A Catholic at Protestant Bible Studies


#1

I know Catholics are advised not to attend Protestant Bible studies.
However, my neighbor invited me to a women’s Bible study. We live in a rather isolated neighborhood outside the city limits about 8 miles and I take care of my grandkids and am lonely so I think she was trying to help me get out of the house and they have daycare for the baby. the Bible study is from a book called Seamless-the Bible as a complete story. the women are from different denominations. I can tell my neighbor has some prejudices about Catholicism. no one asked me what church I attend. it is a nice group of women. I don’t know if my neighbor told them I was Catholic, but as we broke up into our study groups today our group leader began by saying what a great man Martin Luther was and without him we might not even be reading the Bible. I don’t know if the leader was testing me to see if I would argue with her. I gulped and kept quiet. I have my own views on Martin Luther and they definitely don’t coincide with hers. Luckily, she seemed pleased with herself and moved on. Last time I was there the Crusades were brought up. I have been Catholic for 8 1/2 years so I have not been to a protestant Bible study in many years.
then Tuesday night another friend who is an ex-Catholic invited me to her Bible study which was made up of men and women of different denominations. they did ask which church I attend and I replied Catholic. the leader pulled me aside and said he might say a few things tonight that might sound like they are anti-Catholic, but they really are not. then he pulled the lady who had invited me out of the room and spoke with her. I am definitely not returning to that Bible study again.
I am enjoying the book on the Bible as a complete story and I would like to finish that one. there might be 3-4 weeks left. we have gone in 3 weeks from Genesis to 1Kings. so it moves fast.
it is awkward, but I can understand now why they advise Catholics to only attend Catholic Bible studies. the Protestants still seem to have a lot of animosity towards the Catholic church. I can only imagine how they will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that will be taking place late this year or next.
I definitely am only there to study the Bible and not convert anyone, but after being Catholic for 8 1/2 years now - there is a division for sure.


#2

If one is going to go to a Bible study, and it is with people of other denominations, then one needs to be able to politely, but clearly and correctly defend the truth. There is much distorted history, and it is not necessarily limited to one side.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend Friday Lenten suppers with both Catholics and other groups. That was hosted by the Lutherans, and bless his soul, the Lutheran pastor got up that week to say a prayer before the meal. And he just couldn’t help himself from taking a couple of potshots. I held my peace because the Catholic parish was not my parish (I worked about 80 miles from my home), and because I caught the look of the retired Episcopalian priest (who happened to be one of my bosses). The comments clearly pained him too.

Some of the “chatter” which comes up is clearly so far removed from reality that it is almost laughable. Some of it is a clear distortion, but at least is something which can at times be discussed.

Your decision may be the best; if you do not feel up to being challenged, then it is better to find another source of study.


#3

Going alone and outnumbered is not a good idea. I once went to a non-Catholic Bible study pre-conversion where the members purposely invited a Catholic man in order to try and convert him. They wouldn’t talk about it when he was present but many had been converted away themselves and thus had a special intensity about the matter. Not all who attend churches that derive from the Reformation are hostile to Rome but those that care enough to have an opinion and don’t accept the Catholic view can often be very opposed because they realize the theological issues. If and once they convert they can become very effective defenders of the Church because of this intensity.


#4

From your posts, 7 Sorrows, I thought you were a lifelong Catholic like I am.

I can understand why you want to go to Bible Study. The Holy Spirit is probably causing you to want to study the Bible more as well as your conversion years ago. I also understand you enjoy the fellowship of others at these Bible studies.

However, since you are Catholic, I would not go. Catholics and Protestants approach the Bible in vastly different ways at times and come to different conclusions. If you feel you must go, I’d get a Catholic Study Bible to read at home so you know the correct interpretation. But don’t take that one with you. It would only cause conflict.

Just be aware that in many cases, the Protestant approach to the Bible is not the Catholic approach to the Bible.

It’s too bad you live so far from your Catholic parish. Mine is about five doors down the street. We spend months discussing just on one book of the Bible!


#5

I started a Bible study myself at my workplace, a large corporation with tons of conference rooms. as employees, we were allowed to reserve a conference room over our lunch hour for any type of meeting and I took that opportunity. I am no expert on the bible but love reading, discussing and studying the Word of God with others. I was a fairly new “revert” and had been overwhelmed with love for our great gifts of the Catholic Church, especially the Bible. I invited three people that I knew who were Christians living out their faith. The word spread and we wound up with ten people who joined in. I was the only Catholic although one lady later told me she was a fallen away Catholic attending a non denominational church and could see herself returning to the Catholic church somewhere in the future. We all shared our faith background briefly and no one was critical of anyone elses worship practices. I felt it was an eye opening experience for most of the group once they realized I was a Catholic :slight_smile: Holding a bible study in neutral territory is the best idea, unless you can start one at your Catholic parish If anyone starts proselytizing or bashing my Catholic faith, it’s time to leave .


#6

I would say, without contradicting the others, hang in with your initial instinct if you can stomach it. We’re certainly allowed.

It depends how much of an issue they want to make of it. If it is dominated by a neurotic type who uses theology as a weapon of control, yes by all means put it at the bottom of your priority list.

The incident where the person took the other person aside looks a bit naff; unless it was about some completely different subject of course.

I’ve decided, for myself, to let quite a bit “go”, but often I say very loudly and confidently, “There’s quite a bit more to it than that; do you think it appropriate of me to inform you more on the subject?” and that often suffices to make them decide to not over-egg the pudding.

Another of my “ploys” is to prove myself an even better Protestant than them by citing a more solidly Scriptural Protestant authority or interpretation than they are doing (has to be done a bit casually of course). Many “Bible Christians” aren’t really. I think their tomes have hundreds of blankly printed pages.

I don’t know where I’d be without my strange Protestant friends. God does send life-savers if one asks - even (ugh) Samaritans!

In addition most Protestants (and Catholics) draw on the post-1550 airbrushed “history”, whereas the realities on all sides, pre-1550, were refreshingly different.

Who hears about Erasmus of Rotterdam?

God launched His Church on hair-raising planet Earth and knowingly permitted it to go through the most dangerous events.

O God make very solid and true thirst and hunger for your Incomparable Scriptures increase exponentially among Catholics very quickly in this generation, and most especially in 7 Sorrows’ neighbourhood. Amen!


#7

I have felt Catholic most of my life, but never officially converted until 8 1/2 years ago.
You are so fortunate to be so close to your Catholic church.
My church is 12-14 miles away.
I paid $20 for the book. I suppose I could just do it at home. It is a lot of work getting the baby’s diaper bag ready for the 2 1/2 hours and seeing she has breakfast before we drop my grandson off at school, but it is also nice to have somewhere to go to socialize.
It has been eye opening though and makes me realize how I have grown as a Catholic in 8 1/2 years. I don’t feel it is my place to challenge anyone there on Catholicism vs. Protestantism. If someone asked me what Catholics believe about a specific issue I would answer, but I am the only Catholic there, so I will use it as a learning experience.


#8

God is a “terrible theologian” in what He permits Himself to work through!

That these people (sometimes) allow a Catholic to sit in their midst without (themselves) damaging the Catholic, speaks wonders for their own journey of conversion from where they were before!

:wink:


#9

in regards to the other Bible study, my friend said he asked her if I would be angry or offended if he said something that sounded anti-Catholic. we were reading from the book of Acts where Cornelius bows to Peter and Peter tells him not to bow to him because he is just a man. then he proceeded to tell about a statue in Rome - probably at the Vatican - and the toes are almost gone from people touching and kissing his feet. he might have had other things to say, but decided against it since I was there.
it makes me wonder how many protestant Bible studies are going on around the world weekly and what is being commented on incorrectly about the Pope or the Catholic church or mean spirited comments.
anyhow, I have decided not to go to this one anyway because it doesn’t fit my time schedule anyway and this leader speaks with so much authority. he started going on about some Christian holidays based on pagan holidays. it was only an hour, but a strange hour.


#10

since I was protestant for much of my life I am aware of how they are approaching the Bible, but I am also aware of how they are missing the fullness of the faith.


#11

As long as there is cake. I really believe that no one converts anyone in these situations. I would see it as a social opportunity as you are lonely. Enjoy the companionship of good women who all seek the Lord in their own way. Close your ears to silly swipes against the Faith and ask the Lord to forgive any catty comments. Enjoy any friendship offered and defend against what errors you can only in the circumstances of a guest. We can always learn from listening to new views even if we cannot agree.


#12

That, I can tell you on personal experience, is false. If you amend it to, “no one converts anyone who is solid and knowledgable in his faith in these situations,” that may be true.

When I was in college, I was a bad Catholic. I was invited to Bible studies and became a better Protestant than I had been a Catholic. I gained a lot in my walk with Christ in my sojourn in Protestant churches, but that doesn’t prevent them from being wrong when they disagree with the Church. The Holy Spirit, after 10 years or so, inspired me to return to the Church, so all’s well that ends well, but it seems presumptuous to count on that happening.

I think that 7 Sorrows, as a convert, is probably safe from this.

I agree with this advice in the current situation. I only wanted to object to the blanket statement.

–Jen


#13

:thumbsup: your advice seems very wise.


#14

My Catholic parish is 80 miles away, FSSP. Yes, there is a local parish only 10 miles away but it is so liberal that I refuse to have anything to do with it.

Personally, I would not attend a protestant study. Its bad enough with a Catholic study that is led by a self taught Catholic laity. No priest is available locally.


#15

If it’s 80 miles away, it couldn’t possibly be your parish, since your “parish” is the Catholic Church within whose “parish boundary” you happen to live. :stuck_out_tongue:

But I’m just picking at you.:dancing:

As for the main question here, I think a person who is well-informed and mature in their faith can attend a Protestant Bible study, so long as everyone is friendly and really exhibits patience and love.

But I’m not sure if I could recommend it generally. It’s wonderful to get together with Protestants and talk about love for Jesus and for God.

But it’s so much nicer to get together with other Catholics, and to build up each others faith, and to study Scripture in a manner that is consistent with Catholic doctrine.

Here’s a good article that may help you make a decision: catholic.com/magazine/articles/should-catholics-go-to-non-denominational-bible-studies


#16

thanks for the link. I know there is no chance I will become Protestant again. agreed a mature Catholic would be aware of false teachings qhereas someone lukewarm in the faith would not. I am sure that is how many have been led away from the Church. I, on the other hand, want to tell them how much they are missing!


#17

I bow to your personal experience, for which I rejoice.


#18

Senior in college now, about to graduate, and I remember freshman year, the evangelical Christians in my architecture studio invited the four practicing Catholics to meet up at a coffee shop for a Bible study, faith sharing dialogue hangout thing. It was quite nice, they’re very kind people. But let’s just say that after that meeting with one student who was, until recently, seriously discerning the priesthood, one very staunchly Catholic Mexican, and two Catholics who grew up in New Orleans (one of whom was me), only one of us ever got the invitation to come back. It wasn’t me, if you were wondering. It was the other girl from New Orleans, who was very firm in her beliefs, but probably didn’t come across as… intimidating as the rest of us. We obviously weren’t the unsaved borderline pagans he was anticipating.

For clarification, the guy considering the priesthood met his… fiance now? On an ACTS retreat and after talking to his spiritual director realized he was apparently being called to marriage after all. Him and the guy leading the Bible study became pretty good friends from what I understand, or at least were for a while.

If I’m being completely honest, Protestant Bible studies tend to make me really uncomfortable, just because of the palpable sense that they either want to convert me or get me to leave. But then, I also don’t let anything even seemingly anti-Catholic go unchallenged, so I’m probably making them just as uncomfortable.


#19

I have been Catholic for 2 years now. My wife, not so much, actually not at all. Therefore we sometimes have protestant Bible studies in my own home, and I “join in”. I become very saddened by the discussion. Firstly there is the opinion and feeling, interpreting Scripture without a framework leading it into some really strange directions. But second there is the “and thank God I am not like those Catholics”. It leaves me feeling empty inside and I mourn.


#20

I understand what you mean and I agree with the poster above you-a feeling of being uncomfortable. the first week I was there the women were friendly and welcoming. this past week I didn’t feel that. maybe an email went out among the women (there is a Catholic among us).
I just thought it strange to begin a Bible study praising Martin Luther and what a great man he was and because of him we can read the Bible. I should have said because of the Catholic church we HAVE the Bible!


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