Over the summer I had started questioning why I was a Catholic and why it seemed to make so much sense. I’ve come to realise that it really is because I was born in a Catholic family and have always been going to church and CCD (sunday school).
I mean, I believed in it back then but didn’t really understand it fully. In college I started learning more and more about it. But now I’m thinking that if I had been born in an areligious family then I wouldn’t even be dealing with these issues that I’m struggling with now. I’d have a less biased perspective on it and would feel less pressure to get meaning in my life through a religion.
Basically the only reason I feel that I would need to choose Christianity over any other religion would be because I do not want to go to Hell. Since it seems like I would have to follow it or else go to Hell because I am not ignorant of Catholicism.
What do you think?
I think continuing to be a Catholic will always include a certain amount of fear … fear most of all of offending our Lord … and the eternal consequence of the offense … Hell.
But I think fear by itself is not the only, or necessarily the most important, reason to hold on to your faith. If you believe in God, that might be because you don’t have just fear, but also hope in life everlasting.
Whether you have fear or hope … the thing to ask is, out of all the existing religions, which one makes the most sense?
Compare the teachings of Christ with the teachings of the founders of all the other world religions. Which teacher taught the most central truth that we all need to know? Which one not only taught that truth, but lived it beyond our doubting?
Staying with the Church is a decision that will prove its rewards in the course of a lifetime. All too often people give up on Christianity without having given themselves a chance to grow into Christ. I have known many young atheists/agnostics in that group.
I was one myself … once upon a time … mea maxima culpa.
For the point about Hell, I feel that I don’t want ot follow Catholicicsm anymore just for the fear of Hell. It makes me feel like God is a horrible person. “Do what I say or you will have eternal suffering”
I do have some hope for life everlasting, but I would be content to be free from this life without necessarily being in a paradise. i.e. experiencing Nirvana.
Catholicism makes the most sense at the moment, but then again it’s the only religion I’ve studied extensively and I’ve been raised as a Catholic and have believed in God my whole life. I started so young, I had no chance. In highschool we had very rudimentary studies of different religions, but not nearly enough to make any of them seem to make sense. (Example: they didn’t really mention Jesus dying for our sins as being a central doctrine of Christianity, at least not from what I can remember)
Islam actually seemed to make the most sense in early high school. I had a friend who was Muslim and he probably knew more about Islam than I did about Catholicism at that point.
"Which teacher taught the most central truth that we all need to know?"
This really puzzles me, I do not know the answer to this, please tell me. I could take a guess and throw out there “Life is suffering. Dukkha, suffering, arises from attachment. To overcome dukkha, nirodha must be sought, the cessation of suffering, which can be attained through right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration”
Christ wasn’t the only one who would live and die for what he believed in.
So my question is still unanswered, why Christianity?
God is love and is devoid of hate. When you read the words of Christ they are without ego. Jesus said he who has seen me has seen the Father. I get tempted to view God as a huge monster waiting to reject me into eternal horror. I think he is gentle and kind and full of mercy. The lack of ego in Christ’s teachings and his perfect selfless consistancy prove that he was in fact beyond this world. Thats the answer to “why Christianity”.
What do you mean, how is it true? Or do you mean, “how do I know that it’s true?” The obvious answer to THAT question is “faith.” But presumably you know that already, also… in which case, your difficulty remains obscure.
Oh, you are so wrong on that last point in red.
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
God has no need of slaves or servants, because He is perfect and has no need. What enslaves us isn’t God; sin enslaves us, and it is Jesus who sets us free from slavery to sin. God wants our loving obedience, not merely because we’re afraid of hell. Sure hell exists, but rather than simply trying to avoid hell, we should try avoiding offending a Very Good Friend, our loving God. He is good and kind and full of mercy, and He desires our friendship and our love.
Ah, so what’s God up to right now? Over the summer I was praying like crazy while going through a stressful period. I prayed for God to change my desires, or give me perseverance to stay faithful to Him during my trials and anxiety. What ended up happening is that I was pretty much cut off from other believers, I felt like I had no support from God, and I gave into sin. That’s what led up to me questioning my faith and why I was following it in the first place. I was wondering why I was just let go like that, so I didn’t know what Jesus was doing at that point.
But I’ll ignore this for now, and I’ll also ignore how James refers to himself in James 1:1.
What I want to focus on now is why what you said about sin, and God is true. It seems that what it comes down to when choosing between being a slave to God, or being a slave to sin (in the case of the non-believer, it is not seen as slavery. Just as how it does not seem like slavery to follow God to you) and the only factor I can think of is Hell.
*For the point about Hell, I feel that I don’t want ot follow Catholicicsm anymore just for the fear of Hell. It makes me feel like God is a horrible person. “Do what I say or you will have eternal suffering”
Why do you accent the negative. Reverse it!
But “Love God and love one another” is the central teaching of Christianity. By using that to prove Christianity is true you’re basically assuming it’s true in the first place. It’s like saying “A and B are biconditional, B is true, therefore A” So far you’re just asserting that something is true without backing it up.
And martyring yourself for any cause would show that you have conviction and belief in it but there have been martyrs for other religions.
Also Islam acknowledges Jesus as a prophet but they believe that he never really died. So what’s to make me choose Christianity’s explanation vs. Islam’s?
The point of following Catholicism is absolutely not ‘Do this or be condemned to hell.’ It is, ‘This is the way you should live your life, for your own sake and for the sake of others. And there is a God who not only cares about you and your actions, but who also intends to grant you and all who want it eternal life.’
People always focus on the negative aspects of Catholicism - ‘Don’t do this because it’s bad and you’ll be punished!’ In reality, the reasons tend to be more complex and positive - few bother to read up on Catholicism itself though. Understandable for many - it isn’t the kind of thing you can blast through. (What other religion has their own encyclopedia?)
This is a correct insight. The vast majority of people practice the faith they practice because their parents practiced that faith and taught their children to do the same. And yet, sometimes people change.
Finding meaning in life is a very important goal. Perhaps it is, in one way or another, the most important goal. Jesus said “Seek first the kingdom of God.” I think that goal could be paraphrased to something like “live life in touch with reality.” or perhaps to stretch it a little further: “find out what life really does mean.”
You have this struggle because if you fail to find real meaning in Christianity - Catholicism in particular - would mean giving up a large part of your childhood. Nobody likes to do that. I would encourage you to not despair on that count. True Christianity is very much in touch with reality and most definitely helps a person find meaning in life.
The fear of Hell causing a person to stay close to Jesus is not the worst thing that can happen to a person but somewhere along the line a person will realize there is much more to be gained than the avoidance of condemnation. The commandments of the Old Testament came with the promise. “Keep these commandments so that you may have long life and prosperity”. (Written down long before Mr Spock or any other Vulcan uttered those words)
Jesus confirmed this promise and showed by his own teachings and example how a person could live a life full of meaning and in perfect touch with reality.
It appears that the fullness of Christianity has not been presented to you. Though really, none of us have had it perfectly presented by any of our human teachers. Read the gospels and find the meaning. It does not require a sacrifice of intellect or a rejection of anything good that exists in any other faith.
The reason Christ’s teaching are beyond this world involves more then just lack of ego and selfless qualities. If you look at his teachings they are perfect. He teaches us to love one another including our enemies. The world would be a much better place if we did. The fact that he rose the dead and calmed a raging sea does’nt hurt either. God himself became man and revealed his nature to us. Thats the truth, you can accept it or reject it as a free man or woman.
He also gave us free will because he never forces himself on us or makes us slaves. Being in heaven won’t be slavery, it will be freedom from death and a place of eternal joy. If you want to see an example of slavery take a look at China. It seems that Buddhist have had no success in there “philososphy” to perpetuate any sort of Chinese freedom. Influence from the Christian west is what will bring freedom to China in the end.
Forgive me but I won’t ignore that point. What’s God up to, you ask? Sounds like you are going through a period of spiritual growth often refered to as the “dark night of the soul.” St. John of the Cross wrote about these periods of trial in a couple of books, the first being The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Here’s a quote from the prologue:
*IN order to expound and describe this dark night, through which the soul passes in order to attain to the Divine light of the perfect union of the love of God, as far as is possible in this life, it would be necessary to have illumination of knowledge and experience other and far greater than mine; for this darkness and these trials, both spiritual and temporal, through which happy souls are wont to pass in order to be able to attain to this high estate of perfection, are so numerous and so profound that neither does human knowledge suffice for the understanding of them, nor experience for the description of them; for only he that passes this way can understand it, and even he cannot describe it. *
Faith can be compared to climging a mountain up to God. I once heard the difference between Christianity and other faiths put this way: All people of faith try to climb this “mountain” up to God, but in Christianity we believe that God descended the mountain to show us the way back up the mountain to Him.
The reason I recognize slavery to sin is because I tried to break free from some sinful behavior and found it extremely difficult. On the other hand, when I try to break free from virtuous living, it takes barely any effort at all to fall from grace. You must know this too, otherwise you wouldn’t fear hell.
Here’s a link to The Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of the Cross. His writing is extremely rich. (I usually only read a page or two at a time–sometimes less). He also wrote a sequel that many people are familiar with called The Dark Night of the Soul . thenazareneway.com/index_ascent_of_mount_carmel.htm