I am new and a convert to protestantism. I will admit that I did not know much about the church when I left. But here are my reasons for leaving.
I had spent my whole life in the church, and attended several different parishes, but I had never experienced God in a significant way. Although I went to catholic elementary school, but I didn’t have a good understanding of catholic theology.
At some point when I was studying for confirmation and doubting there was a God, I had a real encounter with God and I was absolutely enthused about Him. I became extremely dedicated to the church and tried very hard to learn more and be an active participant, but I also started reading the bible— something I had never seen any catholics do in my life. Perhaps, had there been catholics teaching me how to enterpret the bible, I would not have left the church, but whenever I would take a question I had about scripture to someone in the church, like my pastor, he seem to want to brush scripture aside.
As time went on, I began to believe that there was no scriptural justification for sacraments other than baptism and communion, and possibly confession. I also no longer believed in the authority of the Pope. When I read the book of ACTS, it doesn’t seem at all evident that Peter thought he was in charge of everyone. There seemed to have been to be a collaborative spirit among the apostles as the Holy Spirit revealed the various gifts of people and called them to serve.
I began to believe that the churches attention to Mary was misguided.
I also felt like the catholic church placed unnecessarily burdens on believers, like the policy on birth control and the celibate priesthood.
And then I began to believe in the priesthood of believers. I came to believe all these things independently as I read scripture. There were no fundmaentalist Christians wooing me.
However, none of these disagreements are ultimately why I left the church. I would have never called it so at the time because I was raised Catholic, but after I had my born again experience I was so full of love and joy, I felt like I was about to burst, but I couldn’t find anyone around me who were equally passionate. It disturbed me to watch people going through the motions with no love for God, picking and choosing what to practice, and this was pervasive. So, ultimately, I left the church because I thought people were dead inside. I heard all this talk about the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t really experience it until I was outside of the RCC (and no, I don’t mean jumping up and down like a fool). My parents were so moved by my passion for God that they converted too.
Now, I realize that not every catholic is nonchalantly going through the religious motions. I know that many of you have deep and genuine love for Jesus, but in all honesty, my experience, having grown up in a predominantly catholic country, is that such enthusiasm is rare in the RCC. Obviously, this is not scientific conclusion, but ten years ago, it was an obsevation that both baffled me and broke my heart.
I now attend a Vineyard Church and let me say upfront, I do not believe that the Vineyard Church interprets scripture accurately all the time. In fact, having gone to several churches, I have basically had to conclude that most if not all churches are wrong about something. I attend this church because I have never met a group of people who so desperately want to serve God and love their neighbor.
Interestingly, there are two catholic theology students who attend our church. I thought this was odd, and I have asked them about it since these men are studying in the RCC, but attend our church instead of the catholic church down the street. Apparently, they do this for the same reason I left the church, they feel like people just go through the religious motions and were not passionated about Jesus.
I am sorry to be so long-winded, but a few more things. I, too, I am deeply burdened by the division in the church, and get angry when there some non-demoninational minster preaching a prosperity gospel with no one to hold him accountable. However, before the failings of the reformation can be addressed, I think the Roman Catholic needs to address this problem of “having forgotten their first love.”
When I look at the Christian landscape, I think of Jesus’s messages to the various Churches in Revelation. All the churches offered something commendable, but unfortuantely, most of them failed to fully represent Him. If we were in Him, we would be one. One of the ways that the RCC could help this process (in addition to passion thing) is by showing a bit more humility. Many of the posts I have read on this site seem to tell me that the most committed catholics deny that many protestants want nothing more than to love and serve God; they also fervently deny that the Catholic Church has been and can be wrong, and has had any part in creating division among believers.