Is faith from parents really faith?


#1

This is an interesting question that has popped into my head and won’t go away. Especially given my history of becoming an ‘Apostate’ from the (non-Catholic) religion in which I was born into, I am not sure how to answer it.

I can illustrate by using a real quote -
“I never had choice about becoming Catholic, my parents told me I would be when I was little and I am”

This was told to me by a current Catholic. She had a certain smugness about her faith over those of others - she was lucky and priviledged to be born into the faith - it was obviously right. The quote and way in which she said it also gave me the impression she had never challenged it.

Born in the United States, chances are that you have parents that told you a couple things. These would include: God is real, Jesus died for our sins, the Bible is God’s word. Born in India, you are taugh Hindu. Born in Pakistan, you are taught Islam.

Yes, people are entering RCIA all the time. But, how many of those are really just exchanging brands of Christianity or returning to the church for family ties? To make the jump from Baptist to Catholic is not as far as it might seem.

I realize a basic definition of faith would say that anyone believing in God does. But, when we are all conditioned and programmed to have these beliefs - can we really say they are real? I can teach a dog to be quiet and bow it’s head during a prayer, but it’s not really praying.

Anyway, my questions to this forum:

  • If one church really is THE church, how can I accept that as true seperated from my experience and teaching?
  • If someone has faith only because “my parents told me too”, how can God possibly be more accepting of them than someone who’s parents told them to do something else?
  • How can you judge someone as being wrong when your faith is ‘right’ simply because it’s what society and events have brought you to believe?

The product of my faith is simply a rejection of my parents. When I considered joing RCIA classes and moving in that direction, this problem prompted itself - had I really found what was right or was I simply rebranding my parent’s teachings under something new…


#2

Good stuff.

I am teaching my children Catholicism. They will know enough to keep your average anti-Catholic from swaying them with the usual stuff.

Once they are on their own, they can reject God, the Church, me, their mother, or anything else. But while I’m the boss, they will be Catholic. They will have a foundation to come back to if need be.

While drifting around in agnosticism, I began to realize that anything good about me came from the Church, either directly or through my parents.

If the whole God thing is a lie, Catholic teaching still made me a better person for my short time on this Earth.


#3

Well, don’t you accept that the area of a circle is pi x radius squared just because your math teacher told you so?
Or that e = mc squared just because Einstein (via your science teachers) told you so?
Or that antibiotics will cure your sore throat just because your doctor tells you?
Or that a particular outfit looks good on you because (usually one or two) people tell you so?

In life we rightly place credence in people who have more or different experience or knowledge, or better taste maybe, than us. I know my parents, I know they’re both intelligent and sane, about all manner of things, so I give them some credit when they say Catholicism is the way to go.

But more than that, Catholicism (or any faith) is something you experience for yourself as well. So it’s never just a matter of ‘being told’, it’s a matter of participating in the religion for a while and in this way knowing it’s good for you. Rather like taking a car for a test drive. Or trying those antibiotics for a few days and seeing for yourself that they really do work on the sore throat.


#4

If the only reason one holds one’s faith is because one’s parents did, then I would say that, yes, it is a form of faith, but I would not call it a mature or examined faith. For that, I believe one must examine one’s faith rigorously against one’s own experience and come to one’s own knowledge and understanding of and agreement with it.

For the majority of people, however, it would seem that that process does not mean that one will then necessarily reject the faith of one’s parents. There is a continuum of response, from full acceptance to acceptance but in another way (for instance converting to another denomination within the same faith) to outright rejection.

Likewise, if the only or primary reason one rejects a faith is because one’s parents hold it, that is also an immature faith response.


#5

Well there’s also that whole thing about yielding consistently valid predictions about physical events that are easily perceived, but I guess that’s rather aside from the point…


#6

Well, don’t you accept that the area of a circle is pi x radius squared just because your math teacher told you so?
Or that e = mc squared just because Einstein (via your science teachers) told you so?
Or that antibiotics will cure your sore throat just because your doctor tells you?
Or that a particular outfit looks good on you because (usually one or two) people tell you so?

None of these things are faith. I can chart the area of a circle, watch an atomic bomb, and feel my thoat get better. (The last is pure opinion - which is related to faith, but very different.) In fact, I don’t think there really is anything besides God and religion that a parent would tell me that involves faith.

I accept the presence of the divine in my life from direct experience. Unfortunately, that direct experience did not involve someone trumpeting into my ear “become a member of this faith”. I rejected my parent’s faith because my view of the divine changed to be incompatible with the religion I grew up in.

If I took a loving person, that made every attempt at charity, that fed the poor, cared for the sick, and aided the elderly - but did not accept Jesus as God because his parents raised him to be Hindu - and then placed them beside a Protestant that did all of the same for only appearance and out of fear of hell… Many Protestants would tell me that the first man was hellbound.

I know it’s not an official church teaching - but I’ve heard (both explicity and implied) that I’m going to Hell for not accepting the Catholic faith, or being baptised, or accepting a given sacrement, or questioning the existance of Jesus beyond being a man…

I can’t really sugar coat the fact that the only reason I consider Christianity first as a faith is the culture I was raised in, and that my original faith was closely related to Christianity. BUT - I could rattle off many Holy books, very similar to the Bible, with very similar stories in them - that we reject. I accept that a person can have a religious experience to cement their faith.

How does one trully divorce themselves from all they are taught to analyze the religion they have chosen? I’d argue it isn’t possible. And if one HAS left a religion already, how do they move to find one for them? If one has made a personal move to accept a religion as a faith - that is a mature faith, that I would call such. I have questions as to how much someone can do that until they are an adult though.

The major religions all imply the other major religions are wrong in some way, shape, or form. They may all have some piece of the “truth” - but they can’t all be right if only in their absolutism.


#7

It is a very difficult thing to do and not something done quickly or lightly. I agree that I am not sure one can fully do so until they are an adult. In retrospect, I can see the seeds of my mature understanding of religion within me from at minimum the age of 10, but I did not make a final, conclusive break with Christianity until I was in my early 30’s and did not find my spiritual “home” until close to 40.

A large part of the length of time it took me to leave Christianity was that I spent many years trying in vain to be able to find some strand of teaching within what I was raised to consider the normative faith that I could reconcile with my actual religious experiences. You will also find that often those who leave a religion have to spend a lot of time working through why they left (particularly if the parting was acrimonious–mine was not) and letting go of any anger or resentment against the religion they are leaving. One may find that initially one goes to the exact opposite of the faith of childhood, or, conversely, goes to something very similar, depending on the reasons for leaving.

The religion of one’s childhood is a part and parcel of who one is as an adult, there is no way around that, but it is not destiny or fate that one has to remain there as an adult. If one does not accept the teachings of that faith as valid, then in my mind it is being dishonest with one’s self to remain there even if it is easier to stay, both socially and within the family.

It took a lot of searching, a lot of study and a lot of being open to possibilities for me.


#8

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#9

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#10

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#11

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#12

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#13

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#14

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#15

Why do we say: “Our God and the God of our fathers”? There are two kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God.


#16

never had a choice about being a vegetarian, my parents raised me that way, that is what I am.
never had a choice about being an American, my parents raised me that way, that is what I am.
never had a choice about being a Yankees fan, my parents raised me that way, that is who I am.
never had a choice about being a law-abiding, virtuous person, my parents raised me that way,that is who I am.

Everybody has a choice as an adult, to accept or reject the faith, way of life and values of their parents or to reject them. The Catholic, or anyone else, who clings to those beliefs and values without examining them and applying their adult understanding to them is impoverished, and very prone to doubts and conflicts if they do not take ownership of them as adults.


#17

obviously, my repetition was due to a computer glitch and OCD. Apologies.


#18

I was raised in my catholic faith by my parents. They were as well. It’s part of our family tradition. They taught me as they were taught. But I hated it. I never wanted anything to do with our religion, and as soon as I could I rejected it and went away from it.

I lived a secular life for a long time. That didn’t satisfy me, so I turned back to religion. I tried out a lot of the various brands. And eventually I came back around full circle to the catholic church. Why? Because even though I hated it when I was a kid, I still knew it, and in comparison, all the other religions fell short.

Thanks to the fact my parents taught me this one true faith, I knew what the truth looked like. And I knew that other religions didn’t havethat truth in them.

I’ve heard this discussion a lot lately about how parents shouldn’t teach their kids religion because religion is a choice, it should be up to the kid when they get old enough to choose. I say hogwash. Because my parents taught me this true religion, I knew the truth and was able to make the right choice. And I am very greatful that they made me stick it out.

I believe I made the right choice. Not just because it’s what I was taught to believe. Because I was shown the truth when I was a kid, and that truth stuck with me. Religion isn’t just a matter of choosing what’s best for you, or what makes you feel the best, or whatever you think is best. Religion is about believing in the truth.


#19

Anyway, so this was basically my point.

Truth was taught to you by your parents. You left what they had taught, and then later returned to it. It was still taught to you by your parents.

Further, it was “the” truth, and “the” right choice. Not “the” right choice for you, “the” right choice. That means, by extension, that would also be “my” right choice, and that other choices for me would be wrong.

Your comparison of other religions was done from the perspective of someone who was taught that the Catholic faith was correct. “The truth” for you is exactly what your parents taught you.

So, back to my original question: if “the truth” in which believe is nothing more than what your parents taught you, how possibly can you say “the truth” for me (that my parents taught me) is incorrect. It seems that you are still following “what feels best”, but are just putting better terms around it by calling it “truth”.


#20

It’s not what feels best. It’s that the catholic faith has the truth. All the other religions I tried out were nice, but weren’t as ‘full’ as the catholic truth. Had I not been taught and known the fullness of this faith, I wouldn’t have know that other religions were lacking.

So the question is, had I not been taught would I have made my way to the catholic faith? I hope so. There are plenty of others here that would tell you yes. I’m constantly inspired that people who were practicing protestants make their way to the catholic faith.

The truth is the truth. If that’s what you seek, you will find it. It’s about more than just what my parents taught me. It’s about the fullness of the catholic faith compared to the other religions. Anyone who studies the faith, and learns its history compared to that of other faiths, will come to see the truth.


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