I can't decide if I am Catholic or Protestant!

Well, I don’t yet know if I am protestant or catholic yet, so I am here for discernment. I love Jesus Christ and am consumed with guilt that He had to suffer so greatly that I may have eternal life. I have believed this for 10 years and, well, I still believe it of course with really no doubt whatsoever. But it has only been recently that I considered the question of whether or not I was catholic or protestant even that important. Now, I do conider it important so I am on a quest. I’ve encountered so many great points on both sides that I do not know where to go. I’ve done some reading on both sides. If anybody here, Protestant or Catholic has any words or resources they wish to throw at me in order to me it would be appreciated. I’m talking anything. Let’ just talk here :slight_smile: And while we are talking, lets remember that we agree on the most important point, that Jesus loves and has saved us all.

Where I stand:

-without question there are important thing that are not in the Bible which happened, or which the Apostles preached and did. These thing are crucial in a critical sense. And I want to partake and celebrate them. I just do not know which traditions are legit. But I am certainly not a “sola-scripture” kind of guy, and I am not even a Biblical literalist, with regards to the OT, with the NT I am a literalist.

-Guys, there have been some rotten Popes who have taught conflicting things, this is another sticking point for me. I realize that Popes are just human beings, but the infallibility thing is a near insurmountable hurdle for me.

These are just the first things off the top of my head. I realize that I am kind of all over the place here. Feel free to drop in and comment respectfully in any way that you wish. I love Jesus with all of my heart and I would do anything for Him but I am struggling to find my true church.

I will be writing more about some of my questions but I wanted to limit it to just a few points to start. It is my hope that this thread can thrive and help others who are also in my shoes. Thanks!

There have been some rotten popes, and yet, the Catholic Church survived their mismanagement. How did that happen? Divine protection.

However, no popes have EVER taught contradictory doctrines. Ever. How did that happen? Divine protection.

God protects His flock by preventing its human shepherd from leading them astray. That’s infallibility.

If I read what you stand, I still say you are not a Protestant. Protestant is really Sola Scriptura and symbolic holy communion.

That’d be Protestant for now.

Though I SUPPOSE I should read something beyond the headline. :wink: BRB

When I was on a religious retreat, a really smart student made a good point in regards to popes: Without them, how could there be any hope of doctrinal unity?

I could be off base, but it seems understanding of certain truths seem to progress. For example, the idea of the trinity wasn’t defined until a couple hundred years after Jesus. So, despite public revelation being finished, I think human understanding of Divine truths can progress some as humanity progresses, and it’s important to have an authority to define our understanding.

Anyways, the real truths that differentiate Catholicism and Protestantism are our belief in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and the importance of Mary as our intercessor.

God Bless!

If you can’t decide, I would suggest holding the view of Protestsnt theologian Carl Truman;

"From Reformation21: Professor Carl Trueman.

"Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day.

I have said it before in this column and I will say it again: Protestants need good reasons not to be Catholic. Catholicism is the Western default position. If you do not regard the great confessions and catechisms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as being biblical in their teaching on justification, then you should probably do the decent thing and become a Catholic. The implications your position has for scripture’s teaching, for church history, and for notions of authority, makes such a move a good one. Converting to Catholicism is not a crime, after all. Yet justification is not the only issue: if you buy into the theological anarchy of modern evangelical thought, then acknowledge it for what it is – a statement about the fundamental obscurity of scripture’s teaching, then do what Newman did in similar circumstances: turn to Rome."

[Carl Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary]

St. Redemption,
You really sound “Catholic” to me!

Question the infallibility of the Pope? I know Catholics in my parish that have the same challenge. As another poster has already pointed out, the Pope is only infallible when speaking on things that matter. If Pope Francis proclaimed today “only people who like vanilla flavored ice cream are going to heaven”, I’d opine he’s not speaking infallibly.

Rotten Popes? Yup, we’ve had a few. However, in 2,000 plus years, a few is not too bad statistically speaking yet a few can be too many as their bad reputations may have stopped a lot of people from joining the Catholic church or causes some Catholics to flee the church. Still, the Catholic church is not ONLY the Pope; it’s the entire body of the church or all members. While a very small part of the “body” may be malfunctioning, the rest of the body continued/continues to work and now we have Pope Francis whom I personally believe will one day be a saint!

Don’t take the OT literally but believe in the NT as the literal Word of God? Okay, I’ve heard this also from other Catholics. What we are taught is it’s the WORD of God and not just the words of God. If we look at one portion of Jesus’s life (Who is the Word of God), we would have a very different perspective. Say, we take the account where Jesus made a whip and chased people from the temple. If that’s all we knew of Jesus, some might mistakenly believe “Jesus was one ANGRY dude!” Same as if we only knew of the accounts where Jesus took some bread and fish and multiplied them to feed thousands. Would some claim “I want Jesus at my next party; I’ll never run out of beer and chips!” The Word of God (Jesus) is to be taken in its entirety; from His birth to His resurrection. From the creation of the world to the last sentence in the Book of Revelations. To believe in the NT and discard the OT (not that that’s what I’m accusing you of but made to illustrate a point), would be like saying we believe in His death and resurrection but not in His Immaculate Conception and birth to our Blessed Mother.

I hope this helps in some way and doesn’t add to confusion. Pray on your questions; God will always lead you in the right direction. Have a Blessed Holy Week.

Infallibility is one of the most misunderstood things from those outside the Catholic church.

Please research this yourself, but just because the Pope says something does NOT make it infallible. He can exercise the power if needed, but in actuality rare does. And when they do, it is on a specific aspect of theology that cries out for an answer. It is, in the end, a way to keep the church from splintering since there is a final say when needed. It keeps the theologians unified. There are many things like defining who is a saint, etc. that define the church which have to be considered infallible. But the Vatican says it is a power that the pope has the ability to use, but only when needed.

Just think of it as a final say on a few issues of theology and church organization that would otherwise split up the church. There are the two big ones: The immaculate conception of Mary and the Assumption of Mary.


I hardly see how the real use of infallibility is so controversial as to be a ‘near insurmountable hurdle’.

The wisdom of the popes is that the kinds of issues around which infallibility is invoked can never actually be proven one way or another outside of divine intervention.

I read books written by popes like Pope Benedict. He humbly says right up front that the book is just his own thoughts, and that engaging with him in the discussion is how we grow in faith. These guys do not dictate things when they write. Only in certain specific cases do they speak ‘ex-cathedra’.

I am a big recommender of the book *Home Sweet Rome *by Scott and Kimberley Hahn, the story of how two very devout, very Protestant people were brought into the Catholic Church by the grace of God. It is an easy read, yet full of wisdom.

This ignorant Catholic read it on Wednesday, went to Mass on Sunday, and never looked back… :slight_smile:

CaptFun responds in RED

Some good things about the Catholic Church:

**Historically founded by Jesus Himself **(with a line of Popes dating back to Peter). Note that not all Popes have been canonized saints. That may help you a little with the infallibility thing (and what it is not).

Was commissioned by Jesus Himself to teach with authority. In Acts, read the part about Philip being taken to the Ethiopian (who, though sincerely trying to discern the scriptures he was reading … admitted he did not know their meaning. “How can I unless someone teaches me?” Philip does teach him (per Jesus’ “go and teach all nations …” commission). And the Ethiopian asks for (and gets) baptized by the apostle. You remind me of this sincere seeker … (who got divine and miraculous help in his conversion). :slight_smile:

The Catholic Church has a Catechism that can be examined per its teachings … and to answer some of the Bible questions that come up by those sincerely questioning (like the holy Ethiopian). The teaching office (the Philip if you will) clarifies many things through this publication. I think most Protestants (ALL people really!) would benefit from reading the Catechism and finding out not only how MUCH we agree upon … but how much we all can still learn about DEEPENING our relationship with Jesus through it. It is more a love story between God and the people He desires … than JUST a rule book. < Is how I’d put it.

Not all Protestants have “symbolic” Holy Communion. While we don’t believe in transubstantiation we do believe in the “Real Presence” when partaking of the elements.


Perhaps it would help clarifying what you think that the Church says is papal infallibility. It’s not at all about the man who happens to be the reigning pope, but about the Church, the body whose head is Christ. In my own thoughts, I think that the Holy Spirit would strike a pope dumb the second before he would say something contrary to the Gospel. Yet, in spite of popes having hold heretical beliefs, like John XXII, they never taught them to the universal Church. This charism is really about protecting the Church from evil men in the office of the papacy, which history is pregnant of.

Pax Christi

Please accept my apologies if you feel any offense. Catholics define “Real Presence” as the “body, blood, Soul, and Divinity” of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is no longer made of flour and water although the Eucharist may taste, feel, and weight exactly the same. Those are just properties, not the substance. God bless you.

I really hope your discernment process works out for the best for you. It is affirming to my faith to know that there is at least one more person (and I’m sure there are many more) who is willing to join this battle of ours.

If I had any advice, it would be to join the Roman Catholic Communion. Be wary however, there will be many ‘worldly wise-men’ both in and outside the Church who will attempt to sway you to the ‘world’…as it were.

Best of Luck

OP, don’t worry too much about what course you take. Vatican II incorporated protestants into the church of Christ. We are all brothers in Christ. You can easily attain salvation as a protestant!

Papal infallibility is something alot of good and devout Catholics don’t understand very well.

As it has been, when a pope made some kind of decree or judgment…the entire Christian world would acquiesce in silent submission and peace. If there was anyone to challenge a pope, it was usually a group of bishops.

And ironically…when there have been controversial disputes…it is usually the pope who ends up being more pastoral shepherd…than following ‘the book’.

Papal infallibility wasn’t defined until 1856! Yes, in response to the world changing as a result of the French Revolution…where people wanted and sought more self - determination and interior freedom as well.

So the pope and bishops went to work at the Vatican.

And so there are only 3 dogmas. The first is papal infallibility itself. How it goes, is the pope looks at the faith of the people and their convictions they have already held for a long time. He decides it is time to make a point of faith defined on the faith tradition of the people…based on the ‘senses of Scripture’. If the bishops in communion with the pope agree it is time to define a tradition…then the pope makes a dogma of faith. And papal infallibility is seen as the pope as a servant of God serving the Church, not the Lone Ranger up there telling people what to do and what to eat and so on.

So then the pope with papal infallibility now a dogma, made a second dogma…the Immaculate Conception…because Christians all these 1,800 plus years always saw Mary as perpetual virgin. So the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined as dogma.

Then in 1954, Pope Pius XII, made a third dogma, Mary’s assumption into heaven…because she did not earn death because she did not sin. We don’t know if she died or fell asleep or what…it is mystery and we will never know in this life…we can only assume Mary was glorious taken into heaven.

Today popes speak in encyclicals. Pope Leo XIII had written quite a bit of encyclicals particularly significant were those addressing the industrial revolution, the worker. Pope Pius XII also wrote alot of encyclicals and was a most prodigious pope upholding our Church during the times prior, during and after WWII and the rise of global communism.

What is tricky is that not every encyclical carries the same weight of truth. But we have our local bishop and diocese that instructs us on these insights the pope would like to share with us.

The pope is the sign of unity of communion, who holds the keys of the Blood of Christ who represents all of us…and as People of God…before Him, we, the bishops and the pope are all on the same level before God.

Rather our focus is on Christ and the full deposit of faith found in our catechism and experienced every Sunday at Mass in Word and Eucharist. It is Christ Himself Who is our focus and life.

There were a number of bad popes. And none of them taught or wrote anything on faith and morals. The Holy Spirit does protect the faithful…and it is a real suffering to endure. The Council of Trent corrected issues of the papacy that led to bad leadership.

The Catholic Church is self reforming. The challenge is where to keep your focus. Focus on Christ…our hierarchy is supposed to affirm and hold up our faith and understanding of Christ. And we can pick up when a cleric or bishop is ‘off’…and that is a suffering as well we must endure with love and patience and prayer.

If He has saved us all, then the question you ask is moot. It doesn’t matter who you join. Everybody gets saved.

Is that true? No

Jesus made it possible to be saved. That doesn’t mean everyone is saved.

possible = may ≠ will

We need to do what He wants us to do. We need to be as He wants us to be. He wants us “IN” His Church He established, receiving the sacraments He died to give us.

I would say, you really do know what is legit. Jesus started His Church in the 1st century. #[FONT=Arial]34[/FONT]

Protestantism started in the 16th century. We know who started each sect, and when it was started. It’s a 100% manmade endeavor. God condemns division from what He started. So we know God didn’t start Protestantism. To quote a famous Protestant convert, John Cardinal Henry Newman, “to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant”. That’s a simple and true statement that speaks volumes… that alone disqualifies Protestantism from consideration as legit.

how would you interpret John 6:51-70

The 1st pope denied Jesus 3 times. Jesus told Peter that would happen even over Peter’s protests that he wouldn’t do it. Did it change anything with Jesus and the plans He put in place for Peter being the leader of Our Lord’s Church? Nope!

All the apostles also scattered. Did it change Jesus plans for them? Nope!

This isn’t something of one’s own making. The ONLY Church that is true is the one Jesus established and gave all His promises to. Nothing else will do. That’s the one He builds on Peter and the apostles. There’s only one on the planet that qualifies. The Catholic Church.

*]Vat II did NOT do that. Protestants are NOT “in” the Church. If they were “in” the Church they could walk off the street and receive the sacraments. Can they do that? NO!.
*]Just look at confession catholic.com/quickquestions/as-a-protestant-who-wishes-to-stay-focused-on-the-lord-may-i-confess-my-sins-to-a-pri
[/LIST]looking at this further

I numbered the points of CCC 837 (all emphasis mine)

Here’s 5 salient points

*"*Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, (i.e. baptised)

*]accept all the means of salvation given to the Church
*]together with her entire organization,
*]who—by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith,
*]the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion—are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ,
*]who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.
[/LIST]taking that same list and applying that to validly baptised Protestants, they don’t meet the requirements for being “in” the Church.

"Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, (i.e. baptised)[LIST=1]
*]-] accept all the means of salvation given to the Church /-]
*]-] together with her entire organization, /-]
*]who—by -]the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, i.e. the Catholic profession of faith /-]
*]-] the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion—are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, /-]
*]-]who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops./-]
[/LIST]Protestants are NO on all 5 points. Ergo they are **NOT **“in” the Church.

Oh? I didn’t know it. Thanks for letting me know. I was thinking that real presence is where two or three people or more gather together to pray, He will be among them. At my mom’s church, the pastor blesses the wine and bread, and the partakers believe it to be His flesh and blood, but i have always been thinking that they meant it to be symbolic, until you mentioned about transubstantiation and real presence. Something for me to think about :newidea:

Sounds like your Anglican. They call it the “via media” or middle way.

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