Debating with these Catholic ladies has caused me to dig deeper into the Bible and history to understand the differences between protestantism and catholicism and the truth of the claims of each to be the true church.
I have a personal interest in this also because several years ago I was shocked to learn that some close family members were in the process of joining the catholic church. As a baptist and admirer of many protestant heroes, such as Tyndale and the Waldenses and the Pilgrims, this was incomprehensible to me.
Here is a link to some messages I found that express the thoughts that have been solidifying in my mind as I study this issue; this Presbyterian minister of course is much more learned than I, and can express the truth much more effectively, but his conclusions are very similar to what I've concluded so far. These messages are by Rev. Robert S. Rayburn of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington.
These messages state better than I can why I will never 'go home' to Roman Catholicism.
Before I go, let me say that I see many good things in Catholicism and many catholics are true believers in Christ. I see the attraction of it and applaud many of the stands that catholics take. Here is a quote from the last message by Rev. Rayburn:
In particular, the negative principle -- the pointing out of error -- may never be allowed to overwhelm the positive, the assertion of truth. The negative work is necessary, the Bible makes that clear enough, but it is all too possible for the negative, the denunciatory to begin to take the chief place in teaching about the Christian faith, and the results of that are never profitable. [Murray, Lloyd Jones, ii, 680]
John Newton described this danger in a more personal and homely way when he wrote, "There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us." To give too much place to criticism, even theological criticism, is, therefore, an invitation to a hateful approach to those with whom we disagree, and hateful folk have never advanced the interests of the gospel, never protected the church from the inroads of error, and never persuaded others to abandon their errors to come home to the truth.
I do not want any of you, ever, to become a Roman Catholic. Over these last weeks I have told you why. But it will be an altogether pyrrhic victory if all we succeed at doing is making ourselves more anti-Catholic. As one old Reformed writer put it, "Faith is not the negation of errors, but the affirmation of the truth." [Francis
Burman, in Sepp, ii, 181]
After all, at the end of the day, as we said repeatedly over these past weeks the errors we believe we have demonstrated in the Roman Catholic system are, in kind, the same errors it would be easy enough to find in Protestantism, and, indeed, always lurking in our own hearts. To know a certain idea to be a mistake is not the same thing as embracing the truth and living by it.