Reading books dangerous to the faith

Earlier today I picked up a book by a Protestant and started reading; after a while I realized that this book would likely cause me to question my faith and potentially endanger it. I knew it probably wouldn’t totally destroy my faith (it wasn’t refuting Catholicism or anything like that), but I did know it could weaken it. Would this be a mortal or venial sin?

You’re posing this question on a religious public forum, whose members opinions can sway your faith.

See how the logic flows? Or rather, doesn’t?

Sounds like you’re conveniently putting your hands over your ears. If what you believe is true, reading anything against it is probably not backed by sufficient evidence, because you then would probably believe that already. Hearing different alternatives/opinions should have no effect on what you already believe if it indeed true. What’s wrong with being willing to hear others as you also want others to hear you?

Why would it question your faith? Look mate, your faith should be able to handle questioning. I have read and been blessed hundreds of times by books written by Protestants just like alot of Protestants are blessed by Catholic books.
God is not narrow. Of course there are groups that are outright unhealthy, but there are also many who, whereas they lack something from a Catholic point of view, have cultivated true and good things in areas where we could learn from them.

Anyway, maybe you should tell us what book you wanna read, and we could give our oppinions about it.
Its good for you to know why you believe what you believe. I have read so many books, also religious writings, from even other religions and philosophies, and I could see the holes and errors in these systems and debate with their followers because I know and understand what I believe and why.

A convert to Catholicism from Lutheran Evangelicalism.

there is no sin of any kind. Even if it were an objectively sinful act to read a non-Catholic book, which it is not, you looked at the situation, made a reasoned judgment in good conscience, and stopped reading. Yes, subjectively, for some people especially new Catholics, those still relatively uninstructed or infirm in the faith such reading could be dangerous, that does not make it sinful. What would verge on sinful and could become so is deliberately seeking out anti-Catholic material with the intention not of honing apologetics skills, but of deliberately seeking information against your Faith, or to to deliberately confirm doubts you may have.

For instance a Catholic has doubts about church teaching on birth controls and makes a deliberate effort to ignore solid Catholic sources of teaching, and seeks out opposing views in order to salve his own conscience, with the intent of bolstering a decision he has already made to resort to ABC. That could be sinful.

Reading a book in and of itself is not sinful. If the content draws you into sin that is a different problem (e.g., think the flowery romances some people read that lead to fantasizing )

If you are concerned that your faith is too weak or you don’t have the theological background to defend arguments against your faith, then that should motivate you to read and study more.

If someone poses a question you find uncomfortable (either in a book or verbally), then go read what the fathers of the church said about it. Find out what Thomas Aquinas said about it. Check papal encyclicals. The nice thing about the Catholic Church is you have 2000 years of history which allows for many people to discuss pretty much every topic that you might be challenged on.

Be careful when reading such material, you need to have a strong foundation in the faith, a big part of that is to know where to find the evidence, just as jbarbaretta has already told you on this thread.

Praying for the strengthening of all our faith, yours included.

Faith is a divine gift – not just a bunch of arguments.

You can lose that gift. It’s the pearl of great price that the Gospel mentions. It’s like a flame that God lights in us. We have to make the flame grow by feeding it with good fuel.

If the flame is weakened – or we let the winds of heresy blow on it, it can go out.

Preserve the gift you’ve been given. There are so many good books to read - you could spend your whole life learning from them with new insights every day.

Vain curiosity in that case … venial sin. But if you haven’t been strenthening your faith it could be pretty serious and lead to mortal sins of apostasy or heresy.

I hope I am not taking over this thread from the OP, but I have a similar dilemma. I have been assigned to read Beth Moore’s “Jesus, the One and Only.” Considering that my husband gave me Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose-Driven Life” as a gift for Christmas last year and one of the apologists totally slammed it, I feel rather nervous about reading Protestant books. I had not seen anything that drastically wrong with Warren’s book, but apparently there was many issues with it.

There’s a big difference between having to read the book for an assignment or for an objective study versus choosing to read Protestant books for curiosity and interest. Sometimes you have to try to grin and bear it. Nervousness about such reading is a very good sign – there’s the fear of the Lord that we want to have in our soul.

There’s also the question of “investment of time”. We all have limited time for reading. It’s important to measure the proportion. If we have to read Protestant books then perhaps compensate by extra time reading Catholic books.

It’s also a matter of acquiring a taste …

For some people, they don’t have a taste for Catholic books (I find that hard to imagine). So, it’s painful for them to even try. Their tastes have been formed on Protestant books, perhaps – or novels only.

But it’s *essential *that we develop and mature our taste in literature. “Seek and ye shall find …” We have to keep trying, little by little. Lent is over now, but we can still do sacrifices. Try just one page a day of a Catholic book that you think will be uncomfortable.

You will be amazed at the results. Eventually, you will love that book.

Protestant books not only have false teaching (directly), but they have a Protestant attitude that the reader will absorb unconsciously. Even when a Protestant author is writing about the truths of Christianity, there is a false tone or attitude that can affect the reader. Remember what is being excluded … there is no love of the Blessed Virgin, no love of the Saints, no reference to the true Presence of Christ in the Sacraments, there’s a spirit of independence from the Church that Christ established … and in almost every case there’s subtle Pride at work - a rebellious spirit that proclaims oneself as sufficient for understanding God’s will.

If you stopped reading the book when you realized the danger it could cause, it wasn’t a sin. If you had continued to read it, it would have at least been a venial sin. In the future, stick to books by faithful Catholic authors (and C.S. Lewis is considered acceptable by many solid Catholics even though he was Anglican). It would take several lifetimes to read all the unquestionably-good Catholic writings. You only have one lifetime- why spend it on questionable things?

I did keep reading, and now I’m really worried that it was a mortal sin. I’m sorry to have to ask these questions–I have lately not been very able to look at my sins objectively. Thank you for all your help.

Haha, I do have to admire your fear of the Lord. You are a man (woman) of faith, let no person tell you otherwise.

Now, please understand. We don’t serve a God who condemns to Hellfire someone who has read a book. At best, your spiritual faith has taken on a new depth of appreciation and understanding for another denomination while strengthening your Catholicism, and at worst you’ve commited the sin of reading a work completely unwholesome to the Lord, which you need to speak with your priest about.

You have to KNOW and DECIDE … you didn’t. It’s not a mortal sin.

If there is a question of something being sinful, talk to a priest. If you find a book questionable, see if other Catholics have commented about its contents.


Also, please don’t forget that motive is essential. If you’re dissenting against the Faith and seeking ways to distance yourself from God, that’s an obviously very different motive than just being curious about something.

Learning what Protestants have to say can be very essential and not sinful at all. The Fathers of the Church battled with heretics all the time and had to read their writings.

It depends on your experience and foundation. If you’re younger and just getting started, it usually takes more time to develop prudence and wisdom to judge non-Catholic materials more effectively.

There is no sin in reading such material. You belong to Roman Catholic Church, which has superior teachings and revelations.

However, if you lack knowledge and apologetical understanding of Church teaching, you are advised not to engage in reading such books. Learn about your faith from trusted sources before reading lies from the other. :wink:

This wins my vote for best answer. I have the utmost respect for those Catholics who are so well-steeped and well-catechized that they can read or respond as an apologist. For me, personally, I’d rather just stick to the works with an Imprimatur and part of the Catholic canon.


I see replies like “why would it question your faith” and “be careful…”
timeandeternity originally said: “I realized that this book would likely cause me to question my faith and potentially endanger it”

Notice that the book is not questioning, but timeandeternity is questioning his/her own faith – of which the book has “the answers”. Not good!

timeandeternity said “but I did know it could weaken it”. Too late to “be careful”!

Who do suppose inspires the writings of such books that would cause our Faith in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to be weakened?

It would appear that Satan is starting to get a grip on you. However, this weakness probably did not start with reading this book. Just giving in to reading it was a prior weakness.
What weakness? A weakness in your Faith!! Do know that Satan tells us “you have the True Faith, and it is strong! Read this book and debunk the lies!”

Ah, he does know that the Catholic Church provides the truth, but he lies about our strength in it!

Don’t read a book in order to understand the arguments of the other religions. Just know your Faith, know your Faith, and know your Faith! I am not saying blindly to follow your Faith – I am saying know your Faith.

I suggest you read and study your Catechism. Find and read some old Catholic books – pre 1960. Nothing you read in these will be “out dated” or wrong. On the contrary, studying such old books should allow you to identify the errors coming from Rome in this present day.

Focus on the Passion of Jesus Christ and pray the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

God bless you, in the Name of Jesus I pray.

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