"I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."
This is the profession a person makes when he enters into full communion with the Catholic Church, and it summarizes my worldview. I believe it all and strive to live it with God's help. In this blog I intend to share my thoughts on matters of faith and life from a Catholic perspective.
I was raised United Methodist and my wife was raised Lutheran. Why are we now Catholic? Here (reproduced) is a brief explanation:
The decision to become Catholic ultimately boils down to accepting the authority of the Catholic Church to preserve and to teach faithfully that which God revealed in Jesus Christ. That is the commitment I made last December after a couple of years of thinking, reading and praying. After Amy and I were married, we had to decide which church to attend. I was raised Methodist while she was raised Lutheran, but neither of us were overly attached to the distinctive doctrines of either denomination. Amy had many positive experiences with the Caltech Christian Fellowship in college, so we also considered the possibility of joining a more Evangelical church. After visiting several congregations around the Twin Cities, we defaulted to the Methodist Church in which I grew up. However, I wasn’t quite settled about the decision.
For some reason I was not satisfied with just picking a church where we liked the music or the preaching or the people or felt comfortable. I didn’t want to join a church unless I agreed that what they taught was true. But, how was I to know what was true myself so that I could choose a church? Protestant churches rely on the Bible as their final authority for discerning what God wants us to believe and how to live. Through the prayerful study of scripture, each person tests doctrine against the Bible and trusts that the Holy Spirit will guide him correctly. The problem is that honest, prayerful and scholarly Protestants still come to different conclusions, and not just on peripheral issues. For example, once a person has become a Christian can he lose his salvation? I think that’s a very important question, but there is no consensus among Christians. Also, when Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body ... Do this in remembrance of me” what did he mean? Some believe that at Holy Communion the bread symbolizes Christ’s body and we simply remember his sacrifice as we eat it. Others (Catholics included) believe that the bread and wine cease to be bread and wine and become Jesus himself, fully human and fully God. It only continues to look like bread and wine. If the former is correct, then the latter is committing idolatry by worshipping a piece of bread. If the latter is correct, then the first is denying a truly miraculous manifestation of God. Again, it’s an important question. It’s either one or the other. What we BELIEVE has no effect on what something IS. I was faced with the fact that no matter how long I studied and prayed, if I relied on my own limited judgment there would always be someone who had studied and prayed more who honestly disagreed. The Bible alone doesn’t work.
I still believed in the reliability of the Bible and the historicity of Jesus life, death and resurrection. It just seemed like our ability to interpret it was flawed. What I realized was that Jesus made some strong promises to his disciples. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (Jn 16:13) “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20) Later, the apostle Paul says he writes so that “you may know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15) Whatever form the church took, it must in some way be led into that truth which Christ came to reveal, and which he promised to protect through the Holy Spirit. If Protestants were right about not needing an authority beyond the Bible, then one might expect to see some kind of progress toward agreement since the Reformation. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened with many contradictory denominations. Clearly, they cannot all be led by the same Holy Spirit.
Historically, the Christian Church was the Catholic Church. By that I mean that it believed the things that the Catholic Church today believes, and it recognized the authority of the Pope and the Bishops in union with him to be guided by the Holy Spirit and prevented from officially teaching error. This authority, as exercised in the early councils, established all of the foundational Christian beliefs including the divinity of Christ, the incarnation, the Triune nature of God, etc., as well as the canon of scripture itself. Based on Jesus’ words, whatever the Church was it must still be, or else God had failed. I recognized the need for a place of appeals in matters of truth and found that it existed within the Catholic Church.
To clarify, I’m just a plain Roman Catholic who accepts the Pope et al. I was received into the Church on December 19, 2002 at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, MN and my wife came in a bit later at the Easter Vigil 2004 at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul (along with Peter who was baptized). It wasn’t a matter of coming to my own conclusion about every doctrine and then joining the Catholic Church because she agrees with me. Rather, it was accepting the authority of the Church and thereby everything she teaches in the same way one accepts the Bible as God’s Word. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox reject part or all of this authority. Of course, I have found that the Church gives sound reasons for everything she teaches.