Changing Denominations

Hi guys,

I have a protestant room mate and sometimes we discuss the differences that we know of between being catholic and being protestant. The other day, somehow we got to talking about members leaving one denomination for another.

I told her that as far as I knew, unless someone disagrees with the teachings of the catholic church, people don’t leave the church for a protestant denomination.

She said that it is generally acceptable for protestants to change denominations, as long as they are going to a christian church.

I was wondering if this is true and what others opinions are on this.

Thanks! :smiley:

What she is talking about is called “church shopping.” A person attends the church of a particular denomination until he/she disagrees with something said during a sermon (or any other reason). He/she then goes to another church, looking for that place where he/she feels at home.
Catholics are not immune. Catholics will leave the Church for various reasons from no longer accepting papal authority to not liking what the priest said during a homily, or simply “not being fed.”
What is the difference between a Catholic leaving the Church and a non-Catholic leaving his/her denomination? It lies in the idea of “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” When we are baptized we are baptized into the community of believers. The Catholic Church becomes our home. We are family, and a person never truly leaves his or her family even if they go away for awhile. The family member’s return is always welcomed.
The no longer used term for a person who leaves the Catholic Church was “wayward Catholic.” We pray for the wayward member of the family to return to us.

In most Protestant Churches to leave your home congregation and/or denomination is normally a matter of just leaving although, it is considered good manners to go to your Pastor and ask for release. That is so you are no longer on the roles for say voting on the church council and other corporate type things.

The new denomination will then have its rules for accepting new seekers as full fledged members. Maybe a new members course, maybe proof of baptism maybe the pastor or board of elders will just offer membership after you have attended for a time and made a public statement confirming your faith. It depends upon the specific congregation and/or denomination.

Most will not react as you have lost the full truth and now you belong to a lesser type of Christianity. Some will react to the specific practice of another sect and declare they are not really Christian

I’d prefer not to use the term “church shopping” which is a bit pejorative. I am in no position to judge another’s spiritual journey.

I agree with the previous poster about the relative ease of moving between churches.

I am a former Protestant and I notice the dilemma they face in trying to find a new church. Most Protestants are raised thinking if they don’t agree with a church, they can just leave or start a new one. Schism is seen as a perfectly acceptable solution to church disagreements. It is the foul fruit of the Reformation. This is also why there are 30,000 different denominations of Protestant Christianity. It makes it very strenuous on the believer to sort out which of these numerous churches is right…Not to sound arrogant but I feel sorry for them. I used to never be satisfied with looking around for churches and it used to be so hard for me to figure out who’s right that I stopped reading Scripture period. God has led me to a home since then and I read the Scriptures with gusto! Gotta love Him :slight_smile:

I don’t know if it is my lack of interaction with people in the church outside of mass but I have never heard it put quite this way but I think I agree with this… but then I guess I see being Catholic as being such a large part of who I am or how I define myself.

[quote=latingirl]Most Protestants are raised thinking if they don’t agree with a church, they can just leave or start a new one. Schism is seen as a perfectly acceptable solution to church disagreements.

Other than one’s judgement would there be anyway then of determining if the beliefs of schisms and different protestant churches whether or not they are… i am having trouble thinking of a good word… honest or reliable or being true to christianity?

[quote=latingirl] iIt makes it very strenuous on the believer to sort out which of these numerous churches is right…

I feel like it would be very confusing trying to sort things out between different churches.

[quote=4Squarebaby]Most will not react as you have lost the full truth and now you belong to a lesser type of Christianity. Some will react to the specific practice of another sect and declare they are not really Christian

Would the reaction that the specific practice of another sect and declaring it not really Christian be the same as reacting that you belong to a lesser type of Christianity? I guess I don’t really see how the two are different.

It happens in the Catholic Church to a much lesser extent and usually based upon personality clashes with the priest on committee business, homilies - or lack thereof, etc. However, if you drive to another parish “for a bit” the message and the Mass are still the same, just a different pastor.
Also, I say “for a bit” as many Bishops reassign the parish pastors once very 1-2 years into a new parish, so that “parish loyalty” does not get afixed to the pastor and we all remember we are “ONE” Church and not ONE Pastor.

Is that what it is? A spiritual journey? Seems more like spiritual blindness or spiritual pride,than a journey. My two pennies.

Or perhaps nothing spiritual at all. Maybe the church has a better Sunday school, or a nicer sanctuary, or any of a dozen other things.

But it is a journey for some.

I wouldn’t consider what you described church shopping… When my husband and me moved into the area where we live now we looked out for a church to go to. We decided to stay off-post concerning our quarters, so we chose a church off-post. We found one and went there twice, though my husband was kind of weary as it was turning into a mega-church. This church moved. I had looked up the new address, but I failed to notice it was South instead of North. We ended up not finding it and as we would have been late anyways we decided to go to the service at a smaller church close to where we were at that point where the service hadn’t started yet and that is also where we stayed.
Church shopping can be very important. There are so many churches just of the denomination we chose to attend in this area, that one has to look around and talk to pastors to get an idea whether they are suitable.
I wouldn’t want to sit through a message glorifying the prosperity gospel and I wouldn’t want to be in a church with so many members attending that it takes a year to get to know them all.

“Church shopping” is a term I have heard used by non-Catholics. A person may be a long time member of one denomination. As he starts to question the denomination, he may start learning about the differences in what other denominations teach. After a great deal of soul searching and study, he changes to a new denomination. “Church shopping” applies more to the person who makes frequent changes as he looks for the church where he feels at home.

In my earlier post, I used the term “wayward Catholic” to describe the person who leaves the Catholic Church. The actual no longer acceptable term is “Fallen away Catholic.” The person himself may no longer consider himself Catholic. He/she will say things like “I used to be Catholic, but…” When I hear this, I think that somewhere along the line this person missed something in Catholic teaching. I place the person in God’s hands, and pray for his or her return to the Catholic Church. I do this with family members who have left the Church. God told St. Monica as she cried over her son’s lifestyle, “Don’t talk to your son about me. Talk to me about your son.”
A person who leaves the Catholic Church knows that he/she may no longer receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. This can be painful. It may keep a person from even walking into a Catholic Church. It is also how I see God pulling the person back into fold.
The term “Fallen away” implies that a person is no longer in God’s grace. None of us is in the position to judge another person’s heart, or how God is leading that person in his/her own spiritual journey.

Alicia–I do identify myself as Catholic. Being Catholic is a major part of who I am. It is knowing that I am part of something much bigger than myself. When I eat regular food, it becomes a part of who I am. When I eat the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I become part of Christ. I don’t remember which saint first said that. When we receive the Eucharist, our “Amen” not only acknowledges Christ in the Eucharist. We acknowledge our membership in the Body of Christ, his Church.

Me TOO! Actually, when I found the verse about following tradition (which was never mentioned to me as a Baptist) I realized I disagreed with the Baptist church, and gravitated to the CC…which fell more in line with what I believed (…or rather, I naturally fell in line with what the Church had been teaching for over 2000 years anyways.) :smiley:

As a former Protestant, these are my observations. Protestants move to other Protestant denominations far more frequently than Catholics change to Protestant denominiations. That said, there are plenty of stable Protestants who stick with their parent church unless something really riles them.

On this last issue I speak from personal experience. My old Protestant pastor built up an inner city church from about ten members to about 150, which is about the limit for a single pastor. And inner city church building is deadly. If you want to build mega churches, go to the suburbs where they young families are buying.

But when he was dying of cancer he predicted that “bugalug” (his perjerative term for another pastor) would “get hold of this church after I’m gone and wreck it. But he can’t touch the people!”. Sure enough Bugalug did get hold of his church and in six months had wrecked. Most of people left, not through dissatisfaction with the denomination as a whole, but because they’d had a gutful of bugalug. A lot of them went to another denomination.

So that was one episode I heard about personally. It didn’t affect me much as I’d married and moved away before the pastor died. So that is the sort of thing that can happen.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to form a schism. I’ve seen that happen too.

It’s when a Protestant moves to a Catholic Church that eyebrows get raised. His or her former compatriots think he or she has made a mistake. If they think the person was not particularly important in Church circles, they don’t worry too much. But if it is someone who had quite a lot of influence, then they get upset.

I don’t often hear of Protestants moving to the Orthodox Church, mainly because to most Protestants the Orthodox church is an unknown quantity. Their argument is with the Catholic Church.

There are some people who go looking for “their spiritual home”, failing to realise that God often expects us to work where He has put us. Unfortunately this is reasonably common.

And there are also the cults - Mormons, JW’s, Moonies etc. We used to have a Moonie who hung around our church (when I was still Presbyterian) handing out flowers and trying to win converts for Mr. Moon. While i suspect my old pastor got a bit irritated with him sometimes, I think most of us regarded him as our resident Pet Moonie. He was a nice enough bloke, but I think he got sick of the condescension eventually and went off to try his luck elsewhere.

Its been my experience that many catholics who do not have a strong understanding of their faith, usually “craddle” catholics who just followed their faith because… are wooed away to protestant churches based on emotion rather then doctrine.

As for protestants I dont really know why they switch churches. I suspect its usually over some disagreement about someone’s interpretation of scripture so they just find a church they agree with. I guess that could be called a doctrinal conflict but it seems more like a conflict of interpretation.

Just one persons humble opinion.

Lukewarm Catholics may go to Protestant and other faiths when seeking.

Devout Catholics may also do something special, something that I picked up here from CAF. First for Roman Catholics would be to seek the EF to experience the traditional latin mass. Then if you’re lucky enough to have Eastern Rites in your area, you’d go to Liturgy in the eastern rites. Usually for experience but some fall in love and stay with an Eastern Rite. Others fall in love with the EF and stay there. While another group would stay with their parish but include frequent visits to the EF and Eastern Rites. I think this one is the best because it enriches our knowledge and spirituality by exposing ourselves to the fulness of tradition in the Church.

I couldnt agree more. I think in the circumstance that you are presenting its all catholic doctrine that binds us together. I think the luke warm catholics as you call them do seem to seek a faith outside the church and I suspect they areas luke warm there as any place else.

For the most part yes, that is true.

Protestants believe that where ever “two or three are gathered together” in the name of Jesus, there He is in their midst. The “denomination” is simply “window dressing”…some people like sheer panels…others like heavy drapes…some like blinds…others like shutters…

Except for a few denominations, I believe some Lutheran groups, inter-communion is not an issue. As long as the central message of Christ is taught…it’s not that big of a deal…there is only One Church…and it is made up of those redeemed by Christ through grace by faith.

As a Friend, when I “sojourn” to an area with no Friend’s Meeting,…or even if there is a Friend’s Meeting, I request a “minute” from the Clerk of the Meeting to provide the Clerk of the Meeting or pastor of the church to introduce me as a member of the Society of Friends.

If I plan on one day going back to the Meeting in which I belong, I am given a “minute” or “letter of introduction” to inform the new Clerk or pastor of a church that I plan on returning to my original Meeting.

Within and under the umbrella of Protestantism, there are many denominations. For some Protestants, being a “Protestant” is more important than, say, being a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Presbyterian. Oftentimes a Protestant will start out raised by his family in one denomination of Protestantism, then explore others as time goes on, to find the denomination that seems to best suit him. Protestants aren’t generally encumbered by our Catholic notion of “One True Church” with respect to individual denominations. For many Protestants, “Reformed Christianity” is the true Church, and anything that they feel authentically holds claim to that term is a legitimate expression of Christ’s Church. So be one a Lutheran, a Southern Baptist, an Evangelical…what you will…it essentially amounts to six of one and half a dozen of the other.

In nowise could Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy fit under the umbrella of “Reformed Christianity” from the perspective of Protestantism, of course. The essence of Protestantism is a departure from the Roman Catholic Church, specifically, and by logical extension any Church that clings to the ancient sacraments, liturgies, and doctrines. Some Protestants will not even acknowledge Anglicanism as authentic Protestantism, regarding it as an anomoly existing on its own (Protestants that go to Mass and pray their beads!?!), somewhere between Catholicism and Protestantism (although, in fairness, this is where most Anglicans place themselves).

For Catholics, the paradigm is entirely different. The Church is not a smorgasbord of various denominations, one just as good as the next, that one can simply choose from. In fact, under the umbrella of Catholicism there are no denominations, as such. There are various ways to be a Catholic, and various Rites one might participate in, but not “denominations” in the same sense as Protestant denominations. It can happen that a “Roman Catholic” might become captivated by Eastern Christianity, and make a formal entry into an Eastern Catholic Church so that he is no longer a what most would call a “Roman Catholic”, but, say, a “Ukranian Catholic”. But to use those examples, Roman Catholic and Ukranian Catholic do not denote two separate denominations, the way Lutheran and Presbyterian do within the family of Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic who has gone over to the Ukranians (or vice versa) has remained in the same Church, under the same shepherd: the Pope.

As far as “denominations” that call themselves “Catholic” but which are not in communion with the Holy See (the Polish National Catholic Church, the Anglican Catholic Church, the Liberal Catholic Church, and so forth), a believing Catholic does not regard such bodies as possessing any authentic connection with the universal Church of Jesus Christ. So for faithful Catholics, such a “church” is no more a viable option than a Protestant denomination.

Now, many Catholics have and do leave their home parishes and go to others for one reason or another, but that’s just a matter of a Catholic finding a parish home that he feels comfortable in, or that presents the Catholic liturgy in a way that appeals to him more than perhaps his home parish does. But all Catholic parishes, of course, belong to one and the same Catholic Church, and the doctrine and sacraments do not change from parish to parish.

I could not agree more. Changing parishes is not the same as changing denominations since all doctrines and beliefs remain exactly the same across parishes. I have been to catholic Masses in languages which I could not understand but I knew exactly what was transpiring. It was like being home when I was away from home.

I didn’t realize that “fallen away” Catholic wasn’t politically correct. I am one of those who left, though I don’t have a problem walking into a Catholic Church.

I have actually never observed that, but then again I didn’t come to the US until last year. I don’t know why people would change their denomination and I am not going to presuppose that it was just an issue of feeling better with a different teaching.

Let me add that not everybody who sets out on a journey leaving the Catholic Church is necessarily a lukewarm Catholic.

I’d consider being called a Christian more important than that…

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