Why I Converted to Catholicism


"He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." 
Proverbs 18:17 RSV

"Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." 
Proverbs 22:28 RSV


 

In 2017 on the Feast of Christ the King, I converted from being a Protestant to being a member of the Catholic Church.  The day consisted of me receiving three sacraments in one day; 



  1. the sacrament of confession, 
  2. the sacrament of confirmation, and 
  3. the sacrament of the Eucharist.  
All of these were the first time I had partaken in these sacraments.

Since converting, I tend to get questions mainly from two types of people:

  • From Catholics, I tend to get questions such as, "What caused you to convert to Catholicism?", "What did you read to become Catholic?", "How did the sacraments play a part in your conversion?"
  • From Protestants, I tend to get questions such as; "Who do you worship Mary?", "Why can't Catholics just believe the Bible?", "Why do you need to confess your sins to a Priest?", "Why can't you just confess your sins to God?", "Why do you pray to saints?", "Why do you worship images?", "What is a patron saint?", etc.
I hope that this post will explain a bit about my journey of conversion, specifically as it relates to the first keys steps that undermined my beliefs as a Protestant.  I know from experience that when you mess with the foundational underpinnings of a person's belief system, this can result in a lot of turmoil and problems for them.  It is only the grace of God that gets them through, and it takes a lot of courage when presented with truth that contradicts your personal worldview to accept it, rather to preserve your current beliefs / worldview, whether by denial or confirmation bias.

To Protestant friends reading, this is both a warning and an invitation - the below details may start you on a path that shakes you to the core and undermines the foundational elements of your belief system.  But the truth is the truth, so be warned.  That said, if you proceed and find yourself shaken and wanting to investigate further, I invite you to get in touch and I will assist you if / where I can based on my experiences.

Presbyterian upbringing
I was brought up in a fairly religious household.  My parents were Presbyterians for the first 15 years of my life, and my Dad was an Elder (Gk. Presbyter) in the Presbyterian Church.  I remember learning to pray, going to church most Sunday's (sometimes even taking my Nintendo Gameboy to prevent me from being bored in later years), and the importance of the Bible.  According to my Baptismal Certificate and the Church's registry, I was baptised on my first Birthday.

The Presbyterian Church's services include hymns and psalms (or in some cases, which was my preference, Psalms only with no music), reading two chapters of the Bible (one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament), and a sermon.  Depending on the church you attended, you would also have communion as part of the service weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Our Pastor delivered sermons to us each week, going through many books of the Old Testament chapter by chapter.  I vividly recall us hearing chapters of the Bible and sermons each chapter of the Bible from Genesis through to 2 Samuel 23.  

I was also catechised as a youth in Sunday School, where we were taught questions and answers from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  I still remember the first question without any prompting, "What is the chief end of man?" "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Growing up Presbyterian taught me a number of things:
  • It taught me the importance of the Word of God in the life of the believer.
  • It taught me the importance of infant baptism.
  • It taught me the fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of all wisdom (Provers 1:7).
  • It taught me the importance of professing the faith (in Catholicism the equivalent is being confirmed) before partaking in communion.
  • It taught me that to eat and drink of the body and blood of the LORD in an unworthy manner is to eat and drink judgment upon one's self, as this was read out each time we partook in communion (1 Corinthians 11:26-29 - which unfortunately is not in the current Catholic liturgy, but is in the Catechism).
After the Presbyterian Church, I did a stint with my family at a Baptist Church and some related churches they were affiliated.  I didn't learn much from a theology standpoint whilst there (these churches tend to be more driven by feelings and emotions rather than logic), but I did learn from some of the pastors the importance of having a love for people.

The Bible
Fast forward a few years, and I was having a discussion one night with a friend.  "How do you know that what the Bible says is true?" I asked.  He replied, "Oh, it's simple.  I just take the Bible as truth and everything conforms to that."  

I didn't know at the time that his answer was a presuppositionalist response (and thus logically flawed), but I did leave that conversation thinking to myself, 'I call myself a Christian but I have never read the entirety of the book I claim to believe in.'  I decided to read through the Bible cover-to-cover for myself.  I almost think there was a hint of planning to disprove the Bible in the process, but in the end I found myself coming to the conclusion at the end of the book of Deuteronomy that the Bible was true.

The Two Key Beliefs of Protestants
Finding my way back to my Presbyterian routes, and researching my old Catechism and other things, I developed an understanding of the two major Protestant principles that underpin the reason Protestants believe what they do:


  • Sola Scriptura - the belief that the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith in the life of the believer.
  • Sola Fide - the belief that Faith alone in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour is sufficient for salvation.
But whilst Protestants have unity (most of the time) on these two principles, there are a lot of other things that they don't have unity on.  For example:
  • How many books should there be in the Bible?  Protestants generally nowadays believe in 66 books making up the canon of the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  But Martin Luther and some Lutherans believe that some these New Testament books were Antilegomena (disputed), and are therefore similar to the Apocrypha (not inspired).  John Calvin allegedly didn't affirm the book of Revelation as Canon.  The compilers of the first Geneva Bible included 'The Prayer of Manasseh' as a book within the Canon, making for a total number of 40 Old Testament books.  Furthermore, most rejected Old Testament books such as the books of Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, etc., but some such as the Anglicans thought they were acceptable for use on life and instruction of manners, but not for establishing doctrine.
  • Should infants be baptised, or only adults?  Baptists denied baptism to infants.
  • Is Jesus God?  Jehovah's Witnesses denied this.
  • Are images idols?  The Lutherans and some Anglicans denied that they were.
  • How many sacraments are there?  Most denominations say two, Lutherans and Anabaptists say three, the latter including foot washing as one.
  • Was communion literally or spiritually Christ, or just a memorial meal?  The Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists respectively held differing views.
  • Have the Spiritual gifts ceased, or do they continue until today? The charismatics believe they continue, the cessationists do not.
  • When Christ returns, will he setup a millennial kingdom to reign on earth for 1,000 years, or will it just be the final end of the world?
I began to believe that perhaps the answer was to read the original reformers' writings, with the view that doing so would help me to determine which Church had the correct understanding of scripture on these 'secondary' matters.  Furthermore, I was not sure who deemed these matters 'secondary', or why they were deemed to be so.

Reading Church History
I started by reading large portions of John Calvin's 'Institutes of the Christian Religion'.  From there, I moved forward and backward in time, reading material after Calvin including works by John Bunyan and John Owen (Baptist and Congregationalist respectively).  I then read large parts of the Lutheran Confessions, including the 'Augsburg Confession'.

I noted that John Calvin and Martin Luther both had different views on how God meant for us to understand things such as baptism and the Lord's supper.  Furthermore, both cited Augustine as one of their most-often quoted early church fathers to justify their views.  This kind of made sense, as Martin Luther had been an Augustinian Monk, and Augustine would have been used by Calvin as one of the most prolific and voluminous writers in the Early Church.

I determined that it would be best to read some of Augustine's writings, so I purchased myself a copy of his 'Confessions'.  It was there that I began to notice some interesting things regarding Augustine's beliefs:
  • He referred to the Church already in the 300 - 400s (AD) as Catholic.
  • He believed in the power of the keys (the power of priests to bind and loose sins in the life of a believer).
  • His mum had asked for prayers to be offered for her at the 'altars'.
  • His mum asked for these prayers to be offered for her after she was dead.
  • He affirmed Baptismal regeneration.
  • He didn't necessarily see Genesis as a literal 6-day creation story.
  • He mentions approvingly of his mum making offerings at the shrines of the martyrs.
This surprised me, as it was not what I was expecting to find.  Based on reading Calvin, Martin Luther and talking to my pastor and others, I anticipated to find a photo-reformer cleaning up all the wicked and evil beliefs that had creeped into the early church.  Instead, what I found was someone that I knew for a fact was affirming several Catholic doctrines and referring to the church as the Catholic Church.

A Realisation
By this point, I realised that I needed to stop reading history backward.  Rather than starting at from today and trying to determine who understood the Early Church correctly by working backward, I decided it would be better to start with the writings of the Early Church fathers themselves and move forward in time, tracing how the Church went forward from the completion of the New Testament, so I could determine at what point it became corrupt and needed reforming.

I picked up the 38-volume Early Church Fathers set and read a number of writings:
  • The Didache, believed to have been written between 60 - 100 AD
  • The Letter of St Clement to the Corinthians, written circa 96 AD
  • The Letters of St Ignatius, circa 106-110 AD
  • The Martyrdom of St Polycarp
  • The Epistle of Barnabas
  • The Letter of Mathetes to Diognetus
  • Fragments of Papias
  • Portions of the writings of St Justin Martyr
  • Portions of Against Heresies by St Iraneous
  • Further material from Augustine, including his Enchiridion
  • Portions of Eusebius' Histories
  • Athanasius On the Incarnation
  • Portions of material written by Origen
  • Portions of material written by Jerome
  • Canons and other related pieces of information from the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
By the time I had finished the Didache, St Clement's letter and the Letters of Ignatius, I knew that there was no corruption within the early church, but rather that the Church had been Catholic from the beginning.  The Church:
  • Had a threefold office of Bishops, Priests and Deacons
  • Referred to itself as the Catholic Church
  • Used to have set times for daily prayer and weekly fasting
  • Prescribed alternatives to immersion only baptism
  • Affirmed baptismal regeneration
  • Affirmed the possibility of losing one's salvation
  • Quoted from books of the Apocrypha as though they were Scripture
  • Saw the communion service as sacrificial in nature, rather than merely as a memorial / spiritual meal.
This caused me a lot of concern, confusion and surprise.  I started looking into historical arguments about the Catholic Church, which is where things started to get worse.

The Deconstruction of Beliefs
I stumbled upon a website called 'Called to Communion', which is a website with about 30 people that had all converted to the Catholic Church from various Anglican, Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.  Furthermore, many of them were either seminary students, seminary graduates, PhD scholars, lecturers or something else.  They have written many articles from a scholarly standpoint explaining why they believe what the Catholic Church believes.

I went on to read nearly every article published by them at the time (about 2013).  The main thing though was that some of their articles undermined one of the key principles of the Reformation - Sola Scriptura.

Sola Scripture
Possibly the most important article on the Called to Communion is the article by Tom Brown titled, 'The Canon Question'.  The Canon question basically shows that Sola Scriptura, the concept that the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith in the life of the believer, is self-refuting.  

The article asks, 'By what criterion do we know which texts comprise the Bible?'  This is a very important question, as the Bible is not one book, but a collection of books.  The Protestant Bible has 66 books, the Catholic Church has 73 and the Orthodox have 76, with some other minority groups having one or two extra (I.e. 4 Maccabees and the Book of Enoch).  If the criterion by which we know which texts make up the Bible is wrong, we could have the wrong list of books in our Bible, by either having too many or not enough.

For Sola Scriptura to be a valid belief, it requires it is internally consistent (it cannot be a self-refuting principle).  This means that the Bible must contain within itself (as it is the sole infallible rule of faith) a list of which texts comprise the Bible, if the principle of Sola Scriptura is to be held with faith.  Unfortunately, those familiar with the Bible are aware that the printed table of contents at the start of the book is not itself inspired, as it is not part of the original text.  And this is where the principle of Sola Scriptura falls apart, as there is nowhere in the Bible that lists what books make up the Bible.  

Because there is no list in the Bible of which books make up the Bible, this means there is no way of knowing with infallible certainty under Sola Scriptura which books make up the Bible.  We can rely on an outside infallible source, but this completely demolishes the principle of Sola Scriptura.  And without a list within the Bible itself, there is no argument that suffices to prevent this from being a self-refuting theory.

Most Protestants will attempt to point to 2 Timothy 3:16 as a Biblical defence of Sola Scriptura.  A lot of people online then counteract that this is referring specifically to the Old Testament only, not the New Testament.  This is incorrect, as at least the Gospel of Luke was likely included in Paul's understanding of this text, as he references this Gospel in 1 Timothy and refers to it as Scripture.

That said, the New Testament in its entirety was not likely completed at the time of Paul's writing, meaning Paul was not referring to a set list of New Testament books known to all.  And even if he was, the verse itself does not specifically list which texts are / are not Scripture.  I thought 2 Timothy 3:16 resolution for a few days when I realised it included a New Testament book as scripture, until I noticed that Sola Scriptura still didn't stand up to scrutiny without a list of books within the inspired text of the Bible itself.

This is the death blow to Sola Scriptura.  Without an infallible list of books listed in the Bible, either:
  • A second infallible source is required outside of Scripture itself (thus violating the principle that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith, and making a case for the Catholic Church's position of infallible sources outside the Bible in tradition, the teaching of the Magisterium, etc), or
  • We cannot know with any certainty that the books we have are actually the books which we are to rely on for faith (R.C. Sproul refers to this as having a 'fallible collection of infallible books', which is absurd).  There could be extra books or less books than we have in the 66 book canon, or
  • A set list of scripture is not a rule of faith that requires infallibility, meaning I can choose to believe in whichever books I want to, either excluding books from the 66-book canon, or adding books such as the Gospel of Judas or my personal diary or whatever else I feel inclined to include (which is utter absurdity).
The Canon Question article analyses this further; it lists the arguments that Protestants have put forward to answer the question, 'By what criterion do we know which Books comprise the Bible?' It then addresses each of these. The list of arguments includes:
  • The self-attesting nature of scripture and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit: Quoting the Belgic and Westminster Confessions, it is shown that this test is unreliable and subjective, as any two Christians that disagree on the canonicity of the Bible whilst both claiming to have the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit undermines this principle, as it relies on something outside the Bible but also subjective.  Martin Luther and John Calvin both had different lists in their canons whilst claiming they had inspiration from the Holy Spirit. The question necessarily becomes, 'Who legitimately has the Holy Spirit?' In the process, they show misstatements of the Catholic position in Calvin, and why his position is flawed.  Refined views such as Herman Ridderbos' are also critiqued and rejected.
  • The Original Hebrew Old Testament: Reviewing the methods put forward by Dr. Harris and rejecting them as violating the arguments put forward by Ridderbos, Called to Communion show how the claim that there was a consistent Hebrew canon is non-verifiable, that it pushes back the question to, 'How the OT canon was verified?', that not one single Early Church Father that was in favour of the using a Hebrew text have a list directly corresponding to that of the current 39-book Protestant Old Testament, and that Jerome (among others) cannot be used as a source to substantiate a view supporting the Protestant position when compared with his writings support a larger canon.
  • New Testament Apostolic Authorship: They use Ridderbos' arguments to show why arguments put forward re: Apostolic Authorship are insufficient.
  • Widespread acceptance by the Early Church: It is proven that there was no universal text that was accepted across the whole Church until the 4th Century at the earliest, unlike the claim that this was the case.
  • That which preaches Christ: Luther's argument for canonicity of books.  But he rejects 2 Maccabees and Esther (the latter of which is in Protestant Bibles today) as having too much Judaism and no little heathen vice.  W. G. Kummel's understanding of Luther's argument is shown to also be flawed, as it results in a circular argument.
Finally, the article shows that even answering the question fails the principle of Sola Scriptura, because the individual seeking to answer the question must try to interpret the answer using their own fallible intellect.
The logical conclusion therefore requires that an infallible authority outside of scripture must be required, whether the Holy Spirit, the Church, a combination thereof or something else, but whatever the conclusion, they all violate the principle of Sola Scriptura.  The article has 149 footnotes and at the time of writing 843 comments, where further arguments have been put forward and responded to. There are also two related articles that are essential reading references at the start of the article.  I encourage any Protestant to read that article and to determine how they can continue to hold to the principle of Sola Scriptura in good conscience.

There are alternatives to Sola Scriptura, but they are only held by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  But looking into those arguments would come later for me.  The damage had been done as to my belief in which books made up the Bible as per the Sola Scriptura paradigm.


A related point - Understanding Scripture and "Hermeneutics"

The understanding of Scripture is primarily through its interpretation.  This is referred to as 'Hermeneutics'.

The Protestant way of understanding the Bible is usually one of twofold:

  • The Bible is needs to be interpreted with an understanding of the literal, historical and grammatical aspects of the text, or
  • The Bible has a twofold interpretation, with there being both a literal and a Spiritual sense.
The Catholics and Orthodox use the latter, but subdivide the spiritual sense into a further three categories.  These four methods have been documented and used by the Church since the 3rd Century (200s), with the Reformers changing / revising the approach to scripture only in the 15th Century. They also use scripture to support show how scripture itself endorses each of these four methods.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) lists these four methods and provides scripture verses to support each of them as follows:
  1. "The Literal Sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1, 1, 10, ad 1.)
  2. The spiritual sense.  Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
    1. The allegorical sense.  We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognising their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign of type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2)
    2. The moral sense.  The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly.  As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction." (1 Corinthians 10:11, cf. Hebrews 3-4:11)
    3. The anagogic sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading").  We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem (Cf. Revelation 22:1-22:5)." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 115-117)
Knowing that there are various senses in which one can interpret scripture, I started to see that some verses have more than one meaning.  For example, Paul sees Hagar and Sarah's children as being able to be taken allegorically as two covenants (cf. Galatians 4:21-31).

With this in mind, I then began to approach the question of Sola Fide, as Protestants understand it in the Bible.  If Sola Scriptura was wrong, perhaps I had also misunderstood Sola Fide also.

Sola Fide
Sola Fide is the Protestant concept that a man is Justified before God by Faith Alone.

With one principle of the Reformation destroyed (Sola Scriptura, arguably the most important), the principle of Sola Fide very quickly becomes shaky territory.  "How can I know that Sola Fide is correct, when I can't even know that the books we use to support the argument are the right books?" is a very challenging question to ask oneself.  

Nevertheless, there is a refutation to the argument of Sola Fide, even using the Protestant Canon.

Firstly, the term 'Faith Alone' (Sola Fide) is not in the Bible at all.  Some Bibles translate James 2:24 using the term 'faith alone', where Scripture says, 'you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone'.  The Latin translation of the Bible here however did not use 'Sola Fide', but rather 'Fides Tantum', 'Faith only', which could at first glance be deemed to support a Protestant understanding. That said, Calvin interprets the Hebrew as 'Fides Solum', which is much closer to Sola Fide.  Further study of the related passages relating to faith is therefore required.


Martin Luther added the word 'alone' after the word 'faith' in his German translation of the verse in Romans 3:28, which reads as follows:

"For we hold that a man is justified apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:28 RSV)

First of all, it is interesting to note that Early Church Fathers such as St Augustine in his Enchiridion (Chapter 67) identifies that if Paul believes that faith alone saves apart from works, that he contradicts James and also himself.  At face value, this contradiction between Paul and James can seem to be the case:
"For we hold that a man is justified apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:28 RSV)
"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24 RSV)

The question that one needs to ask is, "How can these two statements, which seem to contradict, be reconciled?".  Martin Luther answered by removing the book of James from the canon of scripture.  The typical Protestant answer today however is that Paul and James are referring to different types of faith or justification.


It is worth mentioning here a document published by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999 titled, 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.'  This document outlines how the view of Sola Fide can be recognised as legitimate when understood with certain qualifications   This document has since also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches in 2017 (500 years after the commencement of the reformation). The Anglican Consultative Council has also affirmed this document.  Collectively, these three bodies represent close to 240 million of the world's 900 million protestants, a sizeable number.  There is naturally a lot more to the argument, but this is a great starting point for someone interested in the attempts made to reconcile this difference.


From a Scriptural standpoint, Protestants when they define faith believe that true faith necessarily results in good works, but that these works are not contributing to one's justification.  Rather, as John Calvin puts it, men are justified before God by faith alone, but justified in the eyes of men before God.


"The Sophists lay hold on the word justified, and then they cry out as being victorious, that justification is partly by works.  But we ought to seek out a right interpretation according to the general drift of the whole passage.  We have already said that James does not speak here of the cause of justification, or of the manner how men obtain righteousness, and this is plain to every one; but that his object was only to show that good works are always connected with faith; and, therefore, since he declares that Abraham was justified by works, he is speak of the proof he gave of his justification.

When, therefore, the sophists set up James against Paul, they go astray through the ambiguous meaning of a term.  When Paul says that we are justified by faith, he means no other thing than that by faith we are counted righteous before God.  But James has quite another thing in view, even to show that he who professes he has faith, must prove the reality of his faith by his works.  Doubtless James did not mean to teach us here the ground on which our hope of salvation ought to rest; and it is this alone that Paul dwells upon.

That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists, we must take notice of the twofold meaning, of the word justified.  Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, 'Show to me your faith,' etc.  In this sense we fully allow that a man is justified by works, as when any one says that a man is enriched by the purchase of a large and valuable chest, because his riches, before hid, shut up in a chest, were thus made know." (Calvin's Commentaries, James 2:21)

Calvin's understanding claims that justification is determined before men by works, but that only faith is required before God.  However, this understanding of justification being before God in Romans but before man in James is not required by the text.  

The Catholic and Orthodox believe that the 'faith' and 'justification' referred to in both Romans and James are the same, but rather that the type of 'works' or 'law' referred to by each is different in each context.  This is also the view of historic writers within the Church (St. Augustine, etc.) prior to the split of the reformation.  The Orthodox Study Bible points out that in the book of Romans, it is important to distinguish between the different ways Paul uses "Law", which he uses to refer to:

  • The Mosaic Law (Romans 2:12-13), the law provided by Moses.
  • The Natural Law (Romans 2:14-15), the law written on the hearts of all by God.
  • The Law of Faith (Romans 3:27), which is our synergy, cooperation via faithfulness with God's.
  • The Law of Sin (Romans 7:25, 8:2), which is the power of the sinful passions in our human mortality, passions that can result in overindulgence or incorrect use, such as food, sex, praise, possessions, etc.
  • The Law of the Spirit (Romans 8:2), which is the power and life of the Holy Spirit active in those who by faith in Christ live out their baptism.  This is also referred to elsewhere as 'The Law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2) and "The Law of Liberty" (James 1:25, 2:12).

It is this last understanding of the use of the Law in Paul, which shows how Paul and James do not contradict.  

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament refers to this difference as follows, "Paul asserts the saving power of faith over works and James defends the saving value of works as an expression of Faith.  Martin Luther believed Paul and James to be in such sharp disagreement that he relegated the Letter of James to an appendix in his 1522 edition of the New Testament."

Furthermore, Justification by Faith Alone is seen to be something that occurs at a point in time in Protestantism that then remains with the believer for the rest of his life.  The Catholic and Orthodox position sees Justification as something that begins at a point in time, but then continues to increase, so long as one continues in works of charity or love (the Law of the Liberty).

The key way to understand this is to track out the life of Abraham, as both Paul and James use his lift to defend their apparently contradictory arguments.  The Greek Orthodox Study Bible explained this in a way that was succinct and easy for me to understand how the argument can be built against Sola Fide from the Bible.

"The faith of Abraham is living and active. [as opposed to point in time]

  1. In Genesis 12:1-3, when Abraham is 75 years old, he receives a call to forsake all and follow God.
  2. In Genesis 15:6, when Abraham is almost 85, after he has proven his faith through years of renouncing his land, family, property, and privileges, God promises him that he will ultimately regain everything he has given up.  Abraham's faith in God's promise is "accounted to him for righteousness." God fulfils Abraham's faith by making a covenant with him, an OT [Old Testament] liturgical and sacramental act.
  3. In Genesis 22:1-19, Abraham is at least 110.  He has been tested for years concerning God's promise of a son.  Now, after the covenant sacrament of initiation (circumcision) has been given in Genesis 17, comes Abraham's supreme test: the sacrifice of Isaac, his son of promise (Genesis 15:6).  James [2:20-24] reveals that Genesis 15:6 is fulfilled in Genesis 22.  This is a crucial lesson for us in our understanding of justification by faith.  Neither Abraham's faith not his justification is merely momentary, static, or once-and-for-all.  It is dynamic, a growth process that finds its natural and normal realisation in good works.  Far from being point-in-time, Abraham's justification covered at least 25 years after God first declared him just.  It is living and active faith that saves!" (The Orthodox Study Bible)

Learning that justification in Abraham's life was not point-in-time, but was both point-in-time and an ongoing process, I was able to see that the teaching of justification is not the way scripture refers to Abraham's faith.  There are lots of additional nuances and points surrounding the doctrine of Sola Fide, which many books and articles flesh out (see another example from Called to Communion here).  I hope merely to provide a high level of why I reached the conclusion that Sola Fide was incorrect.

Further questions beyond these two
I had many questions beyond these two, such as what do Catholics believe on the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist, Mary, the sacraments, tradition, predestination vs free will and other points.  I may address these in the future.  But realising that the teaching of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide were flawed was a key aspect in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

Prayer and People
There are lots of people to thank for their prayers, support and guidance in my conversion process, including family, friends and priests.  Without mentioning them by name on this occasion, I heartily thank them all for their input.  It was a long journey to convert to the Catholic Church, and took about 5 years all up, but it has been one of the best (if not the best) decision of my life.

A Parting Test
A parting thought - if you are a Protestant and are after reading this article are unsure of the key principles of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, you may be unsure who to turn to, or to know who can be trusted to teach the truth, as many churches teach these two flawed principles.

The Early Church established a test, both in the Western Church via St Augustine and in the Eastern Church via Cyril of Jerusalem that I have tested and still works today.  You can try it for yourself if you would like to find the church that teaches the true faith.  I have included their test and quotes below and encourage you to try it for yourself.

"But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things (as also it is written of the multitude in the theatre of the Ephesians, 'And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the Assembly'), and since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to you now the Article, “And in one Holy Catholic Church;” that you may avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated. And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, and all the rest,) and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all; which before was barren, but now has many children... " Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (313 - 386 A.D.), Catechetical Lectures #18.

"For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual, men attain in this life…not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations…so does her authority…the succession of priests…and so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church… Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church… For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church… for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichaeus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you." Saint Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, 4:5,5:6 (A.D 397).

Head to your local town and ask a stranger, 'Where is the nearest Catholic Church?'  Based on the two comments above, you can be confident they will point you to the true church.

Further Reading
For those interested in further reading beyond the list of Church Fathers above, or for those looking for a list of useful material in answering questions related to the Catholic Church, I have found the following books interesting and helpful:

  • The Bible (with Deuterocanonicals or Apocrphya)
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Summa Contra Gentiles by Thomas Aquinas (selections)
  • Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas (selections)
  • Contra Errores Greacorum by Thomas Aquinas (selections)
  • The City of God by St Augustine (selections)
  • The Belief of Catholicism by Ronald Knox
  • The Sunday Missal and the Weekday Missal
  • The Divine Office, Volumes 1-3
  • An Essay on the Development of Doctrine by John Henry Newman
  • The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware
  • The Church of Apostles and Martyrs Volume 1 by Henri Daniel-Rops
  • Jesus of Nazareth Volume 1 by Pope Benedict XVI
  • Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan (selections)
  • The Orthodox Study Bible
  • The Ignatius Catholic New Testament Study Bible
  • A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
  • The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a'Kempis
  • Catholicism for Dummies
  • The Catholic Controversy by St Francis De Sales
  • The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks
  • Plato: The Republic
  • Plotinus: On Beauty
  • Virgil: Eclogue 4
  • Almost every article at www.calledtocommunion.com 
  • The Catholic Religion: A Course of 20 lessons by The Catholic Enquiry Centre
  • Many articles at www.stpaulcenter.com 
  • Youcat: a Youth Catechism
  • Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI
  • Humani Genesis by Pope Piux XII
  • Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler
  • Mary According to the Bible (blog post by an Orthodox) - http://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/2010/07/mary-according-to-bible.html 

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