I am trying to understand something about Catholics (and probably most other Religions as well) that I find difficult to comprehend.
From my experience so far on this forum Catholics hold to very specific and clear reasons why Catholocism is the most truthful Religion amongst the 10000 or so Religions in existence today. Also, Catholics experience God and his presence in their lives and God speak to them and they pray to God.
However, for which other Religion are these statements not true?
Sure, the reasons/criteria that Catholics give for the truth of their Religion are different from other Religions but how could Catholics know for sure that their reasons/criteria are better than those of other Religions’?
Don’t Catholics regard their reasons/criteria as superior just because they have not been properly initiated within those other Religions. They have not lived within those other Religions and meditated and prayed within the context of the other Religions.
Don’t we all tend to regard other Religions through the filters and value systems of our own Religions? Wouldn’t it require an extraordinary effort for any person to really appreciate and understand the complexities and nuances of another Religion?
For me just the fact that most Religious people remain in the Religion in which they grew up in (I’ve seen some estimates which whould have it that this is true for more than 99% of Religious people), is an indication of how difficult it really is to be open and understanding towards other Religions.
And if that is true shouldn’t Catholics be more concerned?
I am not saying that Catholics do not make an effort do denounce other Religions. What I am saying is that it does not appear that Catholics (and of course the followers of almost all other Religions) make an effort to understand the doctrine of other Religions well enough to be able to establish whether another Religion is in fact superior or not.
And assuming I am correct in the above reasoning how do Catholics manage to sleep soundly at night (presumably) not worrying whether Islam, or Hinduism, or Janism, or, God forbid, Protestants are not in fact God’s chosen Religion?
Personally I feel that there is room for other religions. Each one claims to be the true religion but only God knows for sure. There are people who don’t know anything about Jesus. Surely God, being a just God, will not punish those who don’t know Him. We should all acknowledge that there are people who believe differently. They may be wrong just as we may be wrong. Let’s all try to get along and encourage open dialogue and try not to put other religions down. There are Christians who do not agree with the Catholic teachings even though they do acknowledge and follow Christ.
I am concerned about other religions in that I dont want anyone to end up in Hell.I believe in Sacred Tradition,The Holy Catholic Church and its Teachings.I also believe in The Word of God,as Father John Corapi said:The Word Of God is not a “something”,But a “Somebody”.His name is Jesus Christ.Peace:)
Well, I’ve BEEN in 1/2 of those 10,000 religions you speak of, (slight exageration)
I just wrote what turns out to be the first chapter of a book I’m afraid in answer to your question. I’ve just GOT to get my mind around the Forum concept. I cut it and pasted it into a word document for further exploration, and I wish to pray about it a bit before I go unloading that much info here. There are already every conceivable type of article at this website outside of the Forums. So…short answer, (kind of), it took me 48 years to even get around to Catholocism. I don’t have any Catholic friends or family, (prior to my conversion). And for 20 years have been practicing some form of Buddhism or another, ending in Jodo Shinshu. I was led by the Holy Spirit to some friends (Protestant), who confirmed some ideas that were forming in my mind about Jesus, and then through a series of events to book by Scott Hahn called “The Lamb’s Supper”. In the fullness of time, there can really only be one way, and through the faith provided me by God, I am certain that all will end up in that way. It is, after all, THE way. The Church created by Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God the Father. The textual information is readily available in most cultures. Many are innocently trapped in cultural ignorance that is seemingly insurmountable. Why this happens is a mystery, but once discovered, the truth insinuates itself into everything. One must be open to the truth and not fight it so hard with the ego, and the demands of “I want it MY way” that as Americans is driven into us with a sledgehammer from the moment our behinds are slapped at birth. To clear my head enough to get the truth, God made me Buddhist first so I could learn to meditate and contemplate deep mysteries, and HEAR the Holy Spirit through the static of everyday living. It took 1/2 a decade. Just because of the existence of all these megachurches and thousands of Protestant offshoots, and pre and post Christian prophet cults one can’t assume that Jesus was not the way. We’re SUPPOSED to be out there proclaiming from housetops. We’ll get there. We’ll get the word out. Time is irrelavant. It’s endless. We should all pray for each other all the time to ensure that we are on the right path, but it does happen. My wife was a lifelong atheist who was very ill, and in and out of hospitals, ALSO with no Catholic background or understanding whatsoever. If the two of us were grabbed and converted by NO PERSON. NO ONE, but God, how am I to believe that it won’t eventually happen for everyone else? We’re nothing special. We were as unlikely of Catholics as anyone could find. We were CALLED. Plain and simple. In God’s time. Not ours. RCIA is our ministry, and I see this miracle occur all the time now. It is real. You see it the moment it happens. It’s in the eyes. The way people walk. Watching adults walk away after Baptism is enough to make the world Catholic. Watching a person’s reaction to first Eucharist. Watch someone realize that Jesus Christ is actually present in the tabernacle. It is affirming in every way. I sleep just fine. I pray for my brothers and sisters who aren’t here yet, and I pray for my brothers and sisters who didn’t get it in time before they died. That is my roll. That’s all I need do. That and live God’s commandments, and place God before all else in life.
If it is any consulation Catholics don’t believe in once saved always saved, so some of us are in the Church but are on the road to Hell. I can sleep well in a state of Grace all my life but in the end reject God curse God and still end up in hell. Not that I plan on it but we always have free will.
In answer to the question how do I know the Church has the one true faith it is the Marks of the Church and we say them in our creed. The Church is One, we are united in the Sacrements and under the Holy Pontif. If I am told I must believe something or I am anathama, I have to believe it or I’m anathama. The Church is Holy. The lives of the Saints give testiment to the Holyness of the Church and we believe that some of her members here on earth can be whole and in union with God’s will always. The Church is Catholic. Meaning she is universal she is not just for one country or ethnic group all the world is called to her. The Church is Apostolic. This means that she teaches what the apostles tought. When we look at the writings of the Gospels and the interpretation of them from the Church Farthers we know that we continue to teach what the Apostals taught. We have an unbroken line going back to Jesus. The Church is the oldest organization in existence.
As for not many people being converted to the Church right now there could be many factors including the unfaithfulness within the Church. But at different times many have been converted from other religions. St. Boniface chopped down the sacred tree of another religion and many were converted to the Church. Are we willing to chop down the sacred trees of other religions today or do we just want to get along and be politically correct?
You’re absolutely right – only God can know for sure what is absolutely true, because only God is omniscient.
That said, it stands to reason that, if He wants us to conform our lives to His will, He must reveal His will to us in a way that a) we can fathom and b) will not usurp our free will. Thus, appearing to the masses as He truly is would not, probably, be appropriate.
Hence, the Incarnation.
If God is pure Love, it stands to reason that the best way to manifest Himself to us would be through an act of pure Love. This He did by taking on human form, a humiliation in and of itself, and undergoing the most cruel torture and brutality humankind had yet devised. He said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another – and this He did.
Again, you are correct: only God can know for sure, so to make certain that we know, He had to tell us.
And He did.
Furthermore, it is not “putting down” another religion to proclaim the Truth of Catholicism. Jesus gave us the Truth and told us to proclaim it to all nations. Creating some kind of pan-religious hug fest does not do this – it instead fosters moral relativism, which denies absolute truth out of hand.
I’m not suggesting that we should declare war on infidels, but we can’t merely accept everyone’s personal religious beliefs as equally valid. Christ didn’t – and He told us not to, either.
From a logical standpoint, consider this. Regarding any one subject, there can only be one truth. Whether you believe God created it or not, this universe is an extraordinarily well ordered place. Something is either true, or it isn’t. You can get really close to being true, but that doesn’t cut it. It’s essential that you not fall into the trap of thinking that something can be truth for one person, but not for another. If it can’t be true for everyone, it can’t be true at all.
There are many religions on this planet that have pieces of the truth, or get close to the truth. Those all come from people listening to God in their heart, observing His creations and seeing His fingerprints on everything. Many Native American tribes believe in the Great Spirit, which is the creator and sustainer of all other spirits. Sound familiar? As Catholics, we believe that the Church has the complete truth. Part of this is faith, but most of it is reason. Our beliefs have withstood millenia of examination, scrutinization, and attack. And so far, nobody has managed to punch a hole in it. Some people think they have, but it’s invariably because they are misunderstanding something.
I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Catholicism is the only religion where the more a person truly understands about it, the stronger their faith gets. Whereas in other religions, the more a person comes to truly understand the religion, the more they see the flaws in it. The only way people can remain in those other religions and reject Catholicism is to misunderstand both. Though, I’m not sure how well this argument would work with non-believers! There are undoubtably plenty of people who would be furious at that statement, but it’s not meant as an insult, simply an observation of reality. It doesn’t make them bad people, or stupid. We all make mistakes. For the first 24 years of my life I was agnostic, so I’ve had my fair share.
I pray frequently for people of other religions, or no religion at all. God forgives those who don’t believe due to invincible ignorance, but they would be so much happier if they knew the truth. I have discovered a love for my fellow sinners that I didn’t know was possible. I want what’s best for them, whether they realize it or not.
The existence of other religions concerns Catholics a great deal, but not because their presence is a threat to the truthfullness of Catholicism. They are wandering, and we want them to come home.
Dante, your insight is inspiring, but I would like to make a suggestion. It’s important to remember that God did not “take on human form”. He became human. There is a subtle but important difference. He didn’t just look like one of us, He was/is one of us. The Bible tells us that Jesus was like us in all things except sin. As we say in the Creed, “He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man”. Other than that, your post was beautiful.
As a former Baptist, it was an issue of authority, and that authority must rest on what can be found in the Bible. As a child, I was told to pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand the Bible. Even at a young age, I wondered why the Holy Spirit would tell me something different than someone else.
Same Truth+Same Holy Spirit = Same interpretation
However, it was easy to see that it didn’t work out that way in practice. Different people had different interpretations. Who was right? Who had the authority to tell me (or anyone else) what is correct?
It was not until 3 years of study from 1999 to 2002 that I found the answer, and it was as if a heavy load was lifted off of my shoulders!!! As found in the Bible (particularly the Gospels and Acts), Jesus gave the authority to Peter and it was passed down from generation to generation through the popes. The walls had been broken down for me, and I began to see the treasures in the Catholic Church.
True, there are many priests, bishops and popes who have committed terrible sins, but that is true of all the religions. It is heartbreaking to hear of these, but their weaknesses does not alter the authority of the Pope to speak infallibly (via the Holy Spirit’s guidance) on matters of faith and morals. My aunt died of lung cancer due to smoking all her life. If she told me that smoking was bad, that truth would not change because of her actions. She didn’t practice what she preached, but it doesn’t change the fact that smoking is bad.
Thanks for the compliment! You’re absolutely right – in fact, I questioned my own words after I wrote them, but figured my meaning was clear. Perhaps it would’ve been better phrased as “God took on a human nature.” That’s what I was trying to say.
Don’t you think it is possible that somewhere out there is another Religion with a prophet or Godly incarnation who said something similarly profound? Do you really discount other Religions just because of this?
I think you’ve got a good question. I grew up Protestant and **I was terrified of the Catholic Church. **I spent a great deal of my childhood being indoctrinated against the Catholics with their statues of Mary, dead Jesus on a cross and demonic subterainian Papal supercomputer. But I wasn’t a kid forever. By the time I was 6 I knew that the truth about the demonic subteranian Papal supercomputer. By 14 I knew the truth about the cruxifix being an authentic symbol of Christian faith. And at age 30 I came to call Mary the Mother of God and pray to her on a daily basis.
So yeah, when you’re a wee lad you have to just accept everything you’re told. But when you get older you can read and criticaly examine what you’ve been taught. (If you’re an adult and you still believe in the tooth farie, there’s something wrong with you and it ain’t your mommy!)
Likewise, I spent a fair amount of time reading about Islam and Islamic culture and in light of that knowledge I’m confident that Islam is what it is.
Hinduism and Jainism haven’t paid much attention to. It seems to me to be a sort of cultural identity more than an actual religion much like the rituals of Shinto that my grandparents rejected. But more to the point, stories of bunches of Gods having sex and fighting for control and so forth seems unworthy of the grandure of the universe. I’ve had to take a fair bit of physics to get my mathematics degree and I absolutely refuse to believe in a religion that’s less perfect than those. I’m serious on that by the way, I even looked into Pythagoras of Samos (The guy who invented the words “philosophy” and “mathematics” among other things).
Buddism (not mentioned in your list) was a bigger contender and I would have spent more time invesigating it first hand except that I enjoyed a passionate loving Christian marriage (even when I wasn’t technically a Christian) which shames dukkha just like physics shames ad hoc pantheons.
**So I’ve gone around the block. Does that make me better than a cradle Catholic? **Sort of. My advantage is that my soul cries “Woah! You do NOT want to go out there!” but overall I’m envious of people who got a good Catholic education. See, the thing is, when you find the truth, you don’t need to examine every other idea. When you know that 3x4=12 you don’t have to investigate the 3x4=10 religion. So whereas I spent my life studying how to do religion wrong, cradle Catholics who have made good use of their educations have spent their whole lives doing religion right.
So OF COURSE other religions have more people looking outside of their own faiths – they’re not satisfied so they’re looking for the Church! (or at least that’s how it was for me!)
And I expect that cradle-Catholics who “get it” will be so excited to have the truth, they’ll hardly have time to listen to the 3x4=10 crowd let alone lose sleep over it.
How about all the other millions of Religious people that also meditate and end up finding God in other Religions? Shouldn’t you consider the possibility that God may have inspired some of those to find a Religion that is even closer to God? As you said in your post, you don’t consider yourself special in any way. Why then did God end up leading you to the true Religion and lead millions of others astray? Does this not seem very strange to you?Is it not a real and scary possibly that it could be the other way around, that you are the one that is astray?
It doesn’t. Tens of thousands of faithful non-Catholics are dying every day.
You haven’t responded to my post about revelation, so I’ll reiterate it.
Your main point, which you keep repeating, seems to be that we have no way of knowing for certain what the “true religion” is. I agree with that, which is why we needed God to tell us. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ Himself. He assured us that it would be protected and guided by the Holy Spirit, because he commissioned the Church to teach faith and morals in His name and to serve as the keeper of the Sacraments.
The result is 2000 years of unchanged theology and moral teaching and an unbroken line of Popes all the way back to St. Peter, the very man whom Jesus proclaimed the “rock” upon whom the Church would be built.
If you look at my previous post, you’ll see an explanation of WHY this all happened – that God wanted to reveal Himself to us and demonstrate His unfathomable love in a way we could comprehend and provide an authority on earth that would lead His people to the truth. No other religion makes this claim but Christianity, and the Protestant version does not carry with it the marks of unity and apostolic succession – in other words, the authority of Christ.
Furthermore, absolute truth is all around you. We live in a rational, ordered universe, but you claim that the most important thing in our lives – our faith – isn’t subject to absolute truth. Instead, you pursue a course that denies absolutism, insisting that nobody can know for sure, so everyone must be equally right. This does not follow logically, my friend – not historically, philosophically, scientifically, or theologically.
Have you really studied the Catholic Church? It seems, based on your arguments, that you are no more familiar with the true nature of the Church than you are with the true natures of Islam or Hinduism.
God does not lead SOME people to The True Church and lead others astray! He CALLS ALL PEOPLE to The True Church!
Why are there non-Catholics? Because He doesn’t clout everyone over the head with the Catholic Catechism and drag them in! (Although some need it) Everyone has to decide for themselves because their will is FREE from interference from God. If you believe in God, it MUST BE OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING. He will not force you!
You are struggling with “What about all the others in other religions?” A valid question and admirable concern for others!
Catholicism has ‘only’ been here for 2000years. Between Adam and Jesus Christ, there were eons of people in existence. We have some idea about what happens to people who died between the time of Abraham and Christ, because only the Jews had the ‘rules for salvation.’ What about the good people who were not Jews? What happens to them?
From the revelations of God, we know that He is JUST! Therefore, whatever He decides for ‘those’ people who were not Jews, we know that He will decide JUSTLY!
Our current ‘problem’ is that Jesus Christ has made ALL OF US “JEWS” like the Old Testament. His message and revelation is that WE ARE ALL EVEN and will be judged **together as one race (human race) **
But we all know that since God is JUST, it seems a bit unfair if Hitler, for instance, is going to be ‘even’ with everyone else. God knows us well so He left the guidelines and rules with us! Cue, The Catholic Church! He creates a church and gives them the guidelines to give to EVERYONE ELSE, not for themselves!
What about the ‘good people’ in the other religions? Here’s a clue. God is JUST! The evidence suggests that 'they" will be the same as the ‘good people’ who were not Jews, in the Old Testament, before Christ came.
Here’s another clue. God is JEALOUS! If you know Catholicism was established by Christ and decide to go elswhere, He won’t like it! If you’ve only heard of Catholicism and not realize its true origins?..again, God is JUST. If you’ve never heard of Jesus Christ or His Catholic Church?..God is…you get the picture.
Should Catholics be concerned about other religions? We understand that every human soul is created by God and belong to Him. But each soul has the ‘freedom of will’ to decide its course. Our mission is to care for every last one and guide them to Christ.
Because we have the weight of evidence on our shoulders, so too will be the weight of our judgement.
How do we decide which God is true out of all the other religions? I suppose this is where faith comes in for other religions, but the Christian does not have that luxury! We KNOW WHO GOD IS and therefore have no ‘escape clause.’
I think your interesting and thought provoking statements underlie a serious tension between ecumenism and evangelism. Each faith will of course make statements that it is the True Religion, instituted by God/s. While completely natural and expected, this seriously hampers the evangelist. Nobody likes being told their religion is false, or that they are going to hell. It also casts the same shadow on attempts to find common ground between Catholic and non-Christians and Catholic and other Christians. The Church walks essentially a tight rope here. That’s why its pronouncements always get a bit fuzzy. See Dominus Iesus as an example. So in a sense, the Church works at cross-purposes to a degree, not by choice, but by doctrinal imperatives.
There is one concept that a person needs to grasp before any of the rest of Catholicism will make sense. Jesus IS God.
-----Pause for thought about that------
He was a prophet, yes. He was a teacher, yes. But, there had already been plenty of them, some false. Some real and performing tasks for God. Some preparing the way for the incarnation. There have been plenty since Jesus, but all of them are false. How do we know? Because, I repeat, to the Catholic Jesus IS God incarnate. Not a feel good prophet or teacher with lot’s of loving things to say. He was God made flesh, come to create a pathway for his creatures to his Kingdom. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, (his own flesh), that we shall not die, but have eternal life. HE came to us, His creatures, as one of us. He lived among us. He taught us. He suffered and died for us, and then conquered death for us once and forever. He set up his Church, and told us to spread the word throughout the world. He set up a plan for succession of magesterial authority, so that even with free will, there would be a dependable justifying body on earth, and he provided the one and only pathway to HIMSELF through the incarnation and his LIVING Church, which he then told us would never perish.
Once one wraps their mind around that. And it’s a LOT to wrap one’s mind around, and if they open themselves to the Lord, (behold I stand at the door and knock), and accept Him into their hearts, then it becomes clear that there IS no other way. Then it follows that no other path is complete and therefore, they all lack some measure of the truth imparted to man by God. They’re picking and choosing, distorting and have no magesterial authority to keep things true to the Word.
Jesus says HE will come again. It won’t be a mystery. There won’t be any clues people have to put together. We won’t be accidentally mistaking Him for someone else, or someone else for Him. We don’t NEED any other prophets or small ‘c’ churches, because Jesus Christ. The Lord God. The Son in the Holy Trinity, has already told us everything that anyone will ever need to know for salvation, and provided traditions and actions for us to take, to achieve it. No other religion or small ‘c’ church employs all of the sacraments available for salvation.
If Jesus was and is God incarnate among men, it renders anything that came before as preperatory, and everything after, (save for His Church), as at least partially irrelevant, and certainly misguided.
If Jesus was NOT God. If he was just a prophet and teacher, then pretty much anything goes. There has been no incarnation yet of Messiah, so you find yourself having to listen or give creedence to pretty much anyone who comes along and says they’re a prophet. You just as well be Muslim, because maybe Mohammed gave the final Word of God in the Quran, or Seventh Day Aventist, Scientologist, Hindu, whatever…what does it really matter, as long as we’re not harming anyone, and maybe even doing good? How would we ever know which prophet is right?
Everybody has their own beautiful path. It doesn’t matter which one, because they all include the golden rule. They all say Jesus was a nice man and pretty smart fella. So…whatever fits you as an individual the best. These are all ways of looking at things. And…they are all perfectly reasonable if Jesus is not God.
My FAITH, reason, and understanding, informed by the Holy Spirit, have led me to understand that Jesus IS Lord. Once I accepted that, the rest fell into place very quickly. You can simply trace the apostles through Acts. You can read the rest of the New Testament, you can read some Church fathers and see what was done as the Apostles began to hand things off down the line. It’s all there.
I know it’s hard to accept. I did NOT want to be Catholic. But once I was brutally honest with myself, and overcame some deeply seated prejudices brought on by my upbringing, and prayed, and opened myself the the Word of God instead of the arguments and words of men, I found myself in the Church, and have never been more secure, and less in doubt about anything in my entire life. I am a Catholic Christian. Now, and for the fullness of time.
I love all people, and extend the warm Love and Peace of the Lord God to my brothers and sisters of all faiths and religions, and also pray for them to be open to the Lord. Jesus says the Church is forever. It’s always here. Over 2,000 years so far. Sure makes you think. Doesn’t it?