Skip to comments.How I Led Catholics Out Of the Church (And into Apostasy)
Posted on 12/28/2011 5:47:17 PM PST by rzman21
How I led Catholics Out of the Church STEVE WOOD I was a Protestant for twenty years before I became a Catholic. I led many people out of the Catholic Church. 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:
they have a firm grasp of their Catholic faith. they know their faith well enough to articulate it to a non-Catholic, using scripture and the Church fathers. they have the maturity to realize that the most profound presence of Christ isn't necessarily found in the midst of loud noise and high emotion, but in quiet moments like Eucharistic adoration (see 1 Kings 19:11-12). 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.
Wood, Steve. "How I led Catholics Out of the Church." St. Joseph's Covenant Newsletter 4 no. 2 (March/April 1998).
Reprinted with permission St. Joseph's Covenant Newsletter.
Steve Wood is the founder of St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers (SJCK), a dynamic apostolate for Catholic men, and runs the web site dads.org.
Copyright © 1998 St. Joseph's Covenant Newsletter
Thanks I was looking for a means to get more people out of idolatry.
Sounds more like cult recruitment to me.
Cult Recruiting Methods
By David Henke
Why do people become susceptible to cult recruitment? Is there a time in anyone’s life when they are more vulnerable? Is their religious background and knowledge of their faith a factor? Is a certain age bracket more vulnerable than another? I am sure that everyone who has lost someone to the clutches of a cult asks themselves these questions. What could they have done to prevent it? These questions, and the methods cults have found effective, will be examined in this article.
Who is Vulnerable?
The vulnerable person is someone who lacks something very important. That something can be a network of supportive people like family and friends. It can be someone who has suffered a significant loss like the death of a loved one, or a marriage, or a job. The sense of loss causes a person to seek something to fill the void. The college freshman who may be homesick, or out of contact with family and friends, is a good example of someone who is vulnerable. The motivations to find friends who will relieve the feelings of isolation are very strong and can overcome good judgment about finding the right kind of friends. The cults recognize this. One group that specializes in college student recruitment is the International Church of Christ (a.k.a. Boston Church of Christ and Crossroads Movement). If the sense of loss is from the death of a loved one the recruiting cult may point out how the bereaved person can see their loved one again. Jehovah’s Witnesses may tell the potential recruit that in the resurrection the deceased may be resurrected and given the opportunity to respond to the Watchtower message. If he accepts it he will be given the opportunity to live in a paradise earth with his loved one. (If he rejects the message he will be annihilated, again.) The Mormon may point out to the bereaved that by becoming a Mormon he can be baptized by proxy for his deceased loved one, giving him the opportunity to advance in the spirit world toward Mormon heaven. Sometimes disillusionment can cause a person to lose faith. It could be the loss of a job, or a divorce. The question asked is: “Where was God when I needed Him? Why did He let this happen to me?” At such a moment a cult, like Job’s counselors, can offer a different view that will provide a rationale for their situation. The cults offer a performance-based relationship with God, or a works oriented gospel, that gives the person something to do to help fill the void of his loss. Another potential target of cult recruitment is the naïve idealist. The idealist has a poor understanding of the pervasive sinfulness of man and how it can corrupt, or weaken, even the best. This individual sincerely desires to be his best and expects others to do likewise so as to change the world for the better. When this individual meets the cult recruiter he meets someone, and an organization, that seems to exemplify that same idealism. The superficiality of their image does not become apparent until much later, if ever. In religion the warning “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) applies with double force.
Targeting the Vulnerable
A healthy support network of family, friends and church provide the resources to fill the void created by a traumatic sense of loss. The need may be emotional support, or information that a healthy network can provide. When it is absent a cult can provide a counterfeit replacement network. It is counterfeit because the effect is destructive in the long run. The relationship becomes one-way after the recruit is assimilated into the cult. A healthy relationship, or network, is two-way where accountability and truth are present. A cult will use “love bombing” as a means of recruiting people. Love bombing is an all-pervasive expression of caring for the individual and others. It sounds like the Christian concept of agape love. It is not the same. In a cult the love stops when the individual is being corrected. This is not so with Christian agape love. Love bombing also becomes a tool to keep people in the cult. The thought of losing the powerful sense of being loved by the group can dissuade the doubter from leaving. The person who hungers to know more about God, or the Bible, may be attracted to a group like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They seem to have so many answers. A Christian caller to this ministry some years ago asked for information about Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was studying with two of them. She assured us that she just liked studying the Bible and was not being influenced by them. However, after a brief conversation it became clear that she was indeed being influenced to believe their doctrine. She didn’t have a basis of knowledge for comparison to know the difference. The Witnesses terminated the study after two more visits with a Watchman representative present that helped her discern between truth and error. With modern communication we hear the bloody details of all the wars and strife in the world. We see the degeneracy of man daily and wonder how long God will withhold His judgment. Surely, we must be in the very last days. The apocalyptic cults will play on this to create a sense of crisis. Don’t be destroyed by God when He judges the world. If there is a crisis there must be decisive action taken. By joining the group the recruit feels he is doing his part to help himself and others. This is a fear-based message and it is the way the Watchtower Society has operated from its beginning. Some of the suicide cults that made a big splash in the media took their belief to the farthest extreme. By their suicide, or bloody confrontation with authority, they hoped to provoke the final conflict and the victory of righteousness.
Entering Into Bondage
When someone gives an opening to a cult recruiter they are in danger. Like the situation of the Christian woman described above the cultist knows his business better than the people he meets. The cultist is not consciously doing wrong, he is a victim who has been trained to recruit other victims, all the while thinking he is doing God’s will. The techniques that the cultist has learned well put the potential recruit at a disadvantage. The methodology of recruitment involves subtle techniques of mind control and undue persuasion. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons want to control the discussion by limiting the agenda. The Witnesses books and the Mormon missionary discussions are programmed to get the potential recruit to buy into a premise that will lay the groundwork for acceptance of each and every other doctrine. For most cults the starting premise is that God favors the group above all other groups. If that is true then it is God who is the Author of all the other doctrines that will be learned later. If many of the teachings were put on the table at the outset the recruit would not accept the premise. Therefore, some doctrines are kept back until the recruit is “mature” enough to receive them. The first step to being able to employ the techniques of mind control is to immerse the person in an environment supportive of the goal. To do that the cult will seek to separate the recruit from people outside the cult such as family, friends, his church, etc. They will replace those influences with their own. Their group will provide a new peer group, and a new authority structure. These two elements are powerful enough in themselves. The next step is to control the information. Non-sanctioned information is to be regarded as dangerous to spiritual health, so the recruit is taught to refuse it. The only information that is approved is from the cult. It is administered repetitively. Doubts and disagreements are frowned upon, and usually punished, while agreement is approved and rewarded. In such a system the new recruit quickly adopts the “party line” as his own, and he believes it completely. With these two elements in place, he is now in bondage to men.
Effects of Bondage
The long-term effects of involvement with a cult are many and deep. The chief loss is a real relationship with Christ and an eternity in His presence. However, this side of eternity the effects are powerfully evident. Some of the characteristics include the loss of ability to trust. Followers can be easily manipulated by the use of guilt and shame. They often have an unusual fear of spiritual things with which they are not familiar. And, a distant look in their eye like they are not relating to their immediate surroundings and people. This reflects the damage done to their ability to relate to people on a normal level.
The Preventative to Recruitment
The most important protection against being recruited into a cult is awareness. Scripture tells us to beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15), but how can one “beware” unless he is “aware” of what is dangerous? Our knowledge of the truth is the starting place. If we know the truth of scripture, especially the basic doctrines of the Bible, we will be able to recognize error. Since most cults deny the deity of Christ and the gospel we should know those two doctrines thoroughly. Books on systematic theology and the doctrinal errors in church history would be an excellent resource for every Christian. Another protection against recruitment is to maintain a healthy network of family, friends, and church where two way accountability and information flow are present. Resist any group trying to separate you from those influences. Practice the art of critical thinking. Critical thinking is not being critical. It is an evaluative process whereby the mind judges the value, or danger, of an idea. The pros and cons of any idea are weighed. Outside sources of information are considered as well as sources long accepted. Comparison of an idea with the accepted standard of biblical truth should be the first and final measure. After submitting any idea to such an evaluation the conclusion will have the ring of wisdom. The cults do not allow such a process to take place. When someone does think critically they are punished. Jehovah’s Witnesses call it “independent thinking.”
When any of the signs described above appear in someone you love act quickly. Cult recruitment does not take long. The remedy in the early stages is quite effective. However, when the recruit is baptized, or makes formal his membership, the odds of rescue are poor. Watchman Fellowship is one of your
Is the point of posting this to stir up contention between Freepers?
Personally I’ve long believed that those who attempt to stir sectarian ire among conservatives, are only doing so to help liberals.
But she was not sinless. Only Christ was because the sin of the flesh was not passed by the seed of man.
While the faith of his fathers may have been Roman Catholicism, his faith had better be in God, not in the Church. Or he IS in apostasy. This is a funny article to be posted, as the Prostestant church is begining to merge once again under the pope. One suspects it is not a step in the right direction as this article would indicate a one way street based on political correctness, not a melding of the mind's on the Word of God.
With luck, people like this can get the Catholics and Protestants fighting and killing each other just like the Shiites and Sunni’s in Iraq!
Wouldn’t Jesus just love that?
Exactly my feeling. I’m a proud protestant and have no use for Catholic bashing or Protestant bashing.
Looks like you are just trying to be divisive.
You have hit the nail right on the thumb, my friend. Those who leave the Faith do so for personal reasons. Those who join the Faith do so for theological ones.
You are well come to the Faith.
“Upon this rock I will build my church.”
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
I’ve never been to the Baptist church in my town but just yesterday I happened to notice the Pastor’s name is Bernstein and the Deacon’s name is Levin. lol
I grew up in a mixed family so sectarian joking was pretty common and didn’t raise many hackles. My Catholic uncle was the one who taught me that we Methodists are just Baptists with shoes.
I am sick of Protestant Freepers holding up ex-Catholics as evidence that the veneration of Mary is “Mary worship”, etc.
This article just shows that most Catholics who become Evangelicals aren’t that strong in their Catholicism to begin with.
Protestants leave Protestantism for Rome or Orthodoxy for largely intellectual reasons. Catholics leave and become Evangelical Protestants for largely emotional reasons.
I really don’t know any Catholic converts who left Protestantism for emotional reasons. Most Protestants who are trapped in liberal Protestant sects as I was leave for more conservative Protestant venues.
Most conservative Anglicans leave for more conservative venues, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, etc.
Only a small percentage leave for the hated Catholic Church.
If Catholics call Protestants out on their tactics, they are called “divisive”. Liberal ecumenism is an abject failure.
Catholics need to be confident in being Catholic and take a stand within the Church toward educating lay Catholics away from Evangelicalism.
It’s called the truth.
Canon law defines apostasy as:
Heresy, Schism and Apostasy
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines these three sins against the faith in this way:
2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.
“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;
apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith;
schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” [Code of Canon Law c.751]
The Church’s moral theology has always distinguished between objective or material sin and formal sin. The person who holds something contrary to the Catholic faith is materially a heretic. They possess the matter of heresy, theological error. Thus, prior to the Second Vatican Council it was quite common to speak of non-Catholic Christians as heretics, since many of their doctrines are objectively contrary to Catholic teaching. This theological distinction remains true, though in keeping with the pastoral charity of the Council today we use the term heretic only to describe those who willingly embrace what they know to be contrary to revealed truth. Such persons are formally (in their conscience before God) guilty of heresy. Thus, the person who is objectively in heresy is not formally guilty of heresy if 1) their ignorance of the truth is due to their upbringing in a particular religious tradition (to which they may even be scrupulously faithful), and 2) they are not morally responsible for their ignorance of the truth. This is the principle of invincible ignorance, which Catholic theology has always recognized as excusing before God.
The same is true of apostasy. The person who leaves not just the Catholic Church but who abandons Christ Himself is materially an apostate. He is formally an apostate through willful, and therefore culpable, repudiation of the Christian faith.”
Thus a Catholic who becomes a Protestant is an apostate according to canon law.
Contention is a good thing when it lead someone to love and truth and spur the intellect to search for it.
Pluralism leads to anarchy
This isn’t Protestant bashing. It is stating Catholic teaching. Anytime a Catholic leaves and becomes a Protestant, that is apostasy. Plain and simple.
There isn’t a single day here that goes by where the Catholic Church is NOT denounced by Protestants as a “cult.”
But it seems that many Evangelical-types resort to cult-like tactics to engage in sheep stealing.
So who is calling whom a cult.
I come from a Protestant family, so I don’t hold any personal animosity toward individual Protestants. What I reject, however, is ex-Catholics being held up as examplars of why Catholicism is wrong.
I became a Catholic for intellectual and theological reasons rather than I was sick of the PC in the ELCA.
Had I not done my own research and thought for myself with an open heart and mind, I’d probably be a proud member of the LCMS or WELS today.
We could have done without this chestnut. It is short on theology or any meaningful dialogue and long on emotion.
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