Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Protestant "comes out"

For the first ten or fifteen years after my reversion, my main apologetical interest was in debating and discussing with Protestants. These days, I rarely engage the Protestant/Catholic debate, and I focus more on the "culture wars" by debating secularists and atheists. Protestants are fellow Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the Church is very clear on that.

However, every so often, I revisit the issues that divide Protestants and Catholics because Truth matters, and because the Church is a stronger witness to the world when we are undivided. At the Last Supper, hours before His death, Jesus prayed that his followers all be one. Not some loosey-goosey "oneness of fellowship", but a Trinitarian oneness. True unity, no dissension, no separation. 

So, there was this epic thread that took place on my Facebook page the other day, and while I very much encourage you to read through all 700+ comments (get some popcorn and settle in; it's that good!), I have excerpted for you here some comments from a woman named Renee Joy, who jumped into the discussion and unexpectedly "came out" as a Protestant-turning-Catholic! She had been researching and praying and pondering this move privately, but this was her first public statement! 

Her insights and thoughts on this journey are truly compelling, and I think anyone on either side of the Protestant-Catholic divide will appreciate her intellect, sincerity, and deep faith. Please note, this is not a discussion about sin vs. sanctity (there are sinners and saints in both camps), rather, this is a discussion about doctrinal truth vs. doctrinal chaos.

Read the whole Facebook thread, here (it's public), and meanwhile, here's just a taste of what Renee Joy had to say (I've strung together several of her comments) as she primarily engaged a thoughtful Protestant named Allison. 


After 38 years in the Protestant world -- growing up Southern Baptist, under the teachings of Adrian Rogers (and any good S.B. knows who that is), going to a Evangelical Christian school K-12 heavily dominated by Reformed Presbyterians and non-denominational Evangelicals and Southern Baptists in the heart of the Bible Belt, I was frustrated with "church" for many reasons.

A few years ago, I started meeting Catholics, and realizing, oh my goodness, they are not the cult I was taught, and hey, wait a minute -- they make a lot more sense than anything I've seen. If you've lived Protestant then you know that Protestants cannot agree on anything. Sola scriptura my big foot! That's the issue! Everyone interprets everything their own way, and it has led to a complete disaster.

There are more denominations and subsets of those denominations, than is even believable. Independent Baptists eschew the Southern Baptists, who of course teach that the Methodists and Presbys are completely off base, the Lutherans and Episocopalians are totally different, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly of God, COGIC, none of them agree on much of anything -- not the way they define the relationship of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not on baptism, not on what is considered "necessary".

Predestination? Huge point of contention -- so much so that most Baptist churches say that it's just a mistranslation, yet the Presbys insist it's foundational. Some allow female preachers, teachers, elders. Some allow homosexual marriage. The majority are fine with artificial birth control even though we all know that it risks causing miscarriage. The divorce rate is astronomical. The churches tend to be either dominated by men (with women in a completely subservient mode with no opinions or purpose) or dominated by women, mostly single mothers with kids, or married women whose husbands stay home. The average family size is tiny -- and their belief of "prolife" really just translates to anti-abortion. They don't agree on the proper method or function of baptism (sprinkle? dunk? indoor dunk or lake?). Even all the Baptists don't agree with the other Baptists -- you have Southerns, Independents (which can be very conservative or far out there), and a ton of little offshoots.

I've seen more Southern Baptist churches split over the dumbest things: a fight about the new carpet color (blue or burgandy???), adultery with the pastor/secretary, fights about what version of the Bible to use (and don't get me started on the nonsense that is the "Message" or the many discrepancies in the various translations), even one split occurred over the replacement of a steeple. And don't get me started on "cultural relevance" -- the turning of most Protestant churches into semi-heathen pep rally environments mixed with rock concerts, where trashy, revealing clothes are the norm, and the focus is on having a good time, getting "pumped up for the Lord" -- on "experiences" and "feelings", not Truth, not discipleship, sacrificial living, ministry.

I'm not Catholic yet -- but the more I walk, the closer Rome looks on the horizon. The dissension in the Protestant churches, for me, stems from the fact that yes, they were based on "protesting"-- someone saying "I don't like this, I'm taking it out". And ever since then, that's what they've done. Each denomination, purging out the things they don't want/like/understand, until they're all practicing some mutilated version of pseudo-Christianity that leaves the congregants unsatisfied, unguided, and unhappy.

Sola scriptura, which clearly is not supported by Scripture itself, since it would mean that we could only use the Old Testament, has resulted in at least a dozen different translations of the "Bible" -- many vastly different than the others, and hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny "churches", each thinking they have it all right, none in agreement with others, and a lot of folks walking around saying "I'm saved" but having lives that look no different in functionality than the people walking around saying "I don't believe in anything except being good to fellow man."

The confusion that has arisen from everyone trying to interpret things their own way, has led to a disaster. And if Protestants truly believed that the Holy Spirit alone interpreted Scripture, and that church meetings were for fellowship (let us not forsake assembly), then there wouldn't be preachers sharing anecdotes and interpretations. There wouldn't be denominations.

And I will say, my husband and I were both raised very heavily in the Southern Baptist/Protestant world -- with my husband's family in the ministry in multiple generations, both of us raised in private Protestant schools, etc. There's a lot of false teaching that we've received over the years, about Catholicism, that we're having to research and refute, if that makes sense. But the more Church history we read, the more we confront the reality of what we see happening in Protestant churches (like the claims that Catholics are wrong for reciting prayers, despite the fact that Protestant churches not only recite the Lord's Prayer, but also typically have an altar call where people are led through a "Sinner's Prayer" to "get saved," etc.), the chaos and collapse of so many families, the blatant disregard for so much of Scripture that Protestants just can't reconcile with their particular denomination's beliefs and so they just ignore/discard it. The more my husband and I talk about it and put it out there, the more obvious the answers are.

And if you ever ask a Protestant, how, if they believe the Catholic Church was in error all those years, and that the Apostolic traditions are invalid, how the Protestant churches went from the New Testament housechurch pattern, to the set-up that exists today, which is often more like a corporation with tiered levels of authority, or conversely, is completely separate from all other churches, neither of which is true to New Testament teaching, they have no answer. If they truly believe that the Bible alone defines everything, then how do they reconcile those differences? If teaching stopped with the books in the New Testament, then how can it be correct to have what they have now? They have no answer.

I think two of the biggest issues were the "Romans Road" (i.e., Cliff Notes version of the Bible?) and the reality of what "salvation" was described as being in the Southern Baptist church, versus the reality of how that played out. For one, if all we really needed to understand salvation and Christianity was the handful of verses from Romans that most Protestant groups use to persuade people into joining their church, then why did God provide all the other books? Why is everything else necessary or important? You can't whittle away at it, taking away all the rest, pulling things out of context, and expect it to mean anything.

I think to be a Protestant, you have to be able to just say "it doesn't make sense but that's ok." I'm serious. There's so much you can't question -- or you're treated like an outcast. There's no consistency, no firm answers. It's all subjective. To be honest, I was talking about this earlier with another Catholic convert, and she pointed out that being Catholic isn't easy. In contrast, being Protestant is. Especially Southern Baptist. Once you've "prayed the prayer" and "gotten saved" (which are very important phrases), then you have your fire insurance. Anything you do, from then on, well, do your best but it's ok regardless. You can't get "unsaved" in that denomination. You're good to go. It's easy, in so many ways.

For years, I was taught that Catholics believed and taught things contradictory to Scripture. Purgatory, for instance. The respect they have for Mary, as another thing. In fact, there was a whole list of "violations." So, I started digging- not just to see if Catholics were right or wrong, but to see if the denomination I belonged to was also right or wrong. Because I grew up influenced by so many different "religions" (paternal grandfather, Southern Baptist; paternal grandmother, Methodist; maternal grandmother, Roman Catholic; maternal grandfather, Church of Christ. Went to a school taught by Reformed Presbyterians, non-denominational Evangelicals, and Southern Baptists. Went to Southern Baptist church. Nannied for a Jewish couple, worked a college job for a Sikh, had Muslim customers in Saudi Arabia and UAE, etc., and had a few Mormon friends. Worked in the inner city, where most worshipped at COGIC or Missionary Baptist denominations. You name it, I've heard it) -- I knew they could not all be correct. Someone has to be wrong. I don't want to be part of the ones that are wrong!

So here's the thing: I agree there are false teachers within the religious world. No doubt. That's obvious. The question is, who are they? So I started looking at that specifically -- across the board.

Presbyterians rely on Calvin, and to be honest, Scofield. I have a Scofield Bible on my nightstand, actually, and had used it for years. They set the standard and wrote the belief systems, pulling out the Scriptures they needed/liked to formulate what was "right" vs. "wrong." But who gave them that authority?

Most independent Baptist churches are pretty insistent on KJV. Why? I've even been in a church where I was carrying my Scofield NIV, and the church elders politely informed us that we couldn't read aloud in the Bible studies from the NIV, we had to use the KJV, and to help us "no longer be in error" then they had purchased us KJV's and left them in our pew. What gave them that authority?

None of the Protestant denominations agree foundationally on the majority of their religion. Even though they might say that "anyone who believes in the Trinity, in the fact that we are all sinners in need of a savior, and then confesses the name of Jesus Christ as Lord" is "saved," do they practice that? Is there unity between the churches? NO. Not at all. They are fundamentally different, and if you stay in any denomination for very long, you'll hear how/why they believe they have the "correct" interpretation of Scripture. The problem is, they seem to evolve with time, with this cultural relevancy concept. I cannot fathom how a church can believe that homosexuality is fine, acceptable to God, that gay marriage should be performed -- and yet, last year, the Presbyterian USA voted to allow it, it's up to the individual churches. Without a standard of interpretation and teaching to hold to -- that "tradition" that is mentioned in 2 Thess 3:6 -- this is what happens. Everyone comes up with his own thing, something that suits him. And the scary thing is, they all contradict.

Every Protestant denomination thinks they have it right. They can all cite Scripture to support their own doctrines, often pulling things out of context, or ignoring other Scripture that clearly adds to/supports/mitigates the tiny little bit they've decided to pull out and build a religion on -- like the importance of baptism, or the function of taking the Lord's Supper. Without the teaching from the apostles to round things out, to explain things, it's like looking at the framework of a house being built. You need the drywall, the shingles, the wiring, the plumbing, to make it a home. That's why we're not supposed to forsake gathering together. that's why we're supposed to not just go off on our own and read the Bible and think that's sufficient.

When I first posted on my Facebook wall over a year ago that I was frustrated beyond belief with the Protestants, I had no desire to become a Catholic. None. I was firmly convinced that the Pope might be the anti-Christ, as I had been taught from the pulpit, that they worshipped Mary, talked to dead people like witchcraft, etc etc etc. I had trouble reconciling that with the Catholics I knew, though, including my grandmother and the many Godly, faithful, peace-loving, kind, inclusive, "die to self and live for Christ" women I had met through Reece's Rainbow. I was looking for the "best" Protestant denomination to join. But over and over, people in various Protestant churches were commenting and PM'ing and emailing me to say they had the same struggles -- and over and over Catholics were saying "I think you're looking for us" and "I think you're Catholic and don't know it yet" haha.

I started studying not to become Catholic, but to disprove it, to find that fatal flaw that allowed me to cross them off my list as a viable option. But the more I dug, the more I learned and the more it made sense. I had to learn to separate what I had drilled in my head for years, decades really, by the teachers/preachers in my life, the code phrases that were programmed in -- the "compare everything to Scripture" (but not necessarily Scripture in context, but Scripture as interpreted and presented by the leadership of that denomination, hence the major debate over sprinkling vs dunking, predestination vs foreknowledge, etc). It all really does come down to the apostolic tradition, and the verses in the New Testament that refer to that being relevant. How we interpret anything is dependent on who is doing the interpreting and what criteria they use, what bias they have. The fact that the Catholic Church can trace the Popes all the way back, and the fact that Jesus renamed Peter and then in the same sentence said that on that rock He would build His Church, is huge. It was minimized in the Southern Baptist church, written off as a coincidence of naming -- but why would Jesus do that? Why would God want to confuse us? He's not the one that's the author of confusion! If He had wanted to rename Peter, He could have done that at any point, and not followed that with "and upon (the new name I just gave you that means Rock, i.e. foundation that is not sinking sand) I build My Church". When I realized that -- realized that it made more sense that Peter was named Rock because he would be the first Pope, just like Abraham was renamed to "Father of Multitude" because that was his role -- it started all making sense....


Renee knows more about Catholicism as a Protestant than most Catholics know about their own faith! Again, to read the entire thread, which includes a lot of other voices, go here. It was a real barn burner, and I heard from Protestants who enjoyed it and learned a lot. Go give it a look. And remember the words of Jesus to the Father on the night before He died, after consecrating the Apostles to go forth and teach in His name:

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." -- John 17: 20-23

Trinitarian unity of Christians is what God desires, and it's what Christ chose to pray for for in the precious hours before His agony. It cannot be minimized. God bless Renee and the countless others who have heeded Jesus' call to unity, so that the world may believe that He is Lord, sent by the Father. 


  1. A great day to make this post. Happy St. Joseph's Day to you, Leila. At mass this morning we were reminded that Joseph lived under the 613 Jewish rules, the first of which was "be fruitful and multiply" --- and then he accepted what an angel said, and he was one of the first to change from following the Old Testament to the New. Faith and reason are very important in understanding the Catholic Faith.

    Among my Lenten readings, I have begun to read Augustine's The City of God; I haven't read it in many, many years. It was written near the end of his life, when the pagans had sacked Rome and society was disintegrating. People were blaming the Catholic Church and its "faith and love" message, and wondering if their old gods could have saved them. And Augustine took the time to explain "creation, time, the origin of evil, human freedom, divine knowledge of the future, happiness, sin, grace, forgiveness and more." With so much disintegration going on in our society --- and so much confusion --- I thought it a good time to pick up this book again. This post is a good lead-in to my reading.

  2. DNBA, what a great reflection, and Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

  3. Even if I didn't know Renee--that was great to read!

  4. Renee is just plain awesome! Not only is she a mother to 12 adopted children already (some with disabilities), she has just packed her good husband off to Ukraine to get 3 more! How she finds the time in the midst of all that mothering to so thoroughly research the Faith and write about it at such length, heaven only knows! And she writes about both Protestantism and Catholicism with greater depth and rationality than a great many Christians - Catholics included - ever could! I'm a real fan of this shining star! What a day it will be when she and her husband formally pledge their allegiance to Jesus' one, true Church - having surely done it in their hearts already! Hopefully, countless others will be inspired to emulate their investigations and happy journey to the fullness of Truth, and the transforming power of His sacraments.

  5. Just read the last paragraph of Renee's comments. They express better than I ever could the sense of joy (and perhaps relief) that I have experienced since I was taken on by the Roman Catholic Church. "The more I dug the more it made sense" . Says it all. Thanks for sharing, Leila. Ian G

    1. That is so sweet. Welcome! I have always wondered, being a cradle Catholic, what it is like coming from the outside. I find most converts have zeal and faith that is really admirable and a great example!

  6. Amen to everything she said! It's so amazing to see when Catholicism clicks for people - takes me back to when it started clicking for me!

  7. I am neither Protestant nor Catholic, but Anabaptist. I am a Conservative Mennonite. My husband and I became disillusioned with our Protestant upbringing about 14 years ago, for many of the same reasons Renee mentioned. We visited every church in our community and never felt "at home" until we found the Mennonite church. It was a major change for us, as we had been your typical homeschooling Protestant family, and it took several years. We are a plain dressing family, and we wear head coverings. I have great respect for the Catholics I know, both personally and on social media. My question is, do Catholics as a whole believe that they are the only true religion? Do they believe that there are other ways? I did read and enjoyed to fb post. Thank you.

  8. Sassafras, hello and welcome! I have known some amazing, holy Mennonites. :)

    Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that she is the one, true Church, founded by Christ. As to whether or not non-Catholics can be saved, the short answer is "yes", and here is how:

    If you don't mind my asking, why do you not consider yourselves Protestant? Thanks!

  9. I think that a lot of these "discussions" can end up very dismissive of people. I'm going to out myself now as a Catholic convert who is having huge issues with some things in the Church and having trouble reconciling them. (I do not wish to be contacted by anyone on here who happens to be a FB friend about this or to be saving in private groups that people need to pray for me, by the way.)

    If one misses Mass on a Sunday (or a Holy Day of Obligation ((which are different for people depending on where said people live))) puts one's soul into a state of moral sin? Really? If one eats meat of Friday during Lent (again, that is different from how it used to be), one is the same? It's the same with not fasting on certain days.

    Priests who really had serious issues with Vatican II and wanted things to continue as they had in the past (and were good enough for the Catholics before them) were basically thrown up (yes, simplified) while priests who have no problem with homosexuality and abortion are allowed to continue on.

    If one doesn't confess all of these moral sins to a priest and happens to die, said person is basically condemned?

    None of those things sounds at all like Jesus and the church He was creating. None.

    I recently read that it's interesting that the Reformation started not too long after the printing press made the Bible more readily available to the masses. The Reformation happened roughly 100 years after that, and I find that very telling. People could finally read it for themselves and didn't have to take the pope's word for it.

  10. Hi Kimberly!

    Jesus gave the Apostles the authority and power to "bind and loose" the faithful on matters of discipline (as opposed to doctrine, which is unchanging). These disciplines can and do change according to the needs of the faithful in every era, and even from diocese to diocese (the bishop, as successor to an Apostle, has jurisdiction over his flock). It's not that "eating meat on Friday" is intrinsically evil (it's not, of course), but it's that the Church has (by the authority of Christ) bound the faithful on this issue. It's not the eating of meat per se that is the serious sin, it's the willful disobedience to Christ's Church (and the authority He gave). Obedience is a HUGE thing in Christianity. Huge, huge, huge, although it's a dirty word in our culture. It's been said that the devil can imitate all the virtues (even humility), but he cannot imitate obedience.

    God has always delegated his authority from the top down, to men (yes, sinners), and He has always stood by those to whom He gave that authority (ask Korah and his followers about that, when they declared that Moses had no right to tell them what to do, because "all the congregation are holy" -- yikes! Stick with the authority God puts over you).

    The printing press did have an effect: It made the Protestant heresies more easily spread. Other heresies did not have the chance to "stick" in the way that Protestant heresies did, because of the printing press. (The Arian heresy did last for hundreds of years, of course, but eventually died out. Sometimes it takes hundreds of years for a heresy to collapse under itself.)

    I'm curious if you think that Jesus intended for each individual Christian to interpret the Bible for himself? What has that led to, doctrinally? And, where did the New Testament come from? Who canonized it, who vouches for it? Who was given the authority to write, protect, copy, canonize and vouch for it?


    "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." -- Jesus to the Apostles, Matt. 18:18
    (This is the binding and loosing of the faithful on matters of discipline. More on that here: )

  11. I typed a long response, and it ended up in the netherworld of cyberspace. As such, I'll reply tomorrow.

  12. Renee Joy made some great points that I'll have to keep in mind when discussing the Protestant/Catholic divide. Your friend Shawn reminds me a bit of a dear friend who is Protestant and who has a thinly-veiled dislike of Catholicism. As with Shawn, you can pull out passages that address an issue directly (Christ's teachings against divorce and remarriage, Peter being the first Pope - oh, she does not like Popes) and she'll say she doesn't agree or she'll go quiet and drop the subject. I call such behavior, "Christian (or Catholic) until challenged." A person is a faithful Christian or Catholic until someone, usually their child, willfully breaks Christian/Church teaching, and then suddenly, the Church needs to change/Christianity is backwards! And so on. Oh, there needs to be change, but not on the part of the Church, but themselves. Ah, the power of pride.

  13. I started studying Catholicism to disprove it, too! Funny how that works :)

  14. I don't know that I believe that any one person was given the authority to canonize the New Testament. The Catholic Church did it, but that doesn't mean She was given the authority to do it. It could just mean She was the biggest game in town, so to speak.

    Catholics like to bring up the Peter verse as though it automatically means that he was made the first pope. However, Protestants just don't believe that's true, and they have good reasons to not think it's true. I'll be honest and say one of my biggest issues is the papacy. I've really tried reconciling it but am really struggling to do that right now. I'm not seeing a pope in that verse at all.

    It just seems as though the Catholic Church has erected its own equivalent to the Old Testament laws, and that isn't the church that Jesus was trying to create. He didn't die for us in order to make us live under an entirely new set of laws (that change based on where one lives). Moral laws such as not killing, etc, sure. However, not eating meat certain days, eating less food certain days, having to go to church every week under penalty of damnation, confessing to a priest and having to pray certain prayers a certain number of times in order to be forgiven, no.

  15. Kimberley, if I may offer a couple of thoughts for your contemplation:

    1. Peter was chosen right from Day One to lead the Church that Christ would establish. If he wasn’t, this significant, telling incident, involving Christ Himself (note: in the very first chapter written by St John) cannot be meaningfully explained: “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. YOU ARE TO BE CALLED CEPHAS” (which is translated Peter). "Cepas" means "rock" in Aramaic. What do you imagine that was all about? Has God ever renamed anyone who was not chosen for a special mission, destined to be a pivotal part of His plan for mankind? Abram -> Abraham (father of many). Sara'i -> Sarah (mother of peoples). Jacob -> Israel (People of God). The Blessed Virgin -> "full of grace" (Immaculate mother of God and mankind).

    2. (Specific) laws, authority and obedience are part and parcel of ALL of God’s works (contrasted directly with disobedience, chaos and anarchy which are the chief hallmarks of the Lawless One). The whole of the universe is governed by the “laws of nature”. Every man is guided (or is meant to be guided) by the “natural (moral) law” which is imprinted on every human heart. Christ Himself fulfilled The Law, observing all its tenets (in the perfect way), and was obedient to His Father’s Will “even unto death on a cross”. And the Church herself is preserved and nourished by the law/disciplines of love and fear of the Lord. The laws of fasting and abstinence which you refer to, properly understood, are tremendously life giving, involving as they do, the dying to self and control of our fleshly impulses, which we are called to undertake if we are to achieve fullness of life in the spirit. Even in your own life, you’ve surely established a whole plethora of big and small rules that govern your relationships and interactions with others. What are these if not “laws” designed to facilitate your own flourishing? Christ is the Way we follow. And through His Church Christ fleshes out this way, via concrete modes of thinking, being and acting that are conducive to eternal life. The Church’s laws are actually God’s own life-giving gifts to us, out of the treasury of His wisdom and mercy – same as His Ten Commandments are.

    Always remember that the ultimate authority in the Church is none other than Christ Himself. The Christ Who says these things to His Church:

    “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    “He who hears you, hears me, he who rejects you rejects me…”

    “Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

    We love Christ. We love His Church – and we love her divinely inspired laws. Thus, with the Psalmist we too can rightly sing:

    Oh, how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all day long.
    Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is always with me.
    I have more understanding than all my teachers,
    for your decrees are my meditation.
    I understand more than the aged,
    for I keep your precepts.
    I hold back my feet from every evil way,
    in order to keep your word.
    I do not turn away from your ordinances,
    for you have taught me.
    How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
    Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way.

  16. Kimberley, also:

    When we confess to a priest we are actually confessing our sins to Christ AND to His Church (both of whom the priest stands (or sits :)) in for. Why the need for the latter? Because when we sin, we offend not only God, we also injure the Body of Christ, His Church. Every sin of ours undermines the Church’s witness to Truth and holiness in the world, every sin hampers her task of teaching, governing and sanctifying the world. This is why St James exhorts us to “confess your sins one to another that you may be healed”. Christ and His Church are one; whatever offends Him also offends His Church. This is precisely why He says to the Church, “whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven, whose sins you retain they are retained.” For an analogy, think of a child who has – disobeying her father’s directives – trespassed against a sibling. He goes to his father for forgiveness. Does the father invariably not ascertain/ensure first of all that the child has said sorry to his sibling? It works the same way with Our Father in Heaven; justice stays His forgiveness if we are not sorry to (and absolved by) those we trespass against.

    Keep asking. Keep contemplating. Keep learning. Keep appreciating. Keep knocking and every door will be opened to you, right here in the embrace of Holy Mother Church. God bless you, sister.

  17. Hello again, Anabaptist do not consider themselves to be Protestant because they reject infant baptism, which Catholics and Protestants both considered integral parts of their beliefs. Anabaptist's, (Mennonites and Amish as well as Hutterites) believe in Believers Baptism. Coming to faith and salvation in Christ, with baptism to follow at an age when one can truly make a choice and decision to follow God. More than just baptism, there is much that separates Protestant and Anabaptist.

  18. Kimberly, you imply that the Church did not necessarily have the authority to canonize the New Testament. If not, then who did have the authority? If not, then why do you believe it to be the very Word of God?


  19. Sassafras, thanks! I'd love to know what you think about the problems that Renee raised: How can every denomination have such conflicting views, and if we say that every believe interprets the Scriptures subjectively, then how can we know what is true? What about illiterate people (the majority of the world)? How did God provide for their salvation?

  20. (continued)

    For years, growing up in the South, in a quite racist area, I was taught that the Tower of Babel was the "proof" that people should not date, much less marry, outside their particular race/ethnic group. That was the justification given- that God separated different people groups to their own continent, separating them with languages, etc, and that they should stay put. It was never stated outright that it was the reason that our city, after assassinating MLKJr, created all the private "white flight" suburb-based private Protestant schools- but it certainly lurked there, on the edges of conversation, on the tip of people's tongues, and was reinforced in the largely quite segregated Protestant churches. I believed that, growing up, until one day, I didn't. And when I memorized Colossians 3- and realized that in Christ, "there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all," and understood that Christ was sending out his disciples into the corners of the earth, to everywhere, to everyone, then I knew that the Tower of Babel wasn't a way of keeping the races/ethnicities separate- it was a distortion of someone who held racist thoughts and tried to use the Bible to support that.

    Instead, I think the Tower of Babel example is there to teach a few other lessons- specifically tied to the printing press, and then the internet, for example. Sometimes, a little bit of knowledge (ie, literacy, global access) can be a dangerous, dangerous thing. When people get together, with a little bit of knowledge, and have access to resources, they can accomplish and build dangerous things- especially if they are outside the will of God, and don't realize it. They become convinced of their own wisdom, of their own abilities, of their own imminent success- which will really be their destruction.
    I think after the printing press came about, and everyone had their own copy of Scripture, yes, people start interpreting it according to their own internal bias and filtering. The many false veins of “Christianity” began spreading, and that’s where chaos really took off. It’s even worse now, with the internet, in terms of the people seeing something or hearing it, finding some little nugget that they like, and then endorsing it, and then others seeing that endorsement, assuming that people they like/respect must be right, and BAM!- you have a hot mess of religious confusion, ie, 8000 little Protestant churches and offshoots, all in discord, all claiming the rightness.
    (see next comment)

  21. (continued from above)How can I know which of the many Protestant pastors that I’ve sat and listened to, if any, are correct? I’m supposed to go back to Scripture and compare it, of course, using that mindset of sola scriptura- except, they all are using the same verses to reach different conclusions.  They all have different interpretations of the majority of the Bible. The Protestants can’t agree on Revelation at all- pre-Trib Rapture? Post-Trib? Mid-trib? How do I know if I’m supposed to be stockpiling and hoarding prepping to live through the end times, or if I should be writing “if you’re reading this I’m gone…come to Jesus” letters for all my unsaved friends and family?

    God is very clear in I Corin 14:33 (a passage talking about the teaching and prophesying in church no less) that “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” I shouldn’t be hearing confusion at church. Clearly, all of these preachers are not hearing the same interpretation of the Bible from the Holy Spirit- which is of course, how they all claim to know the “right” thing.

  22. (last part, continued from above) I go back to the Authority component- how have I come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church has that Authority? It all boils down to the verse where Christ tells Peter that he will be called Rock, and upon that Rock, He will build His Church- and then goes on for more. I think the passage is so important, I want to quote it from Matthew 14:
    “15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
    16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
    17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

    That is HUGE to me. First off, we recognize that Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the OT prophesy. He’s the One they’ve been waiting for. Peter states it, boldly- establishing without a doubt Who he is speaking to.
    Then Jesus says that he is blessed- and points out that Peter didn’t just know it because his parents told him, but because God the Father told him. And then renames him- a feat so significant that it only happens a few times in the Bible. Names were so important then, much more so than even now, when people tend to choose them more by the way they look or sound as opposed to by the meaning. He says that his name is Peter/rock, and in the same sentence, says on this rock I will build my church and Hell won’t overcome it. And then this is the kicker to me- He says point blank, clearly still talking to Peter and Peter only- that He is giving Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that whatever he binds or looses on earth, the same will happen in heaven.
    And then the biggest part- He then ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. It clearly states that THEN He talked to the disciples. Before that, He was only talking to Peter before. Just Peter. The man just renamed “rock.” The one who was handed the keys.
    From there for me, it was just about figuring out what happened to Peter, since clearly, that’s Peter’s new job- to build/form/guide/oversee/act as the human liaison with this Church that Jesus was building. Jesus built it- but Peter was the physical presence here that it was built on. He was the caretaker- hence the keys, in a sense. Or at least that’s where I’m at.
    And the Catholic Church is very clear, and has kept track of their records very thoroughly, showing the line of Popes from Peter to present. Therein lies the authority, from what I can tell, to make sure that things are kept true, and right. Has any Pope been a perfect man? No, of course not. They’re human- like Moses, David, Abraham, Isaac, all these men who God loved and who loved God, and who were essential to Christianity to the point that they were mentioned in the Bible and their lives were used as examples. But the Pope succession line is clearly maintained. So that's how I reached the conclusion that the Catholic Church is "it."

  23. And oddly, the entire first part of my comment to Kimberly didn't publish :( So here is the first part, broken int 2 parts: Hi Kimberly :) I can't really speak to the moral sin component of your comment, to be honest. I'm not well enough versed in Catholic theology at this point, to offer much insight there- but I think Leila did a great job.

    And regarding the situation about Vatican II and then the priests with erroneous views of homosexuality and abortion, I'd have to do some research and get back to you.

    But on the topic of the Reformation and the printing press, I think you make a very good point: as copies of the Bible became more available, every man (and in theory, woman and child if they were literate) had the freedom to read the Bible individually. Literacy exploded, as technology advanced.

    But understanding Scripture, and understanding God's will, has never been about simply being able to read. We, as humans, interpret everything we read and see, based on a filter of our own experience and knowledge. So suddenly, anyone and everyone could read the Bible- and make of it what they would. Ever since, there's been denomination after denomination, some mainstream, some extremist and entering into the range of cults, all citing the Holy Bible as their guide. Their own life experiences and education create a lens that distorts things to suit their viewpoint, and although I'm sure some have deliberately manipulated verses to control their followers, I think most truly were seeking to understand and to make sense of things- all on their own, listening to their inner guide, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    But here's the problem: I don't believe that the Holy Spirit would have guided 200+ different preachers/pastors/reverends to read the same Bible and reach totally different conclusions. It doesn't fit with Who God is. It doesn't fit with what God told us the Church should be. There's supposed to be cohesion, in teachings, in function, in love.

    Something that has weighed heavily on my mind: why did God include the lesson of the Tower of Babel in the Bible?

  24. I have neither the education nor the brain power to argue,(discuss) with you the in's and out's of a centuries old Protestant/Catholic debate. I am not Protestant, thus I will not defend them. I can educate you on the Mennonite doctrines and beliefs, but I have no desire to try to convince you otherwise. If you believe in Christ and that He is the Son of God come to save man, then we will see one another in heaven. You have based your entire life and hope of heaven on the things you believe are true, as I have. We can only do the best we can to pray and search and long after our Father. Our job as far as being a Christ-follower is concerned, is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, here on earth, to assuage the suffering of the lest of these, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

  25. Now, new comment, not connected to anything else I already published:

    Kimberly, I struggled with the Protestant teaching that the Catholic Church had implemented OT-type laws as well, creating things that didn't exist "in the Bible"- because the Protestants hold that the Bible alone is truth. The problem is, we wouldn't have the Bible if it weren't for the Catholic Church. To me, it's like the atheists and agnostics and people in any false religion, who pick out the verses about "love one another" and then deny that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah.

    We know, from Exodus 20, that God wanted us to know that HE dictated the 10 Commandments. There's no doubt of that. But at no point did He dictate in a similar manner, to any of the apostles or anyone, what books should/should not be included in the Bible (ie, NT too). If we're trusting that the Bible is right, which version? and why? Why would you trust in the Bible, and not say, the Book of Mormon? or whatever sacred texts that any other group insists is "from God?" The Catholic Church had the Authority and I think deep down, we all know it- or we wouldn't be relying on the Bible at all. And if we trust that Jesus had purpose in telling Peter he was the rock and the church would be built on him, and He handed him the keys, then that's pretty clear.

    And there's no denying, every church has created their own rules. Maybe they aren't as specific as others, but they exist, in abundance. Heard the phrase "Baptists don't boogie?" Yep. Baptists don't dance, and Baptists don't drink- even though clearly, people danced in the Bible and drank in the Bible. Timothy didn't say "have a little ginger ale/grapefruit juice/sweet tea to settle your stomach." He said wine. And the Church of Christ'ers- no musical instruments allowed in the church. Why? Where is that in the Bible? Attend a church in the Assembly of God range, and you're liable to hear all kinds of "speaking in tongues"- not foreign languages, that God miraculously allowed people to speak so that those listening would hear the Gospel in their own languages- no, far from it. And until you've "gotten in the spirit"- they wonder if you're "really saved." Every church has their own set of rules, their own requirements for everything.

    But the Catholic Church had one difference- they had authority. (read next comment please)

  26. I questioned the need for a Pope and for priests as well, about a year ago. Poor Jennifer Doloski and Susan Windley Daoust- they were the first two to get cornered by me, and man, I wanted ANSWERS.

    Jennifer Doloski, who really should get sainthood honestly, for not mailing me poisoned brownies so I'd leave her alone, managed to phrase it in such a way that FINALLY made sense to me- something that resonated with the very human part of me and shut me up. I hope she'll clarify this, because I'm paraphrasing our phone conversation...

    She told me (and I can still hear her very patient voice, the voice I imagine her using with her kids when she has already explained things and she knows they know the answer and they're just refusing to accept it hahahahah) that God, our Father, knows us as only a Father can. He knew that we needed to sometimes hear, in a human voice, "Daughter, you are forgiven." He knew that we needed guidance, of how to make amends in such a way that it both repairs broken relationships and serves to help put us back on the right path. Why do we confess to a priest? Because he is the stand-in- we can always talk right to God (and believe me, if I'm driving and a deer/bear/anything on four legs runs out in front of my van, it is God I call out to, not a priest, because clearly, the priest cannot hear me, but God can, always), but the priest has that authority too- given by God, first to the apostles, then handed down.

    That stunned me. I realized yes, I'm very human. I want to hear "yes, forgiven." I want to be told what I need to do, and then feel relief that I'm doing it. one of the biggest downsides to the Protestant churches is the lack of accountability- and the lack of true repentance and making amends. In the protestant world, you just say "I'm sorry" and it's over. But it isn't. Not for the people that are hurting, where a flippant, or even heartfelt, "I'm sorry" doesn't resolve the issue.

    But in the Catholic Church, from what I have seen, there is a focus not just on saying sorry- but on true repentance- repentance that is backed up with an attitude of humility, of regret, of sorrow, with intent to repair, to heal, to restore- and a commitment to not repeat it.

    God knew we needed that. God knew we needed to learn from our mistakes and to have an incentive to avoid repeating them. (continued in a second)

  27. (continued from above)

    One of the biggest scariest things in the Protestant world, to me, is the fact that we as humans, want to "hear God." Doesn't everyone though? Don't we crave this clearcut, well lit path?

    So people pray- and they meditate on Scripture- and sometimes, again, relying all on their own power and their own ability to hear the right thing (which clearly doesn't work, or everyone wouldn't be hearing such drastically different things!), people distort Scripture, trying to force the Bible to give them answers. I had a woman in a terrible situation of domestic violence, cite a verse that told her that God said she would be fine- and so she stayed, and allowed that partner to inflict all kinds of horrific torture upon the children in the home. And she truly, truly believed she was "hearing God."

    But here, we have priests- again following that the Apostles handed this down- who are serving in that capacity of John 20:21-23.

    Jesus didn't have to give them that power, to forgive sins. From a Protestant perspective, it makes no sense. If we weren't supposed to have priests who could do this, then why is that verse there? Why didn't Jesus, from the very beginning, tell these Apostles "thanks for following me, now go tell everyone about me, and tell them if they want to be forgiven, to pray to me." He could have! But instead, He gave these mortal, flawed and very human men that authority- the men who would help form the church. That's so important, in my perspective. I don't believe that Jesus would have started something that significant- allowing others to forgive sins just like He does- unless He either a) gave it a clear expiration date and reason why it was happening or b) it was meant to set a pattern, to show us that yes, they can do this.

  28. and about Anabaptists- the Southern Baptists don't believe in infant Baptist either. Dedication, yes, but not Baptist. They only do "believer's baptism." I questioned that too, (again, poor Jennifer and Susan, they really did have quite a Thomas on their hands for a while)- and they pointed me to the examples in Acts (chapter 10, 16), I Corinthians 1, where "entire households" were baptized. It didn't just say "all that believed" or "all the adults" or "all those over the age of understanding." It said "households." I found that very interesting. Within the household, at least one of the households mentioned, there was very likely at least one infant, or toddler, and probably even a few kids. They weren't excluded.

  29. In all honesty, I'll probably remain Catholic (well, become Catholic since the church I was confirmed in isn't in communion with Rome). Inter-faith marriages don't work in my opinion, and there is no way my husband is ever leaving the Church. I'm just going to have to try to reconcile all this in the mean time.

    However, I do think many Catholics are very dismissive of Protestants. There are some very well educated protestants who know Hebrew and Greek who still don't agree with the Catholic interpretation of the Bible.

  30. Sassafrass, not all Protestants agree with infant baptism. I grew up non-denominational and went to all different denominations' churches, not one of which practiced infant baptism.

  31. Renee, thank you for all this! I appreciate it! (I'm having a weekend where I can't be online much, but mostly this is "your" thread, so thank you for taking it.)

    Kimberly, you said:

    "There are some very well educated protestants who know Hebrew and Greek who still don't agree with the Catholic interpretation of the Bible."

    Yes, absolutely they are educated, as are many Catholics (throughout the millennia). But that doesn't answer the question.... who has the authority to correctly interpret Scripture? Very smart people disagree utterly on points of salvation.

    The Bible was never, ever meant to be interpreted subjectively and individually. It was never intended to be taken out of the Church. To the extent that any of us interpret the Bible in accord with the doctrine of the Church, then we are good to go. If we start to interpret the Bible in contradiction to Church teaching, then we are off the rails. We are not the arbiters of Christian doctrine.

  32. In fact, I wrote a whole post explaining that we do not have that authority. (Heck, do you see any NT Christian defying the Apostles teaching? No way.)

    Here's a post I wrote, which I will reprint here:

    This has been on my mind for a long time now.

    I am going to be blunt.

    You are not the arbiter of Christian doctrine.
    You don't get to decide the tenets of Christianity.
    You don't have permission to reverse or negate Christian teaching.

    You don't have the authority to define Christianity.

    Neither do I.

    If you are a Catholic, you don't get to pick and choose which parts of the moral law and the Creed are valid. If you are a Protestant, you don't get to personally interpret the Bible and tell us what you are sure Christ meant. If you are a secularist, you don't get remake Jesus in your own image, i.e., a New Agey, non-threatening guru who fits neatly into your own worldview.

    Trust me, it's nothing personal.

    You just simply don't have that option.

    You didn't establish Christianity, and you have no permission to reinvent it.

    You see, Christianity is a revealed religion.
    It was given. It is handed down.

    It is not open to anyone's personal interpretation, whether one's name is Arius, Nestorius, Luther, Kennedy, Pelosi, Chittister, or Miller.

    You can choose to accept the whole of Christianity and her teachings, or you are free to reject them. You are even free to start your own religion, teaching whatever you'd prefer.

    But you do not have the right to speak in the name of Christ's Church and define authentic Christian belief for yourself or others.

    You do not have that right, because you do not have that authority.

    Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle (St. John) and the entire Deposit of Faith has been handed down intact by the only men to whom Christ delegated His authority: The Apostles and their successors, also known as the pope and the body of bishops. This teaching authority, or Magisterium, is not you*, and it's definitely not me.

    The Magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, protects the Deposit of Faith from any deviation, addition, subtraction, reversal, contradiction, distortion, or destruction offered by those who wish Church teaching to be something it is not.

    So, as earnest as you are, as sincere as you are, as studious as you are, as kind as you are, even as holy as you are, you are not allowed in any way to alter, bypass, morph, undermine, negate, or redefine Christian teaching on faith or morals and still insist that it's Christian.

    You may receive the Faith, you may accept the Faith, and you may hand down the Faith pure and entire, but you may not be its arbiter.

    Sorry, you're just plain not allowed to do that.

  33. Sorry, I know I'm jumping in the middle of a discussion here, but man oh man! Renee! You gave me goose bumps! You, in my book, are already Catholic! You have definitely done your research, and look where it has led you! Yes, the Catholic life is not the "easy" religion of choice. Yet, I look at the Gospels and nothing in Jesus's life said it would be easy. Over and over, He said if we truly want to follow Him that we would have to suffer. (Take up our cross and follow Him.) Any religion out there that is comfortable, "safe" and easy immediately puts a red flag up. Those so-called religions are man-made and conformed in a way that we will never have to suffer, never have to work for what we want, never have to dig deeper. As you said, in those religions, there is no need to question. I look at all the questions the disciples asked Jesus (and if you've noticed, most of the time, the only times they speak is to ask a question!) and these questions humbled them, and drew them deeper to what the Christian life really means. I mean, holy cow! Jesus was asking them to give up all and follow him! I definitely would have some questions! It's no different in this time of our lives either.

    Anyway, I will pray for you as you continue your journey towards learning the Truth. Praying also for perseverance and trust, as I know you also will have to face things as people who turn Catholic (and are Catholic) will have to do....

  34. Leila, the Protestant answer is that God didn't give anyone over anyone else the authority the interpret scripture. Protestants tend to not do so well with "authority".

    Again, I'll most likely stay Catholic. I've just been having a really hard time lately, which started out with being terribly by a Catholic woman who is often held up as the pinnacle of Catholic women and mothers. That left a lot of hurt in my heart for the Church, but it's been healing a bit.

    My family has barely spoken to me since I started going to Catholic churches, and my uncle is sure that the pope is going to be the anti-Christ. Sure, their attitudes have had a little to do with my questioning.

  35. Renee, you have such a great faith journey and should definitely keep sharing it. You also have such a great way with words.

  36. Kimberly, one thing I want to point out...I know that all of the "rules" of the Church can seem very legalistic and arbitrary at times.

    When we think of it in terms of our relationship with God, though, they make more sense. God is our Father. Good parents make rules for their children. Sometimes those rules are to protect them from outside dangers. Sometimes they are to protect them from their own harmful inclinations. Sometimes they are to teach children respect of others. And sometimes they are to help us shape our children into the best versions of themselves.

    And children don't always understand the reason for the rules. Sometimes they think they are annoying and inconvenient or unfair because they don't know what the parent knows. Are all of God's children any different?

    If we miss Mass on Sunday for no good reason, we are telling God "You aren't worth my time". That hurts our relationship with God (as well as putting other things before him). God has invited us to His table every Sunday to give us the most precious gift (the Eucharist). You can't maintain a relationship with someone if you regularly reject them and treat their precious gifts as garbage.

    How to we mend a relationship with other people? Do we just think in our minds how sorry we are? No we have to go to them, admit out loud that we were wrong, and apologize. And then they have to say out loud that they forgive us. This is the sacrament of Confession, with the priest acting as the ears and voice of God for OUR benefit. (God giving us something else that He knows that WE need.)

  37. Dear Kimberly,

    I am so sorry for the pain that anyone claiming to represent Catholicism has caused you.

    I feel greatly for you and your isolation from your family. May I suggest you read about St. Elizabeth Seton, the first saint born in the USA who too converted to Catholicism to the horror and subsequent shunning by her and her late's husband's families. Jesus told us that families would be divided for following him, it is not an easy road to choose Jesus when we fear rejection from those we love most. I can only humbly offer you from my own life, that God will reward your faithfulness, he will put people in your lives who will love you and support you, and even if you still feel completely alone, the loving witness you will provide to your family, especially as you continue to love them in spite of their disapproval will transform them too. Be not afraid, my dear Kimberly.

  38. oops, I should clarify, St. Elizabeth Seton was the first born on American soil to be canonized, other saints (Kateri Tekakwitha for example) was lived much earlier, but were canonized later.

  39. Kimberly, I am sorry for your poor treatment! I hate hearing that. I always think that we should show great mercy and forgiveness, especially to those who hurt us, but it's easier said than done, I know.

    I am glad you are sticking with the Church. ;)

  40. This is EXCELLENT:

    Six early Christian controversies that Protestantism cannot explain....


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