Why God? Why Christianity? Why Catholicism?

I am not out to reinvent the wheel on this page.  Instead, I’ll give you a brief answer to these questions then point you to resources for further study.

Why God?

This is a question which contains many smaller questions such as, Does God Exist? Is there one god or many? Is God personal or transcendent? Can we know God? Did God create the world? Is God all-powerful/-good/-knowing? And so on.

Simplifying this, I can state, without fear of contradiction, that there is either some god or gods or there is not.  I assert that there is.  One way that this can be shown is by looking at the universe.

All things in the universe are contingent, meaning that they are dependent on something else for its initial and continued existence.  The universe itself had a beginning about 14-15 billion years ago.  Scientists today, generally, agree with ancient Christians and not ancient scientists that the universe has a beginning; it is not eternal.

As such, anything which has a beginning is contingent, not necessary.  A contingent being cannot exist without a necessary being, for this would be absurd.  That necessary being (although the term being is improper at this point) is what we call God.

This argument, and other’s similar to it, were developed largely by St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica.  Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor at Boston College, builds his explanations around Aquinas.

Next, a necessary being would necessarily be infinite, and there can only be a single infinite being.  Thus God is singular; there is only one God. (Polytheistic systems generally do not hold any of the gods to this lofty philosophical status.  They are greater and more powerful beings who are often at war–think of Q off of Star Trek.  Plato debunked this idea fairly well in his dialogue, Euthyphro.)

If a being is infinite, it must be all-powerful/-good/-knowing (among other traits), otherwise it would not be infinite.  This being would seem to be transcendent, but it most also have the capability of being personal if it is all-powerful/-good/-knowing.

Like an author creates his story and can freely remain aloof or enter into the story, so God creates the universe and can freely remain aloof or enter into it.  Human experience provides good reason for believing that God would and did enter into the story.  This is referred to as divine revelation.

Good resources for further study include:

  • New Advent (Catholic news aggregator, Summa Theologica, Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers)
  • Catholic Answers (Publisher, Magazine, Radio Program, Discussion Forums)
  • Peter Kreeft (Writings and lectures are free online.  He has authored dozens of easily accessible books.)

Why Christianity?

Out of the major world religions, those originating in the near-east tend to have a vision of God that is active in human affairs.  He revealed himself to people at some point in time either directly or through prophets.  He continues to interact with the world through miracles and prayers.

Religions that have their origin in the east tend to have a god that is more aloof.  Sometimes god or the gods interact with humans (as in some forms of Hinduism), and other times they are irrelevant, if they exist at all (as in most forms of Buddhism and Confucianism).

Once it is accepted that some god exists in some form, the next question is: what role does this god play in my life, if any?

There are many different answers that can be given, but the one that resonates the most with me is miracles.  A miracle will never come from an aloof deity.  Once that deity works a miracle, it is no longer aloof.

Seemingly genuine miracles (opposed to the common hoax) can be found throughout the religions of the world and their various offshoots and varieties.  Any give miracle provides no proof or evidence for any particular religion.  Even according to the Bible (cf. Rev. 13) miracles can be performed by Satan, if God allows it.  Nevertheless, miracles are evidence of a god that is involved in the world.

Judaism and Christianity take the testimony of miracles and combine it with the authority of the written word and oral tradition (the Bible).  Thus we have the Word of God, from the sacred Torah and the writings of the prophets, as well as the entire New Testament, which is all a miracle in and of itself, which contains prophesies and their fulfillment, which was more often recognized after the fact.

To these two pillars Judaism and Christianity add a third: God-given human reason.  Although some Jews and Christians may forsake the value of reason, that is an error.  God gave us our minds and our brains; he does not intend us to fore-go their use.

The strength in Judaism and Christianity relies upon these three pillars: miracles, authority of the writings which confirm themselves, and human reason.

I have spoken of Christianity and Judaism together, because Christianity is an extension of Judaism.  But just as the Samaritans rejected YHWH by rejecting the prophets, the Jews do the same by rejecting Christ.  Judaism is no longer the true religion of God, for they have rejected God’s Son and rejected their own writings in the process.

Some might wonder why I do not consider Islam or Mormonism with regard to Christianity the same way I regard Christianity to Judaism. The simple answer is that the Old and New Testaments are seamless in a way the Bible and the Qu’ran or Book of Mormon are not.

There are no prophesies of Muhammad or Joseph Smith, and no indication that the lost tribes of Israel made their way to the Americas.  Nor do either of those texts contain and fulfill the message of the Bible in the way, as Augustine said, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”  The Qu’ran is a syncretic text which combines Jewish and Christian writings with those of Arabia.  The Book of Mormon is a product of one man’s imagination which took discredited 19th century theories of the origin of Native American and combined them with bible verses plagiarized from the King James Bible.  Neither can be said to have the same relationship to the Bible as the New Testament has to the Old.

Resources:

There are  lot of resources that argue positively for Christianity. Many websites out there, however, are Protestant and take a Protestant theology, especially some soft variety of Calvinism as is normally seen among evangelicals. Furthermore, they are often subtly or explicitly anti-Catholic. With that in mind, I recommend the following Catholic resources:

Why Catholicism?

Once we grant the basic premise that Christianity is true, that Jesus is the son of God, the Messiah (Christ), there are a few questions that we must evaluate.

  • How do we know the accuracy of the time of Christ and the beginnings of the Church?

The New Testament gives us an accurate account of the life and teachings of Christ, and of the activities of the apostles.

  • How do we know that the New Testament is accurate and trustworthy?

The Church guarantees the accuracy of the New Testament in general, if not in all translations, but safeguards the integrity of all teachings through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • How do we know the Church can do these things.

At this point if I answer that the New Testament says that the Holy Spirit works through the Church, I am engaging in a circular argument.

However, if we approach the New Testament as a non-inspired historical document, it will lead us to claims about the church and historical evidence about Jesus and the apostles.  The actions of the Church throughout history, especially the integrity of doctrine from the first century to the twenty-first, work together and confirm the truth of the New Testament. (By “actions of the Church” I mean those pastoral and dogmatic actions of the bishops in communion with the pope, and NOT sinful actions by individual members or poor public policy decisions.)

[15] Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

[16] Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. [20] Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

  • Matthew 16:15-20 (Douay-Rheims)

When no one else proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, Simon did. He made a profession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God. In response, Jesus blessed him, changed his name to Peter [Aramaic Kepha, Greek Petros] meaning “rock” and makes a play on words by saying “upon this rock.” Whereas Christ is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6), Peter can be though of as the “little stone” (one meaning of petros) which is visibly present in the Church through the ages, in the succession of popes.

We know that the this authority passes to Peter’s successors because Peter, and Peter alone, is given the keys to the kingdom. He is the steward of the king. What point would it serve for the king to appoint a steward for 30 years and leave the kingdom without a steward for 2000 years? The Bishop of Rome is the steward, even today.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you.

  • John 16:13 (Douay-Rheims)

Our Lord promises His apostles that He will send his Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (advocate, comforter), who will be a teacher to them. Some believe that each believer is taught individually, but millions of honest believers in Jesus ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and come to contradictory conclusions.

Rather, the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into all (not some, not most) truth. But since truth is infinite, “all” does not mean infinity (not yet, at least). In this life, it means all truths necessary for our salvation. Indeed, the Church safeguards all revealed truth against heresies. And the heresies themselves help doctrine be defined and understood more fully. No other church even dares to make this claim, but it is a promise from Our Lord Himself.

Resources:

Last update June 10, 2021.