Donny's Ramblings

Wrestling: Protestant vs. Catholic – Start Here

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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?

 

Comments can be left on this article, or posted on Facebook here or here.

7 thoughts on “Wrestling: Protestant vs. Catholic – Start Here

  1. Comments for this article can be left here on the article itself, or on my Facebook page here:

    Or here:

  2. but Danny what about child baptism and like the basic doctrines….idk man
    my dad was actually from that side but he converted to protestant
    he says that there’s a lot of pagan holidays and stuff
    read up on the history before you make a drastic change
    i think you should stick with the protestant side
    its my opinion

    • Catholics believe in child baptism because baptism is a condition in order to be saved. Unlike other faiths, baptism is not just a symbol showing our relationship with Christ. In the Bible it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). And again “But Peter said to them: Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2: 38). Here we can clearly see that baptism is not just a symbol. In order for our sins to be remitted or forgiven, we must be baptized. In that sense, in order to enter heaven, we must be baptized. This is why Catholics baptize children as soon as possible after their births. Of course there’s the argument “So all those good, innocent people who were never baptized but died have been damned to hell? This includes the millions of innocent babes killed by abortion.” There is a place called Limbo where souls go that are not baptized, so no they aren’t damned to hell. However, in order to actually be with God, baptism is a requirement.

      I’m intrigued by your mention of Catholics celebrating pagan holidays. Which holidays are pagan? Please do enlighten me!

    • When we are Baptized, we receive a Grace from God, we are not giving Him anything, He does not need anything from us. To be baptized and receive this Grace, there is not a minimum intellectual requirement, there is no need to wait. If we said “hey, people should not be baptized until they know what they are doing”, that would exclude those without sufficient intellect such as the mentally retarded from Baptism.

  3. *Donny
    sorry haha

  4. Donny, I just heard your story from your online testimony. Wow, what a great witness to Jesus’ love and mercy! I became Catholic 6 years ago and haven’t regretted it for a single moment. Thanks for your courage in talking openly about your interest in Catholicism.

  5. It’s great to hear another Protestant see the beauty in the Catholic church. I grew up in the Catholic church – eight years of Catholic schooling – but developed a serious hate toward Catholics after giving my life to Christ Jesus. A few years later, God broke me. He showed me that I was being a jerk – an arrogant dude who thought he knew the “real Christianity.” He also showed me that legalism exists among Catholics AND Protestants, it just looks a little different between the two.

    The last few years I’ve been attending a Catholic Taize service once a month. Wow, how God has matured me – I never would have thought I would be stepping into another Catholic church to worship. The older I get, I appreciate my Catholic up-bringing. I especially appreciate the reverence and respect the Catholic church has for God – you don’t see that reverence in the mainstream churches today. I have to admit that I grow more from attending the Taize service – with its Christ focused, contemplative, and meditative songs – than at the usual Sunday service, where ear-bleeding electric guitars and shot-gun sermons are the norm. The key, I believe, is not to judge one denomination over the other, but to seek peace in all circumstances and places.

    It was very cool reading this. It’s refreshing to see ex-Catholics (like myself) come to a place of appreciation and respect for the reverence and beauty in the Catholic church. Christ is Who makes the Catholic church beautiful. If you’re ever in the Chicago area, check out Taize (held the first Friday of every month) at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, IL. Here’s the website if interested: http://www.ascensionchurch.com/taize.php. Just YouTube “Taize songs” to get an idea of it. Peace!

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