As a convert to Catholicism, I tend to wonder why everyone does not see that the Catholic Church is the one true Church. After all, I spent years studying before my conversion, doesn’t everyone do that kind of research before picking a church? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no, they do not. Now I could write a series of lengthy papers on what issues I have with other churches theologies…or…I could just write about what I found that drew me to Catholicism. I think the positive is always the best practice, so lets look at the first reason I am Catholic; scripture.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 19:41-42
This is what the original Church looked like. Believers were baptized, they were catechized, they were in fellowship, and they shared the breaking of the bread. Lets take these one at a time.
They were baptized. How? Well Jesus had cleared that up before He ascended.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
They were to be baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now I know many lift up the thief on the cross, or the fact that no reference is made to the baptism of the apostles, but let me ask a question. When you told your child to clean his room, is there anything more maddening than him telling you that “Billy (his friend) never cleans his room and he and his family are just fine with it”? I may be an overly strict parent, but my stock response was “I don’t care what Billys family does, clean your room”!
Let us not study how many people apparently did not have to be baptized, let us do as Jesus commands.
Doing so takes out Mormonism, Jehovah witnesses, any church that believes in “believers baptism”, and any church that does not use the proper designations for “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. These include but are not limited to “creator, redeemer and sanctifier”.
If you have not been baptized in the name of the Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit, please see me so that you can be soon.
Well this first bit knocks out quite a few churches in our search. But let us go on to the second, catechism. This seems simple enough, almost every church has some kind of teaching. But which teaching? Of course, the Bible. Seems simple enough, but did God really mean for us to obey ALL of it?? It is a lengthy book. God does address this. Whereas I will not publish the entirety of scripture here in my essay, I will pick a few of the most pertinent.
Deuteronomy 12:32 “Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it.
Revelation 22:I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Matthew 5:17…(Jesus says) “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished
Just a few, there are so many more. What does this tell us? God wants us to obey ALL of the Bible. Don’t add, don’t deduct. It tells us that God has specific teachings that He wishes to impart upon us. This creates a problem; give any 10 people a Bible and tell them to read it and give you a synopsis; you will in short order have 10 different reports on who God is and what He asks of us.
So here we have a dilemma. It is estimated that there are 22,800 protestant denominations, and around 60 different Orthodox rites, and one Catholic Church. Who is catechizing correctly? Well we already knocked out more than a few with the baptism test, but that does still leave us with a number of really friendly churches.
How did I solve this? I studied the fathers of the Church. They were undeniably Catholic. So if those who actually knew Jesus were Catholic, shouldn’t I be also? The teachings of the fathers, and of scripture, form the basis of the teaching of the Catholic Church. If this is not true about the church you attend, you should question as to why. The Church fathers were there, and they were willing to die for what they knew and practiced as Catholics. What was true about God and His wish for us was true then and is still true now, God does not change.
There is a small issue here though; what about Orthodoxy? My first reasoning here is that the Orthodox fight, a lot. The Orthodox have in the United States several of their rites, Greek, Russian, Antiochian, just to name a few. Those in the Antiochian are under constant attack to even exist from those in other rites. But even that did not prevent me from considering the Orthodox. But as I thought of all their fighting, and with my experience of the constant fighting of the Anglican Church I was a part of, I always wished someone would stand up and lead. Not for the power and the glory, but for God. Kind of like a pope. Then it hit me, mankind will always fight, it is in their broken nature. This is why you need a central authority to arbitrate. But in this arbitration, I don’t want them to decide right and wrong on their own, or on the winds of societal decrees, but on biblical truths. Truths that can not be touched or changed; kind of like dogma. So we need dogma and a pope…that brings us to one church; the Catholic Church.
But we still have one more item. (well two, but doesn’t every church have fellowship?? …and if they don’t, run!)
The last was the breaking of the bread. What was Luke speaking of when he wrote this in Acts? Just a dinner party? St Paul seems to think not:
When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not
1 Corinthians 11:20
So this is no dinner party. Then what is it? Jesus Himself answers this.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.
The breaking of the bread is not dinner, it is not fellowship, (though it is communion…I’ll cover this in a yet to be written paper) it is partaking of the very body and blood of Christ. Paul adds an explanation mark on this fact:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
1 Corinthians 11:26
So not only is this the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, we also need to take it only in a state of grace, through confession.
So baptism, unity of catechism, and the true Eucharist are all biblical reasons to come home to the original Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.
1Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Ac 2:41–42). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
2Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Mt 28:19–20). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
3Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Dt 12:32). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
4The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (Re 22:18–19). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
5The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (Mt 5:17–18). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
6The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (1 Co 11:20–22). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
7The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (Jn 6:53–58). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
8The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (1 Co 11:23–26). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
9The Revised Standard Version. (1971). (1 Co 11:27–29). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.