On August 28th, I posted the following message on my Facebook page:
Growing up, it was implied (not by my father, but by others in our denomination) that being Catholic meant a person was going to hell because they couldn’t possibly be saved. Because of this, a Protestant Church would NEVER invite a Catholic speaker to share. Imagine my surprise when in 2008 a Catholic group called OFWC Media (with TheologyoftheBody.net – thanks Anastasia Northrop) asked me to be part of the documentary they were making regarding the threat of pornography! I couldn’t believe they’d invite a Protestant to participate in a documentary intended for a Catholic audience. Spending a lot of time with them, I asked many questions. I found this to be a fascinating experience.
Since that date, I’ve been invited by several Catholic groups and spoken to several Catholic parishes, Catholic sponsored University events, been on Catholic radio, made a CD at the request of Catholicism’s biggest group of apologists… the list goes on.
I always ask questions. That’s just my nature. When in Toronto to speak at York University, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sipping scotch and speaking with a Priest named Fr-Carlos Martins, pelting him with questions, raising objections and generally being my argumentative self, albeit in a respectful manner. I continued that trend when asked to other Catholic venues, with both laypeople and the clergy. I’m sure I drove some of them mad.
A few years ago I began noticing something: although the Protestants and Catholics I’ve been around most all speak English, we’re not speaking the same language most of the time. We’re not using words in the same way. As a Protestant, I might read something written by Catholics that raises alarm, and end up criticizing certain beliefs to my Catholic friends, but what I’ve come to realize is that we – Protestants and Catholics – often understand the exact same words in FAR different ways. It turns out, in the end, that we’re in agreement on at least 95% of theological issues, a realization I could not understand until I’d sat and read more books than I care to count right now, and spoke to Catholics who were once Protestants. As funny as it sounds, a translator was needed to put things into words I use and in ways I understand.
I now reject the idea that I was taught growing up: being Catholic doesn’t damn a person to hell. In fact, I’ve never attended services that are so consistently focused on Jesus and what He did on the cross. That happens to be what EVERY-SINGLE-MASS is about. I find so much about the church to be SO-INCREDIBLY-BEAUTIFUL.
I feel a burning desire to work within the Catholic Church. It’s something that I keep trying to push away, mostly because if I were to “convert” there would be so many Protestant doors that close to me, and certain family and friends will be incredibly disappointed. In fact, one of my aunts who knows about the work I’ve been doing with Catholic groups has already stated that I’m heading to hell. Knowing this response won’t be unique, I’ve looked for every reason to reject the pull I’ve felt. But I must admit that unless something really major happens to change my mind, I’ll likely “convert” during Easter Vigil 2014. The new Pope and many of the priests I’ve spoken with all agree that the Church is in desperate need of revival (Protestant term, I do believe). For revival to happen, workers are needed. I really want to be one of those.
This is the first post in what may become a series of posts in which I address topics with which I’ve wrestled. I invite public feedback, either here or on Facebook. Each of these posts will be linked to on my Facebook page, either as a link within the blog post itself or as a link in the first comment, as that seems to be where most people decide to get involved in discussion these days.
To start off with, here are some of the things I was taught as a Protestant:
- Catholics are going to hell (this has been said from numerous pulpits, and often left at that assertion with no particular reasons to back it up)
- Catholics worship Mary
- Catholics Worship Idols
- Catholics see Mary as a co-redeemer with Jesus, Queen of Heaven, and Mother of God
- Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints
- Catholics think they can buy their way out of hell
- Catholics think they can pay to get relatives out of hell
- Catholics don’t think Jesus’ payment on the cross was sufficient, and instead think we must do good works to be saved
- Catholics think Baptism isn’t just an important symbol of our relationship with Jesus, like a wedding ring is to a bride and groom, but rather a requirement to be saved
- Catholics believe the Pope is Infallible
- Catholics believe priests can forgive sins when only God can do so
- Catholics believe tradition is as important as the Bible
- the list goes on and on… feel free to add to it on Facebook or in the comments area and I’ll come back and add some to this list
So… these are the things I plan to blog about. I’ve honestly been scared to voice this struggle in public, because many of my Protestant friends simply refuse to associate with Catholics, and I was afraid that if I made it clear how drawn I am to the Catholic Church many would choose not to associate with me. Unfortunately, that has indeed proven true in some cases.
Seems to me that if a person has an issue or area of concern they shouldn’t abandon but rather get in there and try to do something about it, but maybe that’s just me.
Let me list a couple of rational reasons that I’ve pondered while wrestling with my draw to the Catholic Church:
- The Catholics Church gave us our Bible as we know it today (except for the few books Luther removed). They canonized it in the 4th century. If Catholics are wrong, how can a Protestant believe they gave us an infallible Bible? Seriously, this is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around. If Catholics are satan incarnate, heading to hell, how can we possibly trust the Bible they put together for us?
- Almost all Christians were Catholic, right up until Luther broke away in the 1500s. Do you really think Christians were sent to hell for 1500 years after Jesus physically left the earth?
- If Catholics don’t put an emphasis on Jesus, why in the world does every single Mass focus on what He did on the cross? By “every single Mass” I mean just that: every single Mass (service, to my Protestant friends) ends with a focus on Jesus dying for our sins, which provided a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with God.
- The priests with whom I’ve conversed, and many of the laypeople I’ve met, are just as close or closer to God as any Protestant I’ve ever met.
- Catholics don’t pray to Saints… they ask Saints to pray for them, just as Protestants ask each other to pray.
- Catholics don’t worship statues, they instead use them as a reminder of important things, similar to how a person keeps photos in their house as a reminder of important loved ones.
- Every time I ask a Catholic priest, informed layperson or apologist a scripture
- If it wasn’t for the Catholic Church, scriptures wouldn’t have been preserved (yeah, this kind of repeats point one) and abortion wouldn’t be fight against as hard as it is now. I list these together because these two things are very important to me.
That list, too, goes on. But I’ll close for now, because the whole purpose of this series is to discuss these topics. Where do you think I should start?