A man’s intellectual journey to Catholicism can be made in three fairly straightforward steps. Accompanied with the clarity of honest reason and the enlightenment of humble faith, the journey to Catholicism not only offers an intellectually satisfying destination, but it offers temporal and eternal contentment without doubt and (at the very least) a sound worldview that is second to none. So where does this journey begin?
- In the face of the universe, we are truly insignificant. We are creatures at the mercy of the powers of nature and are utterly destructible. In the scope of all of history, each of our lives amounts to but a dim flicker, a flash of light. Yet, of all terrestrial beings, we alone are endowed with intellect and reason. We acknowledge our human nature and admit that we are more than brute or beast. We are set apart, for it is in the exercise of our intellect that we are distinguished as “human” from all other organisms. Coincidentally, the first step in our intellectual journey breaches the very question of our existence and begins with utilizing our gift of reason (indeed, all three steps rely on our reason) to determine the existence of a Creator, a First Cause, a Supreme Intelligence, a God. It is in coming to the conclusion that God exists that we become a Man in this journey, and it is in acknowledging God that we also admit that we are not he. We recognize self as a simple creature, a mere Man, which is a revelation that demands honesty and humility. Unlike any other creature of the earth, a Man willfully surrenders his pride to the sound and logical conclusion that God exists. If this is the case, we can never be less than Man again, for within God’s existence we find a higher aim for our own.
From here, consider the work of the renowned Dr. William Lane Craig as he defends the existence of God in his debate, Does God Exist? For deeper reading, Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity (T. Horn) and The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism (P. Madrid) are strongly recommended.
- The next step is one that takes us from mere Man to Gentleman, by a further gaze of the mind and of the soul to determine the true God. In this quest, we find that God is a personal god, so much so that he desires to face us, man to man. This of course, leads us to a person, Jesus Christ, who not only claimed to be God but who also validates all of God’s revelation of himself to us in the Old Testament. These revelations include our creation in his image and the command to follow his moral law, which, through fulfillment of Jesus’ teaching, elevate us from beastly Men, to Gentlemen of moral disposition. The credibility of our call to this lofty way of life hinges heavily on the real existence and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that he was who he said he was and actually taught what he taught. Again, by the exercise of our reason, even we, over 2000 years after his life, can apply social science and the best historical scrutiny to come to a near universal consensus among modern scholars that Jesus Christ did exist. And because we can know his teaching and that he rose from the dead, we can never be less than a Gentleman again.
From here, consider the work of Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn as he concisely explains four reasons he thinks Jesus really existed. For further reading The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (G. Habermas) and The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Lee Strobel) are deeply compelling works.
- Finally, the last leg of this intellectual journey is one that brings the Gentleman to his true home. Christ existed, and his teachings are true. But why, then, is there such a staggering disunity among Christians who interpret these teachings differently, and many times, in contradictory ways? Christ intended to found one Church, he makes it holy, extends it to all, and builds it upon the Apostles and their authority. The last intellectual step in becoming a Catholic Gentleman, is affirming that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ. In making this step, we draw from the selfsame humility that first acknowledged the existence of God, and we submit ourselves to his beloved son, Jesus Christ, who in turn entrusts us to the arms of our Mother, his Church and his Bride. This is a Church that safeguards the Fullness of Truth through her papal authority and both the oral and written pillars of Sacred Tradition with the promise to withstand the gates of hell. If the Catholic Church is true, then we can never be anything less than a Catholic Gentleman again.
From here, consider reading this comprehensive article by Father Dwight Longenecker, himself a convert from Protestantism, regarding the claim that Christ founded the Catholic Church, entitled How Do We Know It’s the True Church? For more literature, The Protestant’s Dilemma (D. Rose), Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics (P. Kreeft), and the Surprised by Truth Series (P. Madrid) are all highly endorsed.
So there we have it, a man’s intellectual journey to Catholicism. A journey from Man, to Gentleman, to Catholic Gentleman – an intellectual experience that also involves a conversion of heart (which is really our fourth step). To recap, (1) God exists, (2) has become man in the person of Jesus Christ, and (3) has founded the Catholic Church so that we might find fullness of purpose in love and truth as men of God, Catholic Gentlemen, and by his mercy, future saints.
In conclusion, I address the critics of any of these three claims. I am aware that there are many dedicated persons out there who tirelessly work to discredit these three claims. To you, I thank you for posing your sincere and best arguments, so that upon the evaluation of all the information, people are able to seek the most reasonable truth. For those searching, it can be easy to find counter arguments compelling, whether by the eloquence of delivery, our culture’s over-dependence upon the sole authority of science, or the general reign of skepticism and the inclination or predisposition of one’s will to hold such positions. For all of us, remember, these three claims are so hotly contested because of what is truly implied IF they are all true, namely, that IF THEY ARE TRUE we simply cannot undertake any sincere intellectual journey without ending up as a Catholic Gentleman.
~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide