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How I led Catholics Out of the Church
Catholic Educators ^ | September 2005 | Steve Wood

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.


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholicconvert; catholiclist; repentent
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To: NYer
I never contested that water is needed for baptism. My contestation is that baptism is needed for salvation

As for the thief, he repented while hanging from a cross. It was not possible to baptize him with water; that is what's known as baptism of desire.

And thus proves the truth of John 3:16. Salvation is by faith not by works (baptism being a work) If Baptism was required for salvation Jesus would have said in John 3:16 ..."whoseoever believes and is baptised" but He didn't say that did He.

401 posted on 10/05/2005 12:29:36 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: John O
Salvation is by faith not by works

Heb. 12:14 – without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Holiness requires works of self-denial and charity, and does not come about simply by a profession of faith.

1 Peter 1:17 - God judges us impartially according to our deeds. We participate in applying the grace Jesus won for us at Calvary in our daily lives.

Rev. 2:5 - Jesus tells the Ephesians they have fallen from love they used to have, and orders them to do good works. He is not satisfied with their faith alone. They need to do more than accept Him as personal Lord and Savior.

2 Cor. 11:15 - our end will correspond to our deeds. Our works are necessary to both our justification and salvation.

402 posted on 10/05/2005 1:00:02 PM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer
All of your interpretations directly contradict Ephesian 2:8-9. So was God lying in Ephesians or are you misinterpreting these scriptures somehow? I'll side with God being accurate. Note that Ephesians is really explicit that salvation is by faith alone and not by works.

Please also note that I am not saying that we shouldn't do good works. I believe that good works are commanded of us. However those works have nothing whatsoever to do with our salvation.

403 posted on 10/05/2005 1:07:35 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: John O
All of your interpretations directly contradict Ephesian 2:8-9.

Ephesians Chapter 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; Ephesians Chapter 2: 9
it is not from works, so no one may boast.

I have contradicted nothing. You have singled out one passage of Scripture to justify the protestant position of salvation by grace. I have demonstrated with other passages the necessity to include works. To supplement this argument, consider St. Paul:

Eph. 4:4 - there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one "hope" (not the one certainty) that belongs to your call.

Eph. 6:10-17 – Paul instructs the Ephesians to take the whole armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation, in order “to stand,” lest they fall. Paul does not give any assurance that the spiritual battle is already won.

I Have Been Saved (past event) - Eph. 2:5,8 - for by grace you have been saved through faith.

I Am Being Saved (present event) - 1 Cor. 1:18 - for the word of the cross is folly to those perishing, but for to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. Salvation is not a one-time event. It is a process of perseverance through faith, hope and love.

I Will Be Saved (future event) - Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 - again, Jesus taught that we must endure to the very end to be saved. Salvation is a past, present and future event (not a one-time event at an altar call).

Mark 16:16 – Jesus says whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

Praise God that as a baptizedcatholic, you are guaranteed salvation.

404 posted on 10/05/2005 5:06:40 PM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer
I have demonstrated with other passages the necessity to include works.

Which have nothing to do with salvation. If we could earn our salvation by works then why did Jesus die? If our works were required then Jesus' sacrifice was not sufficient for salvation. But we know that Jesus was the propitiation for our sins. His death paid for (in total) the sins of the world. How can our imperfect works improve a perfect sacrifice. (And all our works are imperfect because we are afflicted with a sin nature. Adam's sin corrupts all of our existence here on Earth.)

Eph. 4:4 - there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one "hope" (not the one certainty) that belongs to your call.

Remember that this part of Ephesians is a directive to the church to live and work in unity (see vs 1-3). Why, because we are all called to that one hope (Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.) which brings us right back to faith. We have one faith so we should live like it.

Eph. 6:10-17 – Paul instructs the Ephesians to take the whole armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation, in order “to stand,” lest they fall. Paul does not give any assurance that the spiritual battle is already won.

The spiritual battle of this life is yet being fought. But we know that we will always be victorious if we stand against the enemy (James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.). Again this verse has nothing to do with salvation as those who put on the armor of God are already saved. If we could lose heaven in battle then Jesus wasn't a very good Savior. Especially since (1 cor 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.) He constantly gives us victory.

I Have Been Saved (past event) - Eph. 2:5,8 - for by grace you have been saved through faith.

Yep.

I Am Being Saved (present event) - 1 Cor. 1:18 - for the word of the cross is folly to those perishing, but for to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. Salvation is not a one-time event. It is a process of perseverance through faith, hope and love.

1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (KJV)

A far more correct translation of the term (sorry my greek font isn't installed) Strong's number 4982. Present tense passive voice. "Are saved."

If salvation is not a one-time event then Jesus has to be recrucified at every sin. Totally un-biblical concept. Jesus died once for all not many times for each.

I Will Be Saved (future event) - Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 - again, Jesus taught that we must endure to the very end to be saved. Salvation is a past, present and future event (not a one-time event at an altar call).

Matt 10:22, Matt 24:13, and MArk 13:13 are not saying that you can only be saved by enduring to the end. Jesus is talking to those who are already saved. It is warning people that they must endure to the end to remain saved. It is possible (although I believe very rare that God will allow it) to give up one's salvation the same way you received it, by faith.

Mark 16:16 – Jesus says whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

So lets look at the whole verse. Believe and get baptised to be saved vice believe not to be damned. What is the important piece of this, believing or getting baptised? Since John 3:16 doesn't mention baptism at all I'll have to go with believing in order to remain biblically consistent. Baptism is merely the first outward sign of saving faith. If you believe Jesus you will do what he says and he says to be baptised. Faith must come first. and as you've already agreed regarding the thief on the cross, faith alone is sufficient.

Praise God that as a baptizedcatholic, you are guaranteed salvation.

I praise God that I am saved but infant baptism as a Catholic had nothing to do with it. Until I accepted Christ as my personal Savior in 1987 I was lost and destined to hell and no ceremony, tradition, prayer etc was going to change that. The church you go to doesn't save you. I know lost Catholics, lost Baptists, lost Pentecostals etc. Salvation is a personal relationship between you and God. Without that relationship all your works, intentions, gifts etc are merely filthy rags (menstruous clothes to be exact). We cannot buy salvation by our works. It is a free gift.

Catholics (Baptists, Pentecostals etc) Will not be the only ones in heaven and we had better get used to that idea or we'll all be really surprised when we get there. God doesn't care what building you worship in or what denomination it claims to be a part of. When we stand before the judgement seat of Christ he won't be looking at our church attendance records. He will be looking at our heart. If we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior then it doesn't matter if we've attended the 'right' church or not. The true Church of Christ is the union of all believers, Catholic, Protestant and in between.

So brother NYer, I praise God that you are settled in your faith and love God. But we'll just have to disagree on some of the interpretations and/or translations of scripture. As long as you know Jesus as your personal Savior I'll see you in heaven when we both leave this world

405 posted on 10/06/2005 6:37:51 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: NYer
Conversion Story - Matt Enloe (former Baptist) [prepare to be amazed!]
THE ORTHODOX REVIVAL IN RUSSIA

Conversion Story - David Finkelstein (former Jew)
Conversion Story - John Weidner (former Evangelical)
12 Reasons I Joined the Catholic Church
Conversion Story - Tom Hunt
The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism: The Converts

John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary
Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
From Calvinist to Catholic

A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]
From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church
Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7
Pastor and Flock Become Catholics

The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church
Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS
Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church
Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge

Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles
Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome
Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi

Why Converts Choose Catholicism
The Scott Hahn Conversion Story
FORMER PENTECOSTAL RELATES MIRACLE THAT OCCURRED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary

Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
From Calvinist to Catholic
A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]
From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church

Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7
Pastor and Flock Become Catholics
The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church
Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS
Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church

Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge
Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles
Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome

Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi
Why Converts Choose Catholicism
How I led Catholics Out of the Church [Steve Wood]
The Scott Hahn Conversion Story
FORMER PENTECOSTAL RELATES MIRACLE THAT OCCURRED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

406 posted on 08/09/2007 8:24:46 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: My2Cents

The guy is a tare where he goes to church is irrelevant


407 posted on 04/04/2010 4:39:09 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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