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Why I am a Catholic

March 22, 2010

I have a lot of Christian friends. Some are Baptist, others are Methodist and still others are some non-descript Bible-church-goers. These friends know that I am a believer in Jesus. They know that I am committed to life of faith and discipleship in the triune God, his son and the Holy Spirit. The problem is that many of them have never met a “real” Catholic Christian. To many of them, I am a walking contradiction because, after all, Catholics don’t really believe the bible, or else they wouldn’t have all that extra “stuff” (read sarcasm, please).
A few times lately, I have been asked, “Why are you Catholic?” This is a question to which I often want to respond, “Why are you not a Catholic?” Typically, I restrain myself and have, instead committed myself to answering the question as best as I can.

In thinking about the question and trying to answer it fully and honestly, I came across an article by G.K. Chesterton, in which he answers the same question. His answer is so simple and so profound that, upon reading it, I knew there was little else that could be said. Chesterton says:

“The difficulty of explaining “why I am a Catholic” is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. “
From: Twelve Modern Apostles and Their Creeds (1926)

I am a Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church embodies the full and complete truth of the Christian faith. Why do I believe this?

1) I believe this because the Catholic Church itself makes this claim and unapologetically defends it. The church stands firm in its convictions while every other church embodies some degree of acquiescence to the popular and cultural philosophies of society.

While countless other churches claim to “teach the Bible,” the Catholic Church takes the novel approach of taking Jesus at his word. When Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood, you will no life in you,” the Church believes him (John 6:53). When Jesus taught his disciples in regard to marriage, “what God has joined, let no man separate,” the Catholic Church seeks to follow.

These are just two examples that I’ve chosen because they are some of the most controversial and commonly disputed by the church. Show me another church that so daringly seeks to follow the call of Jesus and I will be impressed. To date, having earned a degree in the study of religion and Masters Degree in theology from a Protestant Seminary, I have yet to find one that meets the criteria.

2) Let’s go back to the Bible for a moment because I know that most evangelicals cast stones at the Church because it claims that many of its doctrines are extra-biblical. I understand why you think that. I, too, used to think the same thing. The funny thing about this claim is that it just isn’t true, and making it signals the fact that you haven’t investigated the church’s position well enough to understand the claims it makes regarding many of its “controversial” doctrines.

I will elaborate on this point further in future posts as I dig deeper into specific doctrinal controversies regarding the Catholic Church. I will only preface those discussions to say that, when the Catholic Church reads the bible, it reads it as the complete word of God.

What do I mean by that? I mean that the Bible speaks of God’s interaction with humanity since the beginning of time. At different times, God chose to reveal himself and interact in different ways. Through Moses, God established the old covenant. Through Jesus, God established the new covenant. And yet, Jesus could not establish a New Covenant unless he himself fulfilled the Old Covenant. Did not Jesus, himself, say, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

With this in mind, the Catholic Church reads the New Testament through the eyes of the Old Testament, seeking to rectify the Old Covenant with the New and to receive a full picture of the action of God throughout history.

Therefore, I am a Catholic because I believe it reads and understands the Bible in a more complete way than any other church on earth.
There will, undoubtedly, be challenges to this post. There will be those who spew hatred and vitriol because, if they actually stopped to consider another viewpoint, they might discover they’ve been wrong all along.
I will not answer all of these objections. However, I will engage in conversation with anyone who is interested in learning more about what the Catholic Church really teaches, and how you can actually be a Christian and a Catholic.

P.S. You can read all of Chesterton’s answer to this question at: http://chesterton.org/gkc/theologian/whycatholic.htm

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Fr. James Ekeocha permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:32 am

    Dear Chris,
    I am reading this with great joy and admiration. I firmly suscribe to the truth of the teachings of the Catholic Church; the one holy Catholic Church that beleives the Bible, teaches the Bible and lives the Bible.

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