On many occasions, I have encountered someone who relates to me a certain frustration about a family member or friend who left the Catholic faith for another religion, who is no longer practicing the Catholic faith in which he or she was baptized and/or who is simply indifferent to any fundamental disparities among religions. They will inevitably say something to me like: “I guess it’s okay, Father, as long as they believe in God.”
While my intention here in this column is not to debate the essential teachings of each particular faith or denomination—and I do agree that a person should believe in God—the “God” that a person believes in is extremely important because Jesus told us that it is so.
Jesus reaffirmed the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures when He referenced the book of Deuteronomy:
The broader passage to which Jesus referred speaks boldly of the necessity of believing in the one, true God:
Our Lord also says something quite important regarding our path to God:
Jesus “fulfilled” (cf. Mt. 5:17) a faith background (Judaism) in which its faithful followers were strict monotheists who believed that there was only one, true God. Christians take this a step further by professing that Jesus was the Incarnate Revelation of God as His Only, Begotten Son. And so, as Catholic Christians we must believe in God as revealed to us by Jesus Himself. This is not negotiable. Any other “god” would be a “false god.”
I am sure that many well-intentioned people are certainly hoping for the best for their friends or relatives—hoping that, at the very minimum, they believe in God in some way, shape or form. However, God took the time to reveal Himself to us in the Person of Jesus. Settling for anything less than what Jesus taught once we have the teaching from God Himself is incomplete and, in many circumstances, false.
When we profess our creed at Mass (and at other times), think seriously about its meaning and various implications. Martyrs through the centuries have given their lives so that our faith—in its fullness—could be passed on to subsequent generations.
I believe in one God . . . . We say this for a reason.
Fr. Ed NamiotkaPastor