When last we met, I was with Protestant friends on the golf course lamenting the “lost” fifteen hundred years of Church history. In fact, I was still a Protestant myself at that time. But that would not be the case for much longer. I’d been in a Protestant church for more than thirty five years and had grown accustomed to seeing everything through a Protestant filter. Protestants had succeeded, and would for a time even after my entrance into the Catholic church, in making the events of the last five hundred years the default position of any discussion.
The Reformers were the definitive experts. Where is that in the Bible?
How does your position supported by applying Sola Scriptura?
For me, for those thirty five years, it was a prison.
Toward the end of my time I began to see holes in the Protestant position. First, and most obvious, there was no canon of Scripture for hundreds of years after the Resurrection of our Lord. Nor were all the books and letters of the Bible even completed for decades. People learned about the Gospel by speaking with those who had been there. Or with those who’d learned from someone who’d been there. They did not learn about it from reading Scripture on their own. I don’t think it’s by accident that Romans 10:14 says “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” It’s all about hearing, being taught, being discipled.
It seems so obvious to me now that Jesus promised us that He would leave us a Church, not a book. While He told his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, never once does He say, “write this down.”
For fifteen hundred years, the Church followed sacred tradition. It was the Church that was the authority in the believer’s life. Paul wrote, “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” He, while writing what the Church would later affirm as Scripture, identifies the Church and not Scripture as the pillar and support of the truth.”
There is so much more that shows that the Church is responsible for bringing the knowledge of God to her people. If I was a theologian, you’d see a bunch of examples. But, I’m no theologian. I’m just a former Protestant who has had his awareness challenged and is now finding his way through religious life using a more accurate map. And, it would seem to me, that rather than accusing Catholicism of changing things from Scripture to create a “man-made” religion, it would fall upon the Protestant to show why he would change the way God’s people worshipped for fifteen hundred years.
Why would the Protestant suddenly say that a priest can no longer hear confessions? Why would we relegate the Mother of God to a bit player in salvation history? Why would we assume that, after 1500 years the Eucharist is no longer the actual Body of Christ (as it has always been understood to be) and is merely a symbol? Why were these things, and others, changed after the Church accepted them for 1500 years? Wouldn’t that sudden change be the very definition of “man-made” doctrine?
So, I began to think that it fell to Protestants to justify the major changes to 1500 years of church history, not, as so many of us felt, the responsibility of the Catholic. When I could find no justification, I could see it was time to go where God was leading me, into the arms of Holy Mother Church. There were some rocky moments in the course of my conversion, to be sure. But, It was the right decision and I’m glad I made it.