I found the historical evidence for Christ to be convincing, but something still bothered me. There are thousands of different Christian denominations. They vehemently disagree on what’s required for salvation and how to interpret the Bible. Is baptism essential for salvation? Did Jesus have brothers? Are we saved once and forever? Are we saved by faith alone or judged by our works? What about the rapture, Purgatory, the Virgin Mary, and the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
They can’t all be right because they contradict each other… sometimes drastically.
The Early Church Fathers
It’s through the writings of the early church fathers that historians know how the books of the Bible were chosen and who wrote the gospels. The early church fathers were the Apostles and their apostles. They taught at a time before the printing press existed. It was from their writing that the new testament was compiled hundreds of years after Christ’s death. To protect the integrity of Christ’s teachings, early Christians formed synods and councils and created canons and decrees explaining and clarifying their collective understanding of Christ’s teachings. These early writers spoke the languages in which the Biblical texts were originally written. They understood the customs of the times bringing a unique perspective to interpreting controversial Bible passages.
Protestants claim that even though the Catholic church has been around for 2000 years, at some point the teachings got derailed. The Reformation, they claim, was necessary to set the church back on the right path.
Catholic’s claim their doctrine that has been largely unchanged in 2000 years.
Steven Ray: A video examining what the Apostles and their Apostles believed and taught and why he reluctantly became Catholic as a result.
Church Fathers: Rod Bennett discusses how the writings of the Early Church Fathers (Apostles and their apostles) convinced him that the early Christian’s beliefs were similar to modern-day Catholic’s.
Marcus Grodi: Lutheran Minister who researched the writings of early Church Fathers. Reads quotes from 100-400 A.D. writers showing Catholic doctrine being taught by the Apostles and their apostles.
Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church: The story of a devout Baptist who relates how he overcame his hostility to the Catholic Church by a combination of serious Bible study and vast research of the writings of the early Church Fathers. Thoroughly documented with hundreds of footnotes, this contains a compilation of biblical and patristic quotations and commentary available on Baptism and the Eucharist, as well as a detailed analysis of Sola Scriptura and Tradition.
Christian vs. Catholic: Lizzie discusses how early Christianity mirrors the current Catholic Church.
The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin. An Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church. Well researched and easily organized book that features over 900 quotations from early Church Fathers. Addresses nearly 50 topics including modern hot-button issues.
The Apostasy that Wasn’t: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church. This idea of a Great Apostasy is one of the cornerstones of American Protestantism, along with Mormonism, the Jehovah s Witnesses, and even Islam. Countless millions today profess a faith built on the assumption that the early Church quickly became broken beyond repair, requiring some new prophet or reformer to restore the pure teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Bennett claims that while the theory might be popular, it’s also fictional and he lays out his case in this book.
Jimmy Swaggart Made Me Catholic by Tim Staples: I love love love this CD. Tim was a self-proclaimed “on fire” Protestant who wanted to be a preacher just like Billy Graham. He was extremely anti-Catholic on a mission to “save” his Catholic brethren from going to Hell. How could a man who was determined to prove the Catholic Church wrong ever be persuaded otherwise? The CD or MP3 can be purchased here (I don’t have any affiliate relationship and do not get paid to share this link… I just love the story).
If you want to check Tim out for free on youtube for free, here are a few really good interviews as well:
Epic: The Early Church (Study Program) by Steve Weidenkopf
The Early Church is a 10-part program that presents in detail the first 500 years of the Church through the lives and events of the saints, philosophers, theologians, martyrs, and ruthless emperors. For group or private study.
Shadow Priest discusses the differences between Catholics and Protestants and difference between conforming our will to God vs. conforming God to our will. Yup, this one spoke to the cafeteria spiritualist in me.
The Bible: A Brief History
The Protestant Achilles Heel – In this online article Tim Staples makes an argument that “Sola Scriptura” is unbiblical, unhistorical, unreasonable and unworkable.