Countering Arguments Against the Catholic Faith
Argument 1: Christianity is no better than any other faith. All religions lead to God.
If you haven’t heard this one a dozen times, you don’t get out much. Sadly enough, the person making this claim is often himself a Christian (at least, in name). The problems with this view are pretty straightforward. Christianity makes a series of claims about God and man: That Jesus of Nazareth was God Himself, and that he died and rose again all so that we might be free from our sins. Every other religion in the world denies each of these points. So, if Christianity is correct, then it speaks a vital truth to the world, a truth that all other religions reject. This alone makes Christianity unique.
But it doesn’t end there. Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” In Christianity, we have God’s full revealing of himself to humanity. It’s true that all religions contain some measure of truth, the amount varying with the religion. Nevertheless, if we earnestly want to follow and worship God, shouldn’t we do it in the way that he told us to? If Jesus is indeed God, then only Christianity contains the fullness of this truth.
Argument 2: There`s no such thing as absolute truth. What`s true for you may not be true for me.
People use this argument a lot when they disagree with a statement and have no other way to support their idea. After all, if nothing is true for everyone, then they can believe whatever they want and there’s nothing you can say to make them change their minds. But look at the statement again: “There’s no such thing as absolute truth.” Isn’t that, in itself, a statement that’s being made absolutely? In other words, it applies some rule or standard to everyone across the board, exactly what the relativists (those who claim this argument) say is impossible. They have undone their own argument simply by stating their case.
The other problem with this statement is that no relativist actually believes it. If someone said to you, “There is no absolute truth,” and you punched him in the stomach, he’d probably get upset. But by his own belief, he’d have to accept that while punching someone in the stomach may be wrong for him, it might not be wrong for you.
This is when they’ll come back with an amendment to the original statement by saying, “As long as you’re not hurting others, you’re free to do and believe what you like.” But this is an arbitrary distinction (as well as another absolute statement!) Who says I can’t hurt others? What constitutes “hurt”? Where does this rule come from? “Do no harm” is in itself an appeal to something greater — a sort of universal dignity for the human person. But again, the question is where does this dignity come from? As you can see, the further you delve into these questions, the closer you come to understanding that our concepts of right and truth are not arbitrary but are based in some greater, universal truth outside ourselves — a truth written in the very nature of our being. We may not know it in its entirety, but it can’t be denied that this truth exists.
Argument 3: I don`t need to go to Church. As long as I`m a good person, that`s all that really matters.
This argument is often used but when someone says he’s a “good person,” what he really means is that he’s “not a bad person”. Bad people being those who abuse others, murder or steal. Most people don’t have to extend a lot of effort to avoid these sins, and that’s the idea: We want to do the least amount of work necessary just to get us by. That’s not very Christ-like, is it?
But there’s a much more important reason why Catholics go to Church other than just as an exercise in going the extra mile. Mass is the cornerstone of our faith life because of what lies at its heart: the Eucharist. It’s the source of all life for Catholics, who believe that the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ. It’s not just a symbol of God, but God made physically present to us in a way that we don’t experience through prayer alone.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54). We’re honouring Jesus’ command and trusting in that promise every time we go to Mass. What’s more, the Eucharist, along with all the other Sacraments, is only available to those in the Church. As members of the Church, Christ’s visible body here on earth, our lives are intimately tied up with the lives of others in that Church. Our personal relationship with God is vital, but we also have a responsibility to live as faithful members of Christ’s body. Just being a “good person” isn’t enough.
Argument 4: You don`t need to confess your sins to a priest. You can go straight to God.
Sometimes even Catholics say something like this. I suspect that, human nature being what it is, people just don’t like telling other people their sins, and so they come up with justifications for not doing so. The Sacrament of Confession has been with us from the beginning, coming from the words of Christ Himself. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)
Notice that Jesus gives His apostles the power to forgive sins. The practice of confession is also evident in the Letter of St James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:14-16)
It’s interesting that nowhere does James (or Jesus) tell us to confess our sins to God alone. Rather, they seem to think that forgiveness comes through some means of public confession. And it’s not difficult to understand why. You see, when we sin, we rupture our relationship not just with God, but with His Body, the Church (since all Catholics are interconnected as children of a common Father). So when we apologize, we need to do so to all parties involved, God and the Church. Think of it this way. Imagine that you walk into a shop and steal some of their goods. Later, you feel remorse and regret the sinful act. Now, you can pray to God to forgive you for breaking his commandment, but there’s still another party involved; you’ll need to return the goods to the shop, apologise and make amends for your action. It’s the same way with the Church. In the confessional, the priest represents God and the Church, since we’ve sinned against both. And when he pronounces the words of absolution, our forgiveness is complete.
Written by Deal Hudson