A Case For Catholicism – 1. Authority To Teach

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A few months ago I made an announcement of my desire to join the Catholic Church. This 2-year desire will reach its ultimate fulfillment this Holy Saturday, as I receive my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ—His body, blood, soul and divinity—in the Eucharist at my local Catholic Church. If one understands what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist, then they may begin to appreciate the excitement I feel for this momentous occasion!

Initially, when I announced that I was planning to become a Catholic, I had a fair number of people…

This post has been moved to my new website here (https://catholica.co.uk/evangelical-to-catholic-1).

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12 thoughts on “A Case For Catholicism – 1. Authority To Teach

  1. A very interesting and persuasive case! Thanks for this. Have you read Christian Smith’s, How To Go From Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps, or Mark P. Shea’s By What Authority: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, by any chance?

    • Hi Barney, thanks for the comment! I have heard Mark Shea share on his spiritual journey before but have not encountered that book before. Nor have I heard of Christian Smith or his book. Thanks for sharing them with me. I assume they must cover similar points? Part of this material was influenced by a fictional story by Marcus Grodi about a protestant pastor, called ‘How Firm A Foundation’.

      • Yeah Mark Shea’s book takes much the same line you’re arguing here. Christian Smith touches on this but also many other areas. It’s a highly readable and stimulating read – I recommend it!

  2. Hi Chris,
    Interesting! Quick question – didn’t the decisions of what should be included in the Bible happen before the Catholic/Orthodox divide happened – when catholic still just meant everybody? In which case, I’m just wondering why become Catholic rather than Orthodox? I guess maybe you’ll cover this in future posts…
    Thanks.

    • Hi there,
      Yes you’re correct! That very thought did cross my mind as I was writing this blog, however for the sake of brevity I decided it deserved more than a quick mention. The Orthodox/Catholic question is quite a dilemma for some protestants Christians who feel that they cannot, for whatever reason, remain protestant but yet cannot choose between Orthodoxy & Catholicism. In short, as I’m sure you are aware, it boils down to whose interpretation of the Pope’s role is correct. Historically this was not the main cause of disagreement, but today this is certainly where the heart of the disagreement lies. I find one can study history carefully and come out 50/50 on the historical evidence from both camps, but one thing can be ascertained from taking the historical approach to finding the answer: throughout history each Pope certainly believes they have some sort of special authority (as well as honour). My question to myself was: “Who is more likely to understand their own role better, the Popes themselves or others?” But yet even non-bishops of Rome such as the bishop at Hippo, St. Augustine say remarkable things, e.g. “Rome has spoken; the cause is finished”, and other non-bishops of Rome with no clear political agenda support the supreme authority of the Pope. In contrast, the chair at Constantinople, and subsequently many Patriarch’s of Constantinople throughout antiquity, have been engrossed in hot political contests between Patriarch and Emperor – particularly during the Muslim invasions of Constantinople. To obtain greater security, often Patriarchs would bolster their own claim to authority; this is partly why the Eastern Orthodox & the Catholic Church would drift in and out of communion which each other for quite a number of years before the final split in the 1450s (some claim 1054AD though I do not believe history supports this date as the final split). I must also point out that Orthodox bishops signed an agreement during the Council of Florence in the 15th Century affirming the Catholic interpretation of the Pope – unfortunately it just didn’t stick when the Orthodox bishops returned back home to the East! Furthermore, I found that the Orthodox have compromised on their moral teachings regarding divorce & contraception – hence a change in moral teachings, which, as I mention in the blog, was a piece of evidence for Catholicism. Lastly, I find that logic can help crack the code in all of this: it just seems logical that there would be one figure with more authority, akin to the High Priest of Israel in the Old Testament, and passed down from the obvious supremacy of Peter in the Gospels. I imagine most governmental or business leaders will appreciate the practicality of having an authority who–at the end of the day–can have the final word. And then there is even more to say such as the ‘suspended infallibility’ of the Orthodox Church based on the fact that they only accept the first 7 ecumenical councils – that means that, according to their view, there has been no definitive Holy Spirit-guaranteed truth from an ecumenical council for centuries! This seems to show some sort of harm or injury within the Church which I believe clashes with Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. Hence I chose Catholicism. Not to mention that the choice is far easier! (I don’t even think there is an Orthodox Church near where I live–which I suppose is a small argument within itself if Christ’s Church is to be truly ‘universal’!)

      I almost wrote another blog here! Sorry for the wordiness – I suppose this is why I left it out of the blog in the first place! But please note this is really just scraping the surface. You might appreciate this article by former evangelical-now-catholic, Jimmy Akin: http://jimmyakin.com/why-i-am-not-eastern-orthodox

      Of course one must also hear the Orthodox version of events & weigh it up.

      God bless,
      Chris

  3. Thank you for articulating your thoughtful process well. I too am an evangelical by culture and a new catholic Easter 2016 I am trying to find the best way of “coming out” to more than just family. I’ll be following your blog closely.

  4. Pingback: A Case For Catholicism – 1. Authority To Teach – Catholica

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