Former Protestants, what questions did you start asking?


#1

I don’t want this to be a Protestant bashing thread.

But when I was Protestant (evangelical), even back in the 1980s and 1990s, LONG before I ever ever thought about Catholicism, I started asking some questions about the doctrines.

Oh, I didn’t DARE mention them to anyone except my husband!

For example, as early as 1983, I started asking why people fell away from the faith. I was told that these people were never saved to begin with. But some of the people who had fallen away were with us all the way, very secure and committed believers. Then they either fell into sin, or for some other reason, simply announced that they didn’t believe anymore, and left our church.

This really bothered me, and the evangelical answer of “they were never Christians” bothered me even more.

Another thing that I started questioning was the unwritten but very real “list of things that you must do to be considered a real Christian.” This list included such things as daily Bible study and prayer, homeschooling children, not celebrating Halloween, not watching any secular TV or movies, etc.

I thought this list sounded a lot like salvation by works. But we were taught that works demonstrate a lack of faith in God. But if you weren’t doing these particular works on the “list,” then you probably weren’t a real Christian.

I never questioned the doctrine of sola Scriptura until I was kicked out of my Protestant church. Then I REALLY questioned it, and in fact, I rejected it. I had always wondered (but never dared ask) why Spirit-led Christians came up with so MANY interpretations of the Bible. I didn’t worry about it because I had always believed MY CHURCH to be right and all the other churches wrong!

Anyway, a lot of these questions came up. At one point, I actually wrote out a list of 17 questions I had about Protestantism and posted it on a Protestant online board. Lots of discussion, as you can imagine!

So what questions did YOU ask about your Protestant doctrines that you found answers for in Catholicism?


#2

I had many questions in those days, but I can summarize in a few:

1-Why is there so much disagreement in non-Catholic Christianity as opposed to one solid front of Catholic belief?

2-Why do I constantly feel there is something missing in my church and spiritual life? I’d look around and wonder if people were as satisfied as they seemed. I’d think “I can’t be the only one!”

3-Despite all the bad things I hear about the Catholic Church, I am still drawn toward it. Why?

4-The whole question of the Real Presence (i didn’t know what to call it then) bothered me. I knew that it was believed since the beginning of christianity. How in the world could christians get that so wrong since the beginning?

Tom


#3

When I was first disillusioned with protestantism I didn’t know Catholics believed anything different from us. I thought they liked their ceremonies is all really. I had never heard the word “Sacraments” (I thought Confirmation was a 'coming-of-age thing, and the only reason I’d ever heard of it was because I had Catholic friends). An Orthodox friend explained to me what the Eucharist was without ever mentioning ‘Real Presence’. The way she described it I thought it was no different than any Protestant communion service.

What I did know was that Christians could believe a lot of different things. I was very interested in denominations, and why they were different. I was also very frustrated with the Bible. All our Bible studies were “The Bible says this, so how can we apply this to our lives” which is good I suppose, but I wanted “The Bible says this: __________. Now at that time in History that was a colloqiual phrase that had allusions of ______, if we look at the Greek…”. I was very hungry for some intellectual and solid dogmatic facts. I wanted positions I could stand firm on. I kept thinking “there MUST be more than just the Bible” but I couldn’t think of what I meant by that.

Funnily enough (which drove my then-best friend ((a Jehovah’s Witness)) mad) was the fact that I didn’t think we had enough celebrations. Other religions had tons of them, things that were purely ‘Hindu’ or whatever. You’d read about this or that ceremony in the newspaper all the time and I thought “Well, we have Christmas and Easter…what now?” Even those were too secular for me. I wanted pure Christian celebrations with traditions that went along with it. I thought God wanted us to be joyous in our Faith - where’re the times to be joyous?!

The Catholic Church then came along (in the form of a friend) and answered every question perfectly and fully and fulfilled what was missing. It was such a feeling of rest when I was Confirmed (…about a month ago! LoL).


#4

I don’t know if I count.

I converted from atheism to Christianity…but at the first point in my conversion, I really saw myself being a Quaker (you know…non dogmatic). Most of my friends are fundamentalist protestants.

My wife was the one who instantly gravitated towards Catholicism (she was raised Catholic, but strayed as a teenager).

The things that pulled me away from that (to their alarm…my friends attacked my Catholicism more harshly than they ever attacked my atheism), were:

  1. Jesus giving authority to the apostles to forgive and not forgive sins in his name.

  2. Jesus declaring Peter the the rock of the Church. (I’ve read the Protestant attacks on that. They sound utterly ridiculous.)

  3. Sola Sciptura makes no sense to me. It seems incredibly obvious, reading the New Testament texts, that these works were never meant to represent the whole of the Christian faith. Paul in particular seems incredibly hostile to the idea of “Just read the scriptures think about it yourself, and you’ll work it out” that seems to be the cornerstone of Protestantism. Paul asserts very strongly his authority to teach as an apostle.

  4. Alot of Protestant morality seems very arbitrary to me. Like, outside the 10 commandments, every preacher just sorta makes things up himself.

So, a preacher says homosexuality is immoral because he grew up in a culture that doesn’t like it. And birth control is moral because he grew up in a culture that does like it.

Where as the Church starts from an idea of what sex is, and uses that to determine what is moral. (Since sex is a reproductive act…things that are apart from that, from birth control to homosexuality, are immoral).

My Protestant friends talk about how Catholics have “too many rules”…but it seems like we have many rules based on the consistant application of few principles…whereas they have alot of rules that are all sorta random, and if they happen to get a few of them right, its just because of luck of the draw as much as anything else.


#5

The big questions for me (former Episcopalian) were:

Where does my church derive its authority from?

How does my church understand its teaching authority, or does it have any authority to teach and interpret scripture at all?

What is the role of a Bishop?

Obviously the answers to those questions are amongst the things that led me to the Catholic Church


#6

For me (Evangelical - Anglican) it has to be:

OSAS

Peter - ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church’

When I was involved in an evangelical church, much of what was taught seemed to be an attempt at discrediting Catholicism in any way possible. My own strange sense of perspective led me to want to know why this was.

I needed to know if they attempting to teach the truth, or trying to change it?


#7

My questioning started with reading the New Testament :bible1: I wanted to know why we Baptists (I was Baptist at the time) did not have confession and why we did not take the Lords Supper as seriously as the Catholics did. After all it was right there in the Bible for anyone to see … plain as day It snowballed from there & here I am 31 years later.


#8

Y’now something? This is a good thread! Keep it up!

Peace, guys!
Sub


#9

There was so much that started me asking questions that it is hard for me to decide.

Once Saved, Always Saved was a big stumbling block. I would find verses that contradicted this belief. When I showed these verse to my pastor, he would IGNORE the verses that I needed help with and point me to other verses that supported OS AS.Then he would insist that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself despite the fact that he had just made the bible contradict itself.:ehh:

It used to aggravate me when my friends would insist that they believed that they were saved by faith alone and yet, they all had lists for how ‘real’ Christians should act. A real Christian should want to go to church, read their bible, tithe,not drink alcohol, etc. One visiting pastor even told our congregation that he could tell a ‘real’ Christian by the movies that they kept in their homes.

I wanted so badly to follow Christ, but all this began to make me doubt my salvation. It was horrible!

Worse yet, I was told that the Holy SPirit should point me into the correct interpretation of the bible, which was the exact same interpretation that my pastor taught.(of course)


#10

In my case, it wasn’t questions I was asking, but questions being asked of me by Catholics that showed me the cracks in my Fundamentalist foundation.

  1. How can people, all supposedly “led by the Holy Spirit” come to so many conflicting and contradictory conclusions about matters of faith, such as infant/believer’s baptism, baptism as symbolic/salvific, OSAS/not, salvation as a one time done deal/lifetime process, pre/mid/post Tribulation “rapture” and things like that. A friend of mine has a joke that there are 57 Varieties of Baptist - they all say they’re “Baptist” but there are distinct differences - WHY?

  2. Did Jesus mean for there to be so many different denominations, and how does that fulfill his prayer in John 17?

  3. By what authority??? (This was a biggie.)


#11

I noticed that too - those verses would be “explained away” somehow so that they could hang on to OSAS.

It used to aggravate me when my friends would insist that they believed that they were saved by faith alone and yet, they all had lists for how ‘real’ Christians should act. A real Christian should want to go to church, read their bible, tithe,not drink alcohol, etc. One visiting pastor even told our congregation that he could tell a ‘real’ Christian by the movies that they kept in their homes.

No, no, he’s wrong…a ‘real’ Christian doesn’t even watch those horribly sinful Hollywood movies, especially if they’re rated R! :rolleyes: Now, for me, I don’t really like to watch a movie if it’s R rated just because that means there will be violence, nudity and excessive profanity but I would hesitate to DECLARE that someone is less of a Christian (or not at all) because of it…:mad:

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was hearing a visiting preacher (what IS it with those visiting preachers? LOL!) proclaim, “This Bible is a DISPENSATIONAL Book!!!” :eek: I was not yet Catholic (technically I’m still not confirmed) but I’d already forsaken dispensationalism and that just got my knickers in a twist. I almost walked out.


#12

I think the three key things for me were:

  1. Realising that Sola Scriptura didn’t work, and that nobody really believed it in the first place, realising that the early reformers often believed really bizarre things based on misunderstanding of the scriptures, and that the process of the last 500 years had been a re-discovering of the truth, based on theologians and Bible commentaries and the rediscovery of the early Church Fathers, which was, in effect, a canon of tradition, but an inferior canon of tradition to the Catholic one.

  2. Realising that the Masoretic text of the Bible was agreed by the Rabbis at the same council where they kicked the Christians out of the Jewish synagogue. Realising also that the Apocryphal books are quoted by Christ and His apostles.

  3. Realising how little human authority is needed to keep the Catholic Church together, that it doesn’t really have any structural power, and the whole Vatican administration is run on a similar budget to a large local authority in the UK. Realising that, far from having an iron grip on Catholics through fear and oppression, the magisterium is only respected because it is guided by the Holy Spirit and teaches in accordance with the Truth.


#13

Realising how little human authority is needed to keep the Catholic Church together, that it doesn’t really have any structural power, and the whole Vatican administration is run on a similar budget to a large local authority in the UK. Realising that, far from having an iron grip on Catholics through fear and oppression, the magisterium is only respected because it is guided by the Holy Spirit and teaches in accordance with the Truth.

DL82-this is awesome! I’ve never thought of this. Cool.


#14
  1. Do Catholics really pray to the saints? (Asked and answered years before becoming Catholic, when I’d heard the “accusation” and asked my Catholic girlfriend, now wife, about it.)

  2. Is Christ really present in the Eucharist/Communion? (Asked about a year after the first question, once I realized that this was the Catholic belief; when I investigated it, I found belief in the Real Presence to be much more consistent with my mostly-literal, Evangelical hermenutic than the symbolic presence interpretation.)

  3. Is remarriage after divorce permitted? (Another year later, I asked this when I read John Piper’s essay on why he doesn’t believe it is. He convinced me, and then I wondered, “If the Catholic Church is right about this and about the Eucharist, what else could it be right about?”)

  4. Is Sola Scriptura taught by the Bible? (Within a year after the remarriage question, this was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”–I knew, after this question, that I could not remain Protestant. Thanks, Fr. Ignatius, for asking me this!)

After that, it was just a matter of deciding which ancient Church was the Catholic Church, and ensuring that I understood Catholic doctrine and that it was internally consistent.

Jeremy


#15

why are the bibles different ? why do they have different numbers of books ?

this started some internet searching about bible history, translations, protestant reformation etc

and no I’m still not Catholic but I like the theology :slight_smile:


#16

Once I began looking at the Catholic Church and reading about it,these are the questions I had:

How come I had never heard about the Fathers of the Church?
How come I never knew that Peter was the first Pope?
How come the first 1500 or so years of the Church never existed according to my protestant churches?

Of course I found the answers and am now Catholic. But I think it is very sad that protestants never learn any of this as part of history. But then, imagine my shock when I found out that the church I belonged to prior to converting had only been around since the 1800’s. They must have been asleep all those 1800 years is all I can figure.


#17

For starters, I am still a Protestant who is studying Catholicism and thought about conversion.

I used to be anti-Catholic in my opinions, but not vocal about it unless confronted with it. I almost used to think about how to “save” my devout Catholic neighbor.

My study began almost as an accident. I was a big fan of the late Rich Mullins (musician who wrote “Awesome God”) and I read that he went through RCIA, but never converted (due to a couple of doctrinal differences). I thought to myself, why would he even be interested? Because I wasn’t interested in Catholicism, another question arose…what did the early church believe and practice? I did a Google search and most of my retrievals pointed to the Catholic Church. From there, I found the catholic.com website and this site has been extremely informative about the Catholic faith. Most of my preconceived ideas were quickly dismissed and I began to appreciate the Catholic Church for it’s unwavering stand on several social issues such as homosexual practice, abortion, etc.

I also approached a local priest and asked a few theological questions and we struck up a friendship. He presented us with a CD on contraception and after listening to it, my wife and I were immediately convicted about using the pill. We promptly switched to NFP. Father Derrick said afterward that we were more “catholic” than much of his parish simply on this practice alone!

What stops me from converting? I’m still trying to digest the doctrines of transubstantiation, marian doctrine, and church authority.

CSJ.


#18

Well, I’m still a Protestant of sorts, but I remember as a child reading John 3:5 and thinking “wow, that really sounds like it is talking about baptism, but of course it can’t be.”

Edwin


#19

I have heard conflicting things, but I think by the time he died he had actually made up his mind to go through with it. I could be wrong, though–naturally the people in a position to know are also people with a bias one way or the other, so it’s hard to get the facts straight.

Glad to see a Rich Mullins fan on the forum!

Edwin


#20

My journey from the Lutheran Church of Sweden back home to the Catholic Church started when I asked myself the question if contraception is morally acceptible or not. I kind of thought that it was unnatural, but since I had never heard about NFP, the only options I could see were to have lots of children or total abstinence, from which none seemed really realistic. I asked about it at a christian youth community on the internet, where a catholic seminarian mentioned NFP. I read all about it, and immediately realized that this was the answer to my question. Contraception is clearly wrong, and you should use NFP instead. And the immediate follow up-question was of course why only Catholics propose NFP and protestants doesn’t seem to have any problems at all with contraception. The same thing went again with masturbation. Since masturbation isn’t clearly condemned in the Bible, protestants didn’t clearly condemn it either. I had, however, from my own experience already found out that masturbation is a serious sin, and that it would have been way much easier for me to be free from it if mu church had clearly said it was a sin. The up-standing of the Catholic Church on moral questions like these was what initially made me interested in it.
After this followed some months of comparing the arguments of anti-catholic sites with catholic apologetic sites like catholic.com, and after having switching sides twice, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Christ.

The thing is, the moral teachings of the Catholic Church isn’t based on the Bible alone, but on common sense and human conscience. Many problems rise when you base your moral teachings on the Bible alone, since the Bible naturally don’t cover every possible moral issue.


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