Why Catholic? My Story on Why I Became a Catholic.

I decided to be Catholic based on theological reasons and based on things I found in the bible. I don’t believe in choosing a denomination based on how you feel. I feel like it should be grounded in reason. Choosing on how you feel is typically how people choose a church it seems, at least it is nowadays.

To start off my story, I wanted to be a preacher. With that desire, I knew it came with great responsibility. The bible warns about being a false teacher and I was worried that I could be one. It was my responsibility that if I was to be teaching I needed to figure out which denomination I thought had the truth and believed in my heart to be what Jesus meant. This was really instilled in me when one of my friends mentioned how he didn’t think every church was right, that there had to be one that held the whole truth. He also believed that salvation may be contingent on that too.

While I was 18, I started following some outspoken fundamentalists on twitter. They would criticize well-known preachers that showed on television. I remember there was this one tweet that said something like “false teachers don’t know they are false teachers.” This struck me as something I had never thought of and opened the possibility to me that I could become a false teacher and not know it.

Originally when I read the passages in the bible about false teaching, there was this inherent idea that the teachers knew they were false and were doing something they knew to be wrong. This concept I held unconsciously was revealed to me with that tweet and passages I increasingly read about false teaching gave me this urgency to find what I believed to be the truth. My friend’s idea of how one church has to have the full truth struck me and made me realize correct theology is very important in teaching to others. It shapes your beliefs about Jesus and salvation.

I had the fear of my own salvation when I realized that correct theology could be linked to salvation and also this urgency to be able to lead others towards that truth if that was the case.

Now, that I’m older and more familiar with theology, I realize that idea of fearing for my salvation wasn’t necessarily correct. Christians are not gnostic. This means we do not believe salvation is contingent on special knowledge. Though truth to a certain extent is needed, but enlightenment of something or an awakening, ike gnostics believed, is not needed for attaining salvation.

My search began the summer of 2013. I poured over scripture for months. I spent hours and hours invested into this search. I would wake up each day and read my bible. I learned the gist of various theologies through the internet and tried to compare them to what I found in the bible.

Catholic was 2nd on my list of theologies I really did not like and hoped wouldn’t be found. The 1st on my list of hoping for it being unbiblical was Calvinism.

Scripture started to look catholic to me in my search for biblical truth. What threw me over the edge of affirming the Catholic faith was the most biblical was when I disproved Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the doctrine of the bible alone. It was made by Martin Luther when he separated from the Catholic Church and formed the Lutheran church. With Sola Scriptura being proven unbiblical, that’s when my eyes were opened and could not ignore what I had just seen.

Now you are probably wanting to know the verses I found that disprove a doctrine held by pretty much every protestant church. Don’t worry, I plan on giving you the list of what I found disproving this doctrine and I’ll talk a little about the verses.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV

Another Translation of this verse says:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

This verse implies that not all the teachings are written down and concedes that the bible does not contain the teaching of Jesus passed down by the apostles. A lot of translations use the word “traditions” just like the English Standard Version does. Protestant churches believe in the bible one, but the Catholic Church believes in Tradition and Scripture. It acknowledges that there traditions or teachings that are not in the bible, but were passed down by word of mouth. The very fact the bible doesn’t contain all of the apostles’ teaching really hit home for me and was the big breakthrough for me in turning to Catholicism. The doctrine I had known and practiced all my life was in fact not biblical.

I found other verses besides this one pointing to the same fact that Sola Scriptura was false teaching. The one in 2nd Thessalonians was the just the major one for me.

Here are the other verses I found proving Sola Scriptura unbiblical:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” – 2 John 1:12 NIV

“I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” – 3rd John 1:13 – 14 NIV

These verses were addressed to an elder of the church and the letters mention guidance on spiritual life. Therefore, the letters held teaching and since John had a lot to say I think he had a lot more to teach him. This also shows that not all of the teachings are in the bible.

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” – Jude 1:9

The story that the book of Jude tells is nowhere found in Exodus. This story could have been an oral tradition, but it affirms that not everything was in the Old Testament too.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” – John 21:25

This verse comes from the Gospel of John and clearly states that not everything was written down.

These verses proved to me that Sola Scriptura was unbiblical.

I also found other verses that alluded to the catholic faith besides these. There are verses in the New Testament talking about the sacrament of confession.

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” – John 20:21–23 

Jesus is talking to the disciples in this verse. He is clearly indicating the sacrament of confession here with the authority given to tell someone their sins are forgiven.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1st peter 4:8

Why would love cover sins if we could just pray for forgiveness for our sins?

I also found the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:14

In my faith that I grew up in I had never heard of this being done, but the Catholic Church has this as one of their sacraments.

I also found a reference to purgatory on my search for biblical truth too.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” – 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 

Notice how the person is put through a fire and in other passages fire is associated with refinement. Also, take note that even though the person was not perfect, nor was his faith, he went through the fire and still attained salvation. This seems to suggest that there some type of thing like purgatory. This not hell because salvation is attained.

Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny – Matthew 5:25-26

This verse also seems to reference a certain purgatory for our actions and how we are punished, but the are released from the refinement we are going through. There is still this aspect that seems to be that we are punished for bad deeds by being thrown in prison. There is this option of getting out, but only if you have paid back everything you owed. Therefore, you are not meant to be in that prison forever. Thus, it cannot be considered hell or an earthly prison. The judge in the passage can be seen to be God. This passage is presented on the Sermon on the Mount and probably is not referring to an earthly prison.

These were some of the verses I found on my journey I took at nineteen. There are many verses I know now that also points to Catholic ideas, but I wanted to give you the evidence I had stumbled upon that let me know the Catholic faith was the one that held the truth.  The full truth. By the way, as a side note, one of the purgatory verses may not be one I found during that time. I don’t quite remember, but nonetheless, it points to the idea of purgatory.

Advertisements

The Inquisitive Child

Greetings my followers and anonymous readers!

I have decided to write a series of posts on the great things about Catholicism, from my point of view as a convert. I use the word “convert” simply because it is commonly used and people understand better than the phrase I prefer to use. I prefer the phrase “changed denominations.” For convenience, though, I just say “convert” since it is the common vernacular.

If you are just catching up, and I’m not entirely sure if I have mentioned this before; I was confirmed as a full-fledged Catholic this year. As I mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I am what is called a “convert” to Catholicism.  I grew up a protestant. More specifically, United Methodist.

To start off my series, I’m going to give you a rundown on my faith Journey. The next installment will include my story on my conversion to Catholicism. Much of this up until high school has to deal with my experiences at Vacation Bible schools.

I was like most kids, but I had a lot of doubts as a child with my faith because things didn’t add up. I had questions and I would get an answer in a weird tone. In addition, the answers were usually rather dumb and didn’t satisfy my question. I remember, at the age of ten or so years of age, being told the story about Thomas. They would say “don’t be like Thomas” and at the time I related most to Thomas. I also related to Martha, and this bothered me. They were both used as negative examples on what not to be.

What I learned as a child was that asking hard questions was considered taboo. To me, the atmosphere I got was that you aren’t supposed to ask questions or if you did you are looked at as someone who did not have enough faith. There was this certain shame to it. It seemed like I was the only one who struggled with certain questions as a child and doubted my salvation.

The reason I doubted my salvation was because I had gone to many different Vacation Bible Schools over the summers as a child. I would go to different denominations because they had their VBS on different weeks of the summer. I suppose my mother did that so we had something to do. From the different denominations, I would get different theological perspectives and that confused me even more. I remember I went to a Baptist VBS and they did an altar call. I was 10 at the time, and from what I think I remember, they asked for those who were unsure of their salvation and wanted to go to heaven to stay behind in the sanctuary of the church. They spoke about the terrors of hell and I remember I was scared and was very fearful that I would end up there. I stayed behind because I thought this would be the way to finally be like the rest of the kids with the assurance of their salvation. When I did that, I received a bible and said a prayer. And I was basically told I was saved. What they said didn’t make sense to me at the time, because, I believe, I had stayed because of fear and the unanswered questions I had. There were many reasons for why I stayed and this I’m sure is not just the one.

Another thing, in those Vacation Bible Schools I went to, we would read passages for our lessons, and to me, some of the passages indicated that salvation was not guaranteed just because you have a belief in Jesus and that he died for you. Though, the teachers never touched on this and I was afraid to even bring up a notion like that. I thought the other kids would figure me out, and see that I had questions and doubts. I was afraid of what would be said or thought about me. Internally, I couldn’t let go of the fact that passages seemed to say that salvation was not a given and there was another aspect to it. As you can see, I was left with much confusion and had this notion that one should have blind faith. Eventually, I just accepted that and it put much of it to rest.

However, I still held onto the notion that we are not guaranteed salvation. I considered salvation to be something I hoped for and avoided the question because I had no answer to it. Therefore, I focused more on who God was and not on the notion of my salvation. I was a kid who was very much loved rules. The statement “rules are made to broken” sounded very idiotic to me and was just a phrase people said to justify the bad thing they were going to do.  I saw God as order. I also saw him as that rewarded good people and gave the bad people punishment. I didn’t see him as being that wanted a close relationship with me. I saw him as something distant and that I had a relationship with him, but not like a friend. He was more like and acquaintance I went to when I had things on my mind and was afraid. Someone prayed to before tests. I also saw him the person that would get back at the people who bullied me. I saw him as my vengeance. The vengeance notion is biblical, but it lacked the maturity of what being a Christian meant. This as you can see, was not a great relationship, like I have now. To put it a different way, I use to imagine him as a being that lacked patience and was a father who was strict and didn’t understand. Some people reading this may have a hard time picturing this as something I thought, but even while I had that notion I still very much had reverence for him and understood that we should try to be better people.

It was during my high school years that God really got a hold of me. And you can probably tell from my earlier posts that since then Jesus has been something I have loved to talk about. God wasn’t this strict Father to me anymore. I came to really understand what his love is and how much he loved me. I began to believe that I was probably saved, but it wasn’t important to me really. Yes, I still had that fear of hell, and I’m sure everyone does, but I saw that it is better to love God for who He is and His love for me than what he can give me.

The experience I had was God was there for me when I went through my first episode of Major depression, granted I didn’t have the official answer that it was depression. What helped me during, that time is that the idea that God love me immensely took a greater meaning and helped in my dark thoughts. At that time, I felt like everyone was pretending to be my friend and only my parents loved me. When I had a thought that God loved me immensely, it overpowered my dark thoughts of being unlovable. The fact that God loved me became something that was meaningful. It planted the idea in my head during that time that it didn’t matter about anyone else. They were not important and didn’t matter. They didn’t matter because Jesus loved me so immensely. And he was also rejected and knew how I felt.

That wasn’t all he did though, in the mornings I would have this feeling that I can’t describe. I thought it was God though. At first I was scared of this feeling, because it was unknown to me. I believe it was God letting me know he was there and giving me peace at the time. Though, at the time I mistakenly believed it was God healing me. Which is what shook my faith when I was 20 when I went through my second episode and much worse episode of depression. In retrospect, I see that time as God really doing something. I was diagnosed with depression and not a disorder that gave you weird feelings. I believe that was God showing me he was close to me and giving me peace as I went through something that wasn’t diagnosed yet.

It may seem farfetched like I’m deluding myself, but I can’t fully explain the impact this had on me. It made me yearn to dedicate my life to him. Eventually, I gave up on my previous dream of being a video game character designer/graphic artist and instead decided to pursue theology.

Be on the lookout, the next installment will be about my conversion to the Catholic faith.