In the video I posted on the bogus Mormon Book of Abraham some Mormon believers were interviewed. They said, “We are encouraged to examine our faith, and I have thought it through and prayed about it, and I know in my heart that it’s true. I know some people may doubt it, but I have faith that what I have been taught is true.”
This made me think twice because you can meet a number of Catholics who would say much the same thing, “We are not mindless robots. We are encouraged to think our Catholic faith through and examine the beliefs. I have done this and I just know in my heart that it is true, and if I can’t explain it or prove it, then I accept it as a mystery.”
So is the reliance on ‘faith’ the same for Catholics and Mormons–or for that matter for Catholics and Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovahs Witnesses or Moonies or the Church of the Foursquare Gospel of the Revelation of the Planet Zorg of the Fourth Degree? In other words, are all faith claims equally unprovable and therefore the reliance on ‘faith’ is the same for all religions?
This is to misunderstand the Catholic view of faith. Faith is not simply trying hard to suspend your disbelief and convince yourself that you really do believe something which common sense tells you is untrue. Faith is not blind belief in a statement that has been proven wrong or impossible. Neither is faith a personal subjective experience–the Mormons’ ‘burning in the heart’ of personal conviction which proves to you that it is all true. Neither, for the Catholic, is faith a personal subjective experience of ‘encountering Christ’ or having a personal emotional experience of the religious in some way. Neither if faith going along with a particular way of life or moral teaching because it makes sense and helps you and your family be nice people. None of these are faith.
Instead, for the Catholic faith is a process similar to that engaged in by a scientist. We says that ‘faith seeks understanding’. In other words, faith is a quest to observe phenomena, gather facts, gather testimonies and witnesses, sort the data, learn how the data can be organized and understood. Then once the facts have been gathered, the witnesses listened to, the information analyzed and the mentors’ wisdom assimilated then–when these facts and education can take you no further faith completes the transaction.
The best example of how this should happen is the resurrection of Christ. The sincere and objective enquirer will consider the historical data. He must look at the life and death of Jesus Christ. He must examine the witnesses and evidence of what took place. He must consider the veracity and possibility of fraud or the witnesses making a mistake. He must weigh up the evidence and consider what other alternatives there are to such a stupendous story. This is the duty of the intelligent enquirer. If the evidence doesn’t hold up and another explanation can be given, then he must find out what it is and then supply it and dismiss the Christian claim.
However, if that cannot be done, then he must ask for faith to make the investigation complete and personal and to enable him to make the commitment to the religious truth and ask in faith for the encounter to be verified in his own experience.
This is very different from the claims surrounding the establishment of Mormonism and virtually every other religion than Judaism. The miraculous claims are bogus. The personality of the cult founder is dubious or downright scandalous. The history of the movement contradicts the claims of the religion. There is no foundational veracity. Faith in this circumstance must be a blind faith which goes against the known facts, common sense, historical research and scientific knowledge.
While there are Christians who also demand this sort of faith–and no doubt some ignorant Catholics who demand this sort of faith, this is not true Catholicism. Instead true Catholicism invites us to embark on a rigorous way of discovery. If they claims made by the Catholic church can be disproven then disprove them. We do not demand blind faith in the face of outright contradiction.
The Catholic claim is indeed stupendous, but it is also true. Faith is the God given gift to embrace that truth and make it one’s own.