With this in mind, among other things this blog site will be devoted to teaching and defending the truth of the Catholic faith.
My Need for Answers
For me, the road that led to the door of the Catholic Church was long and winding and difficult in so many ways. I needed inspiration for the journey. I needed connection with at least someone who understood what I was going through. I needed spiritual direction. And yeah, I needed to think long and hard about what I might do to make a living if I left the ministry to become Catholic. I needed help of all kinds.
But more than anything, I needed clarity on the issues. More than anything, I needed answers.
Why? Because ultimately I knew that whether I remained a Protestant pastor or entered the Catholic Church wasn’t going to depend on whether the transition was easy. It wasn’t going to depend on whether or not I liked the smell of incense or the sound of Gregorian chant. It was going to depend on my conviction as to where the truth was to be found.
And this wasn’t a mere intellectual exercise, the solving of some interesting and intricate puzzle. It had to do with my life and my family’s life. If the sacraments were real, we needed them. If the teachings of the Church were true, we needed to know them and live by them.
Of course, if the disagreements between Catholicism and Protestantism had been minor, it might not have mattered so much. I could have found some way to continue my life as a Baptist minister and surreptitiously burn incense on the side. Listen to chant on the way to the office.
But the disagreements are not minor. They involve almost entirely different views of the Church, of how we know what we know as Christians, even how we make our way to heaven.
In fact, along with the dispute over authority in the Church, the key doctrinal dispute of the entire Reformation was over the issue of salvation. What does it mean to be justified in Christ? What must we do to inherit eternal life? Do we have to do anything at all?
Well, it’s obvious where I came out on the issue.
My conviction now (let’s see how provocatively I can state this) is that Martin Luther, the primary figure of the Protestant Reformation, fundamentally misunderstood what St Paul teaches about justification, and that Protestantism to this day, following in the steps of Luther, has inherited this fundamental misunderstanding.
Because it’s so important that those looking at the Catholic faith have clarity on this most critical and practical issue, I’m going to devote a series of posts to at least attempting to bring that clarity.
Yes, I will be making arguments and presenting the scriptural, historical and theological case for the Catholic view. I’ll be doing apologetics.
But whether I convince or not, I want those of you who stick with me to come out with a clear understanding of (1) what Protestantism teaches about the doctrine of justification, (2) what Catholicism teaches, (3) precisely how the two differ, (4) why so many Protestants view the Catholic teaching on salvation as, to quote well-known pastor John MacArthur, “a damning system of works righteousness” and (5) where exactly Luther, and Protestantism with him, went off the rails.
Because of this I’m going to move slowly and methodically, creeping and crawling along. I’m also going to attempt to keep the lessons short.
This may be a source of frustration to those of who you want to see the entire argument spelled out at once. But no can do. I’m tired of receiving death threats for packing my posts with too much.
I like what the great educator Mortimer Adler once said: “The world is content with words; few are they who search into the meaning of things.” Let’s see if we can’t search into the meaning of things and come out having gained real and significant insight. That’s what I like.
Last of all, these lessons are not going to come exactly “one after the other”. This blog exists to assist converts and reverts and those curious about the Catholic faith in all their various areas of need. And so along the way I’ll be writing about other things, mixing in interviews with converts, interviews with the leaders of great Catholic apostolates, making recommendations of great resources in the way of video, audio, books and more.
My sincerest apologies to the raving biblical theologians and apologists out there. I’m one of you. I feel your pain.