Steve Ray, now a Roman Catholic, formerly a Protestant congregant attempted to answer some questions about why he decided to trust the Papal see:
I explained my reasons for converting to the Catholic Church in my book Crossing the Tiber and on my Conversion CD. Here I provide a few of the quotations that had an impact on my decision. It is far from a complete list.
In fairness to Steve, this particular post is not going to deal with the particular sample quotations – and even the quotations may not have been the complete reason. The point of this point is to address some of the generalities.
As an Evangelical Protestant, echoing the words of Baptist Preacher Charles H. Spurgeon, I cared about what the Holy Spirit revealed to me, but had little regard for what he had revealed to others, especially those in the first centuries–some who knew the apostles personally.
With all due respect, now that Steve is Roman Catholic he STILL cannot have much regard for what the Holy Spirit revealed to other men: Steve is bound by dogma to accept the declarations of his church without regard to whether they were taught by the fathers. Steve has turned over his judgment to the truth, he has not gained liberty to evaluate the fathers freely.
Most curious is his “some who knew the apostles personally.” There are no extant writings of Christians that are positively attributable to people who knew the apostles personally. There are the “Epistle of Barnabus” (attributed sometimes to Paul’s companion) and “The Shepherd of Hermas,” (attributed to a very early Christian or heretical writer) but the only accounts outside of Scripture that are remotely reliable as to the words of first century Christians who knew the apostles would come from the second hand words of 2nd century Christians.
I was convinced that the earliest Christians were basically “Protestant“ in their theology and practice and only became corrupted with “Catholic stuff“ in later centuries. I thought Protestants had the claim to authentic continuity back to the apostles.
Well, that depends what you consider “Catholic stuff.” Some “Catholic stuff” entered very early, while other “Catholic stuff” like indulgences, prayers to departed believers, use of icons and idols for worship, papal infallibility, and the bodily assumption of Mary arose later – in some cases much later (try finding documentation of papal infallability more than a century before Vatican I).
But I was very mistaken and the more I studied the early Fathers of the Church, starting with Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, (disciples of Peter and Paul), Papias, Irenaeus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and others, I became convinced the early Church was Catholic. Intellectual honestly and spiritual integrity forced me to become a Catholic. As the old maxim says: “The water is always cooler and cleaner as you draw closer to the source.” I had gone back to the early Church and the truth was clear and refreshing.
First, the maxim is untrustworthy: heresies sprang up immediately. The apostles, for example, had to deal with Judaizing within the first century, and possibly Gnosticism as well (John’s gospel can be viewed as a direct response to the Gnostic heresies).
Second, the claim that Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome were personally familiar with the apostles is open to reasonable doubt: the historical evidence of such personal familiarity is far from persuasive. There is, however, evidence of knowledge of the writings of the apostles – evidence of knowledge of the New Testament.
For example, when Ignatius writes to the Ephesians, he quotes from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (see Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 1, quoting from Ephesians 5:2) and Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians (Id. Ch. 2, quoting from 1 Corinthians 1:10; and Ch. 18, quoting from 1 Corinthians 1:20). Likewise, Clement writing to the Corinthians heavily relies on Old Testament Scripture, and likewise appears to reference New Testament Scripture (See 1 Clement 23, apparently combining James 1:8 and 2 Peter 3:3-4).
What is even more key is the fact that even though Ignatius of Antioch may have been ordained by one of the apostles or by men who know the apostles, in his letter the authority to which he appeals is uniformly the authority of Scripture. He at one point quotes a saying of Jesus, but even this saying is found in the Gospels (See 1 Clement 13, providing the words found at Matthew 6:12–15 and 7:2 and Luke 6:36–38).
More certainly could be said about the page at the link above. There a number of quotations provided that doubtless are troubling to certain people, some of which I’ve addressed before, and most of which are addressed by (a) acknowledging that we are not carbon copies of the early church fathers, (b) recognizing that the church fathers were not all carbon copies of one another, (c) reading the fathers in context (perhaps I should have placed this first), and once we have adduced the true meaning of the fathers, if it disagrees with us, placing that matter before the bar of Scripture, which is the only infallible rule of faith and life.
Don’t even get me started on the quotations from Luther. I suspect my friend James Swan has already addressed those, as he has so many other attempted reliances on Luther by Rome’s apologists.
UPDATE: Yes, he has dealt with them. Check out his responses here: