Why Catholics Convert to Calvinism

Discussion in 'Cults & World Religions' started by dudley, Dec 23, 2009.

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  1. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Please share your testimony of faith

    There was a lot of very interesting discussions on the Post "Calvinists convert to Catholicism." Bob Howes said: I wonder what his take would be on "Why Catholics Convert to Calvinism"

    If any one goes to Google and types in conversion from Catholic to Protestant all that you see is stories of Protestants becoming Roman catholics. The Roman church does a great job of evangelizing in that manner.

    We here on the PB, with several ex roman catholics turned Protestant have an opportunity to offer our testimony.

    I have shared my faith journey story on here, the PB, on my conversion from Roman Catholicism to Reformed Protestant. I also know there are several if not many ex Roman Catholics on the PB like me who are now Reformed Protestants.

    I left the Roman catholic church in 2006 but my true conversion to Protestant was at the time I understood and accepted the Protestant doctrine of Justification. It was then I knew that I was no longer a Roman catholic but a Protestant. My conversion to the Reformed faith and the Presbyterian church followed soon after.

    I am asking other PB members who converted from Roman catholic to Reformed Protestant if they would like to share their reasons for converting. "Why Catholics Convert to Calvinism" ? I think the testimonies would be beneficial to many cradle Protestants including other visitors to the PB. There are so many testimonies of Protestant conversion to catholic but so few of Catholic conversion to Protestant. This post will lend to a different story and a very true one on the Internet.:westminster:
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  2. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    There are many Catholics who become Reformed. There are reasons these conversions don't lend themselves to the internet apologetics industry like conversions to Catholicism. For one thing, contrary to popular belief, Western conversions to Catholicism for reasons of conviction are rare. When you factor out conversions for the purpose of marriage, they are even more rare. With this in view it is important for RCC apologists to seek out and gather up conversion anecdotes.

    Like you I came to the sweetness of salvation through the understanding and belief of Justification by grace through faith.
  3. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    At the moment, my evidence being purely anecdotal. I'm aware of a standard track of conversion from the Roman church to Protestantism generally.

    It's complicated by many factors, particularly in light of what we know about the sovereignty of God, and "proving out" one's salvation through life.

    It's a sobering reality, but many people who are attracted to what God offers (but not attracted to God) give appearance of religiosity. This, of course happens in all denominations. I've observed it at chronic levels in charismatic/pentecostal communions.

    But the charismatic/pentecostal movement has been a large conduit out of the Roman church, so much so that it has been regarded by it as a major concern- not only in the USA, but in other countries as well.

    Every reformed congregation I'm aware of has a contingent of former, nominal, at least, Roman Catholics. I really don't know about the reverse situation statistically, but it seems very rare in biblical reformed communions.
  4. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Scott you are correct

    Scott, When I became a Presbyterian in 2007 I was the tenth member of the congregation who was a former roman catholic.Some were I would say nominal roman catholics but I and 5 others were at one time very devout Roman Catholics. There are also here on the PB several ex roman catholics who are like me now Reformed Protestants.

    There is in truth a great flux away from the Roman catholic church to Protestantism in the United states. 30 million people now in the US define themselves as ex roman catholics half are unafililiated with no church and 15 million like me are now Protestants. The followowing are the current statistsics from the pew Forum on Religion in The United States.

    Americans now change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once. These are among the key findings of a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. The survey documents the fluidity of religious affiliation in the U.S. and describes in detail the patterns and reasons for change.

    Catholicism has suffered the greatest net loss in the process of religious change. Many people who leave the Catholic Church do so for religious reasons; two-thirds of former Catholics who have become unaffiliated say they left the Catholic faith because they stopped believing in its teachings, as do half of former Catholics who are now Protestant. Fewer than three-in-ten former Catholics, however, say the clergy sexual abuse scandal factored into their decision to leave Catholicism.

    One-in-ten American adults is a former Catholic. Former Catholics are about evenly divided between those who have become unaffiliated and those who have become Protestant,
    The reasons for leaving Catholicism given by former Catholics who have converted to evangelical Protestantism differ in some important ways from those offered by former Catholics who have joined mainline Protestant churches.4 Most former Catholics who are now evangelical Protestants, for example, say they left Catholicism in part because they stopped believing in Catholic teachings (62%) and specifically because they were unhappy with Catholic teachings about the Bible (55%). These sentiments are expressed by far fewer converts to mainline Protestantism (20% stopped believing in Catholic teachings and 16% specifically were unhappy with Catholic teachings about the Bible), who instead are much more likely to say they left Catholicism because they married a non-Catholic (44%) or because they were dissatisfied with the priests at their parish (39%).

    However the same survey also shows that a majority of those raised protestant are still Protestant

    Eight-in-ten adults who were raised Protestant are still Protestant, and about two-thirds of this group (or 52% of all those raised Protestant) are still members of the same family of denominations (e.g. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.) in which they were raised. The other third (28% of all those raised Protestant) are now members of a new family of Protestant denominations. However, one-fifth of those raised Protestant have left Protestantism altogether; most of them are now unaffiliated (13%), with smaller numbers having become Catholic (3%) or members of other faiths (4%). This section of the report takes a closer look at the large group of people (15% of the overall population) who have changed faiths within Protestantism (e.g., those who were raised Presbyterian and are now Episcopalian, or those who were raised Methodist and are now Baptist).

    Most people who have changed faiths within Protestantism say they left their childhood faith before turning age 24 (56%). And relatively few report having changed religion as older adults. Only 22% of those changing within Protestantism say they joined their current religion after age 35.

    The numbers of Protestants having become Catholic is only (3%).
  5. Curt

    Curt Puritan Board Graduate

    I grew up in a Catholic family, made my confirmation and all that. I was never devout. I went from RC, to nothing, to Reformed.
  6. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Dudley -- I really appreciate the figures that you've provided, showing just how many people are going in each direction. I would have responded here sooner, but I've known for some time now that I'm taking membership vows at my church, and they've asked me to say a few words of testimony. I'm turning 50 this month, and so I've been around the block a few times. But here's a first draft of what I'm hoping to be able to say at church tomorrow, slightly edited:

  7. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    That is a beautiful story John. Thanks be to God.
  8. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I remember going to Mass every day except Saturday from 1st to about 3rd grade because my dad used to go to work early and he would drop us off before school started. I think the nuns needed extra time to prepare for war back then and we kids were the Nazi's. Well anywise I was devout and probably a believer from this because ONE thing I have learned from this is that God is God and could do anything He wants (already a Calvinist) and that He made me and the universe, which like David seeing the stars, I knew was pretty big. Now in the fourth grade our class (the word class reminds me of Sister Mary Elephant from Cheec and Chong) had Mrs. Furlong and a priest come in and explain the orthodox view of the Trinity. Well like a duck to water this was no problem in that though I didn't totally understand I believed. Though not taught directly to us, the bible was implied to be God's Word, so as one gets older IF one reads it one should become a "protestant" in the sense that the Solas of the reformation are quite clear to me along with all the other errors of the RC faith, perpetual virginity, grace produce works for salvation, purgatory, praying to dead saints, ect. ect. ect.

    One thing I have found to be interstiing is that I believe many "converts" were converts before they think they were.
  9. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I've known many who have walked this route and I suspect they've been taught early a deep respect for God's authority and the authority of the church, elements that are often missing in mainline protestantism. That you can freely approach this great authority must be very good news indeed!

    WAWICRUZ Puritan Board Freshman

    But then there's Peter Kreeft who converted to Roman Catholicism from Calvinism.

    I think the word "catholic" must always be qualified with "Roman", if referring to the popish cult. We, the confessionally Reformed folk, are the true catholics.
  11. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    As someone on another board said, "Protestants who become RCs are perceived as "important people", and are thus in elitistic spirit feted and made media noise about, producing the optical illusion of Prods leaving en masse for Rome, whereas the truth is rather the other way round."

    But as Dudley's post above indicated, there is a huge tide going the other way, and barely a trickle into Rome.

    WAWICRUZ Puritan Board Freshman

    Indeed, John.
  13. MMasztal

    MMasztal Puritan Board Sophomore

    I grew up in a Polish RC family? Why Polish? Well, my Dad was born in Poland and all the catholic churches in my area (3 within 1 mile) were ethnic- Polish, French and Irish. I attended RC school for 5 years and was an altar boy. I had the mass memorized in Latin and Polish- but I had no idea what I was saying. I learned that there is a God and a Trinity. That part stuck.

    I did question RC teachings when someone decided it was no longer a sin to eat meat on Friday. How about all the epople who were in hell (or purgatory) for eating meat in Friday? Did they get a papal indulgence, i.e., a get-out-of-jail-free card? I quit going to church after my parents divorced.

    When I became a Christian and started reading the Bible, I felt I had been betrayed by the RC church. It wasn't so much that my feelings were hurt, but I felt like a dodged a bullet in that if I had continued in following RC dogma, my salvation would have been questionable. RCs tend to hold strong beliefs based largely on the way the RC faith is presented vis a vis Protestant religions, so maybe RCs tend to have more of a dogmatic mindset and when presented with biblical teaching and Calvinism, which in my opinion is clearly the most biblical represntation of Christianity, they become vociferous proponents of the Reformed faith/Calvinism.
  14. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    This was very much the case for me. Betrayed, not personally, as you say, but just because it's so wrong and yet it's dogmatically portrayed as so right.
  15. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree when you said "I think the word "catholic" must always be qualified with "Roman", if referring to the popish cult. We, the confessionally Reformed folk, are the true catholics." Read my posts. I clearly use Roman catholic when referring to my former faith. It is we ,The Reformed Protestants who are the true church of Christ and the Church he founded. Calvin and the other Reformed Protestants who followed him restored the church to its uncorrupted foundation after more than 1000 years of roman popery and its false teachings and distorted Gospel. It is why I am now a Presbyterian Reformed Protestant and a Calvinist.
  16. SemperEruditio

    SemperEruditio Puritan Board Junior

    RC (72 to 88) --> Charismatic RC (88 to 90) --> Nondenom (90 to 05) --> Calvinist (05 to 07) --> Confessional Presbyterian (07 to Present)

    The Charismatics introduced my mom and I to the Bible. It was then that I discovered that I could read it. Once I was told that I could read it but that how I understood it was wrong because the RCC hadn't authorized my interpretation I left the RCC. I went Charismatic nondenom for a long time but could never really get into too much of the subjective nonsense. I was afraid I would end up back in RC because at least they had a sense of reverence for God. In 05 read Monergism.com's article on Synergism vs Monergism and essentially became a Protestant at that point. A couple years later won a scholarship to attend a Reformed conference and 9 months after that conference my wife and I joined the PCA church we're at now.

    I don't see how a RC can go to Geneva and then back to Rome. The only way is if they fail to understand the Biblical view of justification by faith alone.
  17. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I admit I have a "heart" for Roman Catholics. I had a RC education until 7th grade, I have RC friends. Many Catholics in North America, no longer attend Mass, but many do hunger for truth! Many Catholics feel robbed by their own Church, in the Second Vatican Council, as anyone here who was formerly RC or has some RC education can attest), Vatican 2 was never intended to be a "Dogmatic Council"! It was polluted by liberals :Bishops , Archbishops, to Cardinals prior to V2 there were "basic concepts" of Western Orthodox thought that EVEN Reformed and Catholic could agree upon! V2 was tragic by eroding "common element" basics of Western Orthodoxy it swept a chain from also from the"common" Judeo-Christian Ethos. This is deeply sad in that it left many Catholics "high and dry" foundering, in a haze. To compound this sadness: Many Protestants (think of your Jack Chick sorts) had said HORRID things about Catholics I mean, things that sadly (to the now torn Catholics mind, they could feel this HATE was emblematic of any and all protestant of any stripe SADLY the only "christians" making an effort to reach those leaving were Liberal Protestants and to the CREDIT of the more conservative catholics, they declined this feeling it a Protestant "remix" of which many had indeed fled in the post V2 Church. A sad time! I think of the damage done in that period done by "Fundamentalist" /J. Chick sorts and remember Francis Schaeffer :"When one enters debate, when one wishes to bring truth, one must at the first, keep in mind, the purpose is not to shatter or destroy the other person, to destroy, goes beyond being non-Christian it is not even a good fallen human "virtue." OUCH. The good news! Much healing has taken place, many good Reformed are former RCC members and as such make a good witness with care and charity. I hope we can all pray the Lord brings about those with hearts for the RC people and with the Holy Ghost, uses them to bring these searching and desperate people home to the true good and pure faith.
  18. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a wonderful story Frank. It shows that God puts in the time with us, even when we're not sure what's going on.

    ---------- Post added at 08:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:59 PM ----------

    etexas, this is a good perspective.
  19. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    John, I agree with you those who have shared so far their faith journey from Rome to Geneva and from popery to Protestantism are wonderful stories. I hope more will share thier testimonies on here. As I said when i began this post " I am asking other PB members who converted from Roman catholic to Reformed Protestant if they would like to share their reasons for converting. "Why Catholics Convert to Calvinism" ? I think the testimonies would be beneficial to many cradle Protestants including other visitors to the PB. There are so many testimonies of Protestant conversion to catholic but so few of Catholic conversion to Protestant. This post will lend to a different story and a very true one on the Internet."
  20. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I hope so too.

    I word of advice to former RCs...don't be ugly to your RC friends and family. You don't have to pattern your speech and "outreach" to the harshest examples you can find even of the great saints of the past. Just because Spurgeon said something about RCism such and such a way a hundred years ago, doesn't make it profitable today. You will sound like a bigot and a fool and will have the effect of burying the Gospel under a pile of your bile. I saw it happen to many RCs while I was RC. It wasn't until I came a across principled opponents of RCism, Drs. Michael Horton, James White and R.C. Sproul, that I was able to listen to Reformed witnesses without cringing. Some of the men I encountered online were awful in their treatment of priests and even lay RCs.
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    While I find stories about how one converted to the Reformed Faith interesting and encouraging, we don't need a "PR" effort quite frankly.

    Let the Roman Catholics have their stories. They've always relied upon the sensational. They even made arguments against the Reformation to the effect of: "Where are your miracles?"

    We don't have fountains at Lourdes, mountaintops where a lady appeared at Guadalupe, and we don't have grilled cheese sandwiches with a female profile.

    The true Church of Christ has always pointed to Word and Sacrament and our confidence and our testimony ought to be that which is outside of ourselves. Certainly the stories of what Christ does for people are encouraging and edifying but, ultimately, conversion occurs sovereignly, not because of a testimony of my life, but through the means of the Word of God.
  22. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    Rich, while I agree with you that we don't need a "PR campaign," I would stress that we do need a strong educational effort that teaches Reformed believers what Rome is currently teaching. There is something very unseemly about seeing a believer respond to a 21st century Roman apologist with 16th century arguments. That's one of the reasons why I've compiled what the current sources are saying regarding the papacy.

    And we also need to alert people to the dangers of Roman apologetic methods. It's true, God will call, regenerate, adopt, justify, sanctify, and glorify whom He will, but there's something to be said for (a) knowing the enemy, (b) knowing the enemy's tactics, and (c) preparing yourself (and those around you) to counter them.

    For example, let's say that Bryan Cross (Called to Communion) was personally engaging your kid brother, trying to win him to Catholicism. Yes, word and sacrament are vital, and knowledge of our true faith is vital, but I know of a situation in which his writings very much caused a seminary-trained pastor to stop, look hard, and even become enamored with "the fullness of the Catholic faith." That is, even though he had been taught, in a very fine seminary, church history, doctrines of the Reformation, etc., this individual stopped and allowed himself to fully consider that what Rome was teaching might be true.

    It's our watch, and we need to be able to respond to things like that.
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Making doctrinal arguments is one thing - sharing personal testimonies is another. The OP asks for "conversion stories". I don't think that's where the battle is to be fought. Every religion has stories about how much better a person's life is after coming to X. Our testimony is the Person and Work of Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures.

    Also, don't be too quick to dismiss 16th Century arguments. The words and tactics may have changed slightly but the issues are not substantively different. I think the arguments need to be presented in a contemporary way but, if you read some of the issues, they're really no different in substance than they were back then.

    Quite frankly, the ease with which some people are attracted to Roman Catholicism speaks less to a poverty of apologetics than a poverty of feeding people in the Word. I was not "won over" to the Reformed faith by an apologetic argument but by being exposed to the clarity of the Gospel after 4 years in Evangelical Churches where I saw no appreciable dividing line between what they taught and what I grew up with as a Roman Catholic. A man who has a taste for the meat of the Word will never turn to the dung of Roman dogma.
  24. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    I have to agree with you that "conversion stories" have their problems. I was responding to your recent post, specifically, without keeping the "convert stories" theme in mind.

    Don't get me wrong, I have the greatest reverence for the 16th century. But many of the issues themselves have become substantively different. Someone like Mark Noll will suggest that the Reformation is over, because Rome has addressed a lot of the "surface" issues. That's why we have a raft of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" and "Joint Declaration" types of documents out there. As well, the discussions have moved to new turf. In the 16th century, for example, who knew about the "Development of Doctrine"? And yet virtually everything that Roman apologists say these days have "development" as the foundation.

    I'm going to keep on referring to that "Called to Communion" website -- virtually all of those individuals studied in Reformed seminaries. Sure, it's possible to say that they weren't well-fed. But Bryan Cross, for example, is a graduate of Covenant Seminary. It's hard to say that someone like him didn't once thoroughly understand the Word of God, but he's now among the biggest dung-flingers out there. Taylor Marshall, another one of these individuals, was quoted in Christianity Today. There's no small measure of influence there.

    I just think Rome and Roman Apologists are a huge threat to Christians today -- much larger than most people realize.
  25. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    As my friend Rich noted, this is (the OP) dealing with converts, and I have no desire to push it otherwise, I will end my thoughts and let it return to it's flow..by simply noting I agree your comments agree with my prior Post on this : I hold to what I said, your comment AND to what Rich said, my only appeal is an order of how to present our case: Rich is CORRECT in noting the horrid flaws, I only say, in what "pattern" are we to deal with them. As I say, most Catholics in North America no longer attend Mass. I know so many RC people who are hungry (I think of John Lennon's "Just Give me some Truth.) I pointed to Francis Schaeffer on not "Destroying" a person, I am sure my good Friend and Brother Rich would agree, we use balance, we give Truth, but in Love, we guide with Prayer and Scripture, to have an opening "salvo" of "You Mary/Saint worshipping Pagans." Brings a "bunker mentality" they lock up, it then is hard to present the Pure and True Gospel. I (as stated in my prior post have a heart for the RC people), I ask neither compromise nor harshness", I seek balance in reaching out, present the Gospel, without Compromise, issues like Mary can, and must be dealt with, but after the basic Truths are line out, then, question of Saints the Papacy can be dealt with, after having given the "tools" of the Pure, Right and True Gospel. That said, in respect to the intent and flow of the Thread, I lay this out as a VERY basic way of our presentation to RC individuals who call out: Just Give Me Some Truth! (Most are hurt and betrayed from the second Vatican Council , we need not hurt them, the wounds are there. Bandage them with the teaching of Grace, the elegant simplicity of the Pure Biblical Gospel. Christian duty is to bind the wounds and heal them with the Great message of the Blessed Lord's Salvation.) I than all for forbearance with me. This said, I in respect shall "bow out" and allow the intent of the OP to regain it's stated intent. (It s a wonderful Thread, thank you for starting it.) Blessing in Christ Jesus.
  26. beej6

    beej6 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I was raised RC, didn't attend any church as a younger adult, by the grace of God was brought to an independent Westminsterian church by my then-girlfriend (whom I married, now my lovely bride Teresa for the last 13 years). So like some of you: RC -> nothing -> Reformed.

    Most of my relatives are RC (Filipino); I'm not so close with them; many seem like Godly folk but sadly it's just not clear to me, for example, who I can call a spiritual brother, especially not my earthly brother who rejects God. It may be the one great failure that I will never feel I've adequately presented the Gospel to him.
  27. DeborahtheJudge

    DeborahtheJudge Puritan Board Freshman

    I grew up in a lax RC family, later heard Matt 18:12-14 at a mass and started reading the bible and investigating things in college. I found conservative catholicism attractive at first, but the blatant liberalism of V2 against the Word forced me to repent and acknowledge/submit to God's will.
  28. plandazuri

    plandazuri Puritan Board Freshman

    I grew up in a mainly CR country. I even went to a Catholic Elementary School. We were never motivated to read the Bible. The only thing we knew is that we were going to be saved by good works. During college I left the RCC and became nothing. Once married, I went to a Presbyterian Bible study class and read Ef. 2:8-9. Grace.
    I do not know anybody here in Ecuador who has gone from Protestantism to Catholisism. It works totally the other way around here....
  29. Reepicheep

    Reepicheep Puritan Board Freshman

    I posted a criticism of Pope Pius X's catechism questions/answers where he essentially discouraged people from reading and interpreting the bible for themselves. Being a former RC, I have many friends who are still Romanists. They will respond frequently to my blogposts. The Pius post generated a bunch of RC opposition. One person even ripped my chosen blog name (and PB name)- Reepicheep, I address his criticism and give a bit of my journey "out" and personal take on Roman Catholicism as it really is. So, I submit this for what it's worth in hopes it helps somebody else reading-
    My recent post on the catechism of Pope Pius X generated disagreement from several Roman Catholic readers. While we have disagreed, I have appreciated their civil discourse but hold no allusions about there being some kind of reunion between Reformed Christians and Roman Catholics. I concur with C.S. Lewis' statement from an essay he wrote-

    "As a Christian, I am very much aware that our divisions grieve the Holy Spirit and hold back the work of Christ; as a logician I realize that when two churches affirm opposing positions, these cannot be reconciled."

    I am sure future posts will generate more such discussion, though I have no real confidence anyone's mind will be changed.

    I do want to address a particularly clever response of one of the RC responders. "Reepicheep" is the namesake for my blog because he is my favorite fictional character. His loyalty to the King is ultimately what I so appreciate. Reep values loyalty to the King as paramount, it drives him. I chose Reepicheep as the name for this blog because I want to have the spirit of Reepicheep regarding King Jesus. Note how a very thoughtful Mr. Lyons responded-

    "It's about your screen name, Reepicheep (Loyal to the King). One is hard pressed, in my mind, to be loyal to Aslan without also being loyal to the kings and queens he has set over Narnia. Unless, of course, one is simply unaware of the authority provided."

    On the basis of the discussion generated by the "Pius Post", the responder was implying that I should be loyal to the "kings and queens" God has set over me/us, particularly meaning the Pope. A clever response, I have to grant him that.

    But alas, I do think any person loyal to God must be loyal to those God has put over him. I believe I am aware of the authority God provided. God is specific about who He has put over me/us-

    Psalm 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

    Luke 1:33 ...and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

    There is only one Head of the Church and it isn't a Pope, it's Jesus. To be loyal to God I must be loyal to King Jesus. The Church is only legitimately The Church when she is loyal to King Jesus and whatsoever He commanded. Claiming ancient roots, aggressively promoting spurious doctrines like Apostolic succession, and quoting medieval theologians far more than offering a sound exegesis of myriads of biblical texts doesn't make an organization The Church.

    Frankly, much of modern Roman Catholic apology reminds me of the Jews of Jesus' day with its claims of authority due to antiquity and century old traditions. Christ may be claimed as King by some of her parish names, but He's so obscured by the smells, bells, idols, rituals, Popery and pageantry that most RC's couldn't tell you the first thing about how to have a relationship with Him.

    Most of the RC's that respond to my blog are former protestants not representative of the vast mass that identifies itself as Roman Catholic. To listen to the formerly Reformed RC's you might be lulled in to thinking most RC's know some semblance of the gospel. I spent a solid 18 years as an active Roman Catholic and a large portion of my family and many friends still are, I'm telling you most are clueless regarding what it means to be justified before God.

    I know there are lots of Roman Catholic blogs that have been fired up by former protestants, mostly written to comfort each other and win more protestants to join their communion. It's all very interesting when blogged and theorized about, but as a pastor I grieve for the millions of Roman Catholics who do not trust in Christ as their Savior because they have not been given a clear exposition of what that means. I spent lots of time listening and asking questions. I wanted someone to give me answers at St. Stephen’s in Grand Island, New York. I sat faithfully every Sunday and Wednesday as a youngster thoroughly confused as to how I might be right with God. “Go to confession”, Father Snyder told me. “Attend Mass regularly” Father Judge told me. “Be sure not to miss CCD,” Father Hughes would say. When I asked too many questions I got catered off to Father Cahill’s study so he could tell me how reliable the Church was. I didn’t doubt him in the least, however asking more questions earned me a dis-invite from my CCD (confirmation) class so my mother could “work with me at home”. I wasn’t asking Reformation questions. I was asking how I could be right with God, I assure you. The answer I got was varied and confusing, but it came down to works. Do this, do that…it never ended and you could never be sure. Some here might say that’s not what the Church teaches, but I’m telling you that’s what millions hear. This ain't no straw man.

    What I wanted them to do is confirm my feelings were true- I was a sinner. Then I wanted them to tell me how to be saved from my sins. It’s possible the answer was buried in the heap of Hail Mary’s and “Our Fathers” Father O’Brien made me say at confession, but I didn’t hear it. I don’t think many do. Why wouldn’t someone just say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” in all it’s beautiful simplicity?

    Sure, some of the newly converted RC's will say that Christ is clearly taught in the Roman Catholic Church, somehow I just missed it. “I’m sorry you had such an experience Tony, but your experience shouldn’t be considered the norm”. I simply respond by saying that I meet dozens of RC's and rarely do I find one who was born and raised in the RC Church who can give any kind of cogent biblical description of the person and work of Jesus Christ. That's straight up. I think my experience is unusual only in that I kept asking questions and genuinely wanted to understand “my” religion and be faithful. Most people just shut up, take the Host each Sunday or Saturday night, and go back to their disconnected, irreligious lives immediately after.

    So, will all those who call themselves Roman Catholic but lacking clear understanding of the gospel be saved because of their trust in the Roman Catholic Church?

    I think not. No one should think so.

    If a place claiming to be "The Church" cannot make clear the gospel of God's grace it ought to look at the jungle of traditional weeds and briar's that have obstructed and choked out Christ and cut them all down. Lo, such a church needs to reform. Maybe they're not really the Church they keep telling themselves they are.

    When I read Hebrews (and Galatians for that matter), I know old Judaism is in view, but wow does it seem like Roman Catholicism could just as well be in view. As you might expect, the Westminster Confession captures my sentiments on the bible's teaching concerning the Church –

    The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.

    The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion;and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (WCF, 25.1 & 2)

    Being Reformed, especially as a former Roman Catholic is a major way I live out my loyalty to King Jesus. It wasn't a popular decision when I decided to leave Romanism. It came with a price I assure you, however, to be loyal to King Jesus I had no choice. Heck, being Reformed isn't even popular among Evangelicals, so it's not like I'm jumping on some kind of popular bandwagon in opposing Popery. I oppose Romanism as an act of loyalty to King Jesus.

    Once again, I think the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith rightly interpreted Scripture when declaring-

    There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof. (WCF 25.6)

    Matthew 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.

    So, I'll stick with Reepicheep...it's a perfect namesake.
  30. Berean

    Berean Puritan Board Doctor

    I went to an RCC elementary school through the 8th grade. I never touched a Bible, never read from one, and never saw one except for the 'big book' up on the altar from which the 'priest' read an approved selective passage that didn't threaten the RCC. My first Bible was purchased when I was out of high school, a paperback Living Bible. I was astounded what was in it when I read it cover to cover.
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