At the request of a variety of Bibliobloggers, I'm going to post a few short posts on why I up and decided to become Catholic. I will say from the beginning that this is in no way an offensive on all things not Catholic. I'm not looking to be an Apologist for the Catholic Church (we have plenty already). I am, however, willing to explain why I went from a very staunch Southern Baptist to a Catholic.
I took a class on Reformation Theology/History at Southeastern. We, of course, learned about all of the Solas upon which the Reformation was founded. However, early on I found myself disagreeing with some of them. For instance, Sola Scriptura itself is found nowhere within Scripture. I found this troubling. One can amass a variety of proof-texts, but they really only ever amount to a high view of Scripture and never Scripture alone.
Because I like to think in historical terms (I'm terrible with systematic theology, but I've really begun to appreciate historical theology) rather than abstract ideas not grounded in a specific movement, I thought about the history of the things written in the Bible, particularly the words of the Prophets or the sermons in the book of Acts. If I believed in Sola Scriptura I felt as if I had to believe that the words of those Prophets and the Apostles in Acts only became true after being set down on papyri.
Thirdly, I began to find texts that pointed me in different directions, away from Sola Scriptura. For instance, I read in 2 Thess 2:15 that Paul encouraged those at Thessalonika to continue in what they had received, both by word and what was written. This seemed to prove to me that one of the earliest Churches could not themselves have maintained Sola Scriptura. Or, Jesus' mentioning of the "chair of Moses" as authoritative in Matt 23, or Paul mentioning the names of the men who opposed Moses in 2 Tim 3:8 - both of these are found nowhere in the OT, and that's because they were part of Israel's Tradition. Now, did it only become historical fact that Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses at the moment of Paul's penning 2 Timothy, or could that bit of historical truth have been just as God-breathed as others?
Particularly in Southern Baptist circles, the Church universal's role is downgraded or over-spiritualized. However, when I came across 1 Timothy 3:15 and read that Paul wrote that the Church is the "pillar and foundation of truth", something really shook me. What Church is the pillar? Why, if sola scriptura were true, would something outside of Scripture be considered the "pillar and foundation of truth"? I knew that if I had a text that read, "and Scripture is the pillar and foundation of truth", I wouldn't hesitate one bit to use that as proof of sola scriptura - so what do I do with a text that points me to something else?