Four reasons I'm doubting

Dear friends, I’ve been doubting my faith a lot lately, and I am just going to list the reasons and hope some people can help me

  1. Trent said that nobody can know for sure the state of their soul unless they have a direct revelation from God. This seems to be clearly erroneous. What about if somebody was baptized as a baby and knows that they haven’t committed a mortal sin; mortal sin requires full consent, so we know what we commit them. Also, Trent teaches here that one cannot know if they have repented sufficiently. But the Bible says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive us. Isn’t it obvious that a person can know that they’ve repented all the way in their hearts? It’s not very hard to know when that’s happened.

  2. Trent also teaches that a person cannot be forgiven without confession for mortal sin unless they are sorry for the sin because they love God. This also seems clearly wrong. A person can completely repent of his sin because he loves virtue and his conscience, even if he doesn’t know God

  3. Jesus said that if somebody has faith the size of a mustard seed, he could cast mountains into oceans. I have faith, and yet I cannot do with, as millions and millions of other believers cannot

  4. Finally, why would an all-powerful, good, just God allow babies and children to be raped and tortured?

For your first two questions, I’d recommend supplementing your understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In other words, don’t just draw from Trent. Read Scripture and more accessible texts which will help unpack what Trent is trying to convey.

For number 3, remember that Scripture must not always be interpreted on the most literal level. Read Dei Verbum - a short document which discusses, among other things, the proper way to read and interpret Scripture.

Your last question restates the infamous “problem of evil” which I’m sure has been dealt with in countless other threads. I recommend seeking out some of those to see what others have offered.

On your “faith of a mustard seed” doubt: I hope I’m not presumptuous here but it’s possible that you may not have faith at this level yet. I have struggled with this one for many years and I realize that my critical mind has taken up a lot of space; where’s the room to start planting that seed?

But having doubts and a critical mind are not bad in itself. That is how most of us come to true faith. Just keep your heart and mind open to the answers. I see by the structure of your questions that some information is missing or assumed. You might want to talk with a priest or R.C.I.A. director. And find a good one. You deserve some good answers.

perhaps might help is a book by Thomas Merton-life and holiness…(see my recommendation below on this book)
it can be found on line as a google search…

per each of your concerns-these might could be answered, as made into a question with some reading in this book-the book is written in very easy to understand language…- i end with a solution to your doubt…at the risk of giving you more doubt-not really because… you may re-prioritize the four points-then even by tomorrow-re-do one or two…or add another.

doubt is a terrible feeling- i know…i wonder if american society has something to do with it…(every one needs a solution to live in society yet live apart from it) doubt feels…like you need a bit extra fuel…yet more info tends to burn your mind…knowing full well…something is wrong…that something missing’ feeling…’ ; if there was only a phrase-or one word, or concept to bridge the gap…If not- doubt is dividing your attention/when you know that there must be a living God somewhere; and the natural inquiry -where is He? this being problematic to prayer …doubt means a period of dry prayer/unfruitful prayer, .
I offer evidence…of course…Faith could be two fold/ you have one version set in stone and unchanging compared to another tailor made-just right for you…as these are weighted at the exact moment of prayer…
as doubt diminished; so to, prayer would be flexible-much like a sea sponge-if found dry; it is brittle/but if found pliable-it has been soaked/ … the soul is such a sponge-The Lord soaks into you suggesting prayer is an action of forces unseen, being flexible, shrinking to the moment of being loved in the divine sense-by actions of the Holy Spirit; as number five might be added to the list, inquiry five Per solving doubt with God’s answer, the #5 .“the Holy spirit is flexible to rely-He does the work…I desire it all greatly…”

1.& 2. The church was told “whose sins you forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, they are retained.” Trent is exorcising this right since it is the pope and bishops who have the right to say when sin is forgiven. The power is with the church who also has the right to say who is forgiven. The church also has the right to interpret the bible the way it should be. For a book cannot interpret itself.

  1. “mountains into oceans”…has anyone…anyone done this? Not to my knowledge. Maybe Jesus is saying this to get our attention and to say that faith is necessary if anything worthwhile is going to be accomplished. Using a mountain is just illustrating a point similar to plucking out your eye if it leads you into sin… a way of speaking.


Now as to doubts.

I will say that there is a difference between a question and a doubt.
A question is the mind searching to understand the faith, but does not question the truth of it.
A doubt is the mind questioning whether the article of faith is true until understood.

“Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand.
For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.”
St. Anselm of Canterbury

From Saint Augustine: “Understanding is the reward given by faith. Do not try to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand.”

For example, to speculate, “I wonder if Jesus is really present in Eucharist,” is to question the truthfullness of Jesus and deny his authority. But to say, “I wonder just how Jesus is really present in the Eucharist,” is a question to understand “how” after the fact of belief.

On the other hand the devil may present someone with the thought, “You really don’t believe that He could possibly be present because that would certainly be below His dignity.” Now the person has to decide. Do I reaffirm my belief or do I doubt and hesitate and begin to wonder. The person must respond, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.” He cannot say, “well I need more time to consider this,” or “I’m not so sure, I should be careful,
there are others who don’t think this.”

And also the true faith must be complete. It would be foolish to suppose that we can pick
and choose among the things God has told us according to our particular taste. For example to say “I believe in being saved, but not in Baptism,” is to say that “God can be wrong.” And from this follows “why listen to God at all.”

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

Only God is perfectly omniscient–we can possibly delude ourselves about our contrition, whether we have sinned or not, etc. That is why only God is the Judge of our souls, we do not judge ourselves or others. Here’s what the Bible says:

[LEFT]1 Cor. 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.[/LEFT]

  1. Trent also teaches that a person cannot be forgiven without confession for mortal sin unless they are sorry for the sin because they love God. This also seems clearly wrong. A person can completely repent of his sin because he loves virtue and his conscience, even if he doesn’t know God

Why do you believe your last sentence? One must believe God exists in order to repent of one’s sins to God. Here’s what the Bible says:

[LEFT]Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.[/LEFT]

[LEFT]The Church also teaches, however, that God will lead those innocently ignorant of God, who do love virtue and seek the truth with an upright conscience, to that faith without which it is impossible to please Him.[/LEFT]

  1. Jesus said that if somebody has faith the size of a mustard seed, he could cast mountains into oceans. I have faith, and yet I cannot do with, as millions and millions of other believers cannot

Why do you need to cast mountains into oceans?

Our Lord grants miracles to those with a very strong faith when it will bring about a greater good (the mustard seed is not meant to be something little, but something simple which contains all the necessary potency within it–as such, it is a perfect faith, not a weak faith–this is how many Fathers interpret it, such as St. Jerome).

The point is that nothing is impossible for God, and the mountain signifies great difficulties, especially spiritual ones which effect our soul. Pray for a faith strong enough to cast out your doubts, which will bring you more good than destroying a mountain.

  1. Finally, why would an all-powerful, good, just God allow babies and children to be raped and tortured?

As has been mentioned, there are many threads about this. In addition, here is an article:

  1. Joan of Arc Quote: “If i am not in state of Grace, may God put me there, and If I am may god Keep me in it.”

  2. A person to be saved must accomplish the 10 commandments, so it is not enough to be saved to be a good person, he must also accomplish the 10 commandments, the first one is: “Love god above all things and the next as yourself.” Because imagine the following case: “One can regret and feel sorry for doing a bad thing and still goes to hell if he chooses it.” So it is not enough to absolution to be saved, one must also chooses heaven and love God.

  3. Jesus said many times: “if you ask something in my name i will do it.” but he also many times, specially in the Our Father prayer said: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” , “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” so we can conclude that Jesus want us to do both things, to ask things but also to want God’s will, so you must ask yourself: “A mountain going to the ocean will help in my salvation? And others salvation?” I think our will must be also God’s will.

  4. About the problem of evil, i think the bible doesn’t solve the problem of evil, and doesn’t explain why we suffer, nor i think jesus came to this world to solve the problem of evil, but i think the bible gives us a sense of our suffering, i would recommend you read more articles about it, see the explanation of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in his movie to the problem of evil at 3:03:31

I’m a Catholic and fully believe but one of the hardest things is that the Catholic Church teaches that the only moment that matters in my life is that last moment and my state. Sometimes it brings doughs because its hard to believe God is that cold - that only the last moment counts The Church does not assure salvation like the Protestant church does - its always been a hard teaching for me because my life is pointless except that last moment - it weighs heavily on me - I am a sinner - we all are. I can see how Prodestants can feel peace of mind believing in Christ - ours is a difficult road and we must always be on guard against sin. So any Protestant whos says Catholics believe we are saved by works couldn’t be more wrong - as its taught Salvation comes on your final state when you die not anything you have ever done in your life or how you have lived - if you mess up at the last moment all is lost.

If I’m wrong please correct me.

I am going to try to weigh in; I ask that you further verify and research what I have written below.

No Church or faith can assure salvation. Just because one is Protestant and believes in God, he is not assured of salvation. Even if the Protestant has that ‘peace of mind’ of salvation he doesn’t have a guarantee of Heaven. Even if that Church says that one is ‘saved’ and assured of salvation doesn’t make it true.

Yes, I do believe that Catholics do have a greater burden, because we have the fullness of the Faith, of the Church. Luke 12:48 “…And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.” To whom much has been given, much will be expected.

I will let someone else comment on the final moment of life before death, for that is something I don’t feel comfortable expounding on, due to my still learning.

Rather than four reasons, I believe that is is because of four tactics used against you that you are doubting:

I understand where you are coming from. And you’re not wrong in the sense that it is true, until the last moment, we have a choice to either repent and turn to God, or reject Him, and that choice determines our eternal destiny. However, I think you are looking at it from the wrong perspective though, and that might be what’s causing the confusion. Because this fact doesn’t actually make God cold or unfair, but exactly the opposite. (I recommend reading Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about this very situation.)

Couple thoughts to consider that might help:

  1. As you know, for anyone to go to hell, they have to die in unrepentant mortal sin. We can’t accidentally commit one either. For a sin to be mortal there are 3 conditions: 1.) The sin must be grave matter. 2.) We have to know what we’re about to do is grave. And 3.) we have to freely do it anyway. So it’s really not possible for us to “mess up” so to speak, at the last moment, because mortal sin by definition is a willful, conscious rejection of God.

  2. I think the big issue here that is causing you to stumble is looking at heaven as something that we deserve by what we do. If we spend our lives doing good, and then at the last minute commit one mortal sin, why should we go to hell? But actually, our eternal destiny comes down to love. To choice. What do we love? Do we love God? Then we’ll spend eternity with Him. Or do we love ourselves? Then ourselves is also what we get for eternity.

When we start seeing it like this, all our actions as a choice - for love…for God, or for ourselves - than we can start to make sense of things. If at the last moment of our lives we reject God, we choose ourselves above Him, (again that’s what mortal sin does, it’s not an accident.) how can we expect to be with Him in Heaven? It’s not that God doesn’t want us and is being legalistic, and cold, but rather that we don’t want Him. And He loves us enough that He won’t force Himself on us.

Let’s look at it from the opposite end of the spectrum though. He loves us and wants us to be with Him so badly, that He’ll settle for the tiniest mustard seed of faith and love we can give Him. It could be the very last second, but He doesn’t care, He’ll still take it! To me, that kind of love is awesome and mind blowing. :yup:

This in no way makes all our choices or actions before the end meaningless though. The more good we do, the more grace we cooperate with, the more we choose God, the easier it becomes. So that at that final moment, after a lifetiime of consistently choosing God, we won’t fall away. Our actions and choices are like training for a race, in fact that’s exactly how St. Paul describes it:

Do you not know that in a race, all the runners compete, but only the winner takes the prize? So run that you might obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after having preached to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:24-27)

Even Paul recognized he could fall away. That shouldn’t cause us to worry or doubt, but to take seriously our faith and our actions, and to nurture it.

As far as Protestants having it easier. That’s not really the case. Most believe if you’re truly saved, then you will never fall away or sin seriously. If you do sin seriously or fall away, then that means you were never really saved to begin with. Even if you have a genuine conversion experience, there’s no way to know for sure you’re saved because it could be temporary. This isn’t much assurance or peace at all. In fact, it ends up being less than what Catholics have. It puts everything in doubt.

We can and do have assurance and peace of mind as Catholics, in the sacraments. When we go to confession, we can know for certain we are forgiven. We have such a gift there.

Is this an absolute metaphysical certainty that we will persevere and end up in heaven? No, but no one has that, not even Paul. But the sacraments are sure conduits of grace that God gave for our benefit. The surest there are in fact. We should use them as much as possible. :thumbsup:

On your 1)
Babies don’t know anything about sinning and repentance.
The Bible doesn’t JUST say ‘if we confess our sins, God is faithful and He’ll forgive us’!! Don’t try and HOLD God to a snippet of His word and ignore the rest of what He says!
No man can know ‘sufficient repentance’ - otherwise we’d be able to ‘measure’ God!
God’s business is God’s business.

On your 2)
A man may completely repent of his sin because he loves virtue and his conscience, even if he doesn’t know God but that doesn’t mean he’s forgiven!
We TRUST that this man may be forgiven, BUT that is God’s business!

On your 3)
If faith the seize of a mustard seed can cast mountains to the sea (as you say) then you do not have it!..since you would be casting mountains to the sea…with the added bonus of UNDERSTANDING the faith you now doubt!

On your 4)
IF God does NOT allow free-will, then He should not allow ANY will!
The horrors you describe IS NOT the end result of your examples!
Again, God’s business is God’s business!

Trent - is speaking to the faithful without DEFINING or LIMITING God’s business!


You are wrong! (You’ve been corrected)

  1. You are referring to Chapter 9 and Chapter 12 of the Decree on Justification. Chapter 9 is that we cannot know with absolute certainty that we are in a state of grace. What it was written against is basically the idea that “saving faith is believing that your sins are forgiven.” It explicitly states that neither God’s mercy nor the efficacy of the sacraments are to be doubted, but that we should not rashly presume forgiveness. The reason we believe that babies are innocent of actual sin is because they lack the use of reason, so babies could not reason their way to believe they are with certainty in a state of grace or among the elect. After someone baptized is capable of reason, it is not impossible for them to be deluded about their sinfulness either by rationalizing away the sinfulness of their actions or convincing themselves that they have contrition for sins which they are not truly sorry for.

What Chapter 12 is saying is that no one should claim absolute certainty about their own predestination.This is a problem (I would say an even worse one) even among Protestants who believe that Christians can never fall from grace because they still can be delusional. A Baptist who believes in "once saved, always saved’ might “accept Jesus as their personal savior” as a child and then have a conversion experience later in life and decide that they didn’t really understand what they were doing the first time. Because you can only “get saved” once and they know that they really “got saved” the second time, the first time obviously didn’t count and they weren’t saved until the second time. Calvin also acknowledges the problem of those who seem to have faith and fall away in his Institutes (Book III, Chapter 2). Calvin goes so far as to say that God illumines them not with true faith, but just enough that he deludes them enough truly believe they have repented and received forgiveness only “the better to convict them” when they fall away. The Council of Trent on the other hand was only asserting that we cannot have absolute certainty of our predestination because the possibility remains of falling from grace if we sin.

  1. Christ entrusted the keys of binding and loosing to the Church. He said to the Apostles, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” God could forgive us apart from confession, but he elected by his sovereign choice to bind the forgiveness of sins to the sacraments of the Church. That is not to say that no one can be forgiven apart from confession (it is taught that perfect contrition and an intent to make a sacramental confession as soon as possible is sufficient), but we should not presume that God ought to forgive us our sins when we will not even make any effort to follow his commandments.

For people who don’t “know God,” there is even less reason to presume forgiveness. Scripture states that “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). What good is it to pursue what we think is good when it is not subject to a love of God, who is Goodness itself? Pursuing good apart from God is only going after a shadow, as Paul says in Romans, serving the creature more than the creator. Christ explicitly states that the obligation to love God is the greatest commandment of all.

  1. The context of that saying is that the Apostles were unable to exorcise a boy. Christ was not saying that moving rocks around is how we should measure our faith, but that difficult things will not be possible without faith. In this case the mountain to be removed was the demon. Also, different gifts are given to different people (as it says in 1 Corinthians 12:4), so just because you are not able to cast Mount Everest into the Indian Ocean (as if this were a desirable goal) does not mean that you are faithless. God might just have another purpose for you.

  2. Good question!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit