Do you believe that is right, within reasonable bounds, to question one’s belief in the Catholic Church, presently under John Paul II? Is it ok to ask question whether or not the Church is really the Church? Is asking questions a signal that one lacks faith, or is it a sign that one’s faith is leading him or her to ask important religious questions?
I’m a cradle Catholic; so I’ve been brought up in the Catholic Church. However, now I’m not 100% sure if the Catholic Church is what it claims to be. The Orthodox Churches seem also to have good claims as the Catholic Church. In additional, I’m learning about some groups which broke communion with the pope in recent years. I’m also learning that much which I thought about the evangelicals is misrepresented or misunderstood; so I’m even thinking that they might be correct. I pray to God that He show me which way is the right way; but He doesn’t give me a definitive and personal answer; so I have begun reading the Fathers and documents by non-Roman Catholic groups which claim nontheless to be what Christ intends.
Anyhow, I personally feel that it would be wrong of me not to ask questions. I even discovered that there were Scholastic philosohpers who believed that truth would be found by questioning everything. You may disagree, and that’s ok. But could someone please cover some of the following topics:
- Is it all right to bring into question the Catholic Church’s claims to being divinely instituted and to being Christ’s Church?
- Is it all right to ask serious questions concerning what might be seen as serious discrepancies between what the Church Fathers and Scripture teach and what the Church teaches?
- If the Church authorities rebuff your questions, or inadequately answer them, can you honestly still believe in the Catholic Church even if you have serious unresolved difficulties? (in other words, can you still believe even with a thousand difficulties, though no full-fledged doubts?)
One of the largest problems I’m having is that priests and other Catholics tell me to go read the Church Fathers. So I buy and read these books. Unfortunately, many of these books are published by Catholic presses and are limited in their selection of works. Only those selections which support all the doctrines of the Catholic Church are included. Selections which are a little more controversial are not discussed in many of the Catholic books on the Fathers which I have purchased. As a result, I only get a limited perspective. However, you read an evangelical work, like the Book of Concord (itself a collection of works), and one discovers passages from the Fathers which seem to go against the notion of the Pope as having universal authority. I have found the same to be the case with Orthodox works. Ok, enough babbling. What do you have to say to all this?