Struggling with belief


#1

Until recently I was a very confident and faithful Catholic but recently I have undergone a great deal of tribulation and doubt that is really tearing me apart. I believe that I am fairly well informed on Catholic teaching and indeed, it was my research and study of the church, its history etc. that has led me down this dangerous path. I have tried to remain faithful through prayer, mass etc. but I am terrified of loosing my faith - not in God but in Christianity.

There are many interconnected problems that I have been facing but two of the most serious are these:

  1. A Christian who takes part in the sacraments is assured of salvation and many would say that an ill-informed non-Catholic who abides by his conscience and the moral law also has a chance of salvation. This makes sense as we can only be responsible for our own sins and failure to obey God. However, what about someone who is never raised as a Christian at all and examines the Bible and the Church tradition and comes to the conclusion that, though it is a very inspirational story, there simply isn’t enough evidence to believe.

Im sure we have all experienced doubts pertaining to the authenticity of the teachings of the church, the infallibility of scripture, etc. It is completely possible to see how a reasonable and generally good person could approach scripture from a skeptical perspective and fail to believe it. The fact that there are biblical scholars of the higher critical school who devote their life to the study of scripture and yet dismiss it as heavily altered, unhistorical etc. is evidence of this. That these people are condemned forever to hell seems a bit unfair.

Additionally, why would God reveal himself to us so subtly and selectively through Christ? God is infinite love but some people will never experience him because they come from different intellectual traditions or have so much standing in their way of experiencing the holy spirit. They are victims of their society, in essence. This conflicts with the concept of free will and is very unsettling.

  1. This question is not as seriously troubling for me but is something I wonder about anyways: Why, if God is omnipotent as we concieve him, did he create us? An omnipotent being doesn’t require anything, so why would he require someone to worship him?

#2

Have you thought about getting a spiritual director to help you during this dark time in your life?
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The biggest question that all of us have to ask is “Do you trust in God?” Yes, there are people dedicated to studying the Bible their whole lives. Some of these scholars are also our Popes, especially Pope Benedict XVI. .
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You are in my prayers. Pray for the intercession of St. Thomas and the Blessed Mother while you are in this dark time in your life.
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#3

Welllllll … I’m not Catholic yet, and I’ve got a great deal to learn so perhaps I shouldn’t be responding to this, but I feel it would be wrong to watch someone wrestling with a trial of the soul and not at least attempt to help, in my poor way.

:hug3:

In answer to question #1, I offer the following wonderful quote that I just saw in another forum:

*“I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation
whoever is in awe of God and acts in an upright way is acceptable to God”.

  • Saint Peter*

It works for me. :slight_smile:

#2? Well, God may be omnipotent, but if He’s capable of being offended by our sins (and we acknowledge this in the Act of Contrition), there logically must be things that make Him happy. He might not have needs, but surely He’d have wants? (Please correct my thinking if this is wrong)

So I figure He made us because he wanted someone with whom to share his infinite goodness and love. :slight_smile:

There are far wiser and more knowledgeable CAF members that will have better responses, I’m sure, but I hope this helps a tiny bit. :blessyou:


#4

Because He loves us.

An omnipotent being doesn’t require anything, so why would he require someone to worship him?

He doesn’t. It is we who need to worship Him. This is a basic human psychological need, like the need for friendly companionship, and the need for useful work. When we don’t have God to worship, we begin to worship other things, instead.


#5

for your first question there is an answe in the gospel
"For the one taht have recived a lot, a lot will be requested, the one that have recived few , few will be requested from him.

I ahve been struggling with different issues about catholicism as well but we cant know the way God judge us. God even take in account the fact that some people dotn know him and this people could even do thigns that are again his will. however I beleive he is more mercyful with them than with us in a way because they sinned without compeltely being aware of him.
He also take in accoutn difficutl situation. the way God judge is very trascendental and very difficult for us to understand.

also there is a passage in the letter to the roman arround the 2nd chapter I think, it said that the oens that sinned without knowing to differ between good or evil dotn really sin much, unlike the way people sin while being aware of good and evil.

God have different ways of saving people he can save ones trhought the eucharist and the sacraments and he can save others by the moral good deeds they do.
I think the second vatican council states that in dei verbum.

There is also a reference in the gospel of Matheew 25, 31
this chapter mention how people that **didnt know Jesus ** were judged by their good and bad moral deeds.
I personately believe that there can even be peopel that are saints and that they arent even christians. but still they are near God by their good deeds, just as the secodn vatican concil say. God had putted the ten commandments as a natural moral law in the heart of every person. The letter of Paul also say that.

AboutThe second part of the question, Why God reveal hismelf to catholics. I think that catholicism is not a global religion because of the original sin. Mankind has the original sin and christianism appeared in order to guide mankind into a good moral path and the recognition of the truth. Christanism spreaded as a religion in order to realese peopel from the ties with the original sin as a moral way and in form of grace.
still God allowed many man made religious because they have somethign of truth and something of catholic as well liek their good moral values, compasion for others, and basicaly many non christian religions follow the ten commandments. I believe theya re not compeltely abandoned from God but God is with them in a different way.

  1. your second question.
    God didnt create us to workship him but to love him. in the OT in Isaha the jews did sacrifice for God, but God said trhought the prophet that he wanted the love of his people and not hollow sacrifices.
    God created us because of his love and not because he needed us to workship him at all.

#6

A Christian who takes part in the sacraments is assured of salvation

No one is ASSURED of salvation. Catholics do not subscribe to a OSAS theology. We, as practicing and faithful Catholics, have every hope of salvation. Assurance of heaven or hell is not Catholic teaching.

and many would say that an ill-informed non-Catholic who abides by his conscience and the moral law also has a chance of salvation.

Every human being has a chance of salvation.

This makes sense as we can only be responsible for our own sins and failure to obey God. However, what about someone who is never raised as a Christian at all and examines the Bible and the Church tradition and comes to the conclusion that, though it is a very inspirational story, there simply isn’t enough evidence to believe.

Faith is not based on evidence.
faith *–noun *1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: *faith in another’s ability. *
2.belief that is not based on proof: *He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. *

Im sure we have all experienced doubts pertaining to the authenticity of the teachings of the church, the infallibility of scripture, etc. It is completely possible to see how a reasonable and generally good person could approach scripture from a skeptical perspective and fail to believe it.

A person who searches Scripture for “proof” of God will inevitably come away disappointed. A person who searches Scripture for an understanding of God, a deeper grasp of faith and who remains prayerful will, in fact, find that God will wriggle His way into every open heart.

The fact that there are biblical scholars of the higher critical school who devote their life to the study of scripture and yet dismiss it as heavily altered, unhistorical etc. is evidence of this.

The fact that most of the Jews in Christ’s day refused to believe He was the Messiah is also evidence that some hearts will remain hardened, no matter how much “proof” is presented. The fact that the Israelites, who witnessed God’s great power during the Exodus, continued to doubt and turn their backs is also evidence. So what is your point? There will always be people who WILL not believe, no matter how much evidence exists. If those who actually witnessed the power of God through His many miracles could still remain stubborn in their disbelief, we must assume there will always be, in every age, those who reject the obvious.

That these people are condemned forever to hell seems a bit unfair.

No one is “condemed” to hell. Any human being can receive God’s love and mercy simply by asking. Anyone who approaches the truth about God with a humble and open heart will receive that truth. It was promised to us in the NT.

Additionally, why would God reveal himself to us so subtly and selectively through Christ?

Subtly? I don’t think dying and rising from the dead is subtle at all. I don’t think the radical Gospel message, the miracles, the limitless love and mercy that Christ offered is in any way subtle. And He was not selective. Everyone was invited to come to Him. The story of the Samaritan woman is but one example of Christ’s inclusiveness. The apostles brought His message to the gentiles after the Resurrection. The Gospel was and is for every human being.

God is infinite love but some people will never experience him because they come from different intellectual traditions or have so much standing in their way of experiencing the holy spirit. They are victims of their society, in essence. This conflicts with the concept of free will and is very unsettling.

Those of us who have been blessed to hear the message of Christ are indeed in a better position to accept than a bush tribesman. But don’t for a moment think that God has abandoned those who have not heard the truth of Christ. Our Church has written extensively on this issue and we should find absolute consolation in knowing that She has confidence that God has accounted and provided for such people.


#7

I also advice you to read this by John Paul II:
Why are there so many religions?


#8

I am not arguing with you because what you say is true, and I thank you and everyone else in this thread, you have provided many answers already. However, I would like to clarify what I mean, by my use of the word ‘subtle’ and ‘selective.’

Surely, those who witnessed the resurrection and other miracles of Christ would be far less inclined to doubt and those of us who have an open mind and heart to Christ witness these miracles in a heartfelt and personal way as well. Despite this, many people are by their very nature sceptics. Thomas had to touch the side of Christ before he was convinced that He had risen, but when he did, he immediately acknolwedged the truth… and he’s a Saint!

My question therefore pertains to why God hasn’t provided us with some perpetual and overwhelming revelation of truth. Many doubt scripture’s authenticity and there are admittedly some things which raise unanswerable questions. This becomes fodder for unbelievers and drives people away from the leap of faith that we are required to make. Of course absolute proof is not possible, but I would like to hear your thoughts on why what we possess doesn’t always coincide with a reasonably open minded use of reason and logic.


#9

I think that would mean that we woulnt have free will anymore to believe and to act the way we want to.
Besides there will be no faith.
The faith is a very important merit and it expreses trust as well. so basicaly it will left us all without freedom and with a lot of resposabilities, we would have less free will, and God want us to love him with our own free will.


#10

Surely, those who witnessed the resurrection and other miracles of Christ would be far less inclined to doubt and those of us who have an open mind and heart to Christ witness these miracles in a heartfelt and personal way as well. Despite this, many people are by their very nature sceptics. Thomas had to touch the side of Christ before he was convinced that He had risen, but when he did, he immediately acknolwedged the truth… and he’s a Saint!

And this should give you hope! God has such infinite love and mercy for His creatures that even though the apostle doubted, he was still given the chance to be convinced. God never stops giving us the chance. And we can never know the state of anyone’s soul, regardless of appearances.

My question therefore pertains to why God hasn’t provided us with some perpetual and overwhelming revelation of truth.

But He has! Christ left His Church. For over 2,000 years She has guided and revealed His truth to all those who seek Him. In all sincerity and charity, I might question if your “research” has been of a less than orthodox stripe. Anyone of us can find books written by folks with an axe to grind against the Church. Perhaps an exploration of Church history from an authentically Catholic perspective would be less “dangerous” and more edifying.

Many doubt scripture’s authenticity and there are admittedly some things which raise unanswerable questions. This becomes fodder for unbelievers and drives people away from the leap of faith that we are required to make.

There will ALWAYS be unanswerable questions because we are the created trying to comprehend the CREATOR. It’s an impossibility. This is where the faith part comes in. Your concern about what happens to folks who are ignorant of Christ through no fault of their own is a question no one can definitively answer. Not until we actually meet our Creator and hopefully get the chance to ask Him. Heavens, we can’t even know all there is to know about humans! How can we expect to fully comprehend the emormity of God?

Of course absolute proof is not possible, but I would like to hear your thoughts on why what we possess doesn’t always coincide with a reasonably open minded use of reason and logic.

I’m not sure what your question means. But if you are suggesting that we must all be endowed with great wisdom and knowledge and intellect in order to have faith, I must disagree. My folks, for example, are from the “greatest generation”. The knew so little about the mechanics of their faith. In their 80’s now, they are learning from me things they had never heard or thought of before. Yet, they have faith and have had it all their lives. Unquestioning, unrelenting, and obedient faith. They understood the most important things about God. He loves them and He will not abandon them. Learning the specifics and details of Church teaching has brought them to a greater appreciation of their faith, but it did not GIVE them faith.

Does that answer your question?


#11

I would recommend obtaining a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and reading it often. Paragraphs 836-848 directly address your concerns. Often, much of our doubt can flow from a basic misunderstanding of what the Church actually teaches on a particular point of doctrine. The Catechism is a great standard by which to evaluate our own comprehension of the faith.

God bless,

Don
+T+


#12

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