Is it more important to believe in God or to believe in the Church?

By Paul Dion, STL

We've all been in contact with the Catholic Church for many years now, some more, some less. And you have perhaps noticed that Catholics are true "believers" in their Church. They talk of their Church as "Our Faith".

Catholics have been accused by others, clergy and lay alike, of believing more in their Church than in God.

Some of you reading this "Burning Question" have become Catholics during the last year or so. Some of you are preparing for the moment of Baptism or full membership.

So the Burning Question this week is: What is more important, to believe in God or to believe in the Church?

If you've thought of this before, you have an opinion. If this is a new question, thank God that you are getting a chance to delve into your conscience about it. God bless you all.

Post a comment today. Share your thoughts with us about this very incisive topic.



  1. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Of course it is more important to believe in God, however, He did send His Son, Jesus, so that we might achieve salvation and eternal life by believing in Him and modeling our lives on His Son. The church Jesus established continues to lead us to everlasting life through Scripture, Tradition and the Sacraments. Its just that being Catholic is so much a way of life for many of us that it feels like Home already, at least it does for me. My fellow Catholics give me strength and courage, are sent to me by God who does provide for my every need. I get my strength through God who has provided a place, Church, (the people) and fellowship for me. He does truly provide the desires of my heart. Nothing and no one else does it for me like He does. Too bad it took me a long time to realize that. But here I am, thanks be to God.

  2. Anonymous12:43 AM

    I would have to say that it is my belief in God that led me to the Roman Catholic Church. So for me, my belief in God comes first.

    However, I also believe that my association with the Church will strive to increase and strengthen my faith in God.

    I believe God doesn't care which church we belong to, as long as we strive to express and share the unconditional love He sends to our heart.

    I believe it's true, as you have told us, that heaven is obtainable, outside of the Roman Catholic Church.

    However, God has given every soul freewill. It is the right of every soul to express this given right in the manner of their choosing.
    What is most important though, is that those of us who (through our freewill) have chosen to take up the Cross of Jesus, should strive to the best of our ability to reach out to those among us with unconditional love in the hope that they will (freely) chose to take up the Cross as well.

    In conclusion, first there was God, then religion, and every soul in heaven, arrived there through their own freewill. God created us, He continually fills our heart with fuel, He gave us the Book as our road map, and He is on call 24/7 to assist us through the end of our journey.

  3. Anonymous12:43 AM

    God and His church are in complete oneness. You cannot believe in one and not believe in the other because God and His church are not two different entities - they are one!

  4. Anonymous12:44 AM

    God, hands down! The Church is only a guide to get there.

  5. Anonymous12:44 AM

    Coming from a little Jewish boy I would say it's more important to believe in God.

  6. Anonymous12:47 AM

    This question is like asking which is more true right or left? Do you believe in up or down? The Nicene Creed begins with the assertion of our faith in "one God, the Father, the Almighty... and goes on to further proclaim our belief in one Lord, Jesus Christ... and then in the Holy Spirit, from both proceeding) and only then in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. So it seems that belief in God precedes and informs our belief in the Church. The church is our haven against the winds and storms of error,
    self-centeredness and fear of death; it is the fold in which Christ shelters His flock, and it is the body through which he shares his gift of love with the world but it remains a temporal reality, like so many other things, it has "come to pass" rather than abide. -We are guaranteed that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church Jesus founded but when time
    and space come to an end those gates will be closed and the Pilgrim Church will be transformed "in the twinklling of an eye" into the the Church
    Triumphant. I have, from time to time, observed that the shepherds have seemed more concerned with the safety of the fold than of the flock. This was sadly evident in the unfolding of the abuse scandal. I can understand that some may have felt that protecting the faithful from a scandal which
    might undermine their faith and endanger their souls might have seemed so important as to out weigh other, difficult to accept, considerations. Time has demonstrated the error of that choice. One can believe in God with out the Church only at the cost of never being sure just what it is one believes, or in Whom it is one is professing belief.

  7. Paul Dion, STL1:10 AM

    By Paul Dion, STL

    You all did so well in your reactions to the questions. It was a question of importance, not one of timing. One of you said that God and the church are one entity. That is a very daring statement, and not really correct.

    The Church, founded by Jesus is so intimately related to God that it is impossible to love, appreciate and follow God's will without believing in the Church.

    It is just like getting to know what I stand for. All of you who know me don't know me alone. You know me as the spouse of Isabel. You knew her before you came to know me, but now that you know us both, you have deeper and more intimate insights to our personalities than if you had the knowledge of only one of us.

    I am reminded of the saying of the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, "There are not 100 people in the world who really hate the Catholic Church. There are, however, millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church is." Which brings to mind the Mac Davis song, "To know me is to love me..."

    Faith in the Church is the key to our salvation.

    Think of the Hebrews who did not have a "church". They came to know God through signs that He gave them, mostly managed through the hearts that He had touched through His Spirit.

    We Catholics have inherited the Faith that our forefathers, the Jewish people had in the Temple and the Prophets. Jesus came to perfect that Faith and enlighten the world with a new relationship between humans and God. That is the relationship that we are all trying to deepen within ourselves on a day to day basis.

    We struggle to become perfect in and through the institution that Jesus left us. He came to bring us into the Kingdom of God. He ushered us into the ante-room, the Church so that we could live the foretaste of our eternal reward.

    Yes, in the order of Importance Faith in God comes first, I would call it "1a." I dare not call faith in the Church "2", I have to throw "1aa" on the table and let you meditate on it.

    While you're doing that, don't forget to pause your mind on some of the synonyms for Church: "Communion of Saints," "Mystical Body of Christ," "Bride of Christ," "Kingdom of God on Earth," "Mother and Teacher."

    Is it any wonder then that Catholics are not ashamed to call Catholicism, Our Faith?

    We Catholics believe that we are born into an eternal life, for better or for worse. We believe that Jesus left us with not only the keys to the Kingdom, but to an entry into the cloak-room, so to speak.

    We believe that He takes us after Him thanks to His Death and Resurrection. We believe that through our baptism we died, were buried and arose in Him already.

    We believe that the Church is therefore our home. We're just wiping our feet on the welcome mat for now. So let's just keep on wipin' so that we will be ready when Our Host comes to swish us into His Divine Presence, the fullness of the life that we have already been given.

    I'll see you all there. Please don't cry at my funeral. You can be a little envious (not too much, that would be a sin), but don't you dare be sad. Remember what you just read, the famous words of St. Paul:

    What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not!
    2 How can we who died to sin yet live in it?
    3 Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
    4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
    5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
    6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
    7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
    8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
    9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.
    10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.
    11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus."

    This what we believe as Church. This is the Kingdom of God. It's a little foggy for now, but eternity is a long time, so don't worry, it will get clearer.

  8. The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that said, 'Life is just an audtition'. I was so struck by it that I keep going back to it. We are all in dress rehearsal for the Real thing, eternity with God, who sent his Son Jesus to show us how its done. How we live this life, following his example, will determine where we will spend eternity. In the kingdom or NOT. It is essential that we take advantage of all the 'extras' provided, Eucharist, Scripture, fellowship with one another and service to our brothers and sisters and the Holy Spirit's guidance in order to be in the main play. With Jesus as our model, brother and friend, how can we miss? At times it seems so easy...other times not so easy, but that bumper sticker really put my thinking cap on overdrive. I just pray I don't burn out and fail to show up at the Main Gate!