The One True Church

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Church History
Tags: , , ,

What is truth? Is there one true religion founded by God? Is there a single church established by Jesus Christ? 20120907-210912.jpg These are hard questions that Christians must ask — and answer — if they are to find the full joy and love of God the Father through the Son.

During my time outside of the Catholic Church, I became convinced that truth was relative. I knew that the church I was attending wasn’t doing it for me. The best way I could describe it is to say that my flame wasn’t being fanned. The fire was lit, but it wasn’t burning very bright. I also knew, intuitively, that this shouldn’t be how a deep love for God should be expressed.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

As a happily married man, I know all about love and what it should feel like. The longing, the desire, the need. I want to be with my wife all the time, at all hours of the day. I need her. I desire her. I long to spend as much time with her as possible. I also knew that, if marriage was an extension and expression of God’s love for us, a profound love of God should manifest itself similarly. But I wasn’t feeling that.

To square the notion that there was truly a God with the fact that there were so very many differing Christian faith traditions, I concluded that it must not matter what Christian church you attended, or even if you attended one; it only mattered that you were spiritual and faithful to God in whatever way he reveled Himself to you.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Seeking that love for God that I knew must exist in me, I left the non denominational church I had been attending. Because the congregation was relatively small, I felt it was only right to inform the church leadership of my decision, so I wrote a letter to the elders.

I’ve reproduced the letter here for two reasons. First of all, it illustrates very well where I was in my faith walk and how relative I thought that truth really was. Second, I think that it is a very good example of how to break up with your church if you someday find that you must. It’s pretty much a “It’s not you, it’s me” thing:

To the [Elders, Pastor, Bishop, etc.] of ______________Church,

It is with a heavy heart that we write to you today, but we feel it necessary nonetheless. Over the past year, I have come to believe that God appears to be leading me in a new direction in my faith. While it is not yet clear exactly where He intends for me to end my journey, I have come to feel strongly that I can no longer continue on my walk with Him within the [Name of Church] community.

I have come to realize, at least in my evolving understanding of Christ’s revelation, that there are many faithful Christian communities within the larger Body of Christ, and that in many instances no single denomination is able to meet the needs of all. This is not to say that Jesus is insufficient in any way. Rather that the Church, as it is shepherded by man, may be comprised of distinct bodies that are better able to help different people learn and grow with Christ in different ways.

Obviously, God created all of us as unique creatures in His image. In my mind, it stands to reason, then, that He would manifest himself to different people in ways that are meaningful to them.

I believe very strongly that [Name of Church] is a wonderful community of faithful believers. I also believe very strongly that the current leadership at [Name of Church] is doing exactly what their church needs to help the community continue to grow in the faith. I am appreciative of the strong and faithful guidance of the pulpit minister, and I feel that the members of [Name of Church] are in good hands.

Unfortunately, I no longer feel I am able to worship within this great community in good faith. The simple truth is that I do not feel that I am an appropriate fit for the congregation at [Name of Church]. It is far less a matter of whether [Name of Church] is the right place for me, and far more a matter of whether I am the right person for [Name of Church].

After much studying and prayerful deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of both myself and my children, as well as the _________ church, that I separate my affiliation.

I sincerely hope you understand that this decision was not taken lightly, and that it is in many ways painful to write these words. However, I remain firm in my conviction and as such I feel it important to inform you of my choice. Please always know that I will be ever appreciative of the people of [Name of Church] and that there will always be a special place in my heart for all of you. I am thankful for the fellowship and guidance you have provided, and wish you nothing but the best for the future.

The Truth About Denominationalism

Early on in my studies, this is where I was. Surely there must be so many Christian denominations because God wills it; otherwise, the Bible would be far more explicit than it is on so many doctrines that so many Christians differ on.

In more than one conversation with my wife while we were looking for a church, I would say “really it comes down to two choices. Either there is one true church that Jesus founded, in which case we need to find that church and join it, or it doesn’t matter where you go to church as long as you go, in which case we need to find one that works for us.”

I’ve come to recognize how arrogant the second half of that statement truly was. Find the church that works for us? As if religion were like a drive-through restaurant, where you could pick and choose whatever combination of beliefs that you liked best? The more I studied, the more I realized that God is not the author of confusion. He is the author of logic. And it is illogical to believe that there can be more than one truth.

To Defy Logic is to Defy God

Think about it objectively. Take any ostensibly Christian doctrine you like, and evaluate how different faith traditions view it. Baptists, for example, do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Members of the churches of Christ, on the other hand, believe the opposite to be true.

Truth cannot be relative. A doctrine is either true, or it is not. Two diametrically opposed doctrines cannot possibly both be true. If one is true, the other must logically be false. When exploring the question of baptism, we are faced with only two options. Either one doctrine is true, or both are false.

This is true in every facet regarding the Christian religion. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, every Christian church espouses at least one belief that another church believes to be false — hence the reason for the spilt to begin with. If we recognize that it is not logically possible for all, or even just two, of these churches to both be true, we must accept some troubling conclusions. Either none of them are true, meaning our entire religion is false, or one of them is true, meaning we’d better find out which one it is.

One Truth Or No Truth

The simple fact of the matter is that there can only be one truth. It is not correct to say that Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans, non denominational Christians and all other faith traditions are all doctrinally correct, because they differ too widely on too many points. Either one is correct, or all are wrong. There is either one true church, or there is no true church. If it seems an over simplification, it is only because logic is simple.

Finding the Fullness of the Truth

So how do we discern the truth? How do we determine which church, if any, is the one true church? Prayer is a good start; pray fervently for an open heart and an open mind. Read the scriptures — all of them, not just the ones that seem to support your personal biases and prejudices (which we all have) — and ask God to reveal Himself to you through them. And study. Study history, study doctrines, study the Bible and study theology.

If there is only one truth, then it should be readily discernible throughout the history of Christendom. If there is not only one truth, the Christianity, by logical necessity, must be false. I believe that I’ve found the truth, and that exists entirely within the Catholic Church. I urge you to go on a faith journey of your own and really, truly and objectively study the faith. Just don’t be surprised if one day you find yourself considering the Catholic faith.

Image courtesy @Doug88888 via Creative Commons

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Comments
  1. catholic123 says:

    Amazing post! God truly works in mysterious ways. I really needed to read this post tonight. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you found it, then! I was discussing this topic with my priest last night and thought the post would be timely, especially on the heels of the DNC. I believe very strongly (now) that religious relativism leads to moral relativism, which in turn leads to societal degradation. God bless you!

  2. SR says:

    Wonderful post and so heartfelt. I agree with everything you said, but I must state since there are so many different denominations, surely God has a way to work it all out. That is what I must believe. Of course being an ex-Protestant I still have many in my life who are, even my own family. I lost friends and friendships when I converted which was very painful and still is. I am happy to say though, no family members. I have a friend when she converted never spoke to her family again. She was “disowned.” That was 40 years ago. I think sometimes converts know what it is to give up everything for Christ.

    The Blessed Mother is who God sent to call me to the Church. She sat up house with me for a year. It is an amazing story really, as I knew nothing about her. One day when the time comes, I will post in my pages.

    This is really well done, and thanks so much for sharing it. I do know some of the struggles you had. God Bless, SR

    • It is amazing the hardships people go through when they make the decision to become Catholic. But then, Jesus said He came not to bring peace but a Sword. He never promised us that following Him would be easy!

      Of course, I believe very strongly that there are plenty of saints outside of the visible bounds of the Catholic church; as I once heard a much smarter man than meput it, you don’t necessarily have to be a Catholic to get to heaven, but you’ll definitely become one when you get there.

  3. SR says:

    “You’ll definitely become one when you get there.” LOL Love it! God Bless, SR

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