More on Faith and Religion

This post is in response to the email I received from the Retropolitan. The full text of his email is linked here. Warning, this response is a long post but he raised many good point that I felt should be answered.

How come you're a Catholic, and not, say, a Protestant?

I grew up in the Catholic faith. I don’t necessarily thing Catholicism is better than any other Christian denomination, it’s just the one I’m most comfortable with. Overall, I think the differences between Christian denominations are small and mostly petty, man made divisions. I was never one to get hung up in the “rules”, so my core beliefs would probably fit in any denomination. However, I’ve really come to love and find peace in the Catholic Mass, which is why I stay.

If you truly believe that Jesus is the savior of mankind, then that automatically excludes all religions that say otherwise (or omit Him), despite sweeping generalizations that religions are preaching 'love' and 'peace.' I've said it before and I'll say it again: to conclude that 'all religions are okay and true for whoever believes them because they're all preaching goodness' is a cop-out. Even to say that God created all things, and created different manifestations of religion to suit different peoples of the world is a cop-out. It doesn't reconcile anything, and it contradicts the belief in your own specific religion. You can't have more than One True Religion; at least, not and still really believe that both are correct. Unless you're a little unstable.

To begin, I can’t rule out I’m unstable. I don’t think I am, but that may just be the voices in my head telling me so. Much of the Retropolitan’s email centers around one core issue: Christianity teaches that it is the One True Faith (leaving aside the denomination issue for a moment) and therefore that means that all other religions are wrong. Therefore, if I’m really a Catholic/Christian, how can I say other faiths are valid?

The true answer is that being Catholic and a Christian, I do believe that Christianity is the true message and faith, and that God created the world, and then sent his Son to save us from our sins. I also believe that other faiths got many things right, but not the whole picture. If you want to equate that to other religions being “wrong”, then yes, they’re wrong.

HOWEVER, before you go beating me up, I also don’t think it’s my job to go around and beating people up for not believing in the same things I do. Part of being a Christian is to evangelize. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean standing on the corner handing out Bibles with my Jesus Saves sign. Our deacon I think said it best this weekend during the homily. Our job is to throw out seeds, like in the parable of the sower. God will determine if the seeds produce a good yield or not. I feel my role is be an example of the Catholic faith. Loving others is part of that. How can I love others if I condemn them for being different from me? Perhaps something I’ve written, a song I’ve done, or something I’ve said will touch someone and they will want to look into the Catholic/Christian faith. If so, wonderful. If not, at least I’ve been the good example.

This is how I can approach other faiths in a non-judgmental way. We are all children of the same God. What’s the incentive for someone to turn to the Lord if I accuse them of being a sinner and following the wrong faith? Will attacking their beliefs make them any more receptive? Paul simply preached the Gospel and let others make up their own minds. In my simple way, I try to do the same.

The question is, how do you have faith in something that you cannot even define? How can you believe something with your whole heart, when you can't even pinpoint what it is? How can you have faith and unending devotion to rules that you can change on the fly, as you see fit? I don't think you CAN have that faith, really. There isn't any faith without something to actually have faith in, and if the only rule that you have is that there are no steadfast rules, then I don't know if you can meaningfully believe in any existing One True Religion. Otherwise, you're probably just coasting along by not thinking too hard about it, and hoping for the best.

It’s easy to believe in Jesus because I can define Him. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty cut and dry. Jesus is the Son of God who died so that our sins can be forgiven. He’s the one that’s always there for you no matter what, as long as you are truly sorry for your sins and make an effort to atone for them. I don’t have faith or devotion to rules. It was never about the rules with me. Jesus teaches us the way to live by being an example of the right way. We’re going to fall down a lot and screw up, but Jesus will pick you up, dust you off, and say try again as long as you’re sincere in your effort. You’re right, you can’t have faith unless there is something to have faith in. And for me, it’s the promise of being in Heaven with those I care about that have gone there before me. I have faith that by following Jesus, I will go there when I die.

I think the biggest problem people have that turn away from religion is relying on logic alone and saying, if I can’t see it or can’t prove it exists, then it doesn’t, therefore it is not. You can’t prove God’s existence in an empirical fashion, so you cannot believe in it. However, there is much in nature you cannot prove, even in science. Sure, you can say that since it’s science, we’ll figure it out eventually. Problem is, once you get into that sub atomic physics world, the math doesn’t work. Stuff happens that’s not supposed to happen, and all the models are just guesses. But we know it works. God is kind of like that. We’ll never figure out the math, or the formula, or fully explain it. Even scientists have faith in their science. It goes right back to the beginning. Something started the universe. The best theories on the beginnings of the universe assume that all the material was there to start with. The law of conservation of energy. Matter cannot be destroyed, only change in form. There is no theories whatsoever out there that explains where it all came from. There, my friends, is God.

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