I’ve been attending Mass for a few years now and have been studying Catholicism at every turn. About two years ago I came to a point where I realized I believe all the basics of “Apostolic Christianity”, some examples including:
*]the necessity of Apostolic Succession of said Bishops
*]the divine institution of the Sacraments
*]the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
*]the communion (and intercession) of Saints, and
*]the special position of the Blessed Virgin as God-bearer.
Thing is, it seems I’ve sort of reached a road-block. If these beliefs were held uniquely by the Catholic Church, then I would’ve been baptized two years ago, but She isn’t the only church that professes these beliefs. Furthermore, the Catholic Church admits that valid Sacraments exist in other churches. I’ve read countless pieces by both Orthodox and Catholic apologists and I honestly cannot reason out which side is correct. It’s not that I don’t believe in the supreme jurisdiction of the Papacy, rather I don’t know what I should believe about it. Both sides make compelling arguments.
Once I get past the issues around the Papacy, the other controversies don’t even seem serious enough for consideration to me (honestly, isn’t the Filioque controversy a huge tempest in a teapot!?). I believe that the souls of the saved undergo purification before the Beatific Vision, but whether this is done through Purgatory or through Toll Houses is inconsequential to me. I believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is in Heaven, body and soul, but I quite frankly don’t care whether she physically died and then was assumed or if she was assumed without tasting death. I do believe Jesus is substantively present in the Eucharist, but I don’t give two hoots about how he does it or that it needs to have the theological definition of “transubstantiation” to explain it. To be perfectly honest, I read the writings of the Church Fathers and when I compare them to both the Catholic and Orthodox churches, I see their teachings in both, but further clouded by two thousand years of superfluous theological window dressing.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have this worked out, so what can I do about my Salvation? I’m still unbaptized, and neither church will baptize me until I can honestly and firmly assert that I fully believe everything that said church teaches. Is there some point at which one should just give in and randomly pick one church to baptize him without yet any real firm resolve to join that church? Should I just split the difference and have a Protestant baptize me so that I can at least be baptized, then continue fleshing out the differences between the Catholic and Orthodox churches?