In light of our conversation, I have some articles to share:
http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-trajectory-of-doctrinal-progression.html - This is my autobiographical article describing why we moved in the Catholic direction.
http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com/2016/02/what-is-catholic-doctrine-of-salvation.html - This is a general article on the Catholic doctrine of salvation. At the end it also has links to other articles on more specific things, including indulgences.
http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com/2015/10/do-catholics-believe-in-justification.html - This article talks about justification by faith alone.
http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-necessity-of-unconditional.html - This one talks about predestination and efficacious grace, attacks Semipelagianism.
Since I never can get myself to stop with the giving of articles :-) , here are a couple more on justification.
Feel free to ask anything else that comes to mind, etc.
Have a good night!
I wanted to provide just a few more resources for you. Of course, there is a lot to think through, and you will consider these things as you wish and at the pace that you wish. What I'm doing in this email and the last is simply providing you with some resources that you can tuck away and get out when you want to research these things further. Again, feel free to ask any other questions, make any comments or arguments, etc.--or not!
With regard to the evidence from the early church in terms of what it held regarding Scripture, Tradition, and the authority of the Church, here are a couple of articles from William Webster, a Protestant apologist, arguing that the early fathers taught Sola Scriptura, so you can see some of the best Protestant arguments on this point:
Now, here is an article by a Catholic, showing, I think, that the Protestant interpretation of the Fathers is skewed and taken out of context. I think he illustrates well that the early church did not hold to Sola Scriptura, but to the sort of paradigm held by Catholics and Orthodox:
That last article provides a number of resources, also cited by William Webster who wrote the other two articles, which explore the doctrine of the early church on these matters, such as Jaroslav Pelikan's work, J, N. D. Kelly, and other scholars of church history (many of them Protestants of some sort). One of the most helpful resources I have found is J. N. D. Kelly's book, Early Christian Doctrines. Kelly is a Protestant--an Anglican, I believe. Kelly has a chapter on "Scripture and Tradition" which I think lays out well the overall position of the early church on these matters.
So these resources will help you do some research on the early church. If it cannot be proved in a non-question-begging manner that the Bible or the Fathers teach Sola Scriptura clearly and definitively as their doctrine, then this is where the "default" issue comes in. We have no basis to break from denominational, empirical continuity with the early church unless we can prove that we have to to preserve true teaching, etc., but if we can't prove that, it would be schismatic to break and we should stick with the original Church and the Church descending from it, accepting its take on these matters rather than breaking from it on the basis of asserting contrary claims without sufficient evidence.
Here is something I've written up responding to Greg Bahnsen trying to prove Sola Scriptura from Scripture. There are also some other resources linked to at the end:
With regard to the doctrine of the papacy in the early church, I would highly recommend a work by an Anglican scholar, Edward Giles, entitled Documents Illustrating Papal Authority AD 96-454. You can find it here online. It is sometimes available to buy by various places as well (I have a hard copy, lent currently to someone else). I would also recommend this article from an Eastern Orthodox member who is convinced of papal claims and presents some interesting historical insights into the papacy in the Eastern churches:
I have written up an article, with a number of addendums, on why Catholicism over Eastern Orthodoxy. There is a lot there, and a lot of resources linked to as well:
I would also highly recommend a book written in the 16th century by St. Francis de Sales entitled The Catholic Controversy. It makes some pointed observations and raises some pointed questions about Protestantism's claims to authority, Sola Scriptura, the early church, etc. You can find it here to buy and here and part of it here online.
Well, there you go! Just jump in somewhere that looks interesting and see what you find as you have interest and opportunity. Let us know if you have any interesting developments, or have any questions, comments, etc. I should add that I added a bit to my "Necessity of Unconditional Predestination and Efficacious Grace" article showing further how these ideas are rooted in Catholic doctrine.
Talk to you later! Have a good day!