“I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.”
With those words professed, this little Lutheran boy traversed almost 500 years of controversy and division between his founder and the Pope of Rome.
I did the unthinkable. I became Catholic.
My entire story from growing up Lutheran, to making a stop in Non-denominationalism, and eventually to Catholicism is a long one. The story itself is quite fascinating, because I have unofficially entitled it “How a Mormon Made Me Catholic.” I have yet to write out the entire testimony in detail, which I will do soon.
In the end, the intellectual process of assenting to the propositions of the Catholic Church was not the most difficult part in becoming Catholic. The most difficult part, for me, consisted in dealing with the emotional baggage of ‘crossing over’ to the other side of the Protestant/Catholic divide.
When a Lutheran becomes a Baptist, no sweat. But when a Protestant becomes a Catholic, it’s a big deal. It involves a thorough intellectual analysis, months, maybe years of study, inquiry, and classes. You have to ‘come out Catholic’ to your friends and family, which unbelievably, sometimes comes at the risk of loosing some of them. And finally, you have to go to confession, which is no small deal for somebody who has never been.
While my parents didn’t like my decision at the time in 2006, they eventually came around to not only accept that I was Catholic, but they decided that they also wanted to come back to Rome, which they did in 2010. Thanks be to God.
But like I said, I’ll leave that story for another post.
For now, here are the three main reasons I became Catholic. (Please note: before you comment, my explanations here are meant to be brief. Books upon books have been written on these subjects. Apologetic and theological comments resulting in discussions which belong on theological forums will be blocked.)
There’s no way I can write all of the historical reasons why to be Catholic. But there’s no doubt about it: the Catholic Church has history on her side when it comes to theology. Whether its infant baptism, the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, or the teaching authority of the bishops of the Church, I had to eventually concede that the early Church, as revealed by history, did not have Protestant theology.
I’m simply going to stop there, because entire books have been written on the subject, and it’s not a great place for a blog post.
There are several resources available online that you can find with a simple search on “The Fathers of the Church.” A great resource for this topic is Jimmy Akin’s book, “The Fathers Know Best.” Check it out here.
There came a point in my conversion when I no longer believed in Martin Luther’s man-made dogma known as sola scriptura, or “scripture alone” theology. What do I mean? Undoubtedly you’ve heard of “Bible Churches”, “Bible Christians”, or you have met Christians that say they only use the Bible as their sole guide to faith. In other words, if it’s not in the Bible, they’re not believing in it.
I realized an ironic fact, though. Holding the belief that everything regarding faith, morals, and theology must come from the Bible is not actually biblical. That is, the Bible doesn’t say that your church should be exclusively bible-based, or that you should only use the Bible to “do theology.”
In fact, the scripture points out that the church is the “pillar and the bulwark of the truth” (1 Timothy 15-16). That, of course, is not justification for turning to the Church as a co-authoritative entity, but it negates the claim that the Bible has to be the sole authority to be sure.
And we see the problems with sola scriptura today. Ask five pastors what a verse means and you will get seven different answers. Don’t worry, though — each of them prayed to the Holy Spirit and are “true Christians.” So you can trust their interpretation.
There are arguments that counter these Catholic points, and if you’ve ever visited a Catholic forum you have seen pages upon pages, years upon years of debates between people who have nothing better to do with the precious time God has given them on earth, other than to go back and forth into oblivion.
For me, accepting the position that sola scriptura was a man-made tradition was enough for me to seek a new paradigm or context in which to interpret scripture. I found the answer deep in history. And that is that the scripture was given as an authority, to be read in context of the teachings of the apostles and their descendants. It’s not what my pastor thinks the Bible says, or what I think it says, but it’s what the Apostles teach it says.
My favorite resource regarding these points is without a doubt Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. Every Catholic should have a copy of this book and read it regularly in order to effectively witness to the faith with strong points. I always keep a copy in my car to hand out to pastors and other Christians who authentically want to know why I believe what I believe.
The Catholic Church has a claim that any Protestant ought to seriously investigate before deciding to be Protestant. That claim is this: the Catholic Eucharist, or Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, is somehow the actual and real body and blood of Jesus Christ himself.
Think about it for just one second. If you are a Christian, a Protestant Christian, and somebody claims that they receive the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ every morning at church, the same personal Lord and Savior of every Christian, wouldn’t you think that that is a claim you would want to at least check out and investigate?
I mean, think about it! The body and blood of God himself! Available to eat and drink! What a remarkable thing! Any Christian who loves Jesus Christ ought to investigate and see if what the Catholic Church teaches in this matter is true. Because if it is true, and you’re that Protestant who is not currently receiving the body and blood of God, you’re surely missing out on something phenomenal.
Okay… breather. I get excited when I talk to Protestants about this one.
But really, it’s worth a second look to be sure. Which is what I did.
Once you believe that the Catholic Church, via apostolic succession and the passing on of the gifts of the priesthood, actually has the power to change bread and wine into the the body and blood of Jesus Christ, there’s no going back. It’s too good. Too real. Too incredible not to want it.
Some resources on the Eucharist:
- Video: How Can We Know Jesus Is Really Present in the Eucharist?
- A Eucharist Encyclical by John Paul II
- Book: Jesus and The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre, Forward by Scott Hahn