Through history and to the present day, there have been an innumerable amount of claims to universal “truths” under the guise of religions. Literally thousands of gods have been claimed to exist, different heavens and hells, rites, beliefs, etc.
Out of all these, then, why is the Catholic faith the truth? Why should I, or anyone else, be a Catholic?
Why is Catholicism the truth, when Buddhism, Hinduism, Protestantism, atheism, Sikhism, Shinto,etc, are false? What gives your claims more credence than theirs?
What evidence would convince you? Presumably when we say “because God became man, came to earth and revealed himself, and left the Catholic Church behind” you would simply reject that. So what are you looking for?
Short answers are inadequate. Actually, one of the best short introductions to the veracity of Christianity is a short book by a non-Catholic, Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ. He basically covers the evidence upon which all Christianity rests its case for truth.
Catholicism, as the historic, doctrinal, and spiritual heir of the early Church, holds the central position among all Christian bodies for many reasons (some of which are shared by the Eastern Orthodox as well). But that is another question.
If you really want to get a view of why Christianity carries an authenticity above the other prominent world religions, try Strobel’s book. It has also been produced in an appealing video format. Then you could follow-up with Mitch Pacwa’s new video on the Resurrection.
Welcome to the Forums and thank you for your question.
You ask a very broad and involved question that can be answered on many levels. I’m sure you will get many fine responses here.
First of all let me say the the first and most essential ingredient in any such journey as your question implies is a sincere desire for the truth, and a faith that the truth is out there.
Second there must be an understanding that there are not multiple truths, but rather one truth upon which all other truths are built. In science we recognize certain facts in physics; Certain laws that govern the known universe. These laws are fundamental and there cannot be more than one set of parallel laws to govern the same thing. There may be different descriptions, but it is the same law.
In the Realm of Spirituality and Religion, we must come from the conclusion that God exists. This is easy if we look at our universe and realize that we do not have all the answers. We must always ask why and so, in one sense, God is in the Why. Another aspect of this is the fact that the concept of God, or gods, is not limited to a small group of people but rather is an ingrained, “hardwired,” part of the human mind.
So now we have the idea that a God of all Truth must exist and that there can only be one. Since this God is the Creator and permeates all that He has created and sinces we, as humans, are driven to understand an know Him, many forms of spirituality have grown up. Each giving it’s best shot at reaching the Goal of Fundamental Truth.
If one looks at the development of spirituality one can see how it evolved from a primative system of many gods, and other “spirit beings” into a system of the Single God. God Himself can be seen taking a hand in this by his selection of the nation of Isreal to be His people. Through this we have the concept, proven by millenia of consistancy, of the Single, Eternal, All Powerful Godhead who is Creator and Father to all.
Through this system of the Single Godhead we find the God-Man Jesus. “The New Adam”. What does this mean? What makes Jesus more than Buddha and the others? What Makes Jesus Special? These are crucial questions in the search for truth. The answer is both simple and difficult. Jesus came as the “Son of God”. He not only layed claim to the promise of the Messiah, he proved it by his life, preaching, death and resurection. I don’t believe that any other major faith system has, as it’s figurehead and founder, one claiming to be the Eternal Son of the Eternal God.
The Above is a summary of how my own journey led me back to Christian faith. Below is a bit on “Protestant” vs “Catholic”
Once one accepts that Jesus is “The Son of God” and that what the Bible Teaches of Him is Truth, the question will become - Which Christian Church?
Here I must claim a shortcut in that I was born and raised Catholic. However, after leaving the Church and while exploring other belief systems I had the oportunity to learn more about the Protestant Churches. The simple truth of the matter was this. None of the Protestant Churches could compete with the Catholic Church in History, Teachings, consistancy, Liturgy, etc. Different Protestants might have this or that appealing feature, but nothing so complete as the Catholic Church.
The Biggest single point for one, such as yourself, who is looking into these things is the long and consistant history and teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Church is huge, both in the number of the faithful and in the glory of Her teachings.
She is the Bride of Christ who promised her that He would never abandon Her. A promise He has fulfilled through thick and thin.
The reasoning is definitely not circular. The New Testament has incredible integrity merely as a document – not even considering it as divinely inspired.
Really: Get Strobel’s book out of the library. He does a great job of demonstrating the evidentiary strength of the “Case for Christ” and the historical veracity of the Resurrection accounts. Strobel is a lawyer and was (is?) the legal correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. The video is really good.
Regarding Protestentism: only the Catholic Church among the Christian denominations claims to be the one true Church. The Catholic Church claims that She, and She alone, was founded by God Himself.
The Protestant bodies do not claim this–they see themselves belonging to some larger invisible church to which belong all true believers in Christ regardless of denomination.
So the Catholic Church alone claims to have, here today on earth, the whole truth as it has been revealed so far to mankind; She alone claims to be THE way to heaven; She alone claims that all people who go to heaven get there through either explicit or implicit membership in Her.
History supports the Catholic Church’s claim to having been founded by Christ upon Peter and the Apostles through their disciples etc., down to the present day. That Christ is God Himself is a matter of faith but it is supported by human reason (see the book recommended by the previous poster).
I don’t know what claims the major non-Christian religions make, do you? I expect that they mostly claim to be “A” path to God/higher consciousness/next life.
The Catholic Church makes the far bolder claim, because She alone is the Bride of Christ, His Body. She is His Beloved, tarnished as to her human component but shining white as to her heavenly component. She should be taken seriously.
To reject Her unique, clearly-stated, continuously held claim is not on the same level as rejecting the non-claims of other religious bodies.
Where we begin is not by looking so much at history, although at some point along the journey, we must do this, as well.
But first, even before we determine that the Bible exists and is what we claim it to be, we need to establish that the good God would even want us to know what is true about Him - that is, that God would have given us a Revelation about Him. (Not to be confused with the Book of Revelation, of course.)
What I mean by a Revelation, is the idea that God would like to make Himself known to us, His creatures. Before we know that for certain, we not only can’t know which religion is true, we can’t even know whether any religion is true.
There is only one way to find out whether God wishes to reveal Himself to us, and that is, to ask Him.
Then, once we establish whether or not God wishes to be known, we can start to look at the various claims of Revelation in the world, look carefully to see by what authority they come to us, and whether they are consistent with a God who would like to be known by His creatures. (For example, a “religion” that states that we cannot truly know God will have to be rejected on the grounds that we cannot have a “religion” - a “knowing-about-God” - about a God who does not wish to be known.)
In this way, you can narrow down the possibilities quite significantly. We then further narrow down the possibilities by tracing the “chain of command.” If the “chain of command” doesn’t lead in an orderly manner back to God, then again, you can cross that one off of your list, since what we are looking for are not theories about God, but rather, God’s self-revelation - which (by definition) has to come from God Himself.
Once you have further narrowed down your list to the two or three who dare to make this claim, you can then look to history to see which one has the most credible claim.
Well, this is the question of questions, isn’t it?
The prior posters are correct. It’s not a quick answer question, since the nature of the question itself is so enormous (prove your religion is objectively true) and important (since, logically, if Catholicism is true, one ought to become Catholic, yes?).
The issue is complicated further by the mode of the receiver. You could present the best case for Catholicism using the weight of evidence in the historical record, philosophical proofs, heck I’ve read a great book by a guy who did a rather complex mathematical formula to determine the probability that God exists
show that to two different people and see if you get the same results. Heck, then let those same two folks go through life for 2, 5, or 10 years and revisit it and see if the answers are the same!
Just food for thought
Anyway, I appreciate the non-confrontational tone of your inquiry and I hope you do find what you’re looking for
You might start with C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity** He gives a pretty good case for Christianity. Then, you can go on to other Catholic sources. In the end, it is an act of faith. If you don’t have faith, a gift from God, no argument will convince you.
Khas – why is atheism true, and all other worldviews false? I sincerely don’t understand why atheists (and I used to be one) so frequently point out the diversity of religions as an argument against the truth of some particular religion. The fact is that whatever worldview turns out to be correct – whether it is Christian, Buddhist, atheist, or what have you – necessarily all the others are at least partially wrong. There’s no more certain fact in life than that most people are wrong in their worldviews, regardless what the truth is. At least Christians can say that members of other religions are at least partially or imperfectly right in many respects. It is only the atheist worldview that says that everybody else is deeply and fundamentally wrong, and only this one narrow worldview is right. Now that would be fine if atheistm were really true (it isn’t), but it certainly counsels against using the multiplicity of religions by atheists as an argument against Christianity.
Like JRKH and others said, first you have to sincerely want to know the truth-which involves admitting that you don’t already know it and then at least hoping that it exists somewhere. After that you look for it, wherever you can and wherever you think it may be and, in my opinion, if you look hard and earnestly enough you’ll ultimately be led to God and the Roman Catholic Church, together with her teachings about Him, probably to your own surprise.
The journey can take you to some of those other religions-it did for me. But while I gave each one that I looked into the benefit of the doubt, there was only one which both made sense and that God empowered me to believe, by His grace, and that was Christianity.
I was talking to one of my best friends (an atheist) the other day. I remarked to him that Christianity is the only religion on earth (ok, that’s a bit sweeping, but I couldn’t think of any others at the time!) that could be easily disproved because it makes verifiable claims that God acted in human history.
All you have to do is find Jesus’ body. Find that, or proof that it did exist after Christians say Jesus ascended to heaven, and the “gig is up”.
Catholicism gives you TWO chances to prove it’s false. Find Jesus’ or his Mom’s bodies.
I’m sure there are plenty of other historic “linchpins” that could totally compromise the Catholic faith, but so far, no dice.
I was baptized Catholic, but never confirmed. Today I’m irreligious (not full blown atheist though).
I basically have come to question as to why the “truth” I was raised with and taught is the Ultimate Truth. Had I been born in another family, or another place in the world, I might defend some other “truth”, due to my geographic and sociological preference to said “truth”.
That’s good, though. It’s good to seek the truth and no Catholic ought to object to such a thing. And your point is valid. Had you been born in Delhi or Beijing or Riyadh, you undoubtedly would have been taught that things were true that conflicted with what Catholics believe are true. That just means that one or the other is mistaken on some things (likely through no fault of their own).
In your search for the truth, remember that real truth IS objective. It exists independently of an observer and it does not alter based on the perceiver’s perception or misperception of it. ‘A’ cannot be both ‘A’ and ‘not A’.
Had I been born in another family, or another place in the world, I might defend some other “truth”, due to my geographic and sociological preference to said “truth”.
For a while, yes, you would. But if you were truly a seeker of Truth, you would have encountered the Catholic Church, and been faced with the decision to convert. Ghandi was. (He chose not to, for political reasons.) So were many other great thinkers of our time.