Approaching the Roman Catholic Church

It seems that the Protestant churches have an edge over us on bringing people into their churches. In order to join the RCC (2 Easters ago) I had to undergo several months of catechesis, in the RCIA program. But to join a Protestant church you basically just have to show up. Now, I understand that we want a person to understand what he or she is getting into. But what about missionary activity? Surely when the Catholic Church proselytized in the New World, they didn’t make everyone wait 6 months to be baptized. The Book of Acts has examples of people just being baptized and saved.

I think this couples with a lack of Catholic evangelism. When I was much younger and did a lot of hitchhiking and a stint in the Army, I was approached on several occasions by Baptists and other evangelicals talking to me about being saved. I don’t recall one instance of being approached by a Catholic. When I first felt the call to Christ, I was baptized in a Protestant church.

It was me who approached the Catholic Church. That was fine for me, but how many bypass us?

I know what you are saying. I know a person who came from an atheist family who grew up an atheist. She said she had a long desire to be part of the Church and none of her Christian friends (Catholics and Protestants) ever approached her until one day she took it upon herself to enter a parish, and someone approached her finally and guided her in her conversion.

RCIA and the accompanying program is necessary. The faith is complex and we already have lifelong Catholics who are poorly Catechized, why would we want to add members who are just as poorly Catechized? I find that converts, regardless of denomination, are those who are more passionate about their faith.

I think there are people out there who have that charisma to talk to someone about the faith. But I guess most Catholics feel respectful that they don’t want to prosleytize or appear to. I believe the best way to convert people is to show by example how the faith has positively affected your life, rather than approaching people and telling them they need to get baptized in your church.

=jerome_ky;7180617]It seems that the Protestant churches have an edge over us on bringing people into their churches. In order to join the RCC (2 Easters ago) I had to undergo several months of catechesis, in the RCIA program. But to join a Protestant church you basically just have to show up.

Welcome to CAF, jerome. When a non-Lutheran wishes to become Lutheran, they go through a course on Lutheran teachings, the Catechism, etc. This is a lengthy process, as well, leading to confirmation. So, perhaps this may be true of some Protestant groups, but I suspect not of Anglicans, and other older and particularly sacramental Churches.

Now, I understand that we want a person to understand what he or she is getting into. But what about missionary activity? Surely when the Catholic Church proselytized in the New World, they didn’t make everyone wait 6 months to be baptized. The Book of Acts has examples of people just being baptized and saved.

I think this couples with a lack of Catholic evangelism. When I was much younger and did a lot of hitchhiking and a stint in the Army, I was approached on several occasions by Baptists and other evangelicals talking to me about being saved. I don’t recall one instance of being approached by a Catholic. When I first felt the call to Christ, I was baptized in a Protestant church.

It was me who approached the Catholic Church. That was fine for me, but how many bypass us?

I think catechesis is critically important, and should not be neglected. I would also dispute your contention that the CC is at a disadvantage.

Jon

When I converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy, I had to be a catechumen for 1 year before becoming Orthodox. This time is critical to understanding and practicing a new faith, in particular experiencing a full annual liturgical cycle, and cannot be rushed. It also gives a potential member a chance to see if this is really for him, not to discover that after having committed himself to the Church. If someone isn’t willing to wait that long, then his interest is not as strong as it needs to be. Sometimes you need to be patient and wait for things rather than rushing into them. Membership in the Church is much like a marriage, and just as you wouldn’t marry someone after a few dates, so you shouldn’t expect to become a member after just a short time of interest.

There is another poster here with the handle “Harpazo”. He converted to Orthodoxy from Catholicism. It seemed like he had “Orthodox Catechumen” in his profile for a very long time!!

Jon

The more mainstream protestant churches don’t evangelize either. It is mostly the fundamentalists or evangelicals who approach people.

For me personally I don’t like it when someone comes up to be and asks if I am saved or do I know Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

I feel that the Holy Spirit does open the door for when we are to speak about our faith to others, but we must be open to His voice.

It might be appropriate for Catholics to put literature in peoples’ door or mailbox telling them they are most welcome to attend church at St. So and So. Unless a person is open to hearing about the faith, they will just turn you off. We are to live the life of good Christians and hopefully others will want to follow our example and ask us what they can do to have the peace and charity towards others.

I know a few fundamentalists and find their views very strange. They listen to their pastors or another minister within their churches and some of the ideas they are told are actually harmful to the person. My friend belongs to a mega church and she was told that Satan took her husband’s life, after he died of a torn artery. Also by another that because she didn’t have another faith he died. What a horrible guilt trip has been laid on her. Still she buys into this stuff. To me it is very sad, I am sure that not all these churches teach such doctrines, but some do. To me some are like a cult and just as my friend does they don’t question what they are told.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette

“Surely when the Catholic Church proselytized in the New World, they didn’t make everyone wait 6 months to be baptized.”

In the Early Church, catechesis often took longer than a year. Christians and Christian converts were hiding in the catecombs to escape persecution by the Roman Empire.

Protestant denominations, unlike the Early Church, haven’t held to transubstantiation of the Eucharist.

This is my second year as an RCIA sponsor and I learn something of value at each class.

For you to approach the Catholic Church somewhere a seed was planted. So it is with others. God knows who is sheep are and His sheep hear His voice.

Peace be with you:)

I agree with this point of view. I think the Church nowadays makes it too complicated to join, or to receive the sacraments. In my own case, I’m having trouble arranging for my confirmation as an adult because I’m missing my certificate of baptism. I don’t see why they can’t just take my word that I’ve been baptized. After all, what would be the point of lying about something like that?

Also, I’ve heard many stories about Protestant converts who had to go through RCIA even though they might have doctorates in theology. It seems to me that if anyone shows up at a parish wishing to become Catholic, they should be able to do so immediately as long a priest speaks to them and makes sure they understand and accept the basic beliefs of Christianity as taught by the Church.

I believe their may be special circumstances for pastors and religious who convert to the Catholic faith, but for the laity a discernment must take place. In the Church’s eyes each ones soul deserves speacial attention and instruction before entering the kingdom of God.

Peace be with you

One basic rule about Protestants: you cannot generalize about them because there is such a variety of views.

But I can and will generalize about Calvinist Protestants–basically everyone except Lutherans, non-Sydney Anglicans and Methodists.

Calvinists are the originators of easy-believe salvation. They believe that the sinner is either predestined to salvation and therefore doesn’t need to do anything, or else has only to say an incantation such as the Sinner’s Prayer in order to be saved. Since there is no way to foul this up, the reasoning goes, why have catechesis? That’s why they don’t have any sort of appreciable religious education beyond Sunday School and (very selective) Bible study; if they did, they would realize that they have been sold an unbiblical gospel.

[BIBLEDRB]James 2:22-24[/BIBLEDRB]

Cat Herder, your first statement…stick to it about calvinist protestants. Presbyterian Church of America…very conservative and very calvinist. They study the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Confession of Faith. The PCA Church I almost joined, the process was 6 months of intense study, using the above resources and then an examination by the elders of the the session. You don’t pass, you don’t get in as a full member. While I attended the Reformed Theological Seminary, I met many other presbyterian calvinist from the many splintered groups (OPC for one) who would not fit you description of calvinist.

Most calvinist I know hate the idea of a sinners prayer, would stone a minister who held an altar call, worry if they are saved or not for only God can judge (Sovereignty of God doctrine) and would be appalled if told they hold to easy believe salvation. Please read their catechisms and confession, while they do hold to predestination, they do not hold to a free ride. What you are describing are evangelicals and mega church types who calvinist call arminians. Catholics in their mind are either pelagian or semi-pelagian.

Blessings

Fr. Mark

Fr. Mark,

Thank you for the fraternal correction. I will admit to not having read a Presbyterian catechism. I have, however, read the pertinent parts of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, which is the magnum opus of Calvinism.

Here’s what he has to say:

Hence, also, the Spirit is said to be “life because of righteousness.” But since it is his secret irrigation that makes us bud forth and produce the fruits of righteousness, he is repeatedly described as water. [rejection of the Sacraments]
… On the other hand, as he is constantly employed in subduing and destroying the vices of our concupiscence, and inflaming our hearts with the love of God and piety, he hence receives the name of Fire. In fine, he is described to us as a Fountain, whence all heavenly riches flow to us; or as the Hand by which God exerts his power, because by his divine inspiration he so breathes divine life into us, that we are no longer acted upon by ourselves, but ruled by his motion and agency, so that everything good in us is the fruit of his grace, while our own endowments without him are mere darkness of mind and perverseness of heart. … To this union alone it is owing that, in regard to us, the Savior has not come in vain.
Christ, the internal teacher, by means of his Spirit, draw to himself those who are given him of the Father [the elect/predestined]. Therefore, as we have said that salvation is perfected in the person of Christ, so, in order to make us partakers of it, he baptizes us “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” (Luke 3:16), enlightening us into the faith of his Gospel, and so regenerating us to be new creatures. Thus cleansed from all pollution, he dedicates us as holy temples to the Lord.
Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 1

Calvin taught that all salvific operation and instruction was accomplished in secret by the Holy Spirit. Hence no need for Sacraments or external instruction. Yes, he said that teachers were necessary to maintain sound doctrine–but what he had in mind by “sound doctrine” was simply the proclamation of the above (which makes no real difference in who is saved under Calvinist theology—and this is probably why all the Calvinism-derived Evangelical churches did away with the academia you described).

This is what I am trying to get at, and I apologize if I was too obtuse about it.

I don’t think it is an issue of belief or disbelief, I agree I can’t see anyone possibly lying about that. You’ve gone through all that to join, you clearly believe, and then you have confession before officially joining, no one is going to lie to get through the process, and if they are probably lying when they make the confession of the faith. However, one might be unaware or themselves think one thing regarding their baptism when another is true. I remember my priest making the comment when I was joining the Orthodox Church that it has reached the point where a baptism date is almost as important as where one was baptised in figuring out if it was a real baptism. Generally speaking, if baptism is an issue it is because people were young enough that they don’t remember their own baptism, that is their “knowledge” of their own baptism is incomplete. I take it as a given that I was baptised as a child in the Anglican Church, but I have no recollection of the event.

Also, I’ve heard many stories about Protestant converts who had to go through RCIA even though they might have doctorates in theology. It seems to me that if anyone shows up at a parish wishing to become Catholic, they should be able to do so immediately as long a priest speaks to them and makes sure they understand and accept the basic beliefs of Christianity as taught by the Church.

A doctorate is very specialized, and a person can have a doctorate in something, for example Reform Theology, and have minimal idea of what the Catholic Church teaches. A PhD does not mean full knowledge of everything in the related areas.

Couple of comments…I had a powerful conversion experience in Aug.73. One day I was apart from Christ and the next day was part of His church…Just like Peter’s first evangelistic service where three thousand became part of the church that day…It just took a few verses from a tract for the Holy Spirit to show me of my sin and need for Christ…I went to an evangelistic service with the same girl who gave me the tract…I came away from that repentance/trusting in Christ feeling like a ton of weight came off me…I felt washed and cleaned…I was so full of joy I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…This went on for hours…That was like 37 years ago and I still have a burning passion for Christ…Within the week I was plugged into church and getting into the scriptures…I got plugged into a bible study run by some really spiritually mature believers which really set my faith on fire…With in the month my coworker/druggy friend had the same experience and our coworkers in the office couldn’t understand what happened…We started telling people about Jesus and how He changed our lives…We both are still steadily plugging along being ready in season and out to share the hope that lies within me…I literally passed out hundreds of tracts over the years and do to this day even include them in bills…That has opened doors to share more or tell me where to go…I will only find out on the other side who’s lives were changed by them…As for the OP, I have been approached by many people over the years inquiring of my faith but they have been either regular bible christians, JW’s or mormon’s but never a catholic or orthodox…Your first pope Peter just gave a simple message about Jesus…It only takes them hearing a few verses for the Holy Spirit to start work…

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Right, but He said that if you believe in Him you will keep His commandments. Among them are the Sacraments.

[BIBLEDRB]John 14:1-15[/BIBLEDRB]

Amen. Jn 10:14, 16 God knows His sheep and He has other sheep not of this fold.

From my corrspondence with a few non-Catholic churches in my area…

UCC requests/encourages potential members to take classes. They must meet with the pastor prior to their profession and membership.

TEC requires a 6 wk course prior to confirmation, or reception into the church if previously confirmed in the Catholic Church.

Disciples of Christ immerse but accept other forms of baptism as they do not re-baptize. Hense if one has previously been baptized, the only requirement is a profession of Christ Lord and Savior.

Cat Herder, I see what you believe about calvinism. Calvin did believe in Sacraments. In Book 4 Chapters 14-17 Calvin defines sacraments (uses Augustines definition) the purpose of the Sacraments (Baptism washes away sin and saves us) and the need for the sacraments (Gods grace to sustain our weakness). Now if I remember correctly Baptism and Eucharistic Supper were the two he held as given by Christ.

Now in the reformed or Presbyterian faith there are at least two schools of thought. Those that hold to a convental faith almost a mirror of Calvin, called Federal Theology or Auburn Ave Theology. And those Presbyterians that have move more away from Calvins teaching.
Most of presbyterian theology does not come so much from Calvin as Beza and then later Purtians like Bunyon and more moderns like Kyhper.

The evangelical churches I think you are talking about rejected Calvinism starting in the early 17th century Synod of Dort timeframe. A backlash against Calvinism. Also some of the Baptists who derive themselves from the Ana-baptist (and most do not as most baptist in the States derive from the Purtians who left the Church of England) in the 16th Century rejected the sacraments. Calvin writes a good deal about them and not in a good light. As did Luther. Though they both dislike or even hated the Catholic Church, they dislike the Ana-baptist even more.

The evangelical churches we are talking about, never embraced calvinism and their theology of OSAS and easy belief were created in response to Church and Calvinistic teachings. They also rejected academia. I know some evangelical preachers who call seminary"the cemetary". But in many cases this tread is changing. Now if we want to discuss how poor much of that training is, I have first hand experience as one who survived a protestant evangelical seminary without embracing a Osteen or Warren watered down verison of Christianity lite.

Also, Calvin taught the Holy Spirit initiated the salvation process and salvation would have outward signs for people to see. Calvin also spent a great deal of time in Geneva dictating laws, regulations and catechism for the people to follow to sustain their faith.

This has been refreshing. I have not had a chance to talk about calvinism in a while. Thanks for having me knock the cobwebs off. I think I almost have it out of my system for the next 5 years!:smiley:

Fr. Mark

Just say “Yes to both questions… and I also experience his real presence in the Eucharist every Sunday!”

It blows minds and fosters conversation. :whacky:

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