I’m not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I am hoping that one (or some :)) of you could help me answer the guide of the Holy Spirit.
Recently, I innocently bought a copy of Dan Browns “Angels and Demons”. I had heard that it was an excellent action adventure story . . . something along the lines of Indiana Jones. After reading it, I decided to do a little research on the Conclave, especially in light of the recent death of John Paul II.
Before I go any furthur, let me give you all a little background on myself. I accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age and have attended an Assembly of God (evangelical) church pretty much my entire life. I graduated from Valley Forge Christian College with a degree in Bible and Youth Ministries. After spending several years working as a pastor in a local church, I decided to move to a lay avocation that better fitted the gifting the God has given me. I am still extremely active in my local body and try to live my life in accordance with the truth that the Holy Spirit has revealed to me.
For the last several years, my heart has grown increasingly disquieted . . . I have felt like something in my life was “out of whack”. I have prayed and sought after God to the best of my abilities. Finally, I prayed what I feel was a very fateful prayer - I asked the Lord to reveal the Truth (capital T intended) to me, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it was. Little did I know the consequences of that prayer . . .
In my research in the Conclave, I ran across the Catholic apologetic material contained on Catholicanswers.com. I have always been neutral concerning Catholic belief, although my school and everyone that I know within my church believes that most Catholics were not destined to spend eternity with the Lord. I have simply not had any experience with them at all . . . I’ve never had a theological discussion with a real live Catholic. I figured that I would read through the material and quickly demolish it as “Popish nonsense” (in the words of one of my college professors) and move on.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the first thing that I hit was the position paper on the concept of Sola Scriptura. The position of the Catholic Church directly attacks the very foundation of the faith that I have been raised on. The very linchpin of Protestant doctrine hangs on this concept. What I found was NOT what I expected.
*I could not and cannot refute the doctrine that has been expressed by the Catholic Church on this subject by history, logic, or by scripture itself.
If I cannot refute this doctrine, then the very foundations of my Christian belief system MUST be altered. To see the truth and ignore it is the gravest of sin.
*I write this with fear and trembling. Part of the underpinning of my Universe has simply dried up and blown away. I am alternating cold sweats of terror and exaultation at the mercy of the Father in guiding me by His Spirit.
Before I can move forward with this I need rock solid, unshakeable arguments to respond to the inevitable storm that this will create. To pretty much everyone I know Catholism is something you get saved from . . . this would be like converting to Islam. To be honest with you all, some of the practices and beliefs of Catholism seem extremely alien to my Protestant worldview (veneration of Mary, the Real Presence, absolution, salvation not by faith alone, etc). But I simply cannot deny the evidence of my heart and my Spirit.
So, what I am looking for are reference works that CLEARLY state and defend the position of the Church from scripture, the Church Fathers, and logic. Us Protestants are used to heaving through reference works and hounding out the truths of Scripture, so I’m looking for detail and impeccable credentials.
Also, is anyone aware of a Godly man in Richmond Virginia that I can discuss this with? I am partially convinced I should just drop into a Catholic Church (if I can find one) and introduce myself, but I am not sure how that would work out.
Converting to Catholism would alienate me from almost all of my friends and my in-laws. My wife (with whom I have not discussed this) will be devastated. How will I break this to my mother, who is a true Protestant saint? How will I teach my two children? I am truly searching for answers and will go where the Spirit guides me, but right now I think that I need to spend time studying and proving to myself through the illumination of the Spirit the Truths that are set before me.
Also, if you could lift a prayer to the Father I would appreciate it. My name is Richard Barlow . . . I’m sure the Father knows which one your praying for.
Thank you all and may God bless you.