Why isn't it easier to know the correct faith/religion?

The question is:

If having the correct faith is so important that your eternal salvation rests on the religion you follow, why isn’t it easier to know the correct faith/religion?

When I ask this, the responses I usually get are some variation on one of the following:

1 - It is not actually important to have the correct faith.

2 - It is easy to know the correct faith. Clearly the correct faith is insert your faith here

3 - It is because of Satan distorts things

4 - It is because of Man’s weakness

5 - It is because God wants you to search for the correct faith

My questions/struggles with the above responses are as follows:

1 - This would seem to go contrary to every major religion.

2 - Most people are confident in their own faith, but there are people equally as confident in a different faith. Something that may be clear to you may not be clear to somebody else. (And they are thinking the same thing about you). When I hear this, it sometimes sounds very Gnostic to me, as if some people have the secret knowledge that not everybody knows.

3 - This obviously brings up a bigger question: why would God allow such a system? Why would God intentionally design things in such a way that choosing the right faith was so vital, and yet allow Satan to distort things and lead well intending people down the wrong religion? If we were intending to follow the correct religion, why would we be punished for following the wrong one with the correct intentions?

4 - Similar to response #3. Why would God design things in this way? Of course man has weaknesses. But why would God make a system where He would damn people to hell because their weakness caused them to join the wrong faith, and then just chalk it up to “Well, they were weak”.

5 - Does this mean that it’s more important to be searching for the right faith than having the right faith?

So what are your thoughts? Is your answer one of the 5 above, or something different?

1, 3, 4, and 5:
Hos 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Right behaviour is more important than correct performance of rituals, a thread which runs throughout Scripture. Cf. Mt 25:31-46, and many others.)

Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (As above. The last part proves remarkably difficult when people are loudly trumpeting that they know what God wants from everyone else.)

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (This is even more emphatically personal in Greek: Jesus identifies himself, not his teaching, nor the faith(s) which would be founded upon that, as the only route to God.)

I do not think that “correct faith” can be inherently salvific, since that is tantamount to saying that God is handing out marks in an examination upon metaphysics, a topic which cannot be proven by any means known to humanity (not to mention the implications for people born to unevangelized/misevangelized societies). I rather suspect that God is more interested in the honesty of the attempt to be right with God and with one’s fellow creatures.

Here’s another answer: your eternal salvation does NOT rest on the religion you follow. If you have a conception of G-d that you BELIEVE to be correct, and you are a good person in keeping with your faith, that may be the important thing necessary for your salvation. Further, not all religions focus on eternal salvation. Judaism does NOT believe it is important to have the correct faith, and I don’t think the Baha’i religion does either. In the case of Judaism, what is most important is to live a “good” life by means of your behavior.

God didn’t “design the system this way” except by allowing free will. God gave Martin Luther free will, and he chose to detract from the Church for his own sinful reasons— hello, Lutheran Church. You can say this about all the other 30,000 plus detractors. So, yes, original sin and free will are the reasons for so many religions.

I recently listened to a Tim Staples debate where he quoted the Catechism saying that non-Catholics MAY be saved. God has revealed himself differently and he will judge each person accordingly. Staples said that a person, with knowledge of what the Church teaches, who rejects the Church cannot be saved. However, a person not given this knowledge may be saved based on his/her response to what God DID reveal.

I may not have explained this perfectly but it made sense when Staples explained it.

That’s exactly right. My bible versing is a little rusty right now, but the bible does tell us that he with more knowledge is more responsible than he with no knowledge. Knowing something is a sin and doing it anyway is much worse than not knowing it is a sin and doing it.

But anyway, to what awke asked; as said before, God did not design this ‘system’ as some sort of game. His love for us stretches so far that he gave us free will. That free will also includes the ability to sin or do things contrary to his teachings. If we were forced or designed to follow his will without any effort or uncertainty, then that wouldn’t be a faith, it would be akin to oppression or robotic design.

Also, the Catholic faith certainly does not teach that other religions are going to hell. The bible is full of stories which tell us that good intentions are more important than simply showing up to mass every Sunday in the front row.

Yes, God wants us to search for Him. The Catholic faith is the best way to observe and find God. I don’t think it’s that hard to know that Christianity is the right way to go. It’s the world’s most popular religion for a good reason. The Catholic faith has one thing which other religions (especially all these new denominations in the last couple of years) do not; apostolic succession. It can be proven and observed through historical sources that this is the Church which Jesus left to St. Peter, who was the first Pope, and handed the role down throughout history all the way to the current Pope Francis. The Vatican has survived thousands of years of oppression and war. I never once doubted it’s legitimacy.

In regards to your question; it’s because it’s easier to do the wrong thing than it is to do the right thing. People tend to hate the Catholic Church because of its teachings on a lot of controversial subjects like homosexuality, abortion, and especially pre-marital sex, drug use, contraceptives etc. Frankly, people like to do these things. Sex feels good because God made that one of the benefits and glories of being married and showing your love, but sadly people chose to use God’s beautiful design for their own satisfaction.

Reading the Gospels will answer a lot of your questions. Broad is the path of destruction, and many will follow it. But narrow is the path that leads to salvation, and there are few who will find it. It’s easier to sleep in on a Sunday, not go to church, drink alcohol and take drugs to battle anxiety, have sex whenever you want with whoever you want, take revenge on your enemies, steal for your own personal gain, etc. It is hard to do these things because that’s the glory of obedience. Temptation needs to be battled. It wasn’t meant to be easy.

I’m trying to imagine how the correct faith could be readily identified. Would Catholic churches have a big halo floating above them? Would the stars in the sky form the word “Catholic?” Would God carve the letters, “Catholic, DUH” into the face of El Capitan? (it would have made it easier for those two climbers).

But, for me, it wasn’t really hard. I was raised as a protestant Christian, but as a young adult became convinced it wasn’t correct. At the time, I didn’t know if I was having a problem with the “protestant” part or the “Christian” part, so I looked into all of the world’s major religions (dismissing outright the idea that God’s True Church could only be found in Podunk Iowa). But I kept coming back to the idea of a Trinitarian God as the most logical (even though it is the most difficult concept to grasp).

I was also highly inclined to accept atheism, and reject all of religion. But my logical mind could not simply dismiss the existence of the universe. What caused the universe? I accepted (and still accept) the idea of the Big Bang, but what caused the Bang? What happened some 14.3 billion years ago to cause all of creation to be created? Either the universe created itself, or it was created by some force that exists outside of space and time (since neither existed at the instant of the Bang). The idea that something creates itself is a logical dichotomy. So atheism was right out.

So I figured the problem was with the “protestant” part of my upbringing. I decided to have a look at what the Early Church taught. I had never heard anything about the Early Church in my protestant background, but I figured I would go “back to the beginning” and work my way forward. I expected that to be a long and arduous undertaking.

But my search quickly ended there, with the Early Fathers. They were so flippin’ obviously Catholic that there could be no other possible conclusion.

I’m a mathematician by training, so I always try to double-check myself. I went back to the beginning of the protestant faith in the Sixteenth Century, reading the writings of Martin Luther and (especially) Calvin’s Institutes. Calvin got a lot of it right (especially infant Baptism - he wrote the most convincing argument I have ever read). But I found many oversights.

It took some effort to get there, but once I got there, it was VERY easy to know the correct Faith. It was OBVIOUS. So I converted.

Something different I think, though your Number 1 is close.

I think there* is no* “correct” religion.

If there is a Creator of this world and if this Creator made people that they loved, then created a situation in which these people needed to be saved from something…and if this Creator was all powerful and all loving and wanted each and every person to have this saving happen for them…and if they were going to provide a recipe people needed to follow to* get *this saving…then, they would have been more clear about it and there wouldn’t be all this confusion.

So I think–whether there is a Creator or not–there is no saving or salvation required.

Of course, there are another alternatives, too, that you did not list.
The Creator maybe doesn’t love everyone…and therefore wanted to make it very difficult for people to be saved and enjoys watching people struggle and suffer.
Or,
The Creator has very little power over who or how a person gets “saved.”

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In the Bible, we have the parable of the talents. God gives different amounts to each of three people. Two invest what God has given, the other buries the talent to keep it safe.

Investing is of course risky and involves stepping out if our comfort zone. Just sitting still and not moving is “safe” in that one will not make mistakes.

To me, this shows that God does take into account what we are given. So a person who has never heard of Christ will not be expected to have been a Catholic.

At the same time, God also takes what we do with what we are given into account.

The Church does not teach that those who have never been exposed to the teachings of the Church are *for this reason *barred from Heaven.

2 - It is easy to know the correct faith. Clearly the correct faith is insert your faith here

It is easy and it is hard. There is the normal intellectual difficulty of having to consider the issues, and there are the difficulties of making a change when one is comfortable.

But it is also easy, because we have God’s help insofar as we accept it.

3 - It is because of Satan distorts things

There are several effects of sin, among which is a distortion of the intellect. IOW, it’s not just Satan distorting things, it is also the flesh and the world. But this is a definte factor for individuals.

4 - It is because of Man’s weakness

Yes, because of the Fall, we have been weakened. But God will help us if we ask.

5 - It is because God wants you to search for the correct faith

The existence of many claims to the trutg does not come about *because *God wants us to have ti search for the truth but because of the Fall and the consequences of all the followijg sin.

My questions/struggles with the above responses are as follows:

1 - This would seem to go contrary to every major religion.

2 - Most people are confident in their own faith, but there are people equally as confident in a different faith. Something that may be clear to you may not be clear to somebody else. (And they are thinking the same thing about you). When I hear this, it sometimes sounds very Gnostic to me, as if some people have the secret knowledge that not everybody knows.

The way I see it, the truth is like a very good map to Heaven. Because we live in an imperfect world, the truth is hidden.

What one needs t do is to consider reality and progress from there. We live in a time when we can really investigate the claims of many different religions. What criteria should we use to judge them? How open are we to change that our learning may show the way to?

3 - This obviously brings up a bigger question: why would God allow such a system? Why would God intentionally design things in such a way that choosing the right faith was so vital, and yet allow Satan to distort things and lead well intending people down the wrong religion?

God permits the system, but He did not “intentionally design” it. He has to permit many things we don’t like in order to allow us to have free will.

And believing the “wrong” religion is in itself not a bar to attaining Heaven.

If we were intending to follow the correct religion, why would we be punished for following the wrong one with the correct intentions?

The Church does not teach this.

4 - Similar to response #3. Why would God design things in this way? Of course man has weaknesses. But why would God make a system where He would damn people to hell because their weakness caused them to join the wrong faith, and then just chalk it up to “Well, they were weak”.

See above

5 - Does this mean that it’s more important to be searching for the right faith than having the right faith?
It is important to be as aware if what’s going on as possible.

It may not be possible to find the full truth, if one is on a remote island with no access to information. However, one can consider what one is taught in light of the truth one has written in one’s heart (Romans). Sometimes when I am reading a Catholic book I find some statement just seems s weird. So I check it against what I know and what other trustworthy people say. We can’t just blindly follow, we have to *think. *

So what are your thoughts? Is your answer one of the 5 above, or something different?

Actually, it’s pretty straight forward to discern the Church the Jesus Christ Founded:

  1. It was built by Jesus Christ himself (Matt 16:18) which means that His church must be about 2000 years old. This face alone eliminates the vast majority of churches.

  2. Jesus only built ONE church (Matt 16:18) hence there is only one.

  3. The Church which Jesus Christ founded is the one to whom He revealed and which declared and decreed which books are to be contained in the New Testament.

  4. Jesus handed His Authority to His Apostles (Mat 28:16-20), therefore His Church must be able to trace it’s chief pastors back in a line of succession to The Apostles.

Alternately, you can look the denominations and trace them back to their start and see when their church started and by whom. Do you have any idea when your faith was founded and by whom? You may find this enlightening:

If you are Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517.

If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.

If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to Scotland in the Year 1560.

If you are Unitarian, your group developed in Europe in the 1500s.

If you are a Congregationalist, your religion branched off Puritanism in the early 1600s in England.

If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607.

If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.

If you are an Episcopalian, your religion came from England to the American colonies. It formed a separate religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789.

If you are a Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y. in 1830.

If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.

If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy.

If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in the 1870s.

If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the United States in 1901.

If you attend Calvary Chapel, your church was started by Chuck Smith in the 1960’s

If you are a non-denominational or Evangelical, your church can trace it’s leadership back no more than 50 years.

If you are Catholic, Jesus Christ founded your Church in the year A.D. 30

I agree with this. Judaism does not believe in the need for salvation in the Christian sense. We are not sinners by nature, but we do commit sins since we are imperfect: there is a difference between the two. When Jews say that “the Torah is a tree of life for those who cling to her,” they usually mean that it is an invaluable aid which helps us lead a good life, a life of substance and meaning, a life of caring and compassion by behaving towards others in a beneficial way. But it is not the only means of leading a good life. With regard to the afterlife, we entrust that to G-d, Whom we believe to be both benevolent and omnipotent. We refrain from speculating too much about it or worrying about it; it is the here and now in which we can love G-d and do for others that counts the most.

And the evidence for the Catholic Church is here #[FONT=Arial]34** . **A[/FONT]ll the internal links are operational

Excellent! :thumbsup:

As I said once before when you posted something similar to this, MB–this indeed sounds good and healthy and loving.
If I was a God, I wouldn’t want my children to feel as though I created them to be “born sick” and they needed to spend their entire lives worried about being saved.

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I don’t think it’s as straightforward as you list here.
First, you are using biblical scripture as your basis for some of your points…and of course it will support the Catholic faith, since the books chosen to be in the Christian canon were chosen by Catholics.
Other books that did not agree with Catholic doctrine were discarded, burned, banned.

Also, there were many other Christian faiths that began in 30AD…the ebonites, the marcionites, the gnostics–that had different beliefs than that of the Catholic church then and today.

Besides, just because one religion was created* later* than another, it doesn’t mean it’s not the right one.

After all, if we were going to use that logic…we’d have to say that Judaism and Hinduism and Buddhism and Confusciousism were around well before Christianity, so therefore they are more “correct”.

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Pretty speculative objection. You need to demonstrate the Bible is fiction with regard you Jesus is and what He did.

Also, there were many other Christian faiths that began in 30AD…the ebonites, the marcionites, the gnostics–that had different beliefs than that of the Catholic church then and today.

How these be called Christian if they didn’t follow Christ?

Besides, just because one religion was created* later* than another, it doesn’t mean it’s not the right one.

It does if the one was started by God.

After all, if we were going to use that logic…we’d have to say that Judaism and Hinduism and Buddhism and Confusciousism were around well before Christianity, so therefore they are more “correct”.

.

Why do think the argument was based primarily on being first? The primary basis is its originator.

[quote=awke]4 - Similar to response #3. Why would God design things in this way? Of course man has weaknesses. But why would God make a system where He would damn people to hell because their weakness caused them to join the wrong faith, and then just chalk it up to “Well, they were weak”.

5 - Does this mean that it’s more important to be searching for the right faith than having the right faith?
[/quote]

You ask a pretty complex question, but the thread title boils it down.

Re: you replies quoted: I don’t believe God designed a system like this. Nor do I think (as you have suggested) any other major world religion teaches this. The PROBLEM does exist, BUT ONLY FOR THE THOUGHTFUL soul who wishes to know the Truth. Many, many people are content to just stay in the Faith where they were raised, or feel most comfortable.

But some, seeing the chaos around us can’t help but think that NOT everyone can be right, and that is DOES make a difference. That is because they are seeking the light of Truth in the fog of our mortal existence. The light is there, and it IS weak at times.

However, for someone that ASKS such a question as you have done, it is at once baffling that the light can be sometimes so difficult to discern, and question whether the search is just a waste of time.

But it is NOT a waste of time, and it IS a VERY IMPORTANT indicator that you are interested in the Truth. Don’t give up!

Seeking the Truth is what is important. God WILL light the way for those who seek Him in humbleness of heart and in Faith.

Originally posted by DaddyGirl
I don’t think it’s as straightforward as you list here.
First, you are using biblical scripture as your basis for some of your points…and of course it will support the Catholic faith, since the books chosen to be in the Christian canon were chosen by Catholics.
Other books that did not agree with Catholic doctrine were discarded, burned, banned.

Also, there were many other Christian faiths that began in 30AD…the ebonites, the marcionites, the gnostics–that had different beliefs than that of the Catholic church then and today.

Good to finally see someone pointing out the facts of Historical context and how and when the various Scriptures were written, chosen and collected! The lack of historical reliability of the Gospels shows us just how little we know. Talking in absolutes is very problematic in this subject.

The Gospels are reliable and are historical.

While there was a period during the last couple of hundred years that the NT was “unreliable,” most scholars today consider them to be reliable. Through study of many texts it was discovered that the original writings were early, not late as some speculated, and this written within living memory of people alive at the time of Christ.

Re: those conditions

That would be like me putting the following conditions on my college professors back in the day, saying if you really cared about me your student, you wouldn’t make the course so difficult to understand. I wouldn’t have all these issues with you and the subject at hand. And if you REALLY REALLY cared about me, you wouldn’t wreck my life by giving me pop quizes, midterms and a final exam at the end, all designed to get me to think your way and do what you want on the subject, instead of you aggreeing with ME and MY thoughts and what I want to do on the subject matter. You should just give me an “A” and I wouldn’t even have to show up to your class.

And of course I should expect all my professors to agree with my conditions… right?

Already asked and answered in revelation which has already been delivered.

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