Hi any Lutheran converts here? Either to being a Catholic or from Cathoic to Lutheran. Tell your faith story
Hi. Is there a both option? I apologize in advance for a potentially long post.
I came to the Catholic Church from being a fallen away Baptist. I met my wife near the end of high school, we started dating and were convinced we wanted to marry. She refused to become Catholic; I refused to return to the Baptist tradition, but we wanted to be part of the same faith tradition. While we were talking about this, I started drifting into a very legalistic (mis)understanding of Catholicism, due to the influence of traditionalist websites and Michael Voris’ project.
Over time, my then-girlfriend’s objections started to nag at me, and I found myself compromising with her. I hopped around quite a bit, first to Orthodoxy, where I became a catechumen but never actually converted, and then to Lutheranism, trying to find somewhere where she would be willing to accept things. In the process of looking into Lutheranism, I became convinced of the Lutheran position, though I never bothered to compare what the Reformers claimed about the Church with what the Church actually taught. It sounded accurate to my ears, especially from my legalistic misunderstanding. Compared to that, Lutheran theology felt like a breath of fresh air.
Fast forward, we were married in a Lutheran Church, and I enrolled at a Lutheran Seminary. About every year, I had some existential or theological crisis as I tried to fit new information or a new understanding in a Confessional Lutheran framework. I suppose I started to rediscover my old Catholicism after reading Tuomo Mannermaa’s Christ Present in Faith.
Unfortunately, due to a spat with a professor, my wife and I left the LCMS, and joined the ELCA. Almost two years passed, and doctors found tumors on my wife’s ovaries. The diagnosis and requisite surgery broke my faith. I raged at God for days. We had used contraception our entire marriage, because she kept saying she wasn’t ready to have kids. I’ve always wanted kids, but was willing to be patient for her sake. And that was taken from me. If I had been patient and obedient to the Church at the start, I would have at least one child now. I can’t grieve this in front of my wife without her becoming upset because I am upset about not having children. While my wife found solace in Lutheran praxis, I could not. The only solace I could find was in the Rosary, in the intercession of the Saints, in the thrice-daily Angelus.
By the intercession of St. Augustine (my Confirmation saint), St. John the Baptist (with whom I share my birthday), and the Blessed Virgin, and with the help of the kind forum members here, my major theological objections and misunderstandings slowly faded away. There are still places where I disagree, but they are not worth continued separation; I am willing to submit to the Church in those matters. I am currently seeking a radical sanation for my marriage and re-admission to the Blessed Sacrament.
Thank you @MiserereMei for your story, that is heartbreaking but inspiring.
I grew up Lutheran, but drifted away in my later teens. After experiencing the emptiness of hedonism I took my faith more seriously and began studying philosophy and history. Although I had wanted to be a devout Lutheran, after reading the Roman Confutation of the Augsburg Confession, I started comparing Lutheran and Catholic theology more directly. I admired the philosophical depth and historical consistency of the Catholic Church, as well as the teaching authority. After reading St. Thomas’s Summa Theologica I knew I had to convert. The old Catholic encyclopedia, and these forums, helped me a lot with my questions.
It’s really too bad there is no Ask an Apologist section here anymore.
I grew up as a Lutheran. Got confirmed and all. When i started work, I moved away and stopped going to church. When I wanted to get married, I contacted our pastor, who said he was surprised to hear from me. He said he’d marry us if we kept going to church for a while, and we said we would. My fiance was not Lutheran, so we had to go to a handful of meetings/classes, after which we were married and my husband was then a Lutheran. We did attend church for a year or so, got relocated, and joined a different Lutheran church in the new town. Then we drifted away from going to church, mainly because of a change in the pastor and dissension in the church.
Then I was an agnostic, really more of a deist, for decades. Sometimes I had a desire for church again, but actually attending generally left me feeling unsatisfied. There just seemed to be so much more to the Catholic church. I read a lot about it. In my older age, I realized that I really needed to join the Catholic church. They let me come in in the middle of the RCIA classes, so it was only a few months till I was confirmed in the Catholic church. It was a move that I was moving toward most of my life but just didn’t realize it till late in life. Now, all the things that I felt were missing in other churches are here in the Catholic church. I am so happy with my Catholic faith, Catholic life, and Catholic church. Took me seven decades, but I landed where I was supposed to be.
I’m not sure I count, but out of all the Protestant denominations I explored before I became Catholic, I spent the most time with and felt closest to Confessional Lutheranism. I was surprised by how close their services were to Catholic Mass. I enjoyed going there and the sermons the pastor there gave. I didn’t feel on-board enough with everything though to approach him to baptize me. I just thought that someday it would all click and then I’d ask to be baptized. It never did because I became convinced that Catholicism contained the fullness of truth.
I was raised an LCMS member in a family very active in the church.
Boys or girls in our family were absolutely prohibited from bringing a Catholic suitor home.
Even the tail of the chicken, served on Sundays (the Gospel Bird) was referred to as “the Pope’s nose”.
It was never explicitly stated in my family, but there was no pushback on the belief that the Pope was (if not THE) an Anti-Christ.
Years later, my spouse unintentionally evangelized me into the Catholic faith. And, a very dear friend who was a LCMS pastor, and devout Lutheran family members had no issues with my entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Notice I said “entering into full communion with the Catholic Church” and not “conversion”; for conversion is turning from sin towards God, and not leaving one Christian faith tradition for another.
I now am a happy Catholic, knowing I am still a sinner, and realizing (thanks to Vatican II), that my Lutheran brethren are not doomed to hell.
Even my (self-proclaimed) sainted Grandmother, who absolutely forbid us to attend a Catholic Mass, after finally attending a wedding, realized the Order of the Mass was not much different from the Order of Worship at LCMS services.
Interestingly, my dear daughter-in-law, an evangelical protestant, after attending a Catholic Mass with me and my spouse, commented, “I didn’t know Catholics believed in Jesus”…LOL…just shows both sides base their opinions on the other with misconceptions.
So, dear daughter-in-law and my son’s family are not Catholic, but they are respectful of my beliefs, and worship and glorify the Holy Trinity in their own way…and for that I praise the Lord!
Thank you for this moving post.
This is interesting
Cradle Catholic, family left the church when I was little. In college I searched for that church but never found it. I was invited to a candlelight Christmas service at a Baptist church and felt welcomed. I married a charismatic Pentecostal and joined his church. We both felt their teachings were wrong. Together we searched for God’s church. We eventually found the LCMS and it was a good introduction to a liturgical church for my hubby, the liturgical seasons (they still used vestments, altar servers, kneeled for communion, etc). But we both felt their teachings were wrong. We studied the ancient faith and tried Eastern Orthodoxy but I was confronted with denying the chair of Peter and faced a re-baptism. Nope. Nope. Nope. Never did find my cradle faith but hubby converted to Eastern Catholicism and as his spouse I transferred rites.
Kinda a Lutheran convert here. Was baptized ELCA Lutheran, because one of my parents was ex-Catholic and the other from a more evangelical Protestant background. My family switched denominations when I was young. Then in college, I became Catholic after discovering the beauty of the Church and the early Church fathers. That’s the very brief summary.
Lutheranism was my last stop from Protestantism to the RCC. …LCMS.
Very nice folks. Still receive a occasional please come back post card in the mail.
Was there maybe 6 months. Felt empty spiritually. I knew I was no longer Protestant, I was either Catholic or Orthodox and began my journey to find out which one it was. Been confirmed a few years now.
Your story is intriguing. Was there anything in seminary that stood out to you that made you feel like Lutheranism cant be the Church you were looking for? And have any of your fellow seminarians converted to the RCC and/or EO?
Though I mentioned a spat, that was just the impetus to leave the LCMS. I had started the class on the professor’s side on an issue, and by the end of the class, I railed against that same position.
This is not that spat, but it did shake my confidence in Lutheranism: One year, I wrote a paper on the doctrine of theosis in Luther for a history class. The professor of that class loved it. A systematics professor (both were teaching classes on Luther) spent 20 minutes of a 50 minute class railing against the notion that Luther taught anything approaching theosis. To the history professor, Luther was a Catholic in exile, who was pushed to certain positions by the polemics and politics of his day (this same professor chastised the class for making Reformation Day a day of celebration, when it should be a day of mourning, a common theme in the history department—another history professor explicitly said that Lutherans should regard themselves as Catholics in exile and recognize the Pope as our rightful churchly authority and work towards reconciliation with him). To the systematics professor, however, Luther was wholly Protestant and his changing theology reflected his maturing thought and had nothing to do with external forces (he also hated JDDJ and any ecumenical effort with the Catholic Church).
Normally, a difference of interpretation of Luther isn’t particularly important, but when his views are specifically referenced in the BoC, they are.
The other big issue was ecclesiology, though that was always present. The biggest weakness in Lutheran theology is, and always has been, ecclesiology. While the Scandinavian Lutherans can make a case for themselves from an Anglican or perhaps even Orthodox understanding, I do not think any other Lutheran group really can. Certainly not the Reformers themselves.
[I should note that my history professors are all marvellous. Unfortunately, it is the opinion of my last LCMS pastor that those professors keep quiet and don’t publish near as much as others in order to keep their job.]
A couple years ago, an Orthodox priest in town relayed that he was in the process of receiving a pastor at a Lutheran church in town, and an alumnus of my school, into the Orthodox Church. He also said that he regularly gets a lot of visitors and converts from students or alumni from my school, overwhelmingly those who have done most of their course work under the history faculty.
Addendum: When I was on campus more, I heard of a few alumni crossing the Tiber, but I haven’t heard any specific reports recently. Of course, I live on the opposite end of town from school and where most of my classmates live.
Thanks for the response.
I was curious about this because I have watched many journey home programs and protestant pastors would essentially say their seminaries go till about 100 AD, then they take a lunch break, come back and start talking about Luther. As if those 1400+ years in between never happened. which sparked their own interest causing them to study Church history independent of the particular university.
That certainly isn’t the case with the history department at my school. The Early Church History professor complains every term how little time he has in History I; he usually runs out of time at Augustine, and has to give a quick run-down of everything from Augustine to Nicea II. He also teaches Latin Fathers and Greek Fathers, and I think occasionally a class on Augustine and one on Chrysostom, but these haven’t been offered at times I can take them.
We actually don’t get any Luther in the History department until History III, where the class starts with Luther and takes us through to the modern world. The systematics department is entirely different, however. The ECFs were rarely mentioned in any systematics class I took.
Admittedly, though, I don’t know how things are at other Lutheran schools.
My father is a Mexican Catholic my mother’s side are strong Danish Lutherans with a devotion to Martin Luther beyond that of our veneration of saints. Every time the women in my family married men (except in Denmark) they would marry nonlutherans and either convert them or raise their children Lutheran. My great grandmother married a southern baptist converted him and raised all their kids Lutheran, my grandmother married a Russian secular Jew and raised their kids Lutheran my mother married my father who was at best a lapsed Catholic, she took control of spiritual aspects (even though Lutheranism lacked any spiritual healing for me), so I ended up being born and raised LCMS ( baptized, first communion, most of confirmation their church went down hill so I wasn’t confirmed) from a young age I realized things weren’t right and had always had a devotion to the blessed mother even as a young child. As I got older I fell out of belief, after immense suffering I gained my faith, so I went back to LCMS just as somewhere to go then I started looking into things starting at square one then going from their researching every religion literally finally deciding that Christianity was correct I knew Protestantism couldn’t be true so I began looking for the original church I looked into messianic Judaism (until I found out they were just Baptist’s with yarmulkes), I then studied Orthodoxy (oriental and Eastern) and Catholicism I loved Orthodoxy the liturgy the mysticism however I did not love the phyletism and I had a belief in the immaculate conception, the assumption, purgatory, and the primacy of peter. So I took the leap after knowing Catholicism was the orthodox way I signed up for RCIA got received at Easter vigil 2019 and have been happy ever since. (I do plan on joining the Byzantine Catholic Church and hopefully discern a vocation).
Your experience is similar to what my dad recalled about his seminary days in the 40’s in a ULCA/LCA seminary.
In fact, we learned about the martyrs and a few of the early Church Fathers when I was a kid in Sunday School.