Catholic vs Protestant Spirituality: Lets compare faith walks

Good evening, all my Protestant brothers and sisters.

In apologetics with you, we get all caught up in theology and doctrine; an endless go around that gets us nowhere.

In my Lutheran days, I struggled mightily with my sins. Deeply ingrained habits that Protestant theology couldn’t touch at all. Wasn’t one iota of help for me. I would read Sacred Scripture and more and more, the Catholic position made more sense.

Because of it, I began to pray the Rosary and that was such a good help, making me a better Christian; that Our Lady led me into the Church. I’ve found my rest and I haven’t looked back.

It was Catholic spirituality that solved a great many problems for me and led me to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Faith.

When I was Lutheran, I saw no spirituality. No interior life. Everything felt dry to me; things just felt off and weird. My basic point being: I feel in Protestantism that there’s too much emphasis on the mind; not the heart.

Don’t get me wrong. I saw people in Protestant communities with good fruits. But, it felt like people followed doctrine without a living feel of the spiritual.

Now, in my combat with you, I feel there’s too much intellectual argument over theology and doctrine. No comparison of faith walks.

I feel the real truth of any understanding lies in how the heart of the believer is transformed.

Please, my separated brothers and sisters in Christ; let’s compare faith walks, shall we?


I was a little leery to respond to this thread because I’ve read some of your other posts on Non-Catholic forums and am familiar with your positions, as I’m sure many other non-Catholic Christian posters are. This may be why nobody else has responded yet because they may believe you are laying another predictable trap. Reminds me of the following scene from Wonderful Life with George Bailey and his mother:

If I understand correctly, you are a former Lutheran (I think) who didn’t get much out of your spiritual life as a Protestant, but you are much happier and more spiritually well-off since you became Catholic. First of all, I am genuinely happy for you. I am always in favor of someone becoming closer to God in their faith journey, and if becoming a Catholic did that for you, I sincerely say “Praise God” for that. I suspect you are on CAF engaging with Protestants as much as you do in the Non-Catholic forum because you think the rest of us are missing out and you want to help us obtain the joy you have found in your new faith. This is commendable. However, you need to realize that phrases like “combat” and purposely misrepresenting and twisting things that non-Catholic Christians believe and say is not helpful to your cause, as I believe Reb pointed out in his own way in another thread.

You should also know that not all Protestants are like you were, and some are content in their faith and are very happy with the spirituality contained within. In fact, I personally know of a number of former Catholics who attend Protestant congregations today for the same reason you converted to Catholicism – they grew closer to God through a different Christian faith tradition.

For some former Catholics I know, Catholicism was a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts, following rules, and otherwise doing things that had little spiritual impact on them and didn’t help them in their spiritual journeys until they were evangelized in a Protestant setting, such as a Billy Graham crusade or something else. I am equally as happy for those people as I am for you becoming closer to God thru the Catholic Church, as was the case with folks like Tim Staples, Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, David Anders, Jimmy Akin (I think), and a host of other high-profile former Protestants turned Catholic whom I highly respect and listen to on the radio on occasion.

I think the main difference between us is that I am genuinely happy for you becoming closer to God through the Catholic Church, if that is what it took for God to reach you. However, I suspect there are much fewer Catholics who are happy with former Catholics who were “catechized but not evangelized” while Catholic but whose heart and spiritual lives were transformed in a real and meaningful way in a Protestant setting.

In short, if you want to have a good faith dialogue about comparing faith walks in a respectful way, count me in. However, if it’s just another ploy where your intent is to embark on a search and destroy mission so that you can somehow feel justified and superior about your conversion to Catholicism, then count me out.


What, exactly, do you want to compare?


The main difference can be seen when you walk into a Protestant church, where nowhere will you find a crucifix, and the focus is on a resurrected Christ.

In a Catholic Church you will see a crucifix, which echoes Paul’s preaching that the Church teaches Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23) which is a stumbling block for many. The crucifix is a visual reminder of the horror of sin, which Christ paid a penalty for, and proof of God’s love for us. It is also a reminder that Chris said that in order to be His disciple we must pick up our cross daily and follow Him, to crucify our passions and die to our old self. Christ forged a path for us to follow, and that path involves the cross. Christianity without the cross is a false Christianity. Thus Protestantism began and continues the Great Apostasy which continues to unravel…

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I see your points, and I think I understand. That being said: I am interested in comparing faith walks and see how your guys’ faith is lived in comparison with mine. I promise to be gentle and fair.

First off: I’m sorry that I’ve been harsh and combative in apologetics with you guys. That’s not being truly Christian and my intent isn’t to search and destroy; not to mirsrepresent or twist what you guys are saying.

My basic intent is to gently and charitably correct misunderstandings and contradictions that I see in Protestant doctrine. With the hopes that you guys can see the truth in what we’ve been saying and teaching all these years and hopefully that we can agree on things.

I admit: I often get quite heated and frustrated and I promise that I’ll do better in restraining myself in the future.

Next: Thank you very much for your sincere words in my happiness and closer relationship with God. I really appreciate it.

From my vantage point, Catholicism isn’t a legalistic system of rules following. I understand that this a common misperception among Protestants and badly formed Catholics who leave the Faith. When understood correctly; the Church teaches a relationship with God based on the Gospel in which I participate in my salvation in cooperation with God.

By living a saintly life fortified by the Sacraments of the Church.

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This is great. The best way to approach apologetics is simply let the Bible explain Catholic teaching


I personally don’t like this approach. It strengthens the “Sola Scriptura” doctrine where we should strive to approach scripture correctly.

Tradition came first. Scripture supports tradition. Not the other way around.

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Scripture and Tradition must go together.
All Catholic teaching is rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, the Word of God…


That is a perception and a concern also shared by some faithful Catholics who remain in Catholicism, not just badly formed Catholics who leave. For example, the “catechized but not evangelized” statement that I quoted earlier is one I’ve heard many times by Al Kresta on his EWTN radio program along with Fr John Ricardo on his to describe the status of many current Catholics. Al and Father Ricardo are concerned about it as they should be, just as Protestant clergy should be concerned when their flock are not growing closer to Christ.

Although I’ve never been Catholic, I grew up in my formative years in the Presbyterian Church, USA, and felt reverence towards God but felt like God was far away and a stern taskmaster. I knew “head wise” about Him and many of the tenets of the Christian faith, but I didn’t have a life-transforming faith. It was a religion that I put on like a shirt when I was in church on Sunday that meant very little outside of church the rest of the week. I was catechized in my faith tradition but not evangelized. Going to church was just something to cross off my list of weekly duties that I did with my parents.

It wasn’t until I was channel surfing one evening as a teenager and happened onto a Billy Graham crusade that the Gospel really made sense. It was then when I gave my heart to God and became a follower of Christ in a transforming way that changed my life forever in a positive way.

While I am not a believer in OSAS, I believe my spiritual life encountered a special event that day that kick-started me on the road to know Jesus more fully and deeply in my heart. I am much older now and definitely far from perfect (just ask my wife :grinning:), but by the grace of God I continue to follow Him to the best of my ability. I am a member of a Methodist congregation where I am content in my faith and the spirituality I receive from Jesus and my pastor and congregation, where I serve as a person who visits the sick and home bound shut-ins.

The only Catholic sacrament we don’t have that I wish my faith tradition had is confession. I think the accountability of telling my sin out loud to a clergyman in spiritual authority and hearing “your sins have been forgiven” would be nice to hear from Christ’s representative. Don’t get me wrong – I currently pray to God and ask Him to forgive my sins with all my heart when I sin and I believe He hears and forgives me, and I try my best not to repeat the particular sin, but sometimes it would be good for the sake of closure to hear the words of absolution. I realize that Catholics say we are missing five sacraments, but confession is the only one I wish we had that we don’t have. Other than that, I think I have a very fulfilling spiritual and church life, thanks be to God.


“Religion” is the roadmap, the do’s-and-dont’s, the explanation of who God is and how we can draw close to Him.

Spirituality is the relationship itself, the faith walk.

So I’ve known deeply spiritual Protestants and Catholics who love, really LOVE God as their Father and talk to Him and want to please Him.

And I know well-meaning but somewhat empty Protestants and Catholics who “follow the rules” out of fear and not love.


Yes, when read with the tradition handed down by the apostles. Not so much with more contemporary traditions.

When it comes to apologetics with “Bible only” Christians you will only be persuasive by making a case for Church teaching using the Sacred Scriptures.

You would think. But just like you can’t fight violence with violence, you can’t (at least you shouldn’t) argue bad theology with bad theology. Scripture was born of Sacred Traditiion & it is in that tradition it should be interpreted.

Back to the topic at hand… what is Catholic Spirituality & how does that compare to protestant theology? I’ve seen a couple of answers her as to what Catholic Spirituality is & still I have another.

I believe our spirituality is to be conformed to Christ through sacramental living. It’s what Christians were doing way before there was a New Testament.

One has to get away from theory. Catholics need to know the Bible in order to intelligently defend the faith against those who attack it using Scripture. Above all Church writings and documents the Bible must take the first place. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.


I’m saying that in charity, so please don’t mistake my intent :

I know you’ve been Lutheran, Michael. But that doesn’t make you an expert in Protestant theology, which you would need to be in order to “correct misunderstandings and contradictions”. From your posts I often get the impression that you have an inaccurate or incorrect idea of what Protestants believe.

I think your first step towards a different kind of discussion, and a more fruitful one, would be to honestly listen to what Protestant contributors have to say, without the intent of finding fault with them or pointing doctrinal errors, just trying to understand. I still recall the advice we had from a wonderful teacher on my first year in seminary : “When you read something, then read it carefully. Read and read again, don’t assume anything, take the words at their face value, do your best to stick to what the text says and not project your own preconceptions on it. When you’re absolutely sure you understand, and understand honestly and in good faith, then you may begin to disagree.”

All this is a plea to you, to please not enter the discussion with the intent of correcting people. This would not be dialogue, this would be teaching. Inviting people to dialogue when your intent is to teach is bound to fail. Dialogue is about listening to each other, with the full knowledge that what you think you know about the other might be challenged.


Okay, Oddbird. I’m sorry. I meant well; I truly did.


I know you do. That’s why I reacted ; I wouldn’t have bothered otherwise :blush:

I’ll tell you about my spirituality when I’ve had coffee. But to tell the truth, mine is neither completely Protestant nor completely Catholic. It’s a bit of both :wink:


Thank you, Oddbird. I’m sitting at home right now with coffee next to me. I’d love to hear your story.


Gab, I think what we’re going to have to do, really; is just share stories of our faith walks. We must enter into an authentic dialogue with them without going straight into teaching/correcting mode.

Not saying we can’t hold fast onto the Faith. We hold our ground, defend the Faith and share with them.

I’m thinking sharing stories of our personal relationships with God, from the Catholic perspective; would hopefully alleviate misconceptions that they may have and show that ours is a living faith. As well as perhaps establish rapport with them.

I agree that we have to stick with Scripture in our apologetics. Everything we believe we know is proven to have a Scriptural basis. Quoting Tradition and Church documents just isn’t going to cut it.

I also agree that we as Catholics need to be firmly grounded in Scripture. When I read the history of the Protestant movement, one of the most effective means I believe they had was that most Catholics didn’t read Scripture for themselves at the time, if I’m reading it right; and that left them vulnerable to Protestant preaching.

Earlier in the year, I was on the ropes with one of them in his Scripture quotations until, thank God; I was given grace to understand a counter solution to his attack.

Next solution, I think; we should do as Oddbird advised me: That we understand their doctrines as accurately and correctly as we can.

I suggest we also study the problems facing the 16th century Church. It was from there that the Protestant leaders arose and found ready ears that would listen. It precisely those problems that their doctrines they meant to address; if I’m not mistaken.

I agree with and like what you’re saying.

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