Skip to comments.From Rome to Christ
Posted on 03/09/2015 11:50:27 AM PDT by Gamecock
Not many people get the opportunity to attend seminary. In an amazing way I have attended two. The first was training for the Roman Catholic priestÂhood in Ireland and the second at a conservative Evangelical seminary in England.
Raised a Catholic . . . but not knowing God Like most boys in the Republic of Ireland in the 1980s, I was brought up a Roman Catholic. My parents taught me to live a good life, say my prayers, and attend mass every Sunday. I believed there was a God, but I didnt know him personally. I prayed as my mother taught me, but I never knew whether or not God was really listening. I attended confession monthly and did many penances. Conscious of my sinfulness, I hoped that God would accept me into heaven if I did enough good works. I tried to live the best life I could. It was like balancing the accounts, hoping that my credits (good works) would cancel my debits (sins). Zealous to please God, I was just eleven years old when I decided to become a Roman Catholic priest. I told the local priest, but he said I would have to wait until I was eighteen before I could enter the seminary.
During my teenage years I got involved in much sinful behaviour. I rebelled against God and disobeyed his commandments. I loved my sin, but I hated that miserable life and started to cry out to God. I realise now that God was working in my heart. He showed me I was a sinner. I longed to be right with him. This became the focus of my life. I knew that I needed to be saved from my sins. I went on a pilgrimage to a famous Roman Catholic shrine. I ate oatcakes, drank black tea, and crawled on my knees around the Stations of the Cross over three days to do penance for my sins. I fasted and meditated but never knew pardon for sin. I wanted to know forgiveness, but how?
Training for the priesthood At the age of nineteen, and after checking different possible organisations, I finally decided to join the Society of Missions to Africa (SMA). They are a society of priests who live together in small communities in different parts of the world, seeking to convert pagans to the Roman religion. I entered the Roman Catholic Seminary located in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. During my two years at seminary, I learned about religion and philosophy but there were no biblical studies. I attended daily mass and monthly confession but, alas, there was no teaching on forgiveness for sin. We had set times of prayer as a community morning, evening, and night. I heard many talks that were focused on pleasing God by doing charitable works and buying favour with God through the church. I also heard a lot about how to use psychology to counsel people spiritually. Not once did I hear how to be reconciled to God through Christ who alone could forgive my sins.
I began to read the Bible (a Protestant translation my parents had given to me). As I read it, I asked the priests serious questions about the religious rituals in the Roman Catholic faith, but they couldnt show me any scriptural basis whatsoever for so much of their superstition and their many traditions. I discovered that the Bible does not promote the veneration of Mary as practiced in the Roman Catholic Church. The official teaching of the Roman Church is that Mary does not necessarily answer prayers but rather intercedes on the Catholics behalf and prays for them. However, the Bible teaches that she is a sinner: in the famous Magnificat she is found praying to God her Saviour. Mary knew she had sinned and we find her rejoicing in God her Saviour, the one conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ her Lord.
I realised that rosaries and prayers to the saints have no scriptural basis. Mary is addressed in Roman Catholic prayers (eg O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee), but the Saviour teaches us to pray to the Father directly. Indeed, the Bible warns us against ritualistic prayer. This described me exactly: outwardly very holy and pious, but inwardly my heart was sinful and corrupt. Also, the Roman Church teaches its followers to pray to the saints. There is a saint for almost every circumstance, such as St Christopher for travel, St Anthony for lost property, St Martin de Porres for healing, St Joseph for the dying, St Vincent de Paul for the poor, and St Jude for lost causes. Unable to find anything in Scripture to support these things, I asked the priests many questions, and I was told that these Church traditions could not be questioned.
I was conscious of my sin and longed to have assurance of salvation. I asked the priests but I was told that we could never be sure of salvation until we died. I was instructed to attend the priest for confession, but I did not find that in Scripture either. The Bible instructs us to confess our sins to God, not to human priests. I also realised that as a priest I would have to hear peoples confessions and absolve them. I was confused. How could I forgive other peoples sins, when I did not even know forgiveness myself? I now realise that the Lord was lifting the veil from my eyes to show me that true faith and forgiveness for sin is to be found in Christ alone.
Eventually, I left the Roman seminary in 1995. The Society had decided that I was not suitable, but the Lord, through his Word, had shown me the errors of Rome and that I shouldnt continue training for the priesthood. I had entered the seminary thinking that I would find Gods answer to my sins. When I left, I thought that I had finished with God but he hadnt finished with me! Over the next two years I lived in Dublin and continued my search for God. I went to various Protestant churches and also met people from different cults. One cult told me that if I was to be baptized again, then I would be born again. This sounded too much like the Roman Church and its teaching of justification by works, so I had nothing more to do with them.
Going to England I went to London in preparation for nursing studies. On the first night I met a man who told me how I could know forgiveness for sin. He gave me a leaflet that emphasized the need to trust in Jesus Christ alone. I read this leaflet many times, but still had no peace with God. Although well physically, I became very depressed spiritually.
I knew that I was condemned if I was not converted. The Bible told me that if I did not believe then the wrath of God abode upon me. Then I read There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1). This was a constant challenge to me. I was alone in a huge city with no one to turn to for spiritual help. How my heart yearned to be right with God.
While pursuing my nursing studies, I met some students who seemed to know God. I attended their church where the Bible was central to the whole service. The sermon was preached from the Bible that was something completely new to me. Deep down I knew these people were genuine Christians. I asked many questions and started to attend the church regularly. About this time, a small Christian group was meeting in my halls of residence. I went along aiming to disrupt the meetings, but slowly began to be drawn to Christ. I saw that they had something that I didnt have peace with God and a real love for Christ. They knew the reality of Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). One of them gave me J. I. Packers book, Knowing God. I read the book and saw that I too could know God in a personal way.
My conversion One Sunday morning, 8th February 1998, I was listening to a sermon from Luke 10:30-37 about the Good Samaritan. The preacher spoke of Jesus Christ being like the Good Samaritan coming to help us in our wretched sinful state while revealing that the Holy Spirit gives new life to lost sinners. He also urged the listeners to repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness. I called upon Jesus Christ to save me, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13). There and then, I knelt down in my room and prayed, O God, I know that you have sent your Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. Will you save me? I trust in Christ alone and ask that you would come into my life by the power of your Holy Spirit and make me new. I felt a huge weight of guilt and sin taken from my heart. As soon as I opened my eyes a deep sense of peace came over me. At that moment I knew that I was a Christian and truly forgiven of all my sins. The Bible became the living Word of God and he was speaking to me as I read. I realised that we are not saved by works but by grace, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8,9). I was baptised in London as a believer in September 1998. After my baptism I struggled with temptations and trials, but the Lord was my constant refuge: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble(Psa. 46:1).
My life as a Christian On my first visit back to Ireland, I did not know of a Christian church, so I went to mass with my parents. I realised the priest was re-enacting a sacrifice that was accomplished once and for all on the cross of Calvary (Heb. 9:26; 1 Pet. 3:18). For this reason, I couldnt attend the Roman Catholic mass any longer. As a young Irish man, swearing was second nature to me. Very soon after my conversion this dried up. Worldly pursuits like drinking in pubs and going to nightclubs ceased. Prayer and communion with God became a whole new area of experience. I had learned formal rote prayer as a young boy, but now I began truly to pray from my heart. This is still an amazing experience to me: to be able to lift my heart to God as my Father and know that he is listening and will answer my prayers according to his will.
My family were upset that I had left the Roman Catholic faith. At first they thought it was another religious phase I was going through, but they soon realised that this was different. However, the Lord gave me opportunities to share the true gospel with them. About a year later my youngest brother was converted. What joy filled my heart!
Since my conversion, the Lord has taught me so much from his Word. I am especially thankful to one man from the church in London who helped me to study the Bible. We did a complete overview of the Scriptures together, as well as an in-depth study of the doctrines of grace (Calvinism). The glorious truth that God is sovereign in salvation and reaches out in mercy to sinners is truly humbling and amazing. That God, the Creator and Sustainer of the world, should call wretched sinners to himself illustrates his grace. What a joyful day it will be when all his people are united with him in heaven.
Christian service and ministry About a year after my conversion I was seeking the Lord about serving him. One Lords Day evening after the service I was praying to the Lord asking him where he wanted me to serve. I read 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 and was profoundly challenged. I had never studied this portion of Gods Word before. It was impressed on me that this was how the Lord wanted me to serve him to preach the Word. I graduated and worked for a year in the National Treatment Centre for Alcohol and Drugs. Some of the patients were hardened criminals; others were involved in sordid areas of society due to their addictions. I realised the psychological treatment was not dealing with their real problem: their unpardoned sin. I couldnt witness openly to the patients but some enquired what kept me through the difficult times in my life. I told them that it was my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were amazed. Both my houseÂmate and a Roman Catholic friend were converted and baptised during this time. It was a great privilege to see the Lord use even me to win sinners to Christ. I conducted a Bible Study in Colossians with some Jehovahs Witnesses. They began to seek Christ but their leaders visited and put an end to it. I pray for these people, that the Lord would open their eyes to his truth. As I taught young boys in a Crusaders Class I soon realized that children can be taught the deep truths of Scripture in a simple, understandable way.
The Lord opened up the way for me to study at London Theological Seminary. The lasting memories of my time there are of the nightly prayer meetings with fellow students and the godly men who taught us theology and prepared us for the ministry.
Aren’t you done yet? I’m so sick of the constant barrage. I’ve quit posting to your threads because of the sickening and unchristian vitriol toward the Church. Don’t bother replying to me... my abstention from your obnoxious threads will continue after this post.
Good day and may God bless you.
I don’t understand you ... that is a Christ centered essay
Im so sick of the constant barrage.
Are you sick of Roman Catholic posting inflammatory threads aimed at Protestants?
Ive quit posting to your threads because of the sickening and unchristian vitriol toward the Church.
And yet here you are!
Dont bother replying to me...
Once you stop posting to me I will reciprocate.
my abstention from your obnoxious threads will continue after this post.
Have yet to see any abstention on your part.
That is enough to throw many into a hissy fit.
Heap coals of kindness
I am a Catholic and I practice my faith and attend Mass every week. You are quite correct in some of your observations. For example, no where is it written that you must confess your sins to a priest. They should be confessed through prayer directly to God. I’ve noticed over the years that more and more Catholics seem to agree and fewer and fewer go to confession on a regular basis anymore. While some people may be comfortable confessing their sins to a priest-—and that’s fine with me, in actual practice, fewer and fewer people actually do these days.
There are number of Catholic practices that have little or no basis in the Bible or the Gospels. A classic example is the practice of compulsory clerical celibacy. Many would be surprised to learn that this practice was institutionalized much later in Church history than is commonly believed. For the first ten centuries of Church history most priests and bishops and good number of the early popes were in fact married men. Compulsory clerical celibacy was established in the Middle Ages primarily to confront corruption within the clergy, specifically simony and nepotism. The current Pope has correctly observed that the policy of compulsory clerical celibacy was introduced many centuries after the founding of the Church, and he is also stated (correctly) that the policy is a discipline, not a doctrine or a dogma of the Church and that the policy is subject to change.
Other Catholic ideas and doctrines came about much later. Take the idea that Mary herself was born of an immaculate conception, an idea which has no scriptural basis. This theory was institutionalized in the late 19th Century by Pope Pius IX, the same Pontiff, who btw instituted another questionable doctrine, the idea of papal infallibility, an idea which is perfectly authoritarian and absurd.
I love my Church and practice my faith. But I have long ago accepted the fact that the Church is far from perfect and is sometimes subject to error, certainly not free of sin and horrible misjudgment over the centuries. Then again this can be said of just about any human created institution. The Catholic Church remains an inviting target perhaps because it is the world’s oldest Christian institution and has therefore had more time to make more mistakes. And of course the Church was very powerful for many centuries and was the glue that held Europe together for many centuries.
As for me, although I will be accused of sola scriptura by some of my fellow Catholics, I believe the basis, the way, and the Truth, rests primarily with the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and the Gospels. I try to stay as close to that as possible without being diverted in a thousand different directions and getting bogged down in the minutia of rituals, rules, and regulations.
That's correct - at the Mass we are present at THE sacrifice of the Lamb. Not a repeat. Not an echo.
These 'journey pieces' are all of a kind. They weave a tale that artfully touches on every conceivable Protestant hangup and misconception in an effort at polemic.
But this is true about Christ's sacrifice: it is once and for all.
Let's expound on this, and try to rescue something from this formulaic attack-post.
At the Mass we are at Calvary. We are at the Last Supper. We are in the Garden of the Resurrection. We are not present at a recreation, but at the actual event: once and for all.
God is not bound by Time and Space, and neither are His sacraments. At the Mass we are really and truly at the Last Supper. We are present at His Passion - not an echo, not a repeat performance, but at The Passion.
He bids us eat His Body and drink His Blood. His life, His death and resurrection - the most important events that every were or ever could be - are waiting for us at Mass. Indeed, He is waiting for us, truly present in His Body in every Catholic Church!
This week, step into a Church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. He is waiting for you - for us! - with such love, such unfathomable mercy.
I think in any local protestant, orthodox, or catholic body of Christian worship, you’ll have some who ‘get it” and are saved and some who never were!
Same here. Later, they thought I was different, and I was.
Just to remind the thread about the institution of the Eucharist, and to show its provenance in the early Church.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
If any corroborating evidence were needed, St Paul speaks about the Eucharist in Corinthians.
And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
Which I quote at length because it shows that the Eucharist was celebrated in the extremely early Church.
Christ commanded us to eat His Body and drink His Blood: He also commanded us to re-enact the Eucharist.
It is fun to dress up and play pretend, isn't it?
Now this is just shameful. You've likened Christ's Sacrifice on the cross - the sacrifice of the Lamb reenacted faithfully by His Church - to a pretence; to a game of dress-up.
But even as you pour scorn upon Christ's words at the Last Supper you are echoing part of His Passion. The soldiers literally played dress-up with Christ: they crowned Him with thorns and clothed Him in garments of derison.
For example, no where is it written that you must confess your sins to a priest.
The sacrament of Penance is the way which God has chosen to administer forgiveness. Jesus exercised the power to forgive sins "that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mt 8:6). And Jesus to the Apostles in Jn 20:21-23 reads: "... As the Father has sent Me, so I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Note that this power bestowed upon the Apostles is different than the power previously given St Peter of binding and loosing, which is the broad power in matters of faith and morals; this power is specific to sin. Knowing that the Apostles, mere men, were incapable of handling such a responsibility on their own power, Jesus Christ gave them a special communication with the Holy Spirit for this special work. In all of the Bible, there are only two instances where God breathed on man, the other was when He gave man a living soul in Gen 2:7 - thus emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of Penance. And as this power was bestowed upon the Apostles, it was to be inherited by their successors, continuing His presence throughout time (Mt 28:19-20). Yes, Jesus is the one Mediator, but that does not deny Him from choosing others to assist Him in his work.
St Paul, in the name of Jesus, exercised the power of binding and loosing from sin and the effects of sin in the case of the incestuous Corinthian. In 1 Cor 3, St Paul says: "I have already judged him that hath done so"; and in 2 Cor 2:10, St Paul justifies his forgiveness of the repentant man by saying "If I have pardoned anything, I have done it in the person of Christ". Further, in 2 Cor 5:18, St Paul writes: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation". And in 2 Cor 5:20, St Paul confirms "So we are ambassadors for Christ."
By sin, it was God that was offended; and God set down the conditions for forgiveness. You cannot insist of God that He forgive your sins on your own conditions. And Jesus Christ did not bestow the power and responsibility to forgive sins to the Apostles and their successors knowing that all one needed to do was to seek forgiveness through prayer. The Church does not deny that sins will be forgiven via prayer directly to God, given of course that there's true repentance coupled with firm resolution to avoid this sin in the future. However, the only way we can be sure of proper disposition of the forgiveness of sin with absolute certainty is via the means established by Christ - the sacrament of Penance.
Take the idea that Mary herself was born of an immaculate conception, an idea which has no scriptural basis.
There are four people in Scripture who were born immaculately (not under Original Sin)... Adam, Eve, Mary and Jesus. Adam and Eve should be obvious as they had not yet committed sin before they were formed. Christ should be obvious as He was the unblemished Lamb of God. He was also the new Adam (1 Cor 15:45). Mary was the new Eve. Here is a link to a good discussion what it all means and why it is necessary: http://www.stpeterslist.com/682/6-biblical-reasons-mary-is-the-new-eve/.
This theory was institutionalized in the late 19th Century by Pope Pius IX...
Wrong. This idea was known from the beginnings of the Church. Pope Pius IX simply formalized it as doctrine. St Irenaeus wrote of the parallels between Eve and Mary and used general terms for Mary such as "holy", "most pure", "intact", "immaculate" as early as the latter part of the Second Century. Naming the doctrine (before it was doctrine) is shown by St Augustine of Hippo around 400 AD. It was a doctrine known by the Church but not specifically codified until Pope Pius IX.
... the same Pontiff, who btw instituted another questionable doctrine, the idea of papal infallibility, an idea which is perfectly authoritarian and absurd.
What is absurd is that this doctrine should appear overnight by Pope Pius IX. You do understand that the authority of the Pope was one of the main points of contention in the Great Schism of 1054, right? The doctrine was defined dogmatically at the First Vatican Council of 1870. As above, it was a doctrine known by the Church but only then codified directly. Papal infallibilty is a very limited function that applies to a very specific method of declaring doctrines or dogmas of the Catholic Church. The concept has nothing at all to do with the personal opinions or activities of any pope.
Throughout the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church, there have been fewer than 7 infallible statements (beginning in 449 AD). The Pope occupies the "chair" of St Peter, who Christ granted the authority to bind and loose both on Earth and in Heaven ... regardless of the faults or failings of the man who happens to occupy that chair, at any given time.
I believe the basis, the way, and the Truth, rests primarily with the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and the Gospels.
Yet it is Scripture Which proclaims the authority of the Church. There is the authority of the Prime Minister invested in St Peter (Isaiah 22; Matt 16:18). There is the authority given to baptize and teach (Matt 28:19). There is the authority to forgive sins (John 20:21:23). There is the authority to decide conflicts and excommunicate members (Matt 18:17). When Scripture points to the "pillar and bullwark of the truth", It points to the Church (1 Tim 3:15). There is so much that the Church has been commissioned to do that a book can't do on its own. The Church is the Body of Christ and is necessary in its own right in the economy of God. Her proclamations and practices may not contradict Scripture but She does have the authority to teach what She is taught through the Spirit which illuminates more than what was written (John 21:25; 2 Thess 2:15; 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Cor 11:2)
Jesus is the Word of God. We worship Him in Word, in Spirit, and in Flesh in the realization of the Eucharist. We do not limit Him to a canon composed nearly 2000 years ago. Christ promised to send the Paraclete Who would teach us all things. It stands to reason, then, (and God does appeal to our reason) that this Church which is guided by the Spirit would be guided in an unfolding revelation that has not ceased. If the Church was given authority in Heaven and Earth to bind and loose then the Church was given authority to develop and define doctrine for the faithful which is true in all places, in all times. As we pray in the Nicene Creed: "We believe in One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church." There is only one Church which can credibly lay claim to all four.
I pray that I have not made any errors in my explanations here. I simply pray that you may understand the fullness of the Truth of the Church and not see Her simply as one option among many. May God bless you.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.