Skip to comments.How I led Catholics Out of the Church
Posted on 09/28/2005 4:44:24 PM PDT by NYer
I was a Protestant for twenty years before I became a Catholic. Working as a youth leader, campus and prison evangelist, and church pastor, I led many people including friends and relatives out of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, it was surprisingly easy. My formula for getting Catholics to leave the Church usually consisted of three steps.
STEP 1: Get Catholics to have a conversion experience in a Protestant setting.
Most Fundamentalist, Evangelical, and charismatic Protestant churches have dynamic youth programs, vibrant Wednesday and Sunday evening services, and friendly small-group bible studies. In addition, they host special crusades, seminars and concerts. At the invitation of a Protestant friend, a Catholic may begin attending one or more of these events while still going to Sunday Mass at his local parish.
Most Protestant services proclaim a simple gospel: repent from sin and follow Christ in faith. They stress the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus and the reward of eternal life. Most of the Catholics who attend these services are not accustomed to hearing such direct challenges to abandon sin and follow Christ. As a result, many Catholics experience a genuine conversion.
Protestants should be commended for their zeal in promoting conversions. Catholic leaders need to multiply the opportunities for their people to have such conversions in Catholic settings. The reason is simple. About five out of ten people adopt the beliefs of the denomination where they have their conversion. This percentage is even higher for those who had profound conversions or charismatic experiences that were provided by Protestants. (Believe me, I know; I was a graduate of an Assembly of God college and a youth minister in two charismatic churches.)
Protestant pastors, evangelists, youth leaders, and lay ministers are acutely aware that conversion experiences in Protestant settings often lead to a Protestant faith and church membership. Why do so many Catholic leaders fail to see this? Why are they so nonchalant about a process that has pulled hundreds of thousands of Catholics out of the Church?
STEP 2: Give their conversion a Protestant interpretation.
A genuine conversion is one of life's most precious experiences, comparable to marriage or the birth of a child. Conversion awakens a deep hunger for God. Effective Protestant ministries train workers to follow up on this spiritual longing.
Before a stadium crusade, I would give follow-up workers a six-week training course. I showed them how to present a Protestant interpretation of the conversion experience with a selective use of bible verses. The scripture of choice was of course John 3:3, the "born-again" verse: "Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'
I used the "touch and go" scripture technique, similar to that used by pilots training for landings and takeoffs. We would briefly touch down on John 3:3 to show that being born again was necessary for eternal life. Then I would describe conversion in terms of being born again. We would make a hasty takeoff before reading John 3:5 which stresses the necessity of being "born of water and spirit." I never mentioned that for 20 centuries the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, echoing the unanimous teaching of the Church fathers, understood this passage as referring to the Sacrament of Baptism! And I certainly never brought up Titus 3:5 ("He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit") as a parallel reference to John 3:5.
In my experience as a Protestant, all the Catholics who had a conversion in a Protestant setting lacked a firm grasp of their Catholic faith.
In twenty years of Protestant ministry, I never met a Catholic who knew that John 3:3-8 describes the sacrament of Baptism. It wasn't hard to convince them to disregard the sacraments along with the Church that emphasized the sacraments.
Proverbs says: "He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him" (18:17). Catholics without a scriptural foundation for their Catholic beliefs never hear "the rest of the story." My selective use of scripture made the Protestant perspective seem so absolutely sure. Over time, this one-sided approach to scripture caused Catholics to reject their Catholic faith.
STEP 3: Accuse the Catholic church of denying salvation by grace.
Catholics often consider Protestants who proselytize to be bigoted, narrow-minded, or prejudiced. This is unfair and inaccurate; a profound charity energizes their misguided zeal.
There was only one reason I led Catholics out of the Church: I thought they were on their way to hell. I mistakenly thought the Catholic Church denied that salvation was by grace; I knew that anyone who believed this wasn't going to heaven. Out of love for their immortal souls, I worked tirelessly to convert them.
I used Ephesians 2:8-9 to convince Catholics that it was imperative for them to leave the Church:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.
First I would say, "The Bible says that salvation is by grace and not by works. Right?" Their answer was always yes. Then I would say, "The Catholic Church teaches that salvation is by works. Right?" (I never met a Catholic who did not say yes. Every Catholic I met during my twenty years of ministry confirmed my misconception that Catholicism taught salvation is by works instead of grace.) Finally, I would declare, "The Catholic Church is leading people to hell by denying salvation is by grace. You'd better join a church that teaches the true way to heaven."
Because I would also do a "touch and go" in Ephesians, I rarely quoted verse 10 which says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Listen carefully to stadium evangelists, televangelists, and radio preachers. Nine times out of ten they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9 with great emphasis and never mention verse 10.
We are not slaves futilely trying to earn salvation by doing "works of the law" (Eph. 2:8-9). Yet as sons of God we are inspired and energized by the Holy Spirit to do "good works" as we cooperate with our heavenly father in extending the Kingdom of God (Eph. 2:10). Catholicism believes and teaches the full message of Ephesians 2:8-10, without equivocating or abbreviating the truth.
For twenty centuries the Catholic Church has faithfully taught that salvation is by grace. Peter the first pope said, "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved" (Acts 15:11). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, fully endorsed by Pope John Paul II, says, "Our justification comes from the grace of God" (section 1996).
Protestantism started when Martin Luther declared that we are justified (made righteous) by faith alone. At the time I was leading Catholics out of the Church, I wasn't aware that Martin Luther had added the word alone to his translation of Romans 3:28 in order to prove his doctrine. (The word alone is not found in any contemporary Protestant English translation of Romans 3:28.) I didn't realize that the only place the bible mentions "faith alone" in the context of salvation is in James 2:24, where the idea of faith alone is explicitly refuted: "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." This verse was troubling, but I either ignored it, or twisted it to mean something other that what the verse and its context clearly taught.
Should Catholics participate in Protestant events?
I have no objection to Catholics participating in Protestant-oriented events and worthwhile ecumenical activities provided that:
Unfortunately, the majority of Catholic men born after WWII don't meet the above conditions. For them, attending Protestant functions may be opening a door that will lead them right out of the Catholic Church.
There are now thousands of Catholic men on the brink of leaving the one Church Christ died to establish. I recently heard of a group of Catholic men who decided not to consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church in their small-group bible study. They believed that all they needed was scripture alone. Three of these men claimed that they no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I can tell you from experience where this group is headed: straight out of the Catholic Church.
Over the past three decades, thousands of Catholics have left the Church for Protestant pastures. The largest church in America is the Catholic Church; the second largest group of Christians in America is former-Catholics. The Catholic men's movement has a solemn obligation to help men discover the biblical and historical roots of their Catholic faith. Then, rather than leaving, they will become instruments to help others discover the treasures of Catholicism.
Remember that a man who leaves the Church will often take his family with him for generations. It took my family four hundred years 10 generations to come back to the Church after a generation of my ancestors in Norway, England, Germany and Scotland decided to leave the Catholic Church.
As one whose family has made the round-trip back to Catholicism, let me extend a personal plea to Catholic men, especially the leaders of various Catholic men's groups: don't put untrained Catholics in a Protestant setting. They might gain a short-term religious experience, but they take the long-term risk of losing their faith. It would be highly irresponsible to expose them to Protestantism before they are fully exposed to Catholicism.
At my dad's funeral twenty-nine years ago, I tearfully sang his favorite hymn, Faith of Our Fathers. Little did my dad, a minister's son, or I realize that the true faith of our forefathers was Roman Catholicism. Every day I thank God for bringing me back to the ancient Church of my ancestors. Every year God gives me breath on this earth I will keep proclaiming to both my Protestant brethren and to cradle Catholics the glorious faith of our fathers.
>>Do they get vicious like you catholics?<<
Give it a try and report back.
Yes indeed be careful. The Catholics have glowing red eyes and eat Protestant children as well.
Bless your heart, A.B. I always enjoy your vivid language! Have a good evening.
So, it is Boettner's poor cousin?
Simple. Because you're not misguided. Neither am I.
Long as we both love the Lord our God with all our hearts, give our lives over to Jesus Christ, and pray for wisdom and guidance, we will be guided to where He wants us. I wasn't misguided as a Catholic and I'm not misguided now. My brother, who was a Protestant for years and recently moved back to the Catholic Church with his family (his was never Catholic) was never misguided. We just worship differently. I encouraged him in his move because that is what the Spirit moved him to do. I didn't berate him for it, even though I feel God isn't leading me that direction.
he was a fraud at one point or another.
I suspect both.
of course, some of the posters in this forum take that as an indictment of their church. it's not. it is an indictment of this creep.
>>The Catholics have glowing red eyes and eat Protestant children as well.<<
After we strangle them with our Rosary beads and offer them up to a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Here's how I learned it lo, these many years ago (from the Small Catechism):
Q: What must we know and believe if after we have come to the use of reason we wish to be saved?
A: We must know and believe -- 1. That there is only one God; 2. That in God there are three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; 3. That God is supremely just, and that He rewards the good and punishes the wicked;
4. That the Son of God became man and redeemed us by His sufferings and death.
But Baptism is also required (also from the Small Catechism):
Q: Why can we not be saved without Baptism?
A: Because we are cleansed from original sin only by Baptism.
Hope this answered your question.
You just blew me away!
That was a true Christian spirit and I applaud you!
I am sorry for my digs at you.
And anytime you wanna say a prayer for me it would be welcome too.
Thanks for playing, but you are incorrect. The Assemblies of God doctrine is on display at
There are much more well positioned points of attack with which you can assault my Denomination without having to make up a silly falsehood such as each person in the Assemblies of God bases his faith on his own interpretation of the scripture. =)
Turn to Scripture, of course :-)!
Neh. 13:14, Psalm 11:7,28:4, Isa. 3:10, 59:18, Jer. 25:14, 50:29, Ezek. 9:10, 11:21, 36:19, Hos. 4:9, 9:15, 12:2, Sir. 16:12,14 - The 2,000 year-old Catholic position on salvation is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and Him alone (cf. Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:5). But by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works. Many Protestants, on the other hand, believe that one just has to accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior to be saved, and good works are not necessary (they just flow from those already saved). But these verses, and many others, teach us that our performance of good works is necessary for our salvation. Scripture also does not teach that good works distinguish those who are eternally saved from those who are not saved.
Sir. 35:19; Luke 23:41; John 3:19-21, Rom. 8:13, 2 Tim 4:14, Titus 3:8,14, Rev. 22:12 - these verses also teach us that we all will be judged by God according to our deeds. There is no distinction between the "saved" and the "unsaved."
1 Cor. 3:15 - if works are unnecessary for salvation as many Protestants believe, then why is a man saved (not just rewarded) through fire by a judgment of his works?
They skip over it and go right to the Kyrie (but of course, they don't actually SAY "Kyrie...").
It really has been years and years since I've heard the Confeitor at Mass.
How do you explain the rampant apostacy in the Protestant faiths in this country?
Protestants killed and tortured a goodly number of folks, too.
Sorry to say, but I don't find this very compelling. It's worry-wort stuff. Attending a protestant event does not make one a protestant, any more than visiting a college makes you a student.
Right. And people who are drowning can read a short pamphlet on "Gripping Heavy Stones."
Sheesh. The hate never ends.
For the more ignorant on this thread (that would include me), could you please expound more on this? Thanks!
You are absolutely right about the hymns. I find the Catholic hymns to be too difficult (no good beat and you can't dance to it). Protestants have some wonderful songs that I love.
Dunno. Probably the same way you explan the rampany apostacy in the RC church.
Yeah, Jack-Chick-quality criticisms of your religion turn you into a sweet huggy-bear, right?
Unfortunately, he did it as a Protestant with Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura as his theological background. Thus, all Scripture is filtered through those lenses. Anything deviating from the party-line is dubbed heretical. There is one general truism that seems to be experientially proven in the Mr. Wood's article...Most Catholics don't know their own faith. I teach it and see it myself. It is not a wonder why so many Catholics fall away - they don't know their faith and how vibrant it can be.
In my time on FP, I run into former Catholics nearly weekly. EVERY ONE OF THEM claims that they became Protestant because they found some dogma lacking (it NEVER is because they had personal issues or were lazy...). Yet, when I ask simple quesions from the Catholic teachings, they parrot the Protestant interpretations. This tells me they knew very little, fell away, left, got energized at a Protestant community (great, at least they are placing Christ in their lives again), and THEN were taught how screwed up Catholic theology is. When they hear it enough, they realize how grateful they are for "waking up to the truth"... If I had a dollar for every former Catholic who said "I studied the faith and found it lacking"... But after 2 or 3 posts, it is OBVIOUS they don't have a clue. I find Wood's analysis on this to be true.
You are correct to correct my analogy of my previous post - but it leads to the same result. One who hates will not be objective about the one he hates...If you REALLY want to learn what Catholics believe, ask a devout Catholic who knows their faith or read Catholic sources, not propaganda.
Factions had developed among those Christians at Corinth, with each group built around a prominient Christian.This caused divisions and undermined unity of faith. Paul was pointing out that it wasn't important "who" conducted the baptism. And it should be noted that is doesn't say these people weren't baptized.
Why would Jesus say: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16
I have to relay this story.
I am on Catholic Answers forum. A lady came in and asked what she should to with old scapulars and other blessed sacramentals.
One of our more clever posters came in and said to bury them or..
"Throw them at Protestants. It makes them pull their capes over their heads and hiss."
A few of us had wet pants over that one.
It got edited for reasons of charity.
You're lying or you are violently disingenous.
Your link takes readers to a severe Catholic-hating screed.
That just begs the question .... "and what is truth?"
To be entirely honest with you, no, I haven't. It isn't worth it. They already think I'm some kind of wild-eyed nutnick because I had the audacity to inquire as to the possibility of having ONE traditional Mass a week that did not include geeeeetars or tambourines or felt banners.
I tried, years ago, to point out that my Lutheran husband thinks his childhood church was more Catholic than our Catholic one, but nobody seemed to care.
I've nearly given up and I'm afraid I have nowhere else to go...my bishop certainly won't be of any assistance.
I just try to Offer It Up for the souls in Purgatory.
I figure one day it will get better, 'cause it surely can't get much worse.
"A Mighty Fortress is Our God." "Come, You Sinner, Poor and Needy." And 23 verses of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," for those of the U.S. Navy persuasion :-).
In one of the churches we attended, if Pastor couldn't hear 4-part harmony coming from the congregation on Sunday, he'd call a hymn-sing practice. Mom was especially in demand as a tenor, because the men were at sea so much! Basses were usually retirees.
So, they were baptised.
1Cr 1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
Of course. People are only baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
1Cr 1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
St. Paul did baptise an entire household, he would not have done this if it wasn't important.
Wow! I thought that stuff was just a myth....the things you learn around here.....
We do at daily Mass and/or the Communion service.
Praying for you, AB. Your withdrawal is noble.
After we strangle them with our Rosary beads and offer them up to a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Just don't tell them that the candles aren't really made out of bees wax but out of ground up of the older Protestants, we only eat the young ones as they are more tender....
And I notice that you conveniently skipped over Galatians.
Gal. 5:4 - Paul teaches that we can be in Christ, then be severed from Him and fall away from God's grace. You cannot be severed from something unless you were previously connected to it.
No, it couldn't be, because our bad deeds are gone when we repent: "As far as the East is from the West, so far does He remove our transgressions from us." And our good works aren't really "ours" in the ownership sense, but were "prepared for us in advance, that we should walk in them."
In the end, it comes down to whether our soul is alive or dead ... whether God's life, "sanctifying grace," is in us, or not. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) is illustrative. The father says, "This my son was lost, but now he is found; he was dead, but now he is alive. How? Through repentance, and the mercy of the Father.
If there was a monastary or convent around here that offered what I was looking for, I would have found it.
I am, after all, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre (Long Island), so...there's not too much for such as me.
I just feel sorry for the kids. There's just no way they can be steeped in the Catholic faith like I was as a child when the Church itself won't cooperate with me. I'm trying my best to teach them about our religion the way I learned it, but I sometimes have to REALLY go to the mat on things (like having my boys taught that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is perfectly OK).
So I keep going to Mass, and I keep trying to put out of my mind all the nonsense that goes on during the service and TRY to concentrate on what's really important....but it gets harder and harder every year.
Fact is, I'm barely hanging on by the skin of my teeth.
Pray for me, please. I could use it.
1:17? St. Paul, preaching to the baptised says he was not sent to baptise. I see no problem or conflict here.