Advice from Catholics on talking to Protestant Family


#1

Okay I have attempted to get some answers from the staff here, but I understand they are EXTREMELY busy, so hopefully posting here will be a little more fruitful. I had debated for months whether or not I should speak to my family, or mother in particular about the Catholic faith (and even asked in the forums how I should do it). They are all non-denominational, and so was I until about 3-4 years ago, I did not want to bring the conversation up as if I was talking down to her, or correcting her in a faith she had followed her entire life because of the life changing fullness of the Truth I had found within Catholicism. She doesn’t understand anything about the history of Christianity, and explaining it to her doesn’t get me very far. Anyway I felt like I would not by doing my duty as a Catholic if I DID NOT bring up some key points, like is the Bible alone a sole rule of faith, what is the importance of Baptism, how do we attain salvation, etc…

So after some help here in the forums, I went ahead and initiated a conversation - however, I got myself nowhere REAL quick. My mothers BELIEF in Jesus Christ is all that she feels she needs to attain salvation, nothing else matters - even though its a faith that does not urge her to follow all of Christ’s commands (like receiving the Eucharist) As a Catholic we obviously believe there is more to the equation than just faith - so my question is this, when you encounter someone who says ‘I don’t understand all of the theology, history or the complexity of what the bible says, I believe in Jesus, and thats all I know because I am simple in my faith, that is how God wants me to be, and I don’t do anything unless God tells me, and I thank him for it.’ - Thats basically a summary of her feelings - she repeats to me that the things I tell her are not importance beceause of her simplistic faith, and yet she believes strongly that a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus is all she needs. So how should we as Catholics talk to people with this perspective? Do I just draw the line, and say I did all I can? I just feel that unless I get her to see the full Truth, that I am failing in my duty to spread the total Truth of the Christian faith - at the same time, I almost feel like I am harrassing a fellow Christian… I am really confused about where to take this conversation. When you read the bible you see dozens of passages about ‘believing in Jesus Christ’ and ‘your sins are already forgiven’, and those things stand out as simple messages to the average person. To find Catholic truths in Scripture takes a little more patience, and diving into the complete details of Scripture all in context - not to mention the history of the Church as it developed outside of Scripture. I guess to sum up my question, how do we teach the Catholic faith to those who have a more simplistic view of Christian faith? I would not feel completely right about letting my mother just be…


#2

read Patrick Madrid’s Search and Rescue before attempting discussions like this with your family


#3

You are doing a wonderful thing just by continuing to try to bring her to the Truth. Sometimes, though, words aren’t enough. Perhaps actions are better suited for getting through to her. By that I mean, live the way Christ wants us to live, let her see the happiness that it has brought you, let her see the positive changes in your life. It’s possible that by seeing how you are, she might be inclined to ask you how you came to be that way and your door is opened to talking about the faith.

Not saying that it would work, but it might be worth a try. As far as talking with her, unfortunately, I’m not much help. I love to debate and sometimes get too emotional in my arguments, both of which can make it come across as talking down to the other person, which isn’t my intent.

Either way, keep up the effort, in the end it will pay off.


#4

I know a number of good people who also ascribe to this simple idea of faith and religion. And in some ways, it is what the Church teaches (“come to Me like the little children”).

But I usually can get them to at least reflect when I ask them about their “worship”- when they give God reverent praise and thanksgiving. I’m not talking about getting all inspired and on fire w/ the spirit by singing, dancing, and yelling alleluia/amen.

I also ask them about how deep is their love. They usually will express it is deep but then I talk about how you have to spend time w/ someone to really love them. How much time do they spend with Him?

I also ask them how well they KNOW Him. I talk about how you have to spend time with Him to know Him deeply and intimately, not “simply” and thus superficially.


#5

[quote=rstegeman]Not saying that it would work, but it might be worth a try. As far as talking with her, unfortunately, I’m not much help. I love to debate and sometimes get too emotional in my arguments, both of which can make it come across as talking down to the other person, which isn’t my intent.

Either way, keep up the effort, in the end it will pay off.
[/quote]

I could say the same about myself, I could see that problem happening very easily, which is why I wasn’t sure if I should keep pushing the issue, I don’t want to come across like I am forcing these things on her when she is content where she is at, that could be a turnoff probably… Thanks for your input!


#6

[quote=Orionthehunter]I know a number of good people who also ascribe to this simple idea of faith and religion. And in some ways, it is what the Church teaches (“come to Me like the little children”).

But I usually can get them to at least reflect when I ask them about their “worship”- when they give God reverent praise and thanksgiving. I’m not talking about getting all inspired and on fire w/ the spirit by singing, dancing, and yelling alleluia/amen.

I also ask them about how deep is their love. They usually will express it is deep but then I talk about how you have to spend time w/ someone to really love them. How much time do they spend with Him?

I also ask them how well they KNOW Him. I talk about how you have to spend time with Him to know Him deeply and intimately, not “simply” and thus superficially.
[/quote]

All good points, the hard thing in my situation however, is my mother DOES feel like she has a perfect relationship now, so she seems unwilling to consider anything else… she actually used the relation to being like a child with me, saying that she trusted Jesus with the faith of a little child and does not do anything in her life unless he tells her to. For me thats a little much to accept… I would not just sit in my room until Christ told me to do something, otherwise I would most likely be sitting there for a LONG time… she almost takes the free will out of her relationship with Christ, and feels that she listens and acts on what she is told through the Holy Spirit. This naturally makes me wonder, how can you decipher what is your own thought, and what is Christ speaking to your heart?.. there are passages in Scripture about being fooled by your own intentions, yet if these things are helping her live a better life, I almost feel like the antagonist by showing her Scripture that defines the need for the guidence of the Church, not just her own subjective thoughts.

I don’t know, its complicated :confused: I will take your comments to heart, thanks!

Peace


#7

[quote=theguidedheart]All good points, the hard thing in my situation however, is my mother DOES feel like she has a perfect relationship now, so she seems unwilling to consider anything else… she actually used the relation to being like a child with me, saying that she trusted Jesus with the faith of a little child and does not do anything in her life unless he tells her to. For me thats a little much to accept… I would not just sit in my room until Christ told me to do something, otherwise I would most likely be sitting there for a LONG time… she almost takes the free will out of her relationship with Christ, and feels that she listens and acts on what she is told through the Holy Spirit. This naturally makes me wonder, how can you decipher what is your own thought, and what is Christ speaking to your heart?.. there are passages in Scripture about being fooled by your own intentions, yet if these things are helping her live a better life, I almost feel like the antagonist by showing her Scripture that defines the need for the guidence of the Church, not just her own subjective thoughts.

I don’t know, its complicated :confused: I will take your comments to heart, thanks!

Peace
[/quote]

The purpose of my questions aren’t meant to cause her to become Catholic but they will help her understand what is driving you. And, they might cause her to examine what is missing in her relationship. She can’t really believe that her relationship with Christ is such that she can’t improve and grow closer to God.


#8

[quote=puzzleannie]read Patrick Madrid’s Search and Rescue before attempting discussions like this with your family
[/quote]

I will look into that, I have really liked what I have heard from Patrick Madrid on Catholic Answers… thanks!


#9

[quote=Orionthehunter] She can’t really believe that her relationship with Christ is such that she can’t improve and grow closer to God.
[/quote]

Well I get the feeling that she thinks she knows who Christ is, and although she knows that she needs work on her part, she already understands what Christ expects… at least she thinks so, and thats the feeling I get when I talk to her. This is the sort of feeling I get when I talk to alot of non-Catholics, the believe-and-be-saved road to Christ is VERY approachable, and anything else is extra, unnecessary clutter that confuses the clear message of Christ, or even misleads them off the straight line to Christ through belief alone (just look at how Catholics are portrayed by many Protestants, as decievers). So my mother, as a Protestant, and as they tend to do in my experience, are okay with leaving out of consideration ALL of the teachings in their full context when reading the Bible - once they read ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved’, it seems to be over for them and the other 80% of the bible is read only for inspiration, not for its teaching value. What my mother describes as having a personal relationship with Christ is almost so personal that its subjective, and not the Christ from Scripture. But I really do think that she believes she has the answers already and her journey in Christ is over, thats its up to her to stay strong now until the end and reject any distractions (like Catholic Truth).

Surely this is a road others have come across, especially when facing a Protestant point of view. You hear about Protestants convering to Catholicism all of the time, and in many cases, its the Protestants who REALLY did their research, who REALLY dove into the details and the history of the Church… and at that point there is no alternative but to be Catholic. But what do you do when it is a Protestant who is content where they are at, who only reads the surface material, and who can not grasp all of the dates and times, details and names, history and tradition… when all of that is too much for someone like my mother, where do you go in the conversation to share the full picture of our faith?


#10

What if you asked your mom,“What if Jesus wants to give you more? Would you want to know about it?”

After all, the Church is the FULLNESS of Christ according to God’s word:

Eph 1:22-23
*He put **all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head **over all things to **the church, ****which is His body, ****the fullness of Him who fills **all ****in all. *
**
In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:


#11

You may want to try saying something like, “Mom, I appreciate deeply how in your faith you’ve taught me about Jesus Christ, and his saving power. You’re guidence in teaching me how to love Christ is something that I will always treasure.”

Then you can gently explain to her how you’ve been studying a bit, and you want to deepen your faith, the foundation of that laid by your family, and you would like to do so in the Catholic Church. Be ready for some objections, and use the Bible to defend your position. But don’t laden it too much with heavy theology.

Whether or not her faith in Christ and being obedient to Him is something you really shouldn’t ponder upon too much. By approaching her this way, you can honor and respect her, and not look like you’re trying to convert her. When she’s ready to try and understand the Catholic faith, hopefully, you’ll be there ready to help her.

God bless you!


#12

[quote=Tonks40]You may want to try saying something like, “Mom, I appreciate deeply how in your faith you’ve taught me about Jesus Christ, and his saving power. You’re guidence in teaching me how to love Christ is something that I will always treasure.”

Then you can gently explain to her how you’ve been studying a bit, and you want to deepen your faith, the foundation of that laid by your family, and you would like to do so in the Catholic Church. Be ready for some objections, and use the Bible to defend your position. But don’t laden it too much with heavy theology.

Whether or not her faith in Christ and being obedient to Him is something you really shouldn’t ponder upon too much. By approaching her this way, you can honor and respect her, and not look like you’re trying to convert her. When she’s ready to try and understand the Catholic faith, hopefully, you’ll be there ready to help her.

God bless you!
[/quote]

Yup let her know you prefer to be a catholic by faith, also we are workshipping the same lord. Thru grace and love anything will be in humanity. Well convincing yr mom who is a protestant is not difficult, as compare to me where all my family members are buddhist are even difficult, but i know with god strength one day they will to be save…Have positive atittude, everything is possible in the name of Jesus Christ…Amen


#13

I was raised protestant and todate, my wife, our children and I are the only Catholic in my family. My Evengalcial “anti-Catholic” Sisters are always trying to “save” me from the cookie eating - idol worshipping - whore of babylon. I just ask them the following questions:
Q1) God is omnipotent - right?
A1) Right.

Q2) God controls everything - right?
A2) Right. (for any other answer go back to #1)

Q3) Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God” - right?
A3) Right (for any other answer go back to #2)

There for, I am Catholic by God’s design.

The Catholic Church is where I found God.

More times than not we “agree to disagree”. We do talk religion but not theology.

Hope this helps.


#14

You say that your mother says she doesn’t do anything unless Jesus tells her to?

Ask her how he has told her to do things in the past. Was it through reading Scripture? Only reading Scripture? Or has Jesus helped her see what way to go through people also?

Ask her to consider that Jesus is telling her what to do, through her own child. And a child shall lead them.

If it has only been through Scripture and not people, then ask her to read different Scripture and discuss it with her if she is agreeable.

God Bless,
Maria


#15

You haven’t said whether your mother has been antagonistic to your new found discovery of the Church–if not, that’s a positive thing. It sounds like she is happy where she is for right now and, if that is really the case, that’s not a totaly bad thing either. At least she is a Christian, albiet not with the fulness of the Faith, which would, of course, be better.

It is extremely hard for people to be evangelized by people they have known for a long time.This is especially true with familiy members, and painfully difficult for parents to hear from their children.

If your mother has heard your tesitimony on this, but maintains her brass wall, she just may need time–time for acceptance, time to adjust, and time to truly consider the evidence. Right now your best evangelism might be the holy practice of your Faith. If she has questions, answer them without overwhelming her. If she has objections or displays animus toward the Catholicism or your practice of it, correct her patiently.

Show her love always. If God wants her to see the light, and she is open to it, the Holy Spirit will lead her. If God thinks it best for her to stay where she is despite your best efforts, that’s up to him as well.


#16

theguidedheart:

Prayer and mortification per Jesus is the way to go.

There’s no words that we can say that can surpass the gift of illumination from God. So let Him do the work…for your part, pray and mortify yourself for the intention.

By the way, I’m so humbled by your situation…to be the only Catholic in the midst of family that remains protestant. May God grant your wishes.

in XT.


#17

[quote=happygal] Well convincing yr mom who is a protestant is not difficult, as compare to me where all my family members are buddhist are even difficult,=
[/quote]

Good point, I could have it alot worse…


#18

[quote=MariaG]You say that your mother says she doesn’t do anything unless Jesus tells her to?

Ask her to consider that Jesus is telling her what to do, through her own child. And a child shall lead them.

If it has only been through Scripture and not people, then ask her to read different Scripture and discuss it with her if she is agreeable.

God Bless,
Maria
[/quote]

Well this is the tricky part for me - she thinks that God shows her things through events, and also sometimes ‘speaks to her heart’… I am not sure what that means exactly, but it is something I hear alot in Protestant circles.

Ironically enough, I have actually pointed out to her that POSSIBLY, God IS using me to show her the Catholic faith… she didn’t really respond to that. (We talk through email).


#19

[quote=theguidedheart]Well this is the tricky part for me - she thinks that God shows her things through events, and also sometimes ‘speaks to her heart’… I am not sure what that means exactly, but it is something I hear alot in Protestant circles.

Ironically enough, I have actually pointed out to her that POSSIBLY, God IS using me to show her the Catholic faith… she didn’t really respond to that. (We talk through email).
[/quote]

What she means is that she does believe that events that happen, and people are used by God to help her grow in her faith in Christ.

Usually, an event will happen and then a person will go and read their Bible and Wham! Oh I see what you were trying to teach me Lord!
As a revert, let me share one experience that sticks in my mind.

I was thinking I should go to Church, maybe next week. My friend had invited me to her Nazarene Church. I was thinking this while driving to the bank, oh ##, I just missed my turn. (Angry nasty thoughts follow). I have to turn another place, contstruction, have to take a round about way, man am I in a hurry. BAM! I am stopped straight in front of the Nazarene Church. I “hear” God telling me that if I do not go to Church this very Sunday, He will leave me forever.

I go. Pastor gets up and says he had a different sermon planned for today but this morning God told him to give his saving Grace sermon today because someone here needed to hear it.

That day, I had a newly dedicated heart to Christ that eventually led me back to the Catholic Church.


It is the thinking that God is intimately involved in every detail in our lives and is trying to teach us through every thing.

On a smaller scale today?

I know God is trying to teach me patience. Every line I pick for shopping, etc, usually gets slowed down to a crawl because of some kind of problem. I honestly and truly believe that God is using this to help me learn patience.

Since you have brought it up, and she hasn’t responded to that, she probably thinks God is using her to lead you out of the Catholic Church eventually.

She sounds alot like me. Explaining the “nuts and bolts” of things will not be really helpful. What will be more helpful is if you share things in the form of testimony and your walk with Christ.

For example:

I know you do not necessarily believe this mom, but I am so excited about this, I still have to share it with you anyway. I was reading my Bible the other day in John. It was in John 20:21-23. I just got goose bumps. Although I do know the Catholic Church has true teachings, I read this and WoW! There it was. The sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).

It was so awesome to see it right there in the Bible.


In my opinion, this is how you will reach your mother. Sharing your faith walk with her in terms she understands.

God Bless,
Maria


#20

Thanks for your thoughts, I can understand that point of view and I think you may be right on with the last part now that you bring it up - This may be the only way she will be open to what I am showing her.

Thanks again, Peace


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.