What do we believe?

Response to a posting by a Catholic Teen

How Do We Decide What To Believe In?
December 7, 2009

We as Catholics believe that our God is the only true God and that eternal life with him can only be achieved, first by that acceptance, then by the acceptance of Jesus Christ, his only son as the redeemer of our sins and last by continually doing the good works of Christ and by continually seeking forgiveness in true sorrow, for the sins that we all inevitably commit.

Most other religions hold similar beliefs that their version of God is the only true God. Some do not believe in any Deity, but rather in the natural order of things in the universe and being at one with the forces presented there. Some believe in many Gods, each of different aspects of the Earth.

Before you can discus anyone’s religion, you must understand it, or have at least a moderate understanding of the differences between yours and theirs. You must also have a good understanding of your own religion, not just what you “think” it’s about. Only then can you make an argument for your own beliefs to a non believer.

According to the Judeo Christian Bible, the worship of any god other than the God of Moses and the Israelites, is a sin against God. The first commandment tells us “You shall have no other God before me.” This does not refer to other Deities that may be floating around in the heavens, it refers to the gods that we create in money, power, possessions, popularity or vanity that put God himself aside.

It is not a sin to study other religions, and it is not a sin to attend the church, temple, mosque or other place of worship. The sin for Catholics would be to join in the worship of any deity therein being worshipped if it is other than the God of the Judeo Christian teachings. (Presumably, attending a Jewish Synagogue and worshiping God there would not be a sin as long as you do not also reject Christ as your savior. I’m not a theologian, and I don’t presume to speak for the church. This is just my interpretation.)

One thing Catholics must NOT do, is judge others because of their beliefs. We cannot say that a Hindu or a Muslim or a Buddhist will not go to heaven because he does not believe the way we do. The Catholic Church teaches us that we should share our beliefs with others when we are so called, but that only God can judge a person since only God knows what is the true belief and intent in that person’s heart.

The practice of many people to criticize and pass judgment on people outside of their faith is counter to the teachings of most religions and is generally practiced by Zealots with not quite enough understanding of their own religion to act appropriately.

The idea that a person should find his own personal comfort level inside any religious structure is also erroneous. In the Catholic faith, we believe that God gave us a set of rules and guidelines to live by. They are written as first the Ten Commandments. These are the inviolate rules. The laws God passed down to Moses and very specifically said “You shall do these, you shall NOT do these.” Then he gave us many other rules and guidelines in the form of the remaining books of the Bible for us to understand and follow his desires.

The definition if a sin is any act which is contrary to the wishes of God. God said “This is what I expect of you.” Anything else we do says to God, “I know better than you, I am my own God.” When you do this, you sin against God. You can’t simply decide on your own that you don’t like one of the rules so you won’t follow it. It’s like saying “I don’t like red lights, so from now on I will run them whenever I please.” Sooner or later, somebody will catch you running a red light and give you a ticket. God, on the other hand will catch you EVERY time you sin.

It is not a matter of being afraid of being caught, or getting away with something you shouldn’t. If you truly believe in your faith, you will DESIRE to fulfill all of your obligations to it. We don’t avoid sin because somebody is pushing the rules down our throats. We avoid it because we WANT to please God. Further, if we obey all of God’s commandments and teachings, we automatically become forgiving, loving, better people within our society, and examples for others to see, admire and hopefully to emulate.

May the Peace of the Lord always be with you.