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.
The truth hurts, boyo. Maybe the pain will help you grow up.
You'd make a good Democrat. Don't like the truth so you obfuscate it by throwing out red herrings.
"I don't think it's anti-Catholic...it just points out what isn't so obvious to everyone."
Would you send someone who wants to learn about Judaism and Israel to a Palestinian Hammas Arab?
>>But be careful. The Catholics on this site hate being challenged and will turn nasty quick if you challenge them.<<
Go to the Jewish threads and challenge them.
See how they feel about it.
Ask for Alouette.
LOL! Join the club.
You aren't very secure in your faith are you? At least that is what it seems like when I see how touchy and angry you are towards anyone who challenges your faith.
PS. The RC church killed and tortured my forefathers.
And how do you explain the idolatry that is rampant in the RC church in many 3rd world countries? Is that OK by you?
It's "nasty" to zealously defend your faith, don't you know.
No, I don't like liars. Jack chick is a liar. You are materially cooperating in the dissemination of his lies. May God grant you the Grace of repentance.
Sorry, sandyeggo, but a backhanded compliment is still backhanded. Here, let me fix it for him:
a profound charity energizes their
There, that's better.
(I figure if I can come to the defense of the Catholic faithful on occasion, I can defend my fellow Protestants too)
>>It's "nasty" to zealously defend your faith, don't you know.<<
Especially when it is on a "Pope", "Rosary" or "Mary" thread.
Bet any one of these Protestants wouldn't dare step foot on a Jewish thread to tell them how wrong they are.
Bet Salem (a Christian) would take them out.
Count my husband as among those men.
PS. Protestants killed and tortured my forefathers. How do you like that?
And how do you explain the acceptance of a right to commit murder by the protestant church? Is that OK by you?
There's a difference here. I wouldn't expect a Hamas member to be a former Jew. Rick Adams is a former Catholic who has dissected the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Big difference there.
I'm the wrong person to ask, I'm afraid :-).
This site might interest you: www.christlife.org. They had a representative at a conference my daughter and I attended last weekend, and had materials for training and encouraging Catholics in just what you describe.
>> And how do you explain the acceptance of a right to commit murder by the protestant church? Is that OK by you?<<
Don't confuse him with facts.
About as much as I like what IRA terrorists did in the name of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mark 10:17-22 is the direct answer from the mouth of Jesus. The doctrine of the Catholic Church is a corollary of it, and of other verses. ArrogantBustard and Sandyeggo gave an excellent and complete answer courtesy Gophack.
Specifically in relation to the Parable of the Rich Man the Church teaches that salvation is by faith which should be sustained by moral living, works of charity (the part you singled out), and carrying Christ's cross.
no need for childish put downs now... of course, if you are insecure in your faith that may be all you have to offer.
btw, did I ever tell you how the RC church boiled one of my forefathers in hot oil? alive. and that was after they tore his fingernails out one by one.
all because he wouldn't convert to their religion.
Well, that was quick.
AlaskaErik, I don't know where Jack Chick is eventually going, but he will certainly be surprised by the number of folks who made it to Heaven despite his repetitive publication of false witness against them.
Interesting point. You don't see people jumping onto threads about Jewish interest to tell them that Judaism is wrong ... or even (usually) into threads on Orthodox Christian points, although the Orthodox have all the Sacraments, the Apostolic Succession, and revere the Mother of God. (In foreign languages, too!)
I guess Catholics are it, for better or worse!
Man...you still say the Confeitor at Mass every week?
I haven't heard it in church for YEARS.
You are lucky indeed.
jo kus:"What does a Protestant base his faith on? His own interpretation of the Scriptures."
Actually, this is true statement concerning the Assemblies of God. Not all Protestant faiths are Sola Scriptura.
But most Protestants do not rely purely on their own interpretation of the Holy Bible. Most of the mainline Protestant denominations rely on creeds, Confessions, and catechisms that have been handed down through many centuries. These are not whimsical interpretations, but precepts that have been debated and discerned throughout the ages (much akin to the RC church).
Of course, all this must be taken with the understanding that men are fallible (something the Roman Catholic Church needs to learn). The Scriptures are THE authority. I think even the Catholic church would agree with this for the most part. I don't think the Catholic Church would say the Scriptures are in error - I think they merely maintain that some Protestant leaders have wrongly interpreted Scripture.
My mother is a Protestant from Northern Ireland. The confluence of religion and political power, is, in my opinion, a terrible evil in Europe. However, you can blame John Calvin and John Knox for it as much as the contemporaneous Popes.
Oh, Indians killed some of my ancestors in Illinois, too ... but my husband is Cherokee. Conservatives Get Over It.
Thanks, but I am not interested. All I ever need to know about islam I've learned by Sept 12/2001. And as for their theology - it is baboonery, like every other theology.
OBTW, jack chick is a liar. If you're insecure in your "faith" jack chick's lies may be all you have to offer.
>>btw, did I ever tell you how the RC church boiled one of my forefathers in hot oil? alive. and that was after they tore his fingernails out one by one.<<
Life sucks. Ever see BraveHeart? They actually did disembowel Catholics. It goes both ways.
My hubby was under the same misconception as you that the horrors were all Catholic to Protestant.
Check out early America. Not every Protestant was an angel either.
OBTW, jack chick is a liar. If you're insecure in your "faith" jack chick's lies may be all you have to offer.
"The Catholics on this site hate being challenged and will turn nasty quick if you challenge them."
What you say is true about a select few but by no means all. You might also notice that the folks on the receiving end of the brickbats are usually fellow Catholics.
People grow, and their views change. I was a protestant and am now a Catholic. I was and am a Christian. Where is the problem?
Do you have the guts to think about that?
"The Scriptures are THE authority. I think even the Catholic church would agree with this for the most part."
The Catholic Church agrees with that in every particular.
"I don't think the Catholic Church would say the Scriptures are in error - I think they merely maintain that some Protestant leaders have wrongly interpreted Scripture."
That, and they have chopped a big part of them right out of the Bibles they use.
It's just not the case that anyone can read the Bible and understand it correctly all on his own. Even something as well-known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son I didn't understand correctly until in my late forties. (I always thought the older brother kind of had a point.)
Do they get vicious like you catholics?
You must indeed be special to have such a special window on God. Are there any others at the window or is it just you?
Me, too. Took my mother a while to get over it ("Thank God your Grandpop is in his grave ..."), but she sure appreciates all the grandchildren now. And I'm very grateful for the formation I had growing up as a Presbyterian, especially all the Bible reading. Many Catholics of my generation apparently didn't have that (and they don't know 4 verses of many great old hymns, either!).
Is this the doctrine of the Catholic Church?
It is an oversimplification that can lead one to false ideas.
First, "salvation" to Catholics doesn't mean the same thing that it does for Protestants. Thus, if I say "Baptism saves", you will immediately think we believe we go to heaven because of this one-time event. The correct term is "justify". We are made children of God, inheritors of heaven, infused with God's Grace and forgiven of all sin. If we were to slip and fall in the Baptismal font and die, we'd be in heaven. But for the rest of us, our eternal salvation is not secured as a result of ONLY Baptism.
The Gospels (and Paul, if one drops Sola Fide as their lenses for looking at the Scriptures) are clear that we must have faith in God, trust in His promises, and obey Him out of the sake of our love for Him. When doing deeds of love, it is understood that God is present within us, as we cannot earn righteousness on our own. God enables us to "work out our salvation", as He places within us the will and ability to do His will (Phil 2:12,13).
Someone brought up the Young Rich Man previously. That is one of many examples that Jesus gives us about what we must do to enter the Kingdom. He told the man "you are not far from the Kingdom" when the man said he obeyed the commandments. Jesus looked at the man and loved him - presumably, because he was not like the Pharisees who did good works BUT expected payment/wages. The man obeyed the commandments out of love for God. "He was not far from the Kingdom" But Christ saw another attachment - money - that kept the man from entering God's Kingdom. Faith is nowhere mentioned in this story. HOWEVER, it is PRESUMED, since the man was obeying the commandments out of love.
One can be saved only through faith in God, working out his faith through love (Gal 5:6). Without love, I am nothing (1 Cor 13:2). Faith without works (of love) is dead (James 2). Thus, BOTH are needed - faith AND deeds of love. Since justification is NOT a one-time process (we are not always righteous in God's eyes), we must persevere in our faith and love in God. God gives us the grace to continue on this journey, which we call sanctification. The two terms go together.
An interesting analogy that might help is this...
Think of a person as a glass full of black liquid, representing our soul before God's graces come to us through Baptism. God, from Baptism, pours His Spirit into us (the glass), adding white liquid and completely whitening the liquid in the glass. Now, as time goes by, we, by our sin, add black liquid back into the glass. It darkens a bit. When we ask for forgiveness, repent, and love others, God pours some white liquid back in. As we continue to grow in holiness, we add less black liquid in, while God continues to add white liquid. The day we die, God will judge the color of the liquid. Note, we NEVER add white liquid to the glass! We ONLY can try to keep the black liquid out. By turning to God, He gives us a stronger will, enabling us to resist temptation and to love others without thought of reward (as we can never earn a reward).
Some may ask "well, how do I know if my "glass is white or black"? Don't be scrupulous like Luther...If a person is sorry for the sins he has committed, this is the work of the Spirit within us - thus, we are not being shunned by God. Hope this helps
In fact, I am retiring from FR for the evening.
I am in a particularly foul mood, for reasons unrelated to this thread in particular or FR in general.
I find that I am unable to promote the truth in a spirit of Christian Charity, and if I continue on this thread I will sooner rather than later say something that I will regret.
God bless you all (especially my opponents).
Please pray for me.