From 1989 to 2009 I was a dedicated Evangelical Christian student, minister, professor, author, and speaker. From 2009-2014, I engaged in a serious, heart-wrenching, process of discernment over whether I could remain in Evangelicalism. As I pondered some of the problems I encountered in the movement, I began to consider the historic Church and increasingly found it difficult to defend my anti-Catholic beliefs. At the end of this process, I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church. (Full story HERE).
Much of that journey was reflected in this blog, which I often used to present and think through issues. I made this page so that I could easily reference the major posts on the most important subjects that really drove my quest.
What I came to realize is that little progress will be made on the major issues (or many secondary issues) until one settles the issue of religious authority. That single concern relates to numerous key facets of the Christian faith, the most impactful of which I have listed below.
The Canon of Scripture
The canon of Scripture (the books included in the Bible) is a huge issue for anyone who considers the Bible to be the Word of God and their authority for their faith. If one thinks the early Church went astray somehow, it becomes a very difficult problem because the biblical collection itself was not settled until centuries after the apostles died. If the Church was in error by then, how can the “Bible-Only Christian” be sure he really has the inspired Word of God? And if the Church was kept from error while it determined the canon, why was it not likewise kept from error during the councils and creeds it produced at the same time? Here I look at the major alternate theories of canonization and why the Church is ultimately the standard:
It is well known that there is rampant disagreement among the various sects, denominations, and cults of Christianity – but where is the line drawn? Christians often speak of “orthodoxy,” “heresy,” “essentials,” and “fundamentals” – but by what authority are these words defined, and doctrines labelled? For the Christian who denies that the Church is the standard, there seems to be no non-circular means of doing so. Here are the two methods I was taught, and why I believe they fail:
Besides the problem of identifying the biblical canon (which the Bible itself does not do), and the issue of determining orthodox doctrine (which the Bible also does not do), there is the basic problem of biblical interpretation. For the Bible to function as an authoritative standard (i.e., Sola Scriptura), it must first be understood – yet there seem to be insurmountable problems with attaining such an understanding both from a methodological point of view, and from the actual outcome of such a position:
A lot more can be said about other issues such as Mary, Purgatory, Justification, etc., but these tend to ultimately revolve around one’s positions on the issues above. For more information, I’ve compiled a list of good books on this subject. May God bless you on your own journey.
“The more shame I felt that, having been so long deluded and deceived
by the promise of certainties, I had, with puerile error and petulance,
prated of so many uncertainties as if they were certainties.
For that they were falsehoods became apparent to me afterwards.
However, I was certain that they were uncertain,
and that I had formerly held them as certain
when with a blind contentiousness I accused Your Catholic Church,
which though I had not yet discovered to teach truly,
yet not to teach that of which I had so vehemently accused her.”
– St. Augustine, Confessions 6:4