Skip to comments.All Roads Lead To Rome (A Southern Baptist's Journey into the Catholic Church)
Posted on 02/19/2008 11:55:18 AM PST by NYer
I know that I was not the first Protestant to learn the truth about the Catholic Church; I am sure that this is a story you could probably hear from countless other people, changing only the names and places. I know that many have walked the road that I have; that road which leads home, to Rome!
I was born in 1975 to two God-fearing Southern Baptists in Dallas, Texas. My father had grown up Methodist, but became Baptist when he married my mother in 1968. From what my father has said, his family was mostly Methodist. His father and his paternal grandfather were both Thirty-Third Degree Masons. My father's paternal grandfather's father was even the founding pastor of the First Methodist Church of Dallas. Though I have heard the history of my father's family, I myself knew only a very few of them. A great majority of my mother's family was Baptist, with a smattering of Methodists here and there. I am fairly certain of one thing, however: there were no Catholics.
Since a very young age, I can remember going to church and Sunday school on Sunday mornings to listen to the preacher and my Sunday school teachers talk about Jesus, and how He would save us from the fires of Hell. Every Sunday morning, my parents and I would sing in church and listen to the sermons. Though we didn't usually attend the Sunday evening services, I knew that once a month on a Sunday evening, an event called The Lord's Supper would happen. At this Lord's Supper, the preacher would begin passing around large round trays made of chrome. One of the trays had tiny crackers on it, and the other one had little cups of grape juice. I can remember that before I was baptized I wanted to take part in this event, but my parents would not let me. They did not explain why I shouldn't, other than I hadn't been baptized yet. Just as it is in the Catholic Church, Baptism is an initiation of sorts into the active life of the church community. (Of course, to a Catholic, it is that and much more. I would not know this until much later.) A few years went by, and when I was about eight years old, I decided that I wanted to be "saved" and get baptized. To get "saved," you would pray a little prayer like, "Dear Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me of all of my sins. I ask you to become my personal Lord and Savior. All these things I pray in Jesus' name. Amen." From a Baptist viewpoint, being baptized is only a symbol, and nothing more. In other words, for a Baptist, baptism isn't really necessary for salvation. After I got baptized, I was able to partake in the Lord's Supper. I asked my father what the Lord's Supper meant, and he said that it represented the body and the blood of Jesus. That is to say, it represented the sacrifice that He made for us on the Cross. My father then read the passage from a King James Bible that told about the establishment of what we called The Lord's Supper: "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20, KJV)" I asked why it was that we only did this once a month, and even then at the evening service (most people went to the morning service). My father thought about it for a minute, then he said that the Catholics do it every Sunday at all of their services. (In actuality, most Catholic churches have at least one Mass every day except Good Friday; Catholics are bound to attend Mass only on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.) He said that perhaps we do it less often so as not to imitate them. As you can imagine, I did not understand this for what it was. The Baptists, and many other Protestant groups, were concerned that the "Lord's Supper" would become the focus of the church service rather than the sermon. Though there are some Protestant churches that have communion every Sunday, none of them place the same importance on the Eucharist that the Catholic Church does.
My father had nothing personal against Catholics; in fact, of all the people in my family, he probably liked them more than anyone else in our family did. My mother had a problem with the Catholic Church, but if you asked her why, she really couldn't tell you. She would give the same rote answers that many Protestants had been giving for centuries. "They worship the Pope, Mary, and the Saints." "They think a person can forgive their sins rather than God." She couldn't explain why she believed these things, or in the case of the last statement, she couldn't explain why a person couldn't say that your sins are forgiven. When I finally asked her why she thought a person could not forgive sins after the Bible said that Christ gave that power to the Apostles, she said she'd just rather confess directly to God. I believe that the real reason that she did not like Catholicism was because her father did not like it. I really believe that was the main reason. For some reason, my maternal grandfather (whom we have always called "Smittie") has a fairly wide streak of anti-Catholicism in him. Even as a child, I remembered him complaining every time the Pope was on television or in the newspaper. Whenever we were at a restaurant or shopping and we saw someone with a large family (four or five kids or more), he would often joke that they must be Catholic. The ironic thing about his dislike of the Church is that virtually all of his friends (excepting those from his church) since he became an adult were Catholic. I don't think that he had anything personal against individual Catholics; it was the Church that bothered him. Smittie was in England during World War II, and he found many friends there, all Catholic. He always spoke highly of them. He missed them all very much, too; all but a few of them had been killed in the war and those few survivors had died since. To this day, I do not know what makes Smittie think that the Church is somehow diabolical or at the very least, misled. I've often wondered if it had something to do with his association with Freemasonry. By the way, he is a Third Degree Mason (Master Mason), though he has not been an active Mason for many years.
Now you can see where I came from. A Southern Baptist upbringing with lots of anti-Catholic influence from just about everyone in my family and my church, with the possible exception of my father. If, when I was in high school, someone had told me that I would one day become Catholic, I would have literally laughed in his face. By the time I was fifteen, I had truly learned to have contempt for the Catholic Church. Not Catholic people, you understand, just the beliefs of and possibly the clergy of the Church. I figured that most Catholics were simply misled, and too ignorant to realize it. After all, "everyone knows" that Catholics are forbidden to read the Bible, right?! [a common Protestant myth]
I entered high school and turned fifteen at about the same time, and high school was a much bigger place than the middle school where I had attended. I decided to get involved in some of the clubs in school to make friends, and one of the clubs was called Raiders for Christ (the Raiders was the school mascot). This club was made up of mostly Protestant and "Evangelical" Christians of various denominations. In the meetings, we talked about "witnessing" to people, getting "saved," and how we should carry our Bible around as a good example to others. I decided that I would try to talk to people in classes and invite them to church with me. From some people, I got a fairly good response. Some would say they had already been "saved," and currently attended another church. Some would say that they had been "saved" and that they felt that church was not necessary because they read the Bible often anyway. I had no problem with these people. However, I ran into some that caused problems. As you can guess, these were the Catholics.
Many Catholics that I met did not know their faith very well, but they did go to Mass every Sunday. I derided them for not knowing why they believed the things that they believed. I said that it was apparent that the Catholic Church was based on blind faith and that reason was nowhere to be found. I told several people that if they did not renounce the Catholic Church and accept Christ as their "personal Lord and Savior," that they would most certainly go to Hell. I'm sure that these people did not appreciate what I was saying, and I am quite thankful that they were more charitable to me than I was to them. One particular Catholic with whom I made friends was a teacher at the school. In fact, she was one of the sponsors of an extra-curricular organization of which I was a member for three years. She knew her faith VERY well, and for that I am glad. I admit, however, it was quite frustrating at times. After all, I couldn't win a debate with her. While she did not convert me to Catholicism, she did put me on the right track. I quit harassing the Catholics so much and tried to see them as fellow Christians rather than "the enemy."
I graduated from high school, still a Baptist, though not a particularly devout one anymore. I didn't go to church very often, and I had begun to lose faith; not so much in God as in being Baptist. I felt that there were contradictions between what the Bible says and what the Baptists teach. For instance, Baptists teach that once you are "saved," you are always "saved." That is practically a dogma of the Baptist Church, as well as some other Protestant churches: "once saved, always saved." The problem here, is that there is no support in the Bible for this position. Scripture does refute this position: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12, KJV)" (If you notice, I quote from the King James Version of the Bible because it is the universally accepted version of the Bible in Protestant churches.) Considering that a favorite saying of the Baptists was "No creed but the Bible," you can see why I was beginning to be skeptical. Here are some more (though certainly not all) doctrinal paradoxes:
The Baptist Myth
What the (King James) Bible Says
"Alcoholic beverages are inherently bad."
"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. (1 Timothy 5:23, KJV)"
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. (John 4:46, KJV)"
"Dancing is bad."
"And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. (2 Samuel 6:14, KJV)"
"Salvation (being saved? occurs in an instant."
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phillipians 2:12, KJV)"
"We only need Scripture, not traditions."
(This is an attack on the Catholic belief in Sacred Tradition. It is a pillar of the Protestant Reformation known as Sola Scriptura)
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, KJV)"
"Everyone can interpret Scripture for him/herself."
(In other words, we dont need an authoritative body like the Magisterium, or teaching office, of the Catholic Church to interpret for us.)
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20, KJV)"
"Faith alone, not works, will get you saved."
(This is one of the other main principles of the Protestant Reformation: it is called Sola Fide)
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26, KJV)"
The list is seemingly endless, so Ill stop here. As you can see, many of the beliefs of both the Protestant Reformation in general as well as the Southern Baptist Convention were at odds with the Bible. And not just any Bible, but even the one that the Protestants so cherished! (Rest assured, these verses are not much different in a Catholic Bible.)
At any rate, I was nineteen years old, and attending a major public university. I was exposed to many things that I had never been around before, mostly because my parents were somewhat over-protective of me. I felt quite far from God during my first year in college. Toward the end of my freshman year, my girlfriend from high school, whom I had been dating for over three years, and I broke up. I started dating a younger Catholic girl who lived in the Dallas area. Her uncle was actually a bishop in the northeastern United States. She was not particularly devout, but at the time, it didnt matter to me. Actually, I figured that if we ended up together it would be easy to convert her to Protestantism and away from the Catholic Church. After we had been dating for about a month, her sister was graduating from high school, so I went to see her sisters baccalaureate Mass. I had never been to a Mass before; I had been inside a Catholic church maybe once or twice before in my whole life. When I got home that night, I cried because I thought that since she was Catholic, she would be doomed to Hell if I couldnt help her "see the light". However, the more I thought about what I had seen, the more intrigued I became.
First of all, the Mass was not what I had been told that it was: a pagan ceremony. To those of you reading this who are Catholic, this may seem humorous, but many Protestants, especially those leaning toward "fundamentalism," seem to think that Catholics are pagans or Satan worshippers or something along those lines. I dont know where this myth got started, but I would sure love to put it to rest. For those of you not familiar with the Mass, here is the basic structure:
Thanks for your encouragements, Dear Sister in Christ.
the way “Christians” rant and rave about petty chaff
DISTINCTIVES of their RELIGIOUS CLUB
I suspect God is thoroughly disgusted with CLUB BRAND names on church doors and church yards.
His Son didn’t die for ego-driven pettiness.
Some differences are substantial and deserve their distinctive treatments . . .
But so many are just noise, chaff . . . originated in political ego driven conflicts and perpetuated in much the same or a similar spirit, imho.
To think God has any respect for such over his 2 HIGH PRIORITY COMMANDMENTS . . . is, imho, delusional.
Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. Revelation 2:1-5
INDEED. AMEN! AMEN!
My explanation is that they are given a special grace by Christ to do so.
Excellent points :-).
Thanks for your kind words. I hope you got some good rest!
Have a blessed Wed.
Good Post and Well Said --
Not as much as I should have. I dreamed about some people I haven't seen in over 15 years, and spent some time praying for them.
I appreciate what you said about being passionate and dramatic, and how that's not the same as being angry or hostile. It can be so easy to misunderstand, particularly in this text-only medium.
I hope you have a terrific day!
GOOD MORNING SAINT,
THANKYOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS,MY LOCAL MINISTRY SCHEDULE DOES NOT ALLOW FOR DISCUSSION ON THREADS AND I AM OFTEN AT REST EARLY AND RISE EARLY SINCE MY PROFITABLE STUDY TIME IS MORNING BEFORE THE DAILY MEETING AND TEACHING SCHEDULE.
“I see now that Toplady was a contemporary of Wesley, so that might explain the passion. After all, Charles Wesley at the time was spouting Calvin was the first born son of the devil. Im sure they all have time to reflect on this now in Gods presence where no doubt Wesley is being schooled by Whitfield, Calvin, Augustine and the Apostle Paul. ;-)”
SMILES HERE ALSO.
Aside from repeating anti-Catholic bigotry, what are you equipped to debate on. You have made statements throughout this thread that none but the most ignorant agree with, yet you have provided no factual support for any of it.
Here's some scripture that you may want to ponder (and I will even use KJV so as to not offend you):
15: And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
-- 2 Peter 3:15-16
Thanks tons for your kind words and elaboration. I was curious.
Praying for loved ones I haven’t seen in a while is a common early hour activity of mine, too. No matter the degree of contact—or reasons for no contact, I don’t quit caring for folks I’ve been close to at one time in my life.
In terms of sleep—I often pray for extended times in the early hours.
Also, when it is clear that I should sleep, I have learned to “take each thought captive” as Scripture says . . . and force myself to think of something complex enough to be somewhat interesting but not interesting or exciting enough to wind the adrenaline up.
For me . . . that tends to be hobby type stuff . . . in my mind: landscaping an aquarium; a garden; designing a house floor plan; pottery designs; some such.
I think that satan and his goons particularly like to rob sleep from saints. But Scripture says God gives rest and sleep to His kids. Sometimes we have to take each thought captive to effect it.
And, as I tell my students . . . worrying about not sleeping dumps adrenaline in the bloodstream and keeps one awake. After 15 min—read a moderately dull book; pray; FREEP or whatever until one is sleepy.
Thankfully, most of my adult life I’ve had work that enabled me to sleep when I was sleepy and do whatever other times. I generally sleep in 1-3 chunks of time.
Anyway—this pontification on sleep was brought to you through the courtesy of caring about my dear Sis: Tax-chick.
It was NOT due to diarrhea of the fingers!
Ahywho—do have a blessed week.
I’ve spent many years sitting up with babies and learned to appreciate the time for prayer. And if I dream about people, I assume it’s for a reason, especially if I haven’t thought about them in living memory.
Your post has me thinking about gardening, now :-), but it’s too cold today. It will probably be another month before I can get my boys to digging things up!
And there is a certain truth that some conservatives Protestants refuse to acknowledge and that is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to elect conservatives on a national level without Catholic support. Catholics make-up just under a quarter of the voters, drive Catholics away with bigotry and you will lose.
This just shows how shallow your "conservatism" really is --
Not only beautiful but most impressive! Where did you learn that?
From a Baptist viewpoint, being baptized is only a symbol, and nothing more. In other words, for a Baptist, baptism isn't really necessary for salvation.
Wince! I'd like this brother to understand the difference between "ordinary" necessity and what you might call "absolute" necessity.
I am intrigued about the requirement of Baptism before Eucharist. There are plenty of Protestants around here (Central Virginia) for whom "the Lord's Supper" is no big deal and anyone can partake, baptized or not.
I quit harassing the Catholics so much and tried to see them as fellow Christians rather than "the enemy."
I wonder if the reason that doesn't happen much on FR is that people fear that if they do that, pretty soon they'll be "kissing the Pope's toe".
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. (John 4:46, KJV)"
Grape juice? When I first came to Virginia the only work I could get was stoop labor in a Vineyard. (I still hurt from it - and I seriously think that the fungicide we sprayed has compromised my health a little.) I did get to see where our grapes were crushed. It was pretty revolting. It's a big operation to refine Welches off of squeezed grapes, and then if you don't pasteurize it it'll start "cooking" from wild yeasts pretty soon anyway. Still "new wine" it is. Jesus never drank fermented wine, we all know that. And I am the Queen of Romania.
I started dating a younger Catholic girl who lived in the Dallas area.
Catholic girls! Our secret weapon!
To Oliver Optic
I was reading the Hahn's book, "Rome Sweet Home," and the question occurred to me ... how do Catholics explain Mary and the saints being able to hear and respond to thousands of prayers at one time?
Obviously the answer is: GREAT secretarial staff!while I have concerns about the sort of practical "omniscience" ..., it ain't OMNIscience, it's LOTSiscience. (Free neologism, no extra charge.)
Then, we think that heaven and those in it are not bound by time. Not only is a thousand years like a moment, but a moment is like a thousand years. AND prayers, even to saints, are, what shall we say, "conveyed" by the Holy Spirit by whom we are all made one body in Christ.
Another case of STS.
Yep. Log that puppy.
Oh, oh! thread's getting ugly, I'm outta here.
I appreciate what you said about being passionate and dramatic, and how that’s not the same as being angry or hostile. It can be so easy to misunderstand, particularly in this text-only medium.
= = =
I don’t think there’s a solution for that one that I’ve come up with.
Even face to face, one can’t please everyone. But, at least face to face, there’s a lot more communication occurring along nonverbal channels.
Amazingly, though, ALMOST the same percentages (I’d guesstimate within 5-20%) of folks discern my heart online as do in person.
I’m reminded of my 2 weeks in Israel . . . natives—especially Arabs but also Jews—would tend to stand talking, faces literally about 1-3 or so inches apart—YELLING AT EACH OTHER as though one was going to slit the other’s throat. And they were just mildly discussing the weather, from their standpoint.
ASSUMPTIONS and CONTEXT are such big issues in communications.
It also seems to be very human to state things ABSOLUTELY, EMPHATICALLY. “You do . . . .” “I KNOW . . . “ “You mean . . . “ etc.
when we largely to totally ASSUME, INFER, EXTRAPOLATE, CONJECTURE . . . .
I don’t always succeed, but I try to own opinions, assumptions, etc. vs things I really do emphatically experientially know.
LIFE REALLY IS COMPLEX. Scripture is even fairly complex . . . though the essentials of the 2 most important commandments are rather simply and clearly stated.
Living those commandments out day by day can be more complex—sometimes increidbly complex in terms of loving people.
Scripture HINTS at a LOT of things. Even many of the clear emphatic statements in Scripture can have 2-3 valid meanings—layers of meanings.
Humility about assumptions even about Scripture is in order.
Assuming that we know emphatically and exhaustively someone else’s heart attitude or even their seemingly evident thinking is often HTTM—HAZARDOUS TO THE MAX—for all concerned.
I think it’s one thing to infer from behavior a given motive or focus or attitude or value . . . and own that as an inference or probability or what things appear to be as.
It’s a different thing to EMPHATICALLY PONTIFICATE in a haughty critical judgment attitude some tidy boxed pigeon holed label that presumes to wrap another complex person and their perspective up in a neat 100% accurate little package. NOT likely to be very valid at all—in at least some respects. Humility about that sort of temptation is wise.
Then there’s that old truism we were often taught in grade school . . . the taunts of even bullies and meanies need have no impact at all. It’s their problem. Yet, we tended to get most upset when there was too much of an element of truth to their taunts.
Humans are so funny. It doesn’t even take a bully to pull the curtain back. Just common human communication misunderstandings—especially with any or too much assuming—can do it.
Like the old Dr Murray Banks joke . . . Woman at the races turns to the man on her right—Excuse me do you have a safety-pin? No, sorry. She turns to the man on her left—Excuse me do you have a safety-pin? No, sorry. Suddenly over the loud speaker—she hears THEY’RE OFF. And she fainted.
What’s said may be a hundred miles different than what’s heard—for very innocent reasons. Add in human flaws and the reasons get flakey and complicated fast.
Add in insecurities, hurts, brittleness, related chips on shoulders and many of us are ready to go to war too easily at the drop of a hat.
Our era is sooooo engulfed in stressed out sources of concerning info . . . folks tend to be chronically wound up . . . usually out of fears and insecurities—not truly trusting God . . .
and/or alternately by turns . . .
tune out into a kind of zombied, passive, wimped out state and attitude.
Too often, that can be too much in the camp of the LUKE-WARM. Though luke-warmness can also come from tuning out insecurities, fears and pains from early traumas.
Then, if someone jangles or removes even a chunk of our thickly padded insulation of passivity or wimpishness or obsessive addiction to ANY ‘teddy bear’ but God Almighty . . . we can become instantly hurt, outraged, indignent, resentful, hostile.
I think such trigger experiences COULD and are probably designed to surface inseurities and stuff which we need to take to The Cross; leave on the altar in Heaven . . . God wanting us to TRUST HIM IN AND ABOUT ALL THINGS.
But many of us are still full of so many childhood insecuriies, it’s difficult for us to look to God first and foremost and trust HIM with whatever has assaulted our sensitivities . . . and then OUT OF THAT TRUSTING GOD—to seek Him for how He would like us to respond. Instead, we REACT. Then the other person REACTS . . . and the disonant reverberations escalate.
And it’s all just information.
We climb the walls, throw out fangs and claws just over information.
The information is likely at least biased. It’s likely not 100% true. It’s likely naturally distorted and may be partially deliberately distorted.
Yet we feel compelled to get irate, climb the wall and retaliate over mere information.
Feelings are mere information. Information may be important. We may need to make decisions and take action based on the information. But it’s just information.
We have the God-given CAPACITY—if we are the least bit healthy and the least bit mature—to hold the information out at arm’s length FIRST—pray about our responses—FIRST and then RESPOND vs react.
I don’t always manage that either. But I’m a lot better at it than I was even 10-20 years ago—whether it shows sufficiently for some sensibilties hereon! LOL.
Then there are those like my mother—who seem to get all their exercise jumping to conclusions—absolutely convinced that they are then 100% correct regardless of the evidence. LOL.
PASSION focused on God’s priorities with hearts of caring for others . . . however imperfect and however imperfectly expressed . . . is a LOT better than luke warm.
So, I think even hostile responses to me are comforting signs that at least the other person is alive and has some priorities in life beyond that of breathing and taking up space.
Goodness . . . what a long pontificating narrative. I’d best hush. Enough info for this post!
If you have a big south window—get those heirloom tomatoe seeds planted! LOL
I need to do that. So many tasks. Wheee.
Your dad looks like a fairly intense fellow. Was that true/is that true?
My impression looking at his pic is that he has/had a big heart of love, sensitivity and compassion but often kept it hidden behind a brusque exterior. I don’t know if that’s correct or not . . . just my impression looking at his face.
. . . that he’d do most anything for those he loved . . . but might not always be considered a warm teddy bear in ALL his communications.
Anyway—I should go back and get my 2nd chunk of sleep.
Blessings. Thanks for the ‘chat.’