Devout Protestant or Lukewarm Catholic


Many members of my immediate family are fallen away Catholics and my heart aches for them.

While I do love and pray for them to return, fellow Catholics have suggested the following as consolation:

It’s better for them to devout Protestants than to be lukewarm Catholics.

I am sure that there is some consolation within the comment offered, however I wrestle with its deeper theme of relativity :

Does it really matter what “Christian” church we attend or what “Christian” religion we practice?

As a Catholic, my personal answer is YES on both accounts, however I find it troubling that within the Catholic family itself, there are divergent opinions about the matter.

Comments anyone?


It is always better to be in a state of grace no matter how “close to the Lord” someone might or might not appear to be.

If our Catholics are lukewarm, it means that they aren’t receiving the sacraments as they ought to–with good intention.

Being a good Protestant is still to be outside the sacraments, and so in constant danger of losing whatever grace they might have. And for the Catholic it means losing grace, as well, to be lax in the practice of the Faith.

So, in either case, they are not be an example but need our prayers and to be told the truth in love by the way we live our lives and by our helping them understand why they ought to be within the Church and practicing the Faith.


Another way to look at it would be “Apostacised Catholic, or Lukewarm Catholic.” I would say it would be better to at least remain within the Sacraments of the Church and strive to be better, than to walk away completely.


Consider this, from Rev. 3:14-20

To the presiding spirit of the church in Laodicea*, write this:
“The Amen, the faithful Witness and true, the Source of God’s creation, has this to say:
I know your deeds; I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other–hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth! You keep saying, “I am so rich and secure that I want for nothing.” Little do you realize how wretched you are, how pitable and poor, how blind and naked!..
Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me…”
*(Laodicea was a wealthy commercial center of the time.)

To answer your question, though, we cannot see into hearts. We don’t know that someone who is outwardly very observant, whether Catholic or Protestant, is inwardly in pursuit of God. We do not know whether someone who is outwardly lukewarm is getting more mileage out of meager graces than we get out of the bounty showered upon us.

For instance, perhaps they find Mass and their prayer life a great trial of dryness and distraction, while we find it a great consolation. Perhaps they have been wounded by their experience with the Church, while we have found only healing. Is it so much to our credit that we seek it out much more?

It absolutely matters where you are, of course. Nevertheless, a person who leaves the Church in spirit is better off seeking elsewhere than doing nothing, even if they do that nothing once a week for an hour in the pews of a Catholic church in the mistaken notion that just showing up in body makes them “rich and wanting nothing.” Ideally, they would stay and avail themselves of the riches of the Sacraments, but you are speaking of inherently non-ideal alternatives.

If they are devout and love Jesus, I hope you’ll have an opportunity to share with them about their faith journeys. You might make an agreement to listen to each other, to perhaps suggest additional things that each of you might consider doing, but not to attempt to act as if any of you have spiritual authority over the other. It could be quite profitable to all involved.


I hear ya, CathyM.
Same types of heartache here.

I believe that for them to deny Christ would be even more damaging, so I try to look at it that way–at least they are still Christian, even if they don’t recognize the one true Church.

And it is very likely that it is not the Church they refuse, only their misperception of it. (I think there’s a Archbishop Sheen quote to that effect?)

What consoles me is that I may never know how many people were praying for my return during my “fallen-away-Catholic” years. And while I can mourn for the times I offended Christ during that time, I consider my faith and Catholicism now to be a precious, priceless jewel.

So whenever I find myself wondering about my family and friends, I try to turn that into prayer, ask God to prepare me to give witness for Him to them should the moment ever arise, and thank Him for my gift of faith.

What else can we do?


So whenever I find myself wondering about my family and friends, I try to turn that into prayer, ask God to prepare me to give witness for Him to them should the moment ever arise, and thank Him for my gift of faith.

What else can we do?

I agree with you on the prayer part. I am a devout born again christian who worships in a non-denom church and my family members are catholic and only my in-laws are devout catholics. I worry about their souls. I am also worried about preaching to them becuase, as you know, it is harder to preach to family members then others. I just pray that God puts an opportunity there and gives me the strength and wisdom to deliver the message.:thumbsup:

P.S. I am not worried about their souls because they are catholic BTW. I am worried because they are not practicing anything and bear no fruit at all!!


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