It is often that people question if they’re religion is right. How can a Catholic defend his or her faith, without using fallacious arguments, such as circular reasoning? I have some experience in this, and this is more to help a friend who is beginning to get interested in apologetics. Perhaps some links would be helpful, too.
To start with, I’d ask you what such proof would look like (for any religion).
I think the real question is, even if you make some (Edited) fine arguments, can we ever REALLY know? I mean, it comes down to faith. I know what I believe in; you know what you believe in; everyone else believes in what they believe in. Whether we’re all right or all wrong is pretty much between us and God. I think what you have to ask is “Do I believe what I believe in is right in my heart?” That’s pretty much the only thing you can do.
I’d start with truth. God is Truth and the source of all truth. Truth can’t contradict truth. The idea that all religions/denominations etc are equal is wrong. So truth must be found somewhere. That’s when I’d go to the four marks of the Church. Only the Catholic Church can back it’s claim. Anyone can find an excuse not to believe, but they can’t find true reason not to.
Don’t all religions/denominations offer some truth in them, though?
Well I would exclude Satanism - but many religions/denominations offer some truth because the truth is written on our hearts when our souls are created.
God first revealed Himself to Abraham, and Jesus brought us into the fullness of faith by founding His Church.
Of course, every stopped clock is right twice a day, (once a day if it is a 24 hour clock). But you wouldn’t rely on it to check the time of day.
So just in the same way every religion sometimes has an element of truth in it, but you can never rely on them for Salvation, just as you would never rely on a stopped clock for the time. If you are very fortunate yes you can point out the truth, or the correct time at certain times but that doesn’t really count for much except that it points to the fact that truth can be known. Only the Catholic Church offers that fact that it can be known infallibly and only the Catholic Church affirms a loving good God who cares about truth.
Or else, it is all just opinion, it doesn’t matter what you believe, God doesn’t care about truth and He is evil as truth doesn’t matter. This of course is nonsense but it is what many people believe these days.
Now if you tell them it is nonsense they wont listen to you, so you need to find a comfortable approach to share truth and break people away from their lies to themselves and to God.
Ha, even Satanism offers some truths, like Satan is the representation of selfishness and carnal pleasures. I mean, those things aren’t good, but, they’re true, no?
you need to really be careful with the logic “Whether we are right or wrong depends on you and god”. This is nothing short of relativism.
There are defiantly things that are or never were taught, but somehow are now.
For example… Prosperity Gospel… People hold deep to this idea as truth, but it is no where found in scripture and is easily countered.
It isn’t a matter of it’s right for them, it is false through and through. there are a number of other theological issues that are plainly false, and easily shown as false… yet are taught as truth…
Would you want to say its between you and god? A Church, any church is responsible for guiding… but it is up to us to do the homework.If you think you are going to learn even remotely enough because you spend one hour in church and two hours in bible study a week you are wrong…
Being a Christian isn’t just hard to do in terms of actions and life style… it is also a life long learning experience…
Saying they believe what they believe and I believe what i believe and we are all ok is a devils argument…
There is truth…
We just have to look
Some truth is not what God calls you to seek. God calls you to seek Him, He is all truth. Getting back to the OP, the answer is in our history, Gods relationship with us. How He communicates with us. The Old Testament is a fair place to start. A good book, short and sweet is A Guide to the Bible, by Antonio Fuentes, shop.catholic.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/online-store/scstore/p-B0125.html?E+scstore
That is true, even the Mob shows honesty in counting their own money. So yes we can affirm that truth exists in many elements outside the Catholic Church, even truths concerning evil and dealing with it.
We’re becoming just as rigid as a lot of Protestant religions, though. We can never know entirely that we’re right, or else you’re lying to yourself. We can believe, we can have faith, we can feel that God exists, and we can see Him in most things, but, that doesn’t mean other people can’t see Him in different ways, too.
There’s absolute truth in the universe: God exists, or He doesn’t, that’s truth. There is a right and there is a wrong, there either is or is not a Heaven. However, just because we’re Catholic doesn’t mean we’re the exclusive holders of that truth. The church has been wrong on some things, just as other religions have been wrong on some things, but if you look, all religions do the same thing: look for the truth, and that’s what Catholicism is–the search for the truth, and the search for God. We can’t condemn other people and say they’re wrong because they’re looking for God, too.
Our Church was founded by God Himself, and has existed in a line of apostolic succession leading directly to St. Peter. No other religion or protestant denomination can make that claim.
Thinking that all opinions are equal, that we shouldn’t step on toes, and that we should never judge are all issues of plausibility. There is an excellent essay on plausibility here:
Hmm, this is news to me, what has the Church been dogmatically wrong about? I am sure there have been plenty of practices where people, Priests, and Bishops have sinned but I have never seen anybody prove the Church to ever have been wrong on any official teaching.
Everyone who holds the same truth of God are in essence Catholic as it is the revelation of God.
You are right we shouldn’t condemn anybody, yet we can certainly point out where people are wrong, we just need to do it in a way that doesn’t push them away, but brings them to truth.
We can know we’re entirely right. If you believe the Bible, you know He promised the leaders of His Church would be led to all truth. Not every single individual, just the leadership and the leader. Not in everything they say and do, but just in relationship with Him. The teaching must be in regards to Scripture either oral or written, or Christian morals, and it must be proclaimed as infallible by the pope in his official position as leader of the Church.
They never claimed to be, actually they affirm just the opposite. However they alone are guarded from teaching error. A Christian Church that officially teaches that consumption of alcohol is a sin teaches in error. A Christian Church that teaches excessive consumption (gluttony) of alcohol is a sin would not be in error.
No actually on matters of faith, Scripture and morals, it has never been wrong in its official infallible teaching.
Where do you get the misguided impression that we condemn other people?
1 Timothy 3:15
"But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth."
God is not a matter of opinion. When He revealed His name, He said “I AM.” It doesn’t matter who or what you and I think God is, because HE IS. The Church doesn’t claim to hold ALL TRUTH. That is why we have MYSTERY. But we do have the Truth that God entrusted us with. That is our point of reference short of revelation.
Partial truth (eg that there is a God) does not equate equal standing in truth. Other religions reject the idea of the real presence in the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, we can certainly say, and it is our duty to say that Jesus is there in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. To say that there is a degree of uncertainty turns that “yes” into a “maybe.” I don’t believe in “maybes.” Either Jesus died for our sins, or He didn’t. There is no maybe.
Even St. Paul praised the Greeks in his letters to them, but that is a far cry from him approving the totality of their beliefs.
God has blessed us with Faith and Reason. These two help us to stand more firmly in the Truth.
But, see, this is just opinion. What the OP is saying is that it cannot be proven. When we die we can ask God and he can tell us but we can’t come back and tell anyone else. So no matter what you base your faith on, it is just that: faith. This is true of all religion. No one can really prove the Bible came from God, for example. All of the arguments are faith-based. So, as the OP said, the arguments are by necessity circular. We can be convinced but we can over no objective proof. That is why some folks are agnostic or atheist.
The existence of God cannot be proved through the scientific method, but it can be proved philosophically. I recommend Dr. Peter Kreeft’s writings on this topic under the heading “Arguments for God’s Existence” found here:
Interesting question, “How do we know we are right?”
IMO God is the only true source of Truth and God has revealed His Truth in His written Word.