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Church Is Still Attracting Converts
The Wanderer Press ^ | Paul Likoudis

Posted on 06/09/2003 3:44:48 PM PDT by NYer

A personal note: The phone rang the other day and the gentleman on the other end identified himself as Jim Anderson from the Coming Home Network. He said he had a message from an old high school friend. Who might that be, I asked, and he gave the name: Dion Berlowitz.

  Anderson told me the Coming Home Network, with which I was not familiar, helped Protestants come into the Church, and that Dion was on his way in.

  I hadn’t heard from Dion in more than a decade, even though we were best friends at Williamsville South High School, outside Buffalo, sharing several interests, including cartooning and comic books. Raised Jewish, Dion became a born-again Christian in his junior year of high school as his parents’ marriage broke up, and spent hours, days, weeks, and months trying to convert me into a Bible-believing Christian.

  In 1971, Dion went on to the University of Buffalo to study literature and I went on to Eisenhower College to study history, and our paths never crossed again until a call out of the blue came from him around 1990, when he told me he was a Presbyterian. We have had no further contact since, though I suspect and hope that will change.

  In this initial conversation, Anderson told me that so far, this year, the Coming Home Network has helped 94 Protestant ministers of various denominations, along with many other Protestants, come into the Church. Some, like Dion, are on their way in. This is the largest annual crop since the CHNetwork was founded nine years ago.

  Here, in a year in which the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world has been wracked by scandals, we do have good news indeed.

+    +    +

  What would prompt a Protestant, especially a minister with a wife and family, to leave his tradition and often his livelihood to come into the Catholic Church, especially when there are so many broken-hearted Catholics embarrassed by the past ten months of sordid revelations involving clerical sexual abuse, bishops’ resignations, episcopal cover-ups and pay-outs? Not to mention the ongoing abuse of authority by bishops to hammer the lay faithful who object to dissidents and heretics speaking in parishes and education conferences.

  "For Protestants," says Jim Anderson, "the scandals are a non-issue. Among the hundreds of people I have talked to who are thinking of coming into the Church, the scandals just aren’t an issue. Of all the people who have contacted me, only three or four have mentioned them, and that was only at my prompting.

  "To a man, these men are intellectually convinced that the Church is a divine institution established by Christ, and bishops are only human — and, besides, they say, ‘These things are going on in our own denominations — only in our denomination they are not being addressed.’

  "They see this as the Holy Spirit cleaning house. The judgment of the Lord begins with the family of God. They view the present scandals as a terrible tragedy; they want justice like everybody else. But as far as the truth of the Catholic faith is concerned, it is a non-issue. It’s sin; it needs to be addressed. And that’s it.

  "These men," he continued, "are educated people. Most have master of divinity degrees and doctorates. They are aware of the problems, but once their hearts are converted and they see the Church as Jesus Christ’s, they know Christ will keep His promise. They have experienced troubles in their own denominations, but they know that when they are in the Church, God will prevail."

  On average — based on the first ten months of this year — Anderson hears from a Protestant minister every three days who has made the decision to become Catholic.

  Most, he says, are drawn to the Church for two reasons. Either they have come to understand the dead end to which the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura leads, and they want to settle, in their own minds, the issue of authority in the Church; or they have been led to the Church by its doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and they want to receive Jesus.

  What many Protestants are coming to understand, even at a time when many Catholics and non-Catholics lament the apparent breakdown of authority in the Church, Anderson explained, is that the Church’s authority "is set by God."

  "Those who take their faith and Scripture and God seriously," he said, "see the Catholic Church as being the answer to the chaos of the Protestant condition: Sola scriptura is a dead end, is unhistorical and unworkable. They understand this and so they have a crisis of faith and they enter the Catholic Church. And this is occurring across the Protestant spectrum. A lot of people contacting the Coming Home Network are ‘higher church’ Episcopalians or Lutherans, but we do get calls also from ‘low-end’ Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Assembly of God ministers.

  "To speak, as some Catholics do, about a ‘crisis of authority’ in the Church doesn’t make a lot of sense," Anderson said. "There is a ‘crisis of obedience to authority,’ but that has always been the case, just as there has always been a ‘crisis of obedience to the authority of God’ on the part of many men and women. The authority is there, and it is working; it is just not obeyed."

The Coming Home

Support Network

  The Coming Home Network was founded in 1993 out of the experiences of several Protestant clergy and their spouses. Upon leaving their pastorates to enter the Catholic Church, these clergy and their families discovered they were not alone. To help others come into the Church — and to deal with some of the tremendous personal and professional obstacles they faced — they began the organization as a support network.

  Catholics, Anderson suggested, should understand some of the challenges these ministers face once they have made the intellectual decision to "cross over" to Rome.

  "They go through tremendous struggles. They think, ‘I’m losing my friends, my family, my community, my church, and people think I’m crazy and I’m apostatizing from Christianity.’ Often the most serious conflict is with spouses, who not only have to deal with the change of religion, but have practical problems as well, such as, ‘What about me and the children?’ ‘How are we going to survive?’ ‘What will our friends think?’ ‘Have I been following the wrong religion all my life?’

  "Most of these people have M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, and so they are not employable in the world. It’s a difficult decision for these men to give up their work, their careers, and their livelihoods. Nevertheless, 94 this year have entered, or are on their way into, the Church."

  One former minister, Anderson recalled, gave up his role as a prominent, prestigious minister for his community to work as a greeter at WalMart. For him, the blessing of being able to receive the Eucharist more than compensated for what he had to give up.

  Anderson is well-prepared for his work helping Protestants come into the Church. Reared as a Methodist, the 47-year-old Anderson became a Lutheran at 19. As a history major specializing in medieval Europe at Ohio University in Athens, he knew he was on his way into the Church.

  Three years after graduating, he entered evangelical Ashland Seminary in 1980, interested in pursuing studies in ecumenical dialog. In his freshman year, he made the decision to join the Catholic Church, and on July 25, 1981, the Feast of St. James, he was confirmed. His wife, Lynn, who entered the Church in 1983, now teaches in a Catholic school.

  Contrary to popular stereotypes, he said, the biggest roadblocks would-be converts confront are not such "hot-button" issues as contraception, papal infallibility, or women’s rights, but the Church’s doctrines concerning Mary.

  But another obstacle, he said, is "liturgical craziness."

  Many Protestants, he said, "are scandalized by the liturgical craziness. They try to get around it by seeking out a Byzantine rite, or seeking out orthodox parishes. And usually, if they come into the Church, having been good Protestants, they have church-hopped enough to have found a parish where they don’t have to deal with abuses."

  But, he added, many look beyond the abuses, because "they are attracted to Christ in the liturgy. For a lot of the converts, there are many who have intellectually convinced themselves already that they must join the Church before they ever attended Mass. And when they finally start going to Mass, often there is a culture shock, especially if they come from a small, intimate, loving Baptist church, and go into a parish of 2,000 people who aren’t particularly friendly. So there is this bit of culture shock — and that doesn’t include the shock of liturgy."

  Asked to name the leading intellectual sources Protestants are reading to find their way into the Church, Anderson named familiar names.

  "The intellectual sources are, certainly, Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Scott Hahn, and Catholic Answers.

  "But most often, it is the fathers of the Church. When Protestant ministers encounter the fathers, they realize they were lied to and betrayed, because they were taught the Protestant Reformation cleansed Christianity of the barnacles on the Barque of Peter and the Reformers recovered ancient Christianity. Then they go back and read the apostolic fathers, especially Ignatius of Antioch who is preaching the Real Presence, the authority of bishops, and all these many Catholic things, and the conclusion is the words of Jesus, who says: ‘I will be with you always.’

  "Either Jesus kept His promise, or the Church went to Hell in a hand basket after the death of St. John.

  "When they start studying the early Church fathers, they are blown out of the water."

Solid Apologetics

  The Coming Home Network’s executive director is former Presbyterian minister Marcus Grodi, who, captured the feeling and beliefs of many fellow Protestants who came into the Church in his book, Journeys Home (Queenship Publishing 1997).

  "[T]he biggest thing that opened my heart to the truth of the Catholic faith was not all the apologetic arguments that convinced me of the trustworthiness of Catholic truth, but the realization that the Catholic Church, with all of her saints and sinners, was exactly what Christ had promised.

  "The majority of complaints against the Catholic Church over the centuries have been aimed at the decisions and actions of bad Popes, or immoral clergy, or ignorant laity, or corrupt Catholic nobility, and the correct answer to this is, ‘But, of course! The Church is made up of wheat and tares, from the bottom to the top, sinners in need of grace! This is no reason to leave and form a new church, for any church made up of human beings is made up of sinners.’

  "All true conversions to the Catholic faith from any other starting point carry with them complications, primarily because this conversion must be rooted in and thereby an extension of one’s conversion and surrender to Christ. If becoming a Catholic does not involve this, I don’t believe it is a true conversion. It might be a change of convenience or even possibly for some sort of personal gain or aggrandizement.

  "But only when one recognizes or painfully discovers that to be fully a follower of Jesus Christ, and thereby have the full potential of growing in union with Him, one must also be in union with the Church He established in and through His Apostles, can one be truly converted.

  "These conversions by definition must involve some extent of leaving behind and rejecting part of what a person once held very dear. Some things can be joyfully brought along, others can be cautiously tolerated, but yet there are ideas, practices, and sometimes even relationships which must be severed.

  "It of course never means that we cease to love those we may need to leave behind, or who choose to turn their backs on us. In fact, we are called all the more to shower our now confused or indignant friends and family with the all-forgiving, all-accepting love of Christ. However, we must not let the emotional trajectories of our loving glances turn our attention off of the fullness of truth found only in union with the Catholic Church."

  For more information about the Coming Home Network, go to its web site, www.chnetwork.org, or call 740-450-1175.

 


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholicchurch; conversion; evangelicals; jews; protestants
When Protestant ministers encounter the fathers, they realize they were lied to and betrayed, because they were taught the Protestant Reformation cleansed Christianity of the barnacles on the Barque of Peter and the Reformers recovered ancient Christianity. Then they go back and read the apostolic fathers, especially Ignatius of Antioch who is preaching the Real Presence, the authority of bishops, and all these many Catholic things, and the conclusion is the words of Jesus, who says: ‘I will be with you always.’

You can watch The Journey Home, Monday night @8pm on the EWTN network. Or, you can listen to Real Audio files of previous guests here:

Journey Home

1 posted on 06/09/2003 3:44:49 PM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
 "Most of these people have M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, and so they are not employable in the world. It’s a difficult decision for these men to give up their work, their careers, and their livelihoods. Nevertheless, 94 this year have entered, or are on their way into, the Church."

  One former minister, Anderson recalled, gave up his role as a prominent, prestigious minister for his community to work as a greeter at WalMart. For him, the blessing of being able to receive the Eucharist more than compensated for what he had to give up.

Cradle catholics can truly strengthen their faith by listening to the witness of those who have struggled on their ..... journey home.

2 posted on 06/09/2003 3:52:12 PM PDT by NYer (Laudate Dominum)
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To: Alberta's Child; Aloysius; AniGrrl; Antoninus; Bellarmine; BlackElk; Canticle_of_Deborah; Dajjal; ..
PING
3 posted on 06/09/2003 4:13:23 PM PDT by Loyalist (Keeper of the Schismatic Orc Ping List. Freepmail me if you want on or off it.)
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To: NYer
**Anderson hears from a Protestant minister every three days who has made the decision to become Catholic.**

That's nearly 130 a year!

4 posted on 06/09/2003 6:45:45 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Abd the reason -----

**Most, he says, are drawn to the Church for two reasons. Either they have come to understand the dead end to which the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura leads, and they want to settle, in their own minds, the issue of authority in the Church; or they have been led to the Church by its doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and they want to receive Jesus.**

Alleluia!

5 posted on 06/09/2003 6:46:55 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Loyalist
I converted from the Proestant heresy because a holy and humble priest who loved the Blessed Mother gave a wonderful talk I attended which explained why the Immaculate Conception had to occur. This ended all doubts for me.

I had been reading the Bible and praying for a year and a half to find the true Church, and my conscience kept nagging me right from the beginning, "Go become a Catholic - they are the only ones who still celebrate the Eucharist every day like the Apostles."

Once I realized the Immaculate Conception and all the rest were true, I knew that there had to be a simple explanation for my other difficulties understanding Purgatory, the Sacrifice of the Mass (I already believed in the Real Presence), Confession, and the Pope and Infallibility. This moment illustrates for me the operation of grace upon the Baptized soul - as soon as I was ready to assent to the truth of the faith infused in me at Baptism, the grace of understanding was given, and I was ready to immediately become a Catholic. I knew the difficulties I had could be resolved if only they were properly explained - i.e. I had faith in them prior to understanding them because the faith was given by God. I should say as an aside, I never had a problem with the Assumption - it seemed implict to me in the Episcopal Collect for August 15 which plainly states God has taken Mary to Himself.

I heard the talk on a Saturday in October, and after reading a Catholic Catechism over the weekend after the talk and also the book "Catholicism and Fundementalism", asked to convert the following Tuesday and immediately entered into instruction so that I could be received the following Easter.

Birth Control was a non-issue for me, as it stated in the article. I had been horrified of the concept ever since I learned of it at age nine, when my mom explained to me why I was only ever going to have one little brother. The infallibility of the Church was relieving - no more bother about endless debates on what Christ meant to teach us and just which Protestant mini-sect was right - just look to what the Magisterium said about it. The purpose of an open mind is to close upon the nourishing truth when found.

I didn't discover liturgical nonsense until I went home that summer, since my parish in Pittsburgh was the very soberly run Cathedral, and the neareast Church, two blocks away, was Holy Spirit Byzantine.

6 posted on 06/09/2003 9:39:37 PM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Salvation
dead end to which the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura lead

I would not call the inspired word of God a dead end.

I will trust his wisdom over man's wisdom.

2Tim.3
[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

1Cor.3
[19] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

7 posted on 06/10/2003 1:42:23 AM PDT by PFKEY
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To: PFKEY
I would not call the inspired word of God a dead end.

The word itself is not a dead end; the word alone is.

" What many Protestants are coming to understand, even at a time when many Catholics and non-Catholics lament the apparent breakdown of authority in the Church, Anderson explained, is that the Church’s authority "is set by God." In other words, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world".

8 posted on 06/10/2003 2:50:09 AM PDT by NYer (Laudate Dominum)
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To: NYer; Loyalist; Salvation; Maximilian; ultima ratio; Land of the Irish
OK, try this one on for size. It is a true one all right, because I am eyewitness. I am one of those real converts.

My wife is cradle Catholic. Hardly can one fine something more classic, she was raised in the Church during German occupation in France, went to Catholic school, steeped in the teachings. As the 1960's rolled along, she drifted away, or maybe the Church drifted away from her. Happened to most of her cohorts.

I was raised protestant, mostly Presbyterian, and thought it was ok, just not answering everything, sort of like Diet Coke. In the late '60's, my wife's cousins persuaded us to take a look at the new Catholic Church. (Guitar Mass and Joan Baez look-alike.) I was shocked out of my wits, wanted to get out of this hippie place. My wife was amazed, but more polite. We simply avoided this new "Church" for years afterwards.

A decade later, I searched for a more complete "Truth", praying and trying out and finding nothing fit. My wife tried going back to what used to be her Catholic Church and kept her chin up, but remained disturbed.

The more I searched and prayed, the more I kept coming back to the Catholic Faith as the true faith. To do so meant I had to swallow my bad impressions and continue to embrace the only thing I knew as the Catholic Church. By this time we were back in France and started attending a one thousand year old church with a fine old Catholic priest, Novus Ordo. I started seriously on the road to confirmation. To me the Church I saw was little different from my old Presbyterian Church and I battled inner feelings that it was pointless to convert. Convert from what to what? Finally, inwardly I was driven to find the Faith hidden in the Catholic Church somewhere.

Note:. My desire to convert was something the parish couldn't deal with! It was a shock to the Bishop! Nobody, I mean nobody, was trying to convert TO the Catholic Church, at least to the point of confirmation!! I wound up going to visit the Bishop along with the bunch of confirmation kids, to the amazement of all including myself. We all had great fun at this anomaly.

There, we met the Bishop. We could tell because he was the guy in the sweater with the cross around his neck. He took us to the "redecorated" Basilica of St. Pius X where the inside had been cleaned out of all its old stuff, much like a train station and folding chairs served whatever use the Basilica might have. Then he answered a question from a kid who wondered why the Church was different from the one his father had described. The Bishop explained: "Think of the Church as a snake shedding its skin. Your father has been clinging to the skin but now the snake emerges from the skin and your father is simply clinging to the old skin." Great analogy. I had never thought of the Church as being a serpent before!

We also visited the seminary. It was nearly empty. A young seminarian from our parish, a conservative one at that, talked to us, explained he was about all alone in his attempts to be true to the Faith. Other rooms sported posters of famous far left heros. Just a tiny handful in this huge and once highly influencial Diocese.

Still we persisted trying to fit all this with what we both thought the True Faith to be. At one point we could stand it no longer, and by wonderful chance, came upon the large almost underground community of the traditionals. As we got to know them, old lifelong Catholics, new vibrant large families with happy well-behaved kids, we realized the Faith they shared matched what I had been searching for decades and my wife simply recognized the Faith she knew as a child.

So there you have it. I have "come home" to the Faith. But there were no "droves" coming home in this classic Catholic crucible through the Novus Ordo, just me. I came home to the Faith with the modern version of the Church as a major obstacle to pass through. For seven years now, I have been "home".

Meanwhile horrified Novus Ordo folks bombarded us constantly with polemics. I would hear such discussions constantly on French tv as well. Seemed they all were a bunch of lawyers trying to justify, to find loopholes, to find obscure canon law to explain things. Happily in our new "home" it wasn't an issue. We just worshipped and appreciated the canonized Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It has happened to me on this forum. Shucks, it is easy to out-lawyer me and bedazzle me with convolutions, with interpretations, or with even accusations. I have no great claim of expertise in nuances of theology. For that we turn to our priests. Luckily from my perspective, intelligence and knowledge of all the laws is not a prerequisite for being a good Catholic. Simple Faith is. The purest, most saintlike Catholic we know is a nearly illiterate simple old woman who wouldn't know beans about all the discussions, simply lives her Faith. She recognizes in in the traditional Catholic Church.

Other protestants have joined our bunch directly, coming straight in to the traditional Catholic Faith. Once there, none of these I know of nor the cradle Catholics are searching for any more elusive truths as we had once done. We know it when we see it. We know we are home.


Deo gratias
9 posted on 06/10/2003 5:01:42 AM PDT by 8mmMauser
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To: 8mmMauser; Salvation; Domestic Church; american colleen
So there you have it. I have "come home" to the Faith.

Thank you for sharing your faith journey with us in this forum. You are not alone in your feelings of frustration with the contemporized church. Ultimately, the seed of faith, as you have discovered, is present in the catholic church. And, it is individuals, like you, who will foster the return of a more meaningful liturgy.

May God continue to bless you on your journey!

10 posted on 06/10/2003 6:05:39 AM PDT by NYer (Laudate Dominum)
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To: Truelove
see this article.

You should write one yourself someday!
God Bless!
11 posted on 06/10/2003 6:27:12 AM PDT by MudPuppy (Semper Fidelis!)
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To: 8mmMauser; Japedo
I searched for a more complete "Truth", praying and trying out and finding nothing fit

Think you will enjoy this true story! This is the conversion story of Marty Barrack who has appeared as a guest on Journey Home.

From his web site, www.secondexodus.com ....

 

The Catholic Church alone has the complete deposit of faith. All other religious traditions have some part of Christ's deposit of faith.

Therefore, the story of a pilgrim journey from any other religious tradition to the Catholic faith is a completion story.

A transition to any non-Catholic religious tradition is a conversion.

"A Kosher Ham Finds Christ"

As Marty phrased it .....

"I told them that as a Catholic I was really a Jew who accepted Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and that I accepted His Deposit of Faith as the completion of my Jewish heritage. I told my family that where the synagogue has a tabernacle with the written Word of God in it, the Church has a tabernacle with the Word of God made Flesh. Where the synagogue places a red candle above the tabernacle representing God's protecting pillar of fire, the church tabernacle has the same. Where the Jewish home has a yahrzeit candle to remember the dead, Catholics place memorial candles in the church. The Catholic priest continues, as the Messiah instructed, the final sacrifice that the ancient Jewish priests prefigured. "

12 posted on 06/10/2003 6:58:52 AM PDT by NYer (Laudate Dominum)
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To: 8mmMauser
Thanks for this.
13 posted on 06/10/2003 11:50:20 AM PDT by ultima ratio
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To: NYer
The Journey Home is designed by Protestant converts specifically to attract Protestants. Why shouldn't it do so? The Church, under the modernist heresy, is becoming Protestant. There is scarcely a difference between the Novus Ordo and a Lutheran worship service. The wonder is that despite this there are so few converts.
14 posted on 06/10/2003 11:54:25 AM PDT by ultima ratio
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To: NYer
The Catholic Church alone has the complete deposit of faith. All other religious traditions have some part of Christ's deposit of faith.

NYer, I'm not sure why you pinged me to this "story" however, As I keep expressing and insisting, "I am Nothing at all "Christian"...
In saying that, I keep trying to explain to you that their is a Huge difference between "Faith" and "Truth".

15 posted on 06/10/2003 12:36:07 PM PDT by Japedo (Seek the Truth, Live by the Truth, Nothing Less.......)
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To: 8mmMauser; Possenti; Hermann the Cherusker
Thanks, for you heart-warming story. With the state of the Catholic Church in America today, my father's statement, 30 years ago, holds true:

"Converts to the Catholic Faith make some of the staunchest and best defenders of the One, True Church."

16 posted on 06/10/2003 5:42:11 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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To: PFKEY
I used to agree with you.

I went to a (independent) Baptist church for years, and listened to the preacher's interpretation of scripture. Whenever I visited another Baptist church, I would sometimes hear certain scriptures interpreted much differently. I would read books by other protestants (Methodists, Lutherans, etc.) and they would have extremely different views on what those same scriptures meant.

After seeing all of this disagreement among many "experts", I finally realized that there has to be some true Authority that has the definitive meaning of scripture. The Catholic Church IS that Authority. I ask that you check it out.

17 posted on 06/12/2003 3:59:09 PM PDT by Possenti
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To: Possenti
*8The Catholic Church IS that Authority. I ask that you check it out.**

BTTT!
18 posted on 06/12/2003 4:08:36 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: 8mmMauser
**Luckily from my perspective, intelligence and knowledge of all the laws is not a prerequisite for being a good Catholic. Simple Faith is.**

You have the secret! Welcome home!

What a touching story. You definitely persevered.

God bless you and your family!
19 posted on 06/12/2003 4:20:45 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Possenti
I appreciate your advice. Thanks for taking the time to offer your experiences.

I was raised in the Catholic church, attended a Catholic school from kindergarden until the 8th grade, served as an alter boy. I have many devote Catholics in my family.

Having started out from a Catholic perspective my views are greatly different from yours. I see the Catholic church as one being full of mans doctrines.
20 posted on 06/13/2003 2:16:12 AM PDT by PFKEY
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To: PFKEY
Wow. You sound like me - in reverse! Have you tried the traditional Latin Mass? I never got anything out of the modern Mass when I visited in my younger years. It seemed to be nothing more than a liberal protestant service.
21 posted on 06/14/2003 8:46:58 AM PDT by Possenti
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