"undergoing a crisis in faith"

Hi Father,

I am a graduate student of theology from Berkley's Graduate theological union. I just read Garry Wills "Why I am A catholic". I wish I had an E-mail address for him to answer some of my questions. I am familliar with his arguments on the formation of the Catholic cannon and the papacy. I have been undergoing a crisis in faith ever since I became aware of the history of Jesus as God and the History of the Catholic Church. By the way I am a Catholic. I know that the early Jerusalem Church run by Jesus's brother James and the Apostles did not consider at the time Jesus as Being God and that the only one who did was Paul. They considered him "The great Liar" and even tried to assassinate him for teaching Jesus being God. The early apostolic churches did not even consider the letters of Paul for the first 200 years. Jesus's divinity was something that was created 300 years later by emperor Constantine and his council of Nicea. Also the idea of the trinity and Mary as being "The Virgin Mary" was also a man made construct. What I dont understand is after knowing all this why he is still a Catholic. His reasons were weak at the end of his book. The reason I get is that he accepts the Nicean Creed, but with everything else being suspect as a man made creation this seems a week argument. Can you help me in this crisis of faith I am undergoing. Thanks.



Dear Michael,

Thanks for writing. Always good to hear from university students. Some of my friends studied at the Berkeley GTU. They affectionately referred to it as "bezerk-ly." Is that still the case?

I studied Church history and the read many of the Fathers when I was a theology student (68-72). Have tried to keep up, but would be interested in knowing the sources for some of things you mention in the email.

Concerning your crisis of faith, I would encourage you to give Ken Whitehead a try. He has written a book which addresses some of the questions you raise. Below is something about the book. The full review can be found at: http://credo.stormloader.com/Reviews/oneholy.htm

There are of course many other good sources. I assume that you have read Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and the other early Fathers. I encourage you to read Whitehead and then re-read the early Fathers in order to best make up your own mind.

I put a couple of things on my website concerning Jesus' divinity and the foundation of the Church. Would be interested in your reaction.

Otherwise, Michael, you do have my prayers. That of course is the bottom line, that we bring our doubts and troubles before the Lord.


Fr. Phil Bloom

- A Book Review -


One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic 

By Kenneth D. Whitehead
Ignatius Press (334 pp.; $14.95) 1/800-651-1531


Reviewed By
In this excellent work of Apologetics well known Catholic author Kenneth D. Whitehead, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and a Director of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, has turned his attention to demonstrating convincingly that the Church described in the pages of the New Testament and by historians of the "Early Church" is identical with the Catholic Church of today. He writes:

The visible body that today bears the name 'the Catholic Church' is the same Church that Christ established to perpetuate in the world His words and His works - and His own divine life - and to bring salvation and sanctification to mankind. Despite superficial differences in certain appearances -and just as an adult differs from a child in some appearances but still remains the same person- the world-wide Catholic Church today remains the Church that was founded upon Peter and the other Apostles in the first century in the Near East. The early Church was-always-nothing else but the Catholic Church.... The early Church has not disappeared - she exists now! (page 12)

With meticulous care he examines the historical evidence provided in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles (and in the writings of the post-New Testament writers) regarding the nature of the Church Christ established. By the year 100 AD that "early Church" (founded on the Apostles) was clearly a visible and organized group of believers led by bishops, priests, and deacons. It was not only hierarchical in structure but it, moreover, taught a definite Creed and whose worship was characterized by specific liturgical and sacramental rites. "There was nothing in the least vague or ill-defined about what kind of organized, visible, hierarchical community the early Church was from the very beginning" (page 32).

Our author's research reinforces the classic refutation by Catholic theologians of the basic pretensions of Protestantism:

that the Church established by Christ is not to be identified with any visible society or institution in this world; and

the hierarchical, liturgical, sacramental, and doctrinal characteristics easily seen as existing in the 'early Church" represented "corruptions" of Christ's teachings.

To the contrary, the historical evidence contained in the writings of such witnesses as St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (not to mention the later Fathers of the Church) amply illustrate that the "early Church" never consisted of "independent, self-selected, and self-governing congregations" but rather constituted a communion of local churches linked together in one single Body of Christ by an apostolic succession of Bishops joined to their leader and head, the Bishop of Rome.

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