I was slowly rediscovering Christianity during last few years and I’ve decided to make a really informed and intellectually satisfying choice about a Church to join. After months of reading official documents, apologetic and theological books, and finally of hundreds of forum discussions and flame wars, my only reflection is that the choice of a denomination is essentially epistemological. I tried to build some sort of meta-argumentation which might help in my quest for faith and I failed. I am wondering whether anyone might help me to find any flaw in it. Here is my reasoning:
1.The Bible was written in a precise historical context and its final form was sanctioned by specific authorities in well defined circumstances. Even though I recognize the essential role of the Scripture, there is no doubt it is a part of the Holy Tradition. I need the Holy Tradition not only to interpret the Bible (one’s reason is not sufficient) but simply to believe that it is really the Word of God. In other words I feel there is a logical fallacy in Sola Scriptura of Protestants. Therefore, when considering which “Church” is right, I rejected all forms of Protestantism.
2. Ok, the Holy Tradition is great. There were 7 ecumenical Councils in the first millennium explaining Christ’s message and what heretical beliefs are. And then came Photius and the subsequent schism. I have read hundreds of orthodox-catholic polemics. The arguments of both groups were VERY convincing and I couldn’t decide who is right. I realized that not only I am not able to interpret the Bible but that the Holy Tradition also needs to be explained. Aha! Here is a point for Catholics because what I needed was the Magisterium. Cardinals and Popes interpreting and explaining the teaching of the Bible and of the Holy Tradition. I love orthodox theology but I just feel that in the Orthodox Church there is no consensus on some issues only because for the last 1000 years there was no authority capable of imposing any consensus. In other words it is sometimes quite difficult to discern what the Orthodox Church really teaches from what is an individual theologian’s opinion. Not to mention that the administrative chaos of different overlapping jurisdictions does not encourage conversions.
3.So far so good. So I am in the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that Pope Francis is a fantastic leader. To understand better the Church I went back to the documents of the SVII. I read, among others, “Dignitatis humanae” and I felt it is a beautiful and wise document. And then it started. All my Catholic friends who treat religion seriously (I know many people who attend the Catholic mass but their faith is very superficial) are traditionalists. Even if not all of them are openly Lefebvrists, all of them believe that the sin of modernism is more and more omnipresent in the Church and that Pope Francis is actually a terrible pope. More importantly even, they believe the Latin mass is much more powerful and more beautiful that the modern one (I actually agree) and that many SVII documents and especially Dignitatis humanae are contrary to the not-so-old teachings of the Holy Magisterium. Their arguments are pretty much solid. One of my friends told me: “well, here you have all the evidence, use your reason and you’ll see we are right”. Wait what? I decided that I am not able to interpret the Bible on my own, that my reason is not sufficient to decide which tradition (orthodox or catholic) is right and now I am expected to use reason to decide whether the modern teachings of Magisterium are conform with the older ones? My trad friends do not seem that to understand that if I agree with them, I would undermine the whole reasoning that brought me to the Catholic Church. How am I supposed to interpret teachings of the Magisterium if the Magisterium is presumed to change its own teaching? I could as well use the reason to interpret the Bible on my own or perhaps I should have chosen to join the Orthodox Church. Or maybe the Anglican one (it was C.S Lewis who brought me back to Christianity, so it would be a reasonable choice) Honestly, I am at loss. Is there any flaw in my logic?
I would be eternally grateful (perhaps literally) to any person who actually reads this and may help me in any way.