From Agnostic to Catholic
|As you might remember, I am a convert to the Catholic
faith; I was not however, always a religious person. I used to be an
agnostic, but on top of that, I actually had a very negative attitude
towards religion and religious people -- I thought they were stupid. I'm
not going to waste time telling you exactly how I was transformed from
such a state into a devout Christian, but suffice it to say that I was
blessed with some insights that opened my mind to the existence of
I only tell you this because I want you to understand that I had no special affinity for the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). In fact, I was raised without religion altogether; I didn't know Catholicism from Protestantism from Zoroastrianism. But when I came to the conclusion that Christianity was where the Truth lay, I became aware of a few other facts that forced me to conclude that the RCC is the Church that has the full Deposit of Faith.
Now, often when Protestants and Catholics discuss these things, they get bogged down talking about doctrinal differences. I will not discuss the nuts and bolts of doctrine here, basically because it is not relevant to this issue -- it is not why I became a Catholic. Why I say this, will become clear shortly. As I grew closer to Christ, I started to learn more about Him, His teachings, and of course the history of Christianity -- and I discovered some very important things.
Firstly, the Catholic Church was the first organized Christian Church, bar none. In fact, for the first thousand years of Christianity, there were no other churches (until the Greek schism in 1054). The first Protestant denomination, as you may know, was not formed until the Reformation in the early sixteenth century.
Now, here is why this is significant: many people question the RCC's teachings. They do not believe as we Catholics do, that she is led by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16f; 16:13) and therefore cannot err when stating matters of doctrine definitively. They in essence, believe the RCC is an institution led solely by humans and therefore subject to human error. However, these people very much believe in Jesus; they believe He is the risen Savior, they believe that He walked on water and performed a plenitude of miracles -- as I do.
The problem is though, and I realized this at one point, holding these two beliefs is illogical. This is because we only know about Jesus in the first place because of the RCC; for the first thousand years of Christianity it was only the RCC that carried the Word of Jesus forward -- again, there were no other churches. Now, if the RCC is so flawed, so prone to error, why believe her about Jesus in the first place? For this reason, I believe that faith in Jesus, and faith in His Church (the RCC) are inextricably linked. I simply can't say that the RCC is fallible, but Jesus divine; the former promulgated the latter, and if the former is true, then the latter is thrown into question.
Now, one could make the claim that we know about Jesus because of Scripture, that we needn't rely upon the word of the RCC. This is another argument that is illogical, because the RCC was the caretaker of Scripture during the aforementioned thousand years. And here, it is important to take into consideration the realities of the time. This was prior to the invention of the printing press, and there were not all that many copies of the Bible in circulation. The few that there were, were in the hands of an elite few -- and these few were Catholics (mainly monks, priests, the clergy). And the same logic applies: if the RCC is so flawed, why should we believe that she safeguarded Scripture properly? If she is so flawed, how can we be sure that Scripture is still as it was meant to be by its progenitors?
If the RCC's doctrinal judgments have been subject to the effects of human frailty, then there is no saying how badly she could have abused Scripture during her stewardship of it. And what about the validity of Scripture as it was originally written? How can we be sure those writers wrote the Truth? Because it was divinely inspired? Well, this is just another piece of information that was carried forward by the RCC.
And a little side note here: it is an historical fact that during the "Dark Ages," a treasure trove of knowledge was preserved by Catholic monks. This was subsequent to the fall of the Roman Empire; during this time civilization had regressed, and much knowledge would have been lost were it not for the RCC.
Thirdly, the argument can be made that the RCC is "unBiblical," that some of her doctrines are not congruent with Scripture. Here once again, I must go back to the above point: the RCC was the caretaker of Scripture for all those years. If she is fallible, then I have reason to doubt not only her doctrines, but also Scripture. If she is infallible, then I must believe Scripture, but also her explanation of it. We cannot logically trust Scripture without trusting her, and if we trust her we must believe her doctrines. In fact, Scripture is one of her doctrines; it is something that she has taught, promulgated, disseminated, and preserved throughout some of the darkest times of the history of man. And furthermore, she was doing this for a millennium, when no one else was. To believe in Scripture is to believe her doctrines; to truly doubt her doctrines would necessarily mean to doubt Scripture.
Lastly, I would take something I said earlier even a step further, although this is something that is more difficult to prove. I have thus far said that the RCC has been the caretaker and preserver of Scripture, but I would say that her role was even more significant than that. I would say that she was the creator of Scripture (the New Testament), in that, I contend that the Apostles were the first Catholics. Now, I know that many would say that they were not called such, and I'm aware of this. Those people might say that for this reason it is incorrect to regard the RCC as Christ's original Church, because the original believers are called "Christians" in the Bible (cf. Acts 11:26). However, the term Catholic was used very early on in the history of Christianity (by the way, the term simply means "universal"; a very fitting name being that Christ said His Word was for everyone), and the fact is, all institutions take on names. For instance, a Protestant (if asked what is their church affiliation) will not say he is a member of the "Christian" church, he will say I am a Methodist, or a Baptist, or an Anglican, etc. And, while Jesus' original followers might have been called "Christian" before "Catholic," a Jew-for-Jesus could point out that they were called "Jewish" before they were called "Christian." The fact is, if a boy is given a different name when he is one year old, it doesn't mean he has become a different being. Similarly, Christ's Church, when taking on a different name, did not become a different entity.
Well, these are the reasons why I became a Catholic. I hope I didn't bore you with my lengthy dissertation, but it's a subject that deserves to be done justice. I really appreciate your writing me, it's nice to run into people who like talking about the Truth.
Yours in Christ, Templar
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