Evangelical Converts (me!) arrogant? Fixated on Authority?

  1. Over the last few weeks while I’ve been recovering from surgery and posting a lot on this Forum, I’ve become aware of a sinful attitude in my life.


I think ?? it might be a special weakness of evangelical converts. It certainly is a weakness of mine.

Evangelical Protestants are highly successful when it comes to growing big churches, sending missionaries, writing books, creating entertainment (CCM), influencing politics, and reaching out charitably (e.g. Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, etc.)

When it comes to the Bible, evangelicals are among the most Biblically literate Christians. From babyhood, evangelicals are taught the Bible.

Many evangelicals “look down” on fundamentalists and Pentecostal denominations as “not as scholarly as evangelicals.” Evangelicals look down on Mainline Protestants as “too liberal.”

To put it bluntly, evangelicals think they “know it all” and have “the real Gospel” in its most accurate and complete form.

THEN we convert, for whatever reason. And we, or at least, I, still think we know it all.

One thing you have probably noticed about evangelical converts to Catholicism is that we all study our buns off learning EVERYTHING about Catholicism. Most of us read through the Catechism and the Bible and a plethora of Catholic books. Cradle Catholics always tells us that we are so “enthusiastic!”

BUT–even though we think we know a lot, we have not been around for 2000 years, and we have just scraped the surface of this wonderful church, the Catholic Church, the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

I made a Holy Hour yesterday evening in our Adoration Chapel. I was joined in the chapel by a “trad” couple in the Church.

It occurred to me as we were adoring the Lord that THESE people have been around the Church since they were babies, and they know not only the facts, but also the “feelings” and ups and downs and all-arounds of being Catholic. They’ve been through long years of it, and they still demonstrate their faith.

So the thought occurred to me that I really need to be careful not to be arrogant in my soul. Yes, I know a lot compared to some Catholics, but I know NOTHING compared to many Catholics.

  1. Another thing that I have noticed about myself is that I have an extreme devotion to AUTHORITY in the Church.

I believe this is because I came from the evangelical Protestant world where there often is no authority other than the individual.

I grew up in a church with a strong authority, but as the numbers of churches have increased and non-denominational fellowships, especially the megachurches, have lured a lot of evangelicals away from their churches, I think that the evangelical churches have become quite hesitant to use “authority” out of fear of offending people and driving them away.

I also think that evangelicals, because of the Bible knowledge, realize that their “church” really DOESN’T have any authority. They’re not really sure who does. So they preach that each individual should subject him/her self to the church unless that church starts doing or teaching something that is contrary to the Bible.

Of course, if you get mad enough at a church, or if you really would prefer to attend the cool new megachurch in town, you can probably find something that is contrary to the Bible and use it as an excuse to leave your church and go to another church.

One of the things I love about being Catholic is that I’m NOT IN CHARGE. The Church is.

So I tend to use this a lot in my posts. Someone has a gripe, I say, “Take it to the Church.” Then they say, “Well, if the Church is wrong…”

And I feel like I’m back in Protestant-land again!

So I’m wondering if my fixation on the Authority of the Church is just a natural phenomena of evangelical converts?

Does any other evangelical convert have these same tendencies? Have any Catholics noticed these tendencies in their evangelical convert friends (online and real life)?



Arrogance is something that everyone struggles with in one form or another. I don’t think it’s unique to Evangelicals, but it’s great that you recognize it.

Authority should be the fixation of every Catholic. So, you are the one on the right track. Sadly, many Catholics aren’t as far along the path as you.


One of the characteristics of catholicism that argues for its truth is that it has appeal to both the ignorant peasant and the learned scholar. It can be grasped by 5 year olds and yet poses deep mysteries for educated wise men. It is mysteriously suited to all humanity rather than a narrow subset of humanity like some religions.


You mean that you were an evangelical and you never realized the the only real authority was Jesus Christ. One day everyone is going keel down to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, not the church or the pope


I’ll put in a good word for you and the entire Tiber Swim Team :slight_smile:

Since you came from the other side of the river, studying everything along the way, you are all generally much better at apologetics than cradle Catholics. And very, very enthusiastic about it.

Thank you. Thank you. And, thank you.

Sometimes knowledge+excitement+conviction may be interpreted as arrogance by some. But I guess only you know if it is really arrogance in your hearts or not.

I for one really enjoy reading the posts of the Tiber Swim Team :slight_smile:


We converted from the Protestant tradition a few years ago (in fact, our conversion story appeared in *This Rock *several months back), and I see a lot of similarities between what we
have experienced and your post. In fact, my wife and I just gave a talk on our conversion a couple weeks ago, and you’re hitting a lot of our points!

Like you, we thought we knew it all when we were Evangelicals. We had even attended a fine Free Methodist university in Seattle where we had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the Bible. (And, no, there was no hint of anti-Catholicism there.) In fact, that’s really where the critical thinking and desire for reverence really began to take hold, and that led us to the Catholic Church–after a few detours. :slight_smile: One of the great things about becoming Catholic was when we realized how much more there remains to learn.

The authority issue is also tremondously important. I used to sit around and write letters to the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church concerning the ordination of a homosexual bishop. (We were raised Free Methodist/Nazarene, but we had been at an Episcopal Church for a couple years before the ordination in NH.) I thought that it was my responsibility to stand up for biblical values, and it was. It’s great now, though, not to have to worry about what my church is doing anymore. The Catholic Church is not blown aimlessly by the winds of popular culture. Saint Peter set the ship on course, and on course it has remained. It’s a huge relief for our family not to be “protesting” this or that anymore. Sure, my local church may once in a while do things that seem less than wonderful (featuring an Al Gore video at a children’s gathering at church, for instance), but anything that comes up now is so small in the real scheme of things.

I am always worried, though, about jumping to an incorrect conclusion–being a new Catholic. So, my motto now is definitely to think before I open my mouth…or start to type.

Anyway…welcome home!


Being a cradle Catholic from many years ago (I’m a senior citizen) I enjoy hearing people talk about the Bible. That’s something that we were not permitted to read when I was growing up. Of course, every Catholic family had a “family” Bible stashed on the top shelf in the closet but it was only opened to record a marriage, birth or death. Those from other Christian denominations who have studied the Bible can teach Catholics, especially those who grow up not reading the Bible, a lot. I’m so glad that the Bible is now permitted to be read by Catholics. It’s such an inspiring Book, full of truths that are needed in our lives today. Christ is the Head of the Church and He is the one we need to turn to at all times, not the pope or any other mortal man.



Who told you you were not permitted to read it? I too am a cradle catholic and have been confronted with the fact that much of my poor catechesis is the fault of my own sloth, not ecclesial malfeasance!!


She is referring here to the authority that Jesus gave to the Apostles and their successors the Bishops…

…but you knew that. :tiphat:


allischalmers, the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed my authority.

But theres a problem with that. Here’s a real-life scenario for you.

I was in charge of a children’s choir/drama ministry.

Who was in charge of ME, the minister? Jesus? Definitely.


I wanted to know what date would be a good start-up date for my choir. ** Ask Jesus?**

I wanted to know a good date for our choir presentations. Ask Jesus?

I wanted someone to read through the musical (Pilgrim’s Progress–Knowing God is The Greatest Adventure that I wrote for the children. Ask Jesus?

Sir or Madam, with all due respect, JESUS does not tell me start-up dates, dates of presentations, and JESUS doesn’t read through my manuscripts and lead sheets and pronounce them orthodox and Biblical.

MEN and WOMEN do that. THEY are in authority. Or at least, they SHOULD be.

In the Evangelical Free Church that I was part of, I had NO IDEA who to ask about these practical questions. I kept going to the pastor, but he said just pick the dates myself.

I asked about the “Ladder of Authority” and was told that JESUS was in charge. (Tone of whining sarcasm in my voice is deliberate.)

Well, then I ran into trouble with the Music Committee, because THEY were in charge of the Children’s Choir.

And then I ran into major big trouble with the Children’s Pastor, because SHE was in charge of the Children.

The pastor said my musical was fine, and the kids loved it, but apparently some people in the church apparently thought it was “too Catholic.” So I guess ultimately, the PARENTS are in charge.

Well, then the trouble really started!

No one actually ever came to me and told me how to run my ministry week to week, but I received all kinds of “hints” from people that I didn’t even think were my authorities. When I ignored their “hints” (which were quite ignorant of children’s ministry methods, BTW), the woman Children’s Pastor trumped up a bunch of lies about how I refused to submit to authority and she hinted of improprieties (sexual? she wouldn’t say–all she would tell me is that parents had “come to her with grave concerns.”).

So I was in trouble for butting against the authority in the church?

WHICH AUTHORITY? And why didn’t someone tell me when I asked who was in charge?!!!

Sir or Madam, with all due respect–and it is very difficult for ME to have respect for your comment, but I’m trying hard–Jesus may be in charge of His Church, but on earth, He has established men as His servants to run the everyday life of His Church.

But in many evangelical churches, these men (and women) are NOT taking a position of authority and leaving people like me, with ministries to run, to struggle alone, and then get called up and drawn and quartered and shot down and ostracized as “unloveable and unteachable” when we don’t submit to so-called "authority.

Sir or Madam, do you want to know what happened?

There was a tribunal in that church (they did NOT follow the procedure for conflict resolution set out by our Lord in Matthew 18), and my husband and I were “tortured,” raked over the coals, accused of all kinds of henious “sins,” and finally, ousted. We have been shunned ever since by that church.

My two daughters quit going to church totally. Five years later, just this year, my older daughter has expressed a desire to convert to Catholicism. She agrees with us about the authority issue. The Bible tells us and shows us that God put MEN in charge of ONE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. I am glad to submit to the authority of Jesus that He has delegated to His human servants on earth.

BTW, a year later, I learned from a sympathetic person in that church that the woman Children’s Pastor had been FIRED after she was caught in a lie. At that time, at the advice of a Protestant pastor that I trusted, I wrote to all the parents of my former choir and asked straight out what I had done to offend them. I received several replies from parents who said that I had done many good things and nothing wrong, and that after I “left” they went to the pastors as a group and asked what had happened, and spoke up in my defense, but they were told by PASTORS, ordained men (and 1 woman) of GOD–that I had “chosen to leave the church.”

The woman pastor was apparently a pathological liar.

I’ve never received any kind of apology from this church for the abominable way that me and my family were treated.

I continue to tell this sordid story of abuse of authority in the hopes that others will be alert and avoid being abused by their CHURCHES.


I’m guilty of arrogance but for other reasons outside what you speak of. I’m actually guilty of said arrogance towards some non-Catholic family members AND some that are liberal, pro-abortion Catholic family members. I feel as if I’m “right” and they’re “wrong” and even I have to admit it’s after I have spoken with them at length that I can’t even just dismiss this feeling with the idea that they’re merely “misguided.” They choose to believe the misinformation they have.

But your posts Cat, are very interesting to read. I really enjoy being able to read what you write. I’m always learning from the people that have converted, especially from an Evangelical background.

I’m a cradle Catholic and I’m still learning alot of things. Keep up your devotion and please, don’t stop talking about it! More people need to speak up so others can hear the truth!!!


With all respect, Pigtown, I’m a pretty old guy myself, and never, ever, ever did I hear anyone in the Church say we weren’t supposed to read the Bible. We were mightily encouraged to do so. I was in college when VII happened, and I know lots of reform-minded folks acted as if it was somehow something new to read the Bible, but while it might have seemed so where you grew up, it was not so where I did.

I do know one thing. You can bring up some topic with some protestants and they will quote you some verse and give the reference. I can quote more verses than they can, but I can’t give the reference. Why is that? It’s because Catholics have never seen the Bible as a debating manual, like some box of quote cards high school debaters use. Catholics know a lot about the Bible, but don’t use it in that way. Also, we’re not taught to pick out bits and pieces of it out of context. It’s regarded as a seamless whole. For Catholics it is, and has always been, a source for guidance, inspiration and understanding; not for argument.

Maybe that’s not so good, but as between remembering Biblical injunctions for the purpose of guiding my life, and using them to argue with protestants, I think I prefer the former.



You know, I never realized it until you said it. All this time I couldn’t figure out how to argue the Bible. I thought I was just dense or something. Turns out I was taught to use it as a Bible, not a hammer. :smiley:

God bless you for the smile you gave me today! :thumbsup:


I have a great fixation on the authority of the Church, I got so tired of everyone picking and chosing and contradicting each other. To me if something doesn’t seem right I start looking for the teachings and instuctions straight of the Vatican Web site for guidance. Then my arrogance kicks in when I hear other Catholics rejecting or doubting Church teachings, I find myself wondering why they are even Catholic and saying to myself, “Can’t they see the trouble non-Catholic Churchs have? why don’t they just become (fill in church of choice here)” Now that is being arrogant - Yes I fall into the trap of being arrogant. at least four or five times a day.:blush: Those problems seem to come natural for me.Thank goodness for confession.


I come from a non denominational evangelical church, however in the begining i thought my church was to legalistic in all the things…blar…blar…and used to go against pple whom God have put on head top of me as my leader. Things begin to fall apart and my life become very messy. Becoz i am too prideful and choose only to believe that God is the only leader for me. Yes true, God is always the one and only, but they are also pple who have been appointed by God to lead us and also expect us to be obedient to them as well.

Just like the CC, the pope is the head appointed by God and protestant should always know that if we obey God , we should also obey those whom he put in place as leader to lead us, like our cell leader, ministry leader, pastor…etc…etc…


You sound very bitter and angry. Why don’t you just forgive every one that has ever hurt you and live in that forgiveness? Why do you need to receive an apology?



I see where you are coming from. My husband came home to the Church from Evangelicalism too. He too loves the authority that Jesus founded. In fact one of his reasons for conversion was that he was not a strong reader, in fact he didn’t “know it all.” He was told over and over that he needed to read Scripture to be a good Christian. He couldn’t understand how just because he was a weak student that he was failing as a Christian. That just did not sit right with him.

It bothered him that his salvation was contingent on “reading the Word” as an Evangelical. From what he understood of Scripture, the ability to “figure it out for yourself” was actually biblically condemned. When he brought up the phrase about “how will I know what it means without some to teach me?” his fellow church members said that was the job of the pastor. He was frequently stuck in those same loops you mentioned, Cat. Ok if that is the pastors job then why was every Tom, Rick, and Harry leading Bible study? Then he started asking where the pastor learned, and how could he know that that person was right. It would lead back to the pat answer, “well you’ll know he is right because it will be Biblical truth.”

For him that was when he pretty much stopped attending church. Authority was a HUGE issue for him. He had always been drawn to the Catholic Church and upon discovering Her authority was easily identifiable in Scripture the transition was nearly seamless. Now, even though he is not “as educated” as I am on Scripture he is still able to be a leader in our marriage. If I ask, “So what should we do here?” He just starts asking me questions about Church teaching. Once I explain it and Scripture references for it, he loves saying to me, “Well that’s what were doing then.”

Cat, I don’t find any of your struggles arrogant or bitter. They are tied to your experiences. From what I have read of your posts you sound like you have found much peace with your life. To answer your original question. Yes, I would say that former Evangelicals are “fixated” on authority. And by fixated I mean, ‘absolutely in love with Jesus and His bride, the Church.’ They had some Tradition, a lot of Scripture, yet the missing piece was Authority. Having the full picture begins a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is like looking a spouse in the eyes and falling in love all over again.


believers, I have forgiven them. Like I said, I tell the story so that others will be alert and not be hurt. I think it’s an authority issue at heart.

I tell the story using emotional language so as to try to capture my feelings at the time. What good would it do to tell that story in cold prose? People need to hear the hurt that was in my heart at that time.

And in that particular post, I was responding to allischalmers’ ridiculous claim that Jesus is my Authority–yes, of course He is, but Jesus doesn’t make the day-to-day decisons that affect Church members. MEN do that. I hope that my “outburst” made allischalmers and others like him/her think practically instead of in theological abstracts.

I don’t need an apology. But do you not think that believers, of all people, should seek to apologize and make up for it when they have hurt people? When YOU hurt someone, don’t you apologize and try to make up for the hurt you’ve caused? Isn’t that the mark of a Christian–the love the that have for their fellow Christians? That’s what the Bible says.


Notice what Peter says about authority in the church, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for fifthly lucre, but of a ready mind.
Neither as being lords over Gods heritage but being examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd (Jesus Christ) shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory.
the point is that there is only one with authority over the church and that is the cheif shepherd. Pastors or minister are just overseers of the church


The mark of a Christian is to always love and always forgive no matter the circumstance. Never holding a grudge, never. Bitterness leads to all sorts of unChristian-like paths.

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