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Many religions claim to be the only true religion, including most branches of Christianity. Among the major Christian traditions, are there any documented statements of faith that include the possibility that their own beliefs might not be the "one true religion"? In other words, is there any literature treating religious doubt accepted in the tradition as part of the tradition, and not examples of individual cases of religious doubt?

If there is such literature, and if this point is covered within it, how do these major traditions view themselves in light of the "risk" involved if they were wrong in the claim to exclusive truth?

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1Co 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 1Co 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 1Co 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. –  caseyr547 Jun 19 '13 at 13:27
    
@user4813 i asked this question to start off with hope only in Christ –  caseyr547 Jun 19 '13 at 13:59
    
Okay I've split out the first of what might be two main questions we could make out of your original material. I'm pretty sure the case studies you show are not going to get you anything constructive unless you were to take them one case at a time and really interested in Christianity's teaching on the issues, not your own world view. In the mean time I suggest we let this question run as is for now and then talk about how to get the second one (about historical reversals of positions, e.g. Catholic dogma renouncing previous dogma) later after we get a handle on this one. Savvy? –  Caleb Jun 19 '13 at 14:02
    
standards of a believer involve suffering this should answer your first previous point –  caseyr547 Jun 19 '13 at 14:17
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@user4813 A question not being a good fit for this site is in no way an indication of whether "believers are comfortable" with it. Frankly the existence of this kind of question in real life doesn't make me uncomfortable in the slightest. Don't be too quick to read an expected outcome into people's reactions. –  Caleb Jun 20 '13 at 8:55
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I don't know much about Unitarian Universalism, but here are a few facts and references relevant to your question:

  • It looks like contemporary Unitarian Universalists do not identify themselves with Christianity any more than with any other religion.

  • Few, if any, Christian groups would consider individuals who hold the beliefs espoused by the UUA to be Christians.

  • Originally, both Unitarians and Universalists -- separate groups until 1961 -- identified themselves as Christians (UUA.org History page).

  • The "Quotes from Unitarian Universalists" page from this UU congregation's site offers the following:

"Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the attendant of truth. Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery. A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief. Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false. Let no one fear for the truth, that doubt may consume it; for doubt is the testing of belief. The truth stands boldly and unafraid; it is not shaken by the testing." - Robert T. Weston

  • A number of individual UU church sites describe doubt as a "virtue" (Examples here and here).

Edit: I would also suggest -- though I'm not sure what authorities to cite -- that a significant proportion of the subset of Christians who might generally be described as "well educated" in matters of the faith would consent that, implicit in the concept of "faith," there is some acknowledgement of the concept of doubt. Does that make sense? That is, the very statement, "I believe that x is true," can, to some hearers, demonstrate that the speaker admits of the possibility of error -- especially when contrasted with the similar, though not equivalent assertion, "x is true." The former is a statement about one's personal beliefs, qualified by the inclusion of a first person pronoun; the latter is formulated as a objective statement of fact.

I think we all, at some point in our respective lives, have "believed" statements which we later learned were untrue -- importantly, however, we have also "believed" in things that we later found to be factually accurate.

That may contribute something to explain the essential absence of formal references to doubt in historic Christian literature.

It's difficult to explain. I'm probably making it more complicated than necessary.

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Wikipedia summary: Unitarian was originally a particular brand of non-trinitarianism that also did not believe in the godhood of Jesus. "In the past, the vast majority of members of Unitarian churches were Unitarians also in belief. Over time, however, some Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists moved away from the traditional Christian roots of Unitarianism." "Contemporary Unitarian Universalism espouses a pluralist approach to belief, whereby members may describe themselves as humanist, agnostic, deist, atheist, pagan, Christian, monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, or no label" –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 10:13
    
It sounds like UUA for some reason evolved towards acceptance (and embracing) of diversity. I wonder what caused them to take this spiritual path -- there are other Christian sects that deny Trinity, or the position of Jesus as an actual God. –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 10:29
    
When 99.9 out of 100(99.9%) accept Jesus as God, 0.1% cannot be termed as others? –  Seek forgiveness Jun 20 '13 at 11:31
    
What are you referring to? But in any case, an argument from majority is a pretty weak argument. "99.9%" of all human beliefs throughout the course of history were eventually proven wrong. –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 12:03
    
That was like top headline news on 1st april. –  Seek forgiveness Jun 20 '13 at 13:54
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Many religions claim to be the only true religion, including most branches of Christianity. Among the major Christian traditions, are there any documented statements of faith that include the possibility that their own beliefs might not be the "one true religion"? In other words, is there any literature treating religious doubt accepted in the tradition as part of the tradition, and not examples of individual cases of religious doubt?

I think what is important to clarify is the difference between these two sentences above, which I will highlight by proposing two statements below:

  1. "We, as a faith community, include doubting we are correct in our belief as an official part of our belief, and so we announce these doubts in [doubt literature x]."

  2. "We, as a faith community, understand that doubt is a normal human experience and that our adherents will likely, on occasion, doubt some or all of the tenets of our faith, and so we address this experience in [doubt literature x]."

I am not aware of any "major Christian tradition" that has an accepted literature of the first type; that kind of institutionalized doubt is really not the purview of any religion, but is perhaps more the territory of scientists and skeptics. It is unlikely religions would succeed as social phenomena if they made it clear in their official PR that "hey, we could be wrong on all this."* And in this I agree with Steve's answer below.

(*Though, humans being as strange as they are, it would be fascinating to be shown that I am wrong and that there are such traditions and statements.)

At best, some Christians may acknowledge that, while they are not wrong, other religions are "as correct as they are" in that they are all paths to the same union with the divine. I think Fr. Thomas Keating, for one, may be amenable to this, though he is not representative of the entirety of Catholicism by any means.

As regards statement (2), though: In the Catholic tradition, there is something of a literature in this regards, yes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, allows some leeway for a distinction they make between voluntary doubt and involuntary doubt:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated, doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. (CCC 2088)

Also, within the Catholic tradition there is also treatment of periods of spiritual torpor or feeling a lack of God's presence--sometimes referred to as "spiritual dryness" or also "acedia", and that may include doubts. One often refers to St. John of the Cross's poem, The Dark Night of the Soul as a Catholic touchstone on this issue and that title has come to refer to the phenomenon itself. In addition to St. John of the Cross, notable Catholic figures like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who, it was found, claimed to have suffered from it for just over 50 years.

If there is such literature, and if this point is covered within it, how do these major traditions view themselves in light of the "risk" involved if they were wrong in the claim to exclusive truth?

I am not aware of much in this regard, other than perhaps Pascal's Wager, which has been incorporated into the literature of various Christian apologists, in which he argues that the "risk" is something like finite inconvenience (as compared to the risk of infinite suffering).

Again, as Steve essentially pointed out, trying to promote religion by calling attention to the "what if we're wrong?" issue is sort of like trying to sell used cars by pointing out the puddles of transmission fluid all over the lot.

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+1 for CCC reference and multiple historic references. –  Philip Schaff Jun 20 '13 at 19:56
    
OK, interesting citations. I will upvote. I still prefer @PhilipSchaff's answer if I have to choose between these two (though your answer provides illuminating material) –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 21:49
    
On Point 1, the Witnesses at least do believe that their beliefs may be clarified in time ("the light shines ever brighter"), so they are treated as accurate, but open to revision. Also, they have some widely accepted theories not treated as definitive. This happens also in other religions; see for example the Catholic belief in Limbo: widely accepted as a reasonable belief, but never treated as definitive (until, eventually, it was definitively rejected). That could be seen as a form of Point 1: "We think this is likely to be true, but do not claim certainty." –  TRiG Jun 25 '13 at 12:39
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"Is there any literature treating religious doubt accepted in the tradition as part of the tradition?" That's an oxymoron, isn't it? "We believe Jesus is God, unless, of course, He isn't." That wouldn't be a statement of faith. Statements of faith are the rock-steady parts of the faith that they cling to as part of their identity.

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I think that is probably oversimplifying what is a complex human phenomenon (religious belief). Catholics, for example, have taken interest in the posthumously publicized case of Mother Theresa of Calcutta's long crisis of faith, and have, on some occasions, discussed it in the context of St. John of the Cross's "dark night of the soul". Perhaps it could be argued that, at least treating doubt, at least in some fashion, actually lends credibility to a religion (as opposed to categorically dismissing doubt as though it is beneath the dignity of the adherents of that faith). –  Chelonian Jun 20 '13 at 17:30
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@chelonian, exactly the person I had in mind! I'm surprised no-one brought M. Theresa up before. But she was an individual (and she continue to preach while she had her own doubts). –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 17:56
    
@Steve: so you see no reason to doubt, and if there ever was any higher-up in the church who did see reasons (as I'm sure there were), you'd rather they kept it secret? –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 18:05
    
In any case, this answer disputes the premises of the question, instead of answering it. If the answer really is "no", say so. I'm going to accept the other answer, though I'm surprised no literature examples came from the Catholic or Protestant camp. –  justbelieve Jun 20 '13 at 18:08
    
@user4813 Before you accept, maybe I'll try a shot at it. A few major things out of Catholicism come to mind, amplifying what I wrote in the comment to Steve. –  Chelonian Jun 20 '13 at 18:59
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