimes don’t know God’s will.

This same church decided what books were going to be in the bible in the first place. If you believe the bible was Gods will then why would the Church who God worked through to establish such a thing not be authoritative?

  1. Did Christ mean church as a group of believers united in him when he said he would build his church on Peter or was it a physical structure? I heard both sides to this quesion and I know protestants believe in the invisible church etc…I heard protestant pasters say that yes they disagree on issues with other churches but that’s not a big deal. They say as long as you accept Christ that’s all that matters the rest is all theological debates and that God won’t hold it against us.

Jesus said that the unity of Christians would be objective evidence to the world that He had been sent by God (John 17:20-23). How can the world see an invisible “unity” that exists only in the hearts of believers?

If the unity of Christians was meant to convince the world that Jesus was sent by God, what does the ever-increasing fragmentation of Protestantism say to the world?

Yea I meant that you could ask any pastor at any church if their church is led by the holy spirit and he would say yes. It’s not like he is going to say no and send people for the doors so they can find one that is. That tied into my point about things being individualized for many church goers. If you find a church you do like that meets your needs then you conclude that it must be the holy spirit that led you there to the place you need to be.

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