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.