Greetings to all of you. This is my very first post on this board, though I have been browsing topics for the last few days. I suppose my intent with this post is to ask a few questions about Catholicism. I realize that you have probably seen and answered these questions many times, so please bear with me, and feel free to direct me to other posts.
To help you better understand where I’m coming from, I’ll give a little info about myself. I am a Christian and have been since the age of five. I believe the Bible is absolutely true. Some would call me a Fundamentalist Evangelical (a commonly referred to group on these forums, it seems). Growing up, I attended a church that was very conservative in regard to political and moral issues, but placed very little importance on ceremony.
Anyway, an e-mail from a Catholic friend of mine from college got me thinking about Catholicism. She didn’t mention anything in the e-mail, but it reminded me of conversations we had had back in college. My previous contact with Catholics had been very limited and instruction about them was often negative, but it was obvious from talking to her that her Christian faith was genuine and true. So, I decided to do a little research on the internet to try to find out what I could about Catholicism. So, here I am!
I suppose there has long been something about me that has been drawn to the Catholic Church. The history, the tradition, the beauty of everything from stained glass windows to Gregorian chants, and, most of all, the solid doctrinal stands on every issue. Having been to many Protestant churches, I have become sick of buffet-style Christianity.
All of that, being said, there are still a number of Catholic beliefs I have a difficult time accepting. So, my long preamble complete, here are my objections/questions:
The Immaculate Conception. I realize this has been dealt with by Catholic apologists many times, but I find it difficult to believe that any person has been sinless. Some may have said that for Christ to be sinless, he would have to have come from a sinless womb, but if that was the case, a sinless Mary would have had to have had a sinless mother as well.
Going on further with the same issue, I have trouble accepting the belief that Mary and Joseph never “came together” as a husband and wife. As they were married, there would have been no sin in them doing so. The last mention of Joseph in Jesus’ life is when he was twelve, so we know Mary and Joseph were married for at least twelve years (and probably longer). It seems more than a little odd that they would go all this time without consumating their marriage.
The issue of Jesus’ brothers and sisters being his step brothers/sisters or cousins is a minor issue in my mind, but it still seems odd. Why couldn’t Joseph and Mary have had other children after Jesus?
Transubstantiation in the Eucharist. Though I absolutely do believe in miracles, it is difficult to accept that wine and bread literally become the blood and body of Christ. While I understand the ceremony as a way to remember Christ’s sacrifice, I fail to see what ingesting his physical body (which, so far as I understand it, was not divine in and of itself) does for the human soul.
Papal Infallibility. Seeing as how popes are men also, it seems that they would be very capable of making a wrong judgment on an issue. I guess that is why Protestants are drawn to sola scriptura, as we are reluctant to trust the word of any human (though, admittedly, the Bible was written by them…) on spiritual matters.
I guess those are the primary issues I have. There are others I do not fully understand, such as praying to the saints, praying for the dead (though I admit, I have often done so), the need to confess to a priest (though I see this as a good thing), the labeling of certain sins as “mortal sins,” and the existence of Purgatory. Anyway, those are some questions I have. Please understand none of this is an attack, but rather a desire to learn more about Catholicism. I look forward to your answers. God Bless!