Should we ever be ashamed for being wrong in our search for truth?

In other words, let’s say you think another religion has it, and you invest a lot of time and study into it, and maybe even affiliating yourself with said religion, but then you realize that Catholicism holds the fullness of truth and you come back to it. Should you view your search as a waste of time, the things you studied and went through that ultimately led to returning to Catholicism?

IMHO no learning is ever quite worthless.

3 Likes

I don’t think there’s a wrongdoing in seeking to understand various faiths. You can’t expect all of Christianity to make sense to you, though. If something is altogether consistent with carnal reasoning, you are instructed to distance yourself from it; as it says in Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death”. The Trinity, for example, is something that is taken by faith-- not on natural reasoning.

I can’t explain how God can be one in essence, but three in person. It may be tempting to believe something that makes sense to you, but it always has to go back to the sacred Scriptures in order to analyze it. The Scriptures are a measuring stick by which we discern right spirituality from wrong spirituality.

The search for truth continues after entering or returning to the Church, so I would say no. We should expect God to reveal new beauties and secrets to us as we journey to Heaven.

If we reflect back and we realize some of it was from attachment to sin, then I think those are parts we should be ashamed of (and shame should not poison our joy in the present, but should only be used to redirect us to be wiser and more charitable in the future). But I have a hard time believing that a good faith effort to understand would be something displeasing to God.

Ashamed? No. If you did something you ought to confess, then confess it. If you didn’t, then don’t. A sense of guilt for offenses that leads to repentance and amendment of life is from God. Shame is from the evil one.

I’d say that it is appropriate to be very grateful that you’re back. You can appreciate what you learned–you probably ought to, but I don’t know whether you even learned true things about what it was you were studying out there, so I can’t say for certain–but be very glad that you’re back and be very watchful about not losing your faith or drifting away again.

1 Like

Nah man, there’s no room for shame after we’ve been redeemed :slight_smile: There’s just looking back and laughing at how foolish we were.

I don’t believe God wastes anything, either. If God allowed you to get really specific, in-depth experience in a different religion (seeing things genuinely from the perspective of that religion), it may be for a great reason: like maybe one day, you’ll be able to offer an insight that helps someone else, from that same religion, follow the path you took to Catholicism!

It makes a big difference for people to hear the truth of Christ from someone who actually understands how they think and what they’ve experienced. You now have that, for your background.

(Or the hypothetical person in your thought experiment has it. Haha.)

1 Like

Faith is a gift, so not all who lack it are foolish. Some are just people who were called out to the vineyard later in the day, so to speak.

I think God can transform anything to our benefit. That doesn’t mean anything we do is good if we meant well.

1 Like

Short answer: No.

Consider: Is early childhood a waste? Adolescence? All of them were points of progress and development on your journey to adulthood.

Not exactly the same, but similar to your spiritual growth on your faith journey.

1 Like

Yup, didn’t say they were.

Yup, didn’t say it was.

1 Like

Every day, when you got out of bed, did you take God’s hand?
Were you on the journey together?

Searching for truth is not a waste of time. Rather I think it’s a good use of time. Being human you are not infallible and your view of truth may different from others. In that sense people’s view of truth and what is the truth is subjective. You can only hope what you decide to accept as the truth is close enough to what is actually true. No way to know for sure till you die though

Sorry, sometimes when I try to add something I intend to clarify it sounds like a correction.

I think that as long as one is honestly searching for truth, they should not be ashamed. So many people have converted as adults! They were searching for truth all along.

I think maybe if someone said, I think this other thing is true, but it looks really hard, or now I am an important person and if I change I wouldn’t be, so I will ignore it, then one might need to worry about having done the right thing.

1 Like

Not at all (assuming one was acting in good faith during that time). While there is only one way to God, there are a myriad of on-ramps to that way at all sorts of different points along it. Faith is a gift and may be granted and perfected and strengthened over time. God draws people to Himself at different times and in different ways, as we see in some of Jesus’ parables. That grace may come all at once, it may be granted little by little, it may become when one is an infant, it may come later in life, and it may even come at the “eleventh hour.” God chooses to save us in a manner that is best for each of us. Following the graces of the Lord the best you can as they come is all part of working out one’s salvation.

Seeking knowledge can never be a waste of time.

We’re born wrong-and ignorant; otherwise we wouldn’t need God and His revelation to begin with. And no one, individually, has it perfectly right. And the really funny thing is that we all want to think that we’re right to begin with-and that’s the real problem. Pride, IOW, is at the root of human “darkness”, and of our remaining in it.

If a person doesn’t seek and change and grow and struggle and stumble and make mistakes they’re probably shallow and stifled and have little real faith. Every way that we strive, that we ask, seek, and knock for Truth is pleasing to God, so long as we keep trying and don’t get permanently stuck in some gross error that we should ultimately know better than to remain in.

Creation is on a “journey to perfection” as the catechism puts it, and as long as we get started on the path and keep moving towards something good and grander than ourselves, keep having hope that light exists at the end of the road, then each step is a stepping stone towards that light. God grants grace to those who earnestly seek Him, even if we’re not yet conscious of the final Object of that seeking, and even as part of that seeking may include a misstep here and there.

Because millions of people have converted from one religion to another and continue to do so I would be careful in ever saying you were “wrong”. Especially since your beliefs are not subject to your will. Evidence will either convince you or not. You cannot simply “choose” to believe. For those who think you can I would challenge you to will yourself to believe a different religion is true.

Why be ashamed of experience that can help others on the same journey?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.