Advice on Exploring Other Denominations

Hi all,

Wondering if anyone has any advice on exploring other Christian denominations, if anyone else has done it, etc? Would it be sinful to attend a worship service at another church on Sunday (of course I would also go to Mass, and I would not receive Communion at the Protestant church). Part of this has to do with just pure interest in how the liturgies and preaching are different, but also to be honest, I am discovering the last couple of months that I have some strong personal theological inclinations towards another denomination. To be more specific, I have become quite attracted to confessional Lutheranism (think Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod).
I am a lifelong Catholic (although I didn’t practice in my late high school/early college years). I’m now 24 years old and been a steady practicing Catholic for a few years now after returning to the Church … and I accept all Church teachings as an act of faith, but intellectually struggle with many of them (primarily ideas of grace, Mary, and Church authority). What I want to happen is to go a worship service at the local LCMS church, find out it is not what I think it is, and then just go on being a Catholic and practicing my faith in the one true holy and apostolic Catholic Church. But I just feel like this will continue to nag at me if I don’t at least “check it out.” Thanks in advance for any advice.

I see nothing sinful in exploring the traditions of our non-Catholic sisters and brothers. But many here tell me I’m a hell bound heretic so you may not want to take my word for it.

God bless

  1. The catholic church is not a denomination.
  2. Put all that effort into learning more about your (one true) faith instead of looking for a protestant group that you agree with.
  3. Luther had a great love for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  4. Go to adoration and pray for humility to accept authority.

That being said…I go to some family functions at a United Methodist church, and find nothing too terrible about it. Good pastor…

The problem I think is exactly what you describe…(and I paraphrase) “I don’t understand or agree, so instead of aligning myself with the church, I will align a church to myself.”

I’ve been there too to some degree but…maybe it’s a special gift God gave me…I never felt out of place in the catholic church. I knew I had to work to understand some things and pray until I understood them.

God bless you!

I would very highly discourage this, but I suppose you probably know what you’re doing. The way I see this is that it can only possibly lead you to apostasy, but I sympathize with you somewhat as I used to have similar feelings myself.

If you go to one service and don’t make it a regular habit, I don’t think it is inherently sinful.

Regarding questions about grace, I highly recommend you look into Augustinian and Thomist theology on the topic of grace and predestination. The sort of folk-Arminianism currently so popular is not the only option for Catholics.

Keep in mind too that a worship service isn’t necessarily going to reveal much about the theology of the group. Many Protestant services (especially non-liturgical ones) are centered around expressing the hard-to-pin-down ideas of “community” and “fellowship.” It’s not bad to try and encourage these, but they’re not theologically illuminating.

I would stick to reading some Protestant founders’ essays and commentaries on them, including from Catholic perspectives. It might be useful to see how far removed some/most Protestant denominations have moved from the positions of people who founded the denomination in the first place.


Exploring for what? Which denominations? What do you mean by denomination?

IMO I don’t see it being a big problem. It sounds like in your mind you are already exploring. I think learning about other faiths allow us to learn more about our own faith. That said you owe it to yourself to do as Armor of Light said – learn more about your own faith also. :thumbsup:


The Catholic Faith is a precious treasure, revealed by God. If you’re experiencing a crisis of faith, I would encourage you to study the Faith instead of putting yourself in danger of being proselatized by members of heretical sects. Yes, I know they’re nice, and the Church called them our “seperated brethren,” and God loves them, but they have it mostly wrong, and you wouldn’t be doing yourself a favor, trust me.

Exploring for what? Which denominations? What do you mean by denomination?

I suppose I am exploring for a church whose theology makes seamless sense to me, in light of the Gospels and in light of my own personal experience of living a faith in Christ. I strongly suspect that this may not be possible because of how broken my own intellect is by sin, but I feel like for me to be more confident in my Catholic faith, I may want to look at some other non-Catholic Christian churches to compare them.

As I mentioned, the denomination I am most interested in is the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

By denomination I basically mean a non-Catholic Christian group/church i.e. Protestant. And yes, I can see why using denomination in context of the Catholic Church is not totally accurate, but couldn’t think of a better way to put it. Thanks!

It is always productive to challenge your faith. Study Catholicism, Lutheran, Baptist, Episcopal, etc. All denominations. If you come back Catholic you will come back even stronger.

hmmm isn’t that kinda like saying. I love my husband, but don’t agree with him on some things. I’d like to date another guy to see if he agrees more with me, so I can dump the man who has laid down his life to be with me, cuz i dont wanna work at it!

I used to challenge every thing about the Church that I disagreed with. But I read the Saints, and documents of the Pope’s teachings. I came to discover i was chasing after Satans lies. But once I educated myself why the Church teaches what they do, each time I was converted to the truth! I have grown soooo much. You have had a few short years to develop your questions, and objections. The Church has uncovered these truths with over 4000 years of experiences, and relationship with God. She is truely wise!

Be careful. You don’t insist that God conform to YOUR BELIEFS. I’ll just go find a church that thinks like ME. That’s so egocentric, (putting your self before God). We are called to be conformed to God’s truth. That means** we are changed, and grow **in our relationship with God. Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church. He said, the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The Church is the pillar & bullwork of the truth! She has brought the Bible to the world. She holds so much wisdom, you could not learn it all in 4 life times.

Before you attend any worship service of another denomination, you should have a strong, deep understanding of the Catholic church and your faith - which it sounds like you do. I would also meet personally with your parish pastor, if possible. He may be able to provide some good counsel and perhaps even help you through the need to “explore” another denomination altogether.

IF you should decide to attend the service, you should certainly not commune, even if invited. Sadly, even some Confessional Lutheran church bodies no longer practice what they originally and/or officially preach regarding the sacrament. Any given parish may suffer from a liberal/hyper-inclusive form of pastoral care that touts “unity” and “fellowship” over sound theology. Be very wary of what you encounter.

Afterward, it may be helpful to meet again with your parish pastor to discuss what you’ve experienced. Understanding the differences and similarities between our fellow Christians *can * serve to strengthen our own faiths.

I should qualify my response by noting that I am a practicing member of the LCMS, and that I am most certainly not proselytizing or in any way encouraging you to abandon your Catholic faith on any level! Instead, please know that I’m replying to your question only as another Christian (albeit a “separated” brother) who has similarly “explored” other denominations, and as a result have become even more involved in my own (plus, I made more than a few good friends to talk theology and drink a few beers with! ;)). I sincerely apologize if I have recommended anything that my Catholic friends would not!

As a person who, in college, disregarded the advice of a priest and started exploring, and then left the Church for several years before returning, I’d say don’t go. The mindset of finding a church to fit you instead of fitting yourself to the Church is one that is easy to pick up and hard to drop. And especially at your age, wandering away puts you in the possible position of having some sort of irregular marriage situation to deal with when/if you come back, which is tough.

God has made good things out of me leaving and returning, but I still wish I hadn’t left. The best thing I learned after coming back is that when I disagree with the Church, it’s me that is wrong. (In some cases, God allowed me to “get it” and see why I had been wrong. In a couple of small other cases, I just accept it on faith.)

In theory, I’d say go for it, but through experience I have to say, skip it.


That is why you need to date before you get married. See what’s out there. But for us cradles we never had a chance to see what is out there. I think it is healthy to be curious and explore. If one has the willingness to learn and ask questions then it is good. Many don’t even ask, they just leave. Those people never give the Church a chance.

The thing you have to be careful of is that these other denominations are probably very emotion based. Meaning, you’ll go in and they’ll make SURE you have a rip roaring good time. You’ll leave feeling high and happy and you’ll think ; WOW! The holy spirit has GOT to be here! I feel great!

But these other denominations are often empty when you try to dig deeper then the mere emotional aspect.

My advice would be don’t do it. I come from a Protestant background. I found nothing but emptiness in the services of Protestant churches. Only the Catholic Mass has Christ in His entirety. Only the Catholic Church has the full truth. Why would you need anything else?

Whatever you decide, be in prayer. Always. Don’t make a decision based off how you ‘feel’. Study. Pray. Don’t stop going to Mass.

Best of luck to you!

I was Baptist before entering the Catholic Church so imagine what twists and turns at night I had over Marian concepts and the Authority of the Church. :wink:

If you go, out of respect for their closed communion - and Catholic Teaching - I would recommend you refrain from receiving Communion there. Dress modestly and be polite and remember we’re all Christian, and address the pastor as “Reverend” or “Pastor”, not “Father” if you speak with him.

Some alternate advice: If you know of a Catholic Parish that is next door to a Lutheran parish, ask the Catholic priest if they have a regular meeting where they invite each other over to discuss the similarities, differences and history in a public forum. They have one here at one of our downtown parishes. It’s very informative and both the Catholic Priest and the Lutheran Pastor are very good friends.

Thanks everyone for the responses, much appreciated.

For those that don’t know, confessional Lutheran is actually pretty similar to Catholicism in many ways. First off … it is a liturgical church, so I believe that their Sunday service would be quite similar to a Catholic Mass from my understanding of things. I am actually pretty turned off by emotion-based charismatic/pentecostal/evangelical type worship services, and have no interest or plans to go to any sort of Assemblies of God or evangelical mega-churches.

I certainly hope people don’t misread me, I like being a Catholic, I am in the Knights of Columbus, I am a pretty active member of my parish. I am a Catholic because I sincerely believe that it is the church that Jesus founded. But there is just a slight scratching in me to look into this one other denomination in particular, which from my studies seems to have some theological positions that I tend to agree with (and granted, some that I do not). I have read up on it a decent amount, and now am to the point where I want to experience it in a way that is not just on the Internet or in a book, but a real tangible experience, but must admit that I am sincerely worried that I could get rolling down a path where I would lose all that I have in the Catholic church (which I love).

On a tangentially related note, it’s always fun to look through another church’s hymnal. One can learn a lot about a particular church body’s teachings from the form their liturgy takes.

I pray that God grants you peace with your intellectual struggles, and that you grow in your catholic faith! :slight_smile:

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