A Statement of Belief
(This node was instigated by Tiefling's request that the members of the Christians usergroup state their personal religious beliefs. I'm continuing a trend begun by Quizro and appreciate the chance Tiefling has given me for talking about myself! All opinions expressed in this node are my own, even when I omit the "in my opinion" disclaimers because I find them a little repetitive after awhile.)
I consider myself a Catholic, a member of the largest and oldest denomination of Christianity. As such, I can easily state some of my core beliefs immediately. I believe in a Triune God that exists as three separate but connected Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that this God created the Universe and our own world out of a desire to share His glory with other beings. I also believe that humankind turned away from God and willingly rejected His offer of divine perfection. To restore us to Him, the Father sent His only Son in the form of Jesus of Nazareth to die with and for us, restoring humankind to a state of grace before God. I also believe that the Son, after he had risen from the dead, gave the disciples the Holy Spirit to be with them and guide them. I don't consider anyone a Christian unless they believe these key points. Though people such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses may believe in and worship the God that I worship, their beliefs about His nature are almost completely different from the definition of God held in most Christian churches from the first century anno domini
As a Catholic, I also believe several other things. While these beliefs are generally in accordance with Catholic dogma, I came to them only after serious thought and internal debate. Having two parents that are non-religious, I felt a strong desire to go to church from a young age (around five or so) but wasn't able to. Howeever, this changed when I was in eighth grade and was confirmed into the Catholic faith; my parents would now let me walk to church every Sunday morning. Since then I have attended Mass regularly, almost always alone. All of the beliefs I describe below came to me through a process of religious self-discovery I have undergone since I was a little kid. I believe that in them I can capture some of the divinity of God:
- I consider the Pope the rightful heir to Saint Peter and head of the Church. Though I respect and admire Martin Luther for his bravery and courage (and also agree with him to some extent), I still believe that the Catholic Church is the only Church specifically created by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That said, I also strongly support the ecumenical movement and its attempts to bridge the denominational gap. So many of the differences between us Christians are superficial and petty, and I earnestly hope that they will be resolved. The Church is Christ's Body on Earth; it should not be divided by schisms.
- I believe in the sanctity of human life. Life is a gift from God, perhaps the Gift, and is not to be uselessly squandered. To that end, I am rabidly opposed to abortion and the death penalty. From the time a sperm and ovum join to form a zygote to the time of death, a person's life is sacred. There is no debating this point with me; I am immovable and pray fervently every day for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. As Mother Teresa put it, how much lower can a society sink when it murders its own children?
- That said, I am not a pacifist. Though all life is sacred, sometimes life must be destroyed to preserve it. War, though horribly destructive and incredibly evil, is sometimes necessary as a method of self-defense. Were the Allies wrong in stopping Hitler with bombs? I think not.
- I believe in transubstantiation, the belief that Christ is present in the Eucharist.
- I believe in saints and in angels. Though I don't worship them (a common misconception among non-Catholics), I do ask them to intercede for me to God. After all, another voice in prayer can't hurt, especially if that voice is already in communion with Him.
- As my godparents stated for me in my baptismal vows and I reaffirmed when I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, I believe in Satan, the ultimate embodiment of Evil. I also believe in Heaven, a state of communion with God, and Hell, a state of eternal separation from God.
Besides these beliefs that I subscribe to simply by being a Catholic Christian, I also hold others:
- I believe in a God of infinite Love as well as a God of Justice; God's mercy is endless, as long as you ask for forgiveness. He loves each and every creature that He created and would like nothing else but to be close to us; we shut Him out of our lives, not the other way around.
- I hold a "loose interpretation" of the Bible to be true. While God (through the Holy Spirit) divinely inspired the Biblical authors to write the accounts appearing in the Holy Book, He allowed them to express themselves to the people of the time in a way that they could comprehend. The information related to us in the Bible is not meant to be a history in the sense that we know it today. Rather, it is meant to be a tutorial about God and His nature. While there are some events in the Good Book that are considered true (e.g. the crucifixion of Christ), the inspired writers were free to exercise artistic license in order to get the point across. The Bible tells the Truth, it isn't meant to be a fact book or a strict historical narrative.
- As you may have guessed from the previous statement, I do acknowledge the validity of science. I do not believe that the world was literally created in six days, rather that God created the world. Science is the tool to understanding the incredibly complex Universe that God has created. Instead of feeling threatened by scientific advances, I am exhilarated at the possibility of being able to get a more accurate glimpse at the clock-maker's masterpiece, for it is a beautiful sight to behold.
Though I believe that everything I've stated in this node is true, I'm open to the possibility that I am horribly wrong. There are many pathways to God; I have just chosen the one that makes the most sense to me. There may not even be a God. There is no definitive proof informing the world what the One Path to Truth is and there shouldn't be. People should have to grope around in the dark to come to a conclusion; it makes that conclusion all the more precious. In the end, all we have to go by is faith, and perhaps that is the greatest gift my God has given me.