Protestant seeking answers . . . (long - SORRY!)


#1

Hello all,

I’m not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I am hoping that one (or some :)) of you could help me answer the guide of the Holy Spirit.

Recently, I innocently bought a copy of Dan Browns “Angels and Demons”. I had heard that it was an excellent action adventure story . . . something along the lines of Indiana Jones. After reading it, I decided to do a little research on the Conclave, especially in light of the recent death of John Paul II.

Before I go any furthur, let me give you all a little background on myself. I accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age and have attended an Assembly of God (evangelical) church pretty much my entire life. I graduated from Valley Forge Christian College with a degree in Bible and Youth Ministries. After spending several years working as a pastor in a local church, I decided to move to a lay avocation that better fitted the gifting the God has given me. I am still extremely active in my local body and try to live my life in accordance with the truth that the Holy Spirit has revealed to me.

For the last several years, my heart has grown increasingly disquieted . . . I have felt like something in my life was “out of whack”. I have prayed and sought after God to the best of my abilities. Finally, I prayed what I feel was a very fateful prayer - I asked the Lord to reveal the Truth (capital T intended) to me, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it was. Little did I know the consequences of that prayer . . .

In my research in the Conclave, I ran across the Catholic apologetic material contained on Catholicanswers.com. I have always been neutral concerning Catholic belief, although my school and everyone that I know within my church believes that most Catholics were not destined to spend eternity with the Lord. I have simply not had any experience with them at all . . . I’ve never had a theological discussion with a real live Catholic. I figured that I would read through the material and quickly demolish it as “Popish nonsense” (in the words of one of my college professors) and move on.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the first thing that I hit was the position paper on the concept of Sola Scriptura. The position of the Catholic Church directly attacks the very foundation of the faith that I have been raised on. The very linchpin of Protestant doctrine hangs on this concept. What I found was NOT what I expected.

*I could not and cannot refute the doctrine that has been expressed by the Catholic Church on this subject by history, logic, or by scripture itself.

If I cannot refute this doctrine, then the very foundations of my Christian belief system MUST be altered. To see the truth and ignore it is the gravest of sin.

*I write this with fear and trembling. Part of the underpinning of my Universe has simply dried up and blown away. I am alternating cold sweats of terror and exaultation at the mercy of the Father in guiding me by His Spirit.

Before I can move forward with this I need rock solid, unshakeable arguments to respond to the inevitable storm that this will create. To pretty much everyone I know Catholism is something you get saved from . . . this would be like converting to Islam. To be honest with you all, some of the practices and beliefs of Catholism seem extremely alien to my Protestant worldview (veneration of Mary, the Real Presence, absolution, salvation not by faith alone, etc). But I simply cannot deny the evidence of my heart and my Spirit.

So, what I am looking for are reference works that CLEARLY state and defend the position of the Church from scripture, the Church Fathers, and logic. Us Protestants are used to heaving through reference works and hounding out the truths of Scripture, so I’m looking for detail and impeccable credentials.

Also, is anyone aware of a Godly man in Richmond Virginia that I can discuss this with? I am partially convinced I should just drop into a Catholic Church (if I can find one) and introduce myself, but I am not sure how that would work out.

Converting to Catholism would alienate me from almost all of my friends and my in-laws. My wife (with whom I have not discussed this) will be devastated. How will I break this to my mother, who is a true Protestant saint? How will I teach my two children? I am truly searching for answers and will go where the Spirit guides me, but right now I think that I need to spend time studying and proving to myself through the illumination of the Spirit the Truths that are set before me.

Also, if you could lift a prayer to the Father I would appreciate it. My name is Richard Barlow . . . I’m sure the Father knows which one your praying for.

Thank you all and may God bless you.


#2

Hello and welcome I am a former protestant.:slight_smile: God brought me here as an answer to a prayer.If you seek you will be led into all truth.Welcome:)


#3

Richard,

I am too considering the CC, while I am a little farther than you since I try to attend Mass regularly. I understand your fear, since my family is staunch in their anti-Catholic sentiments. However, since your college education is in Protestant theology, it poses a larger problem. Maybe you could write a few books on the pitfalls of Protestant theology, trust me, we can never have too many apologists. As for books that personally helped me with facts and Scripture, I recommend the following, in no particular order.

  1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  2. Unabridged Christianity (my favorite)
  3. Crossing the Tiber
  4. Surprised by Truth
  5. Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic
  6. The Bible
  7. Catholicism and Fundamentalism
  8. The Early Church Fathers (3 volume set)

Also, there are many websites I recommend, besides CatholicAnswers, of course

www.catholicoutlook.com
www.ewtn.com
www.chnetwork.org
www.phatmass.com
www.catholic-convert.com

I will make sure to say a prayer for you and if you need anything, the fine people here on the forums are wonderful…and most know alot more than me.

DU…:dancing:


#4

If you are interested in learning about the Catholic faith, another good website is the EWTN website. Here is the address:

ewtn.com/vexperts/conference.htm

You can post questions to their experts. What exactly were you curious about specifically? I am just a layperson, but I might be able to help with basic things. Also, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good book to pick up to help in understanding the Catholic faith. I would also recommend the Baltimore Catechism as this is very reader friendly and really describes the faith in detail.

Pax Vobiscum

-Stephen


#5

Richard,

Hey, surely prayers will be said for you, myself included. You have embarked on a great yet tumultuous journey. (I can somehow relate as 3/4 of my background is Protestant and and the 1/4 that are Catholic don’t live the Faith.) As far as resources, you can contact the local Diocese or drop into the Mass and follow along in the missal. The Coming Home Network is a support group bringing those exploring the Catholic Faith and those that have converted to Catholicism together so they can share the load and help answer your questions as they come along. Support like is crucial as you explore the Catholic Faith.

As for books, Karl Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” is excellent for its combination of Written (Scripture) and Oral Tradition, and John Henry Newman’s “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” details Newman’s journal from Protestantism To Rome (the book was written while he was still a Protestant, and the editors refused to allow him to change portions after he converted). Scott and Kimberly Hanh’s Rome Sweet Home details a family’s journey, Jeff Cavin’s “My LIfe on the Rock” and Stephen Ray’s “Crossing the Tiber” and “Upon This Rock”. The series Surprised by Truth reveal stories and doctrinal topics of various faiths approaching Rome.

Lastly, pray and ask your family and friends to pray for you even if they don’t understand or agree as you search for Truth. At times, you may be elated, frustrated, depressed or excited, but in all journeys echo the Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My Will, But Your Will Be Done Father.” God Bless and and you are in my prayers (and others I will ask) :slight_smile: .
~slinky1882


#6

Hello and Welcome to the forums!

I am excited for you as you are going along this journey of faith, and you can be assured of my prayers…

First–as to the beliefs of Catholicism, you should pick up/read on the internet the Catechism of the Catholic Church–it is a summation of our Beliefs and should provide immensely helpful for you along with a Bible and your contacts with Priests/Religious Members.

Second–get in touch with a Catholic Church in your area…call ahead and make an appointment to speak with the Priest and tell him what you’re thinking. He will be able to get you involved with RCIA which is the program for those interested in the faith. Then stay and observe Mass one day (follow along with everyone else there, no worries, just don’t receive Holy Communion). After you’ve been to a few Masses, brought your questions to a Priest or here, and prayed about all of this–Catholicism can start to make sense out of that desire for Truth in your heart.

As far as your family/friends go that is something that will undoubtedly be hard and you’ll have to evaluate that on a case by case basis; however, if you become Catholic–look at it as a way by which you can spread the faith–if not by words but by example…if you have any questions Private Message me.

God Bless and I’m praying for you,


#7

saintbenedictparish.org/home.cfm

I did some digging around online. Please contact Fr. Kauffmann, I’m sure he’d be more than happy to assist you. (see above link)

I’ll do so more digging so I can refer you to some good books that may be of help to you.

You are in my prayers.


#8

Here is another resource for you to use:

masstimes.org/dotNet/

It is a website that will give you the address and Mass times for any Catholic Church in the country. Just type in where you want to go and it will provide you with the specific parish.


#9

I don’t know how many others have read this, but I feel that Unabridged Christianity by Fr. Mario P. Romero is by far the best book for apologetics and Scriptural proofs of the Catholic faith. I strongly recommend this book. I have read many others but this one just blew the others out of the park, at least for me. Anything by Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, or Dave Armstrong is good as well…but I strongly recommend Unabridged Christianity.

Sorry for the repetition everyone…I just really want to help Rich…:yup:

DU…:blessyou:


#10

Hi Richard, Welcome to the forums! And may God bless you on your journey. You’ve received some very good advice so far, and I don’t want to over-bombard you with information and advice while you are starting your journey. Let me just say that as your explore Catholicism, you will undoubtably ecounter many things that will seem “alien” to a life-long Protestant…from the externals (the smells and bells) to some differences in theological emphasis. Just take it slow, and be open to the Truth each step of the way.

One piece of advice I would give is to appraoch these forums with a bit of caution. There is a great deal of information being posted, and sometimes it is difficult to discern which is authentic Catholic teaching, and which is not. Understand that the vast majority of those who post here are not members of the Church’s Magesterium. If you have difficult theological questions, the “Ask an Apologist” forum is a great place to start (and the tracts available on the host site are excellent - just click on “library” at the very top of the screen).

I’ll end by suggesting one more book that you might find helpful, “A Biblical Defense of Catholicism” by Dave Armstrong. It seems like it may be very helpful for your purposes. Dave’s website also has a great deal of excellent information:

ic.net/~erasmus/RAZINDEX.HTM

Again, welcome to our little “home” and may God bless you abundantly.


#11

Hi Richard Barlow, welcome!

www.chnetwork.org have several stories about their conversion to the catholic faith and more than likely have similar if the not the same questions that you may have about the faith.

God bless you and will be praying for you.


#12

Richard,
We are here 24/7. If one of us not here, someone will be here to help you for sure.
Just ask us anything.
www.scripturecatholic.com/

God bless!!


#13

Hi Richard!

I have already sent my prayers for you! :gopray2:

You have started on a long journey that never ends (the aim is eternity)! Welcome to that journey!!! I am a convert, too.

The Holy Spirit will guide you, ask for His guidance every day. Here is a “Prayer for Guidance” by St Thomas Aquinas:
cptryon.org/prayer/special/guidaquin.html

I am sure you know “The Serinity Prayer” but I will post it here as a reminder:

**God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.**

Some practical advise. You don’t have to tell your family before you feel that you have some theoretical base. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the wisdom to know when you are able to take all the chritism that will come.

My family did not like it when I told them that I was going to be catholic. I told them that it was my decition and that there was nothing they could do to stop me. They all came to Church to see me enter the Catholic Church and they are very respectful about me not eating meat on fridays at lent etc.

My advice is that you wait with the exploration of Mary and the the prayers to the saints. These topics are the most difficult to understand. I remember a prayer I used to pray, when I started to pray the Rosary. I think a lot of ex-protestants will recognice similar thoughts. I prayd: “Dear Lord, as you know I am raised a lutheran and that I was thaught that to pray to the dead is a sin. Therfore I feel a bit hesitant and afraid. Please help me with the prayer. I can’t do it alone.”

With the Lords help I started to pray the Rosary at Net. When I was ready for it the Lord showed me, in a very beutiful way, were to bye one.

Here is a link were you can learn to pray the Rosary when you are ready for it. There you will also see the Biblical thruth behind every prayer in the Rosary! For now, just take a look so you can learn how to do the cross from your forhead etc. (It’s demonstrated on the link):
easterbrooks.com/personal/calendar/rosary/light.html

When you have learned how to cross yourself, try to find a Catholic Church and enter it. Wait outside, folllow after someone else and dip your fingers at your right hand in the cup/bottle placed inside the Church beside the door (look at how they do it - the wather is blessed under a baptism ), cross yourself and go to the nearest bench. From that position you will be free to watch and “talk to the Lord” from deep inside of yourself.

Remember you are not allowed to pattake in the Holy Eucaristic Meal. But you can be blessed. The day you feel you are ready for that, you can walk up in the line with the others, put your right hand upon your left shoulder and the priest will give you a blessing instead of the bread.

Since we are all unike individuals, the Lord walk the road together with us in the way we need it and in the time it takes.

When you feel that the time is right for you, contact a catholic priest for advice about how to go on with the process!

Some recomondations:

Try the “Surprised by Thruth” books first. They are very helpful in reminding you that you are not the only one who has struggled to find the way:
surprisedbytruth.com/store/shopexd.asp?id=26

The book: “Where Is That In The Bible?” is very helpful:
surprisedbytruth.com/store/shopexd.asp?id=28

A lot of information at “Catholic Library” at **Catholic Exchanges ** webpage:
catholicexchange.com

Catholic Answers library:
catholic.com/library.asp

**The Catholic Encyclopedia online ** will be helpful:
newadvent.org/cathen/

Churchfathers:
northforest.org/references/ChurchFathers.html

catholicfirst.com/churchfathersindex.cfm

Two good online Periodicals:

catholic.com/magazines/thisrock.asp

envoymagazine.com/

I wish you all the best in your walk togther with the Lord on a road that until now has been unknown to you!

:blessyou:


#14

start with CA home page, tracts, and back issues of This Rock, which will state each issue, and give the documentation you are looking for.


#15

Thought I would share this perspective:

Pope John XXlll stated and Pope John Paul ll emphatically reaffirmed “That which seperates us as believers in Christ is far less than that which unites us.”

I think there are many Catholics and many non-Catholic Christians who would benefit from considering carefully the meaning of that statement.

I hope that possible it offers you a little comfort. In his book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Pope John Paul ll writes a section entitled “In search of lost unity.” You might find it helpful to read.

Jesus is enough to hold us all together. He is the center of all our faith. Know that you don’t have to give that up in your search.

peace

-Jim


#16

Richard,

What you are about to embark on is a well trodden path. There are two sources I would like to offer you. One is “Testimony to Truth” a DVD which tells the story of the conversion of Dr. Scott Hahn and Pastor Alex Jones who not only converted to Catholicism but also brought around 60 members of his congregation with him. Second is a three VHS tape set titled “Our Father’s Plan” by Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins, who is also a convert. Send me your mailing address at bthal59@aol.com and I will send you the above described DVD and tapes as a gift.

The point of your post that interests me most is this… >>Converting to Catholism would alienate me from almost all of my friends and my in-laws. My wife (with whom I have not discussed this) will be devastated. How will I break this to my mother, who is a true Protestant saint? How will I teach my two children?<<

Converting to Catholism would alienate me from almost all of my friends… Something I find interesting. I have never heard of a Catholic losing his friends if he leaves the Catholic church, but I have heard many times, such as on “The Journey Home” on EWTN, how Protestants “walk-out” on their friends if they become Catholic. It says something about the spirit, doesn’t it?

My wife (with whom I have not discussed this) will be devastated. So were the wives of Alex Jones and Scott Hahn, as you will see if you will take me up on my offer for the DVD and tapes. But they are happily Catholic now.

How will I break this to my mother, who is a true Protestant saint? If this is true, she should be the quickest to understand and support you.

How will I teach my two children? The same way the others did; that the faith you raised them in gave them some truth, but now through the true apostolic church of Christ you will give them all the truth.

God Bless you Richard as the path will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Hope to hear from you.

Thal59


#17

I know exactly how you feel my friend. I was a Protestant minister and am now a Catholic priest. Conversion did cost me my career and some family/friends. I won’t lie to you. It can be tough. But I had to follow the truth wherever it led. When I realized that sola scriptura was simply wrong and unbiblical to boot then I had no choice. BUT it has been worth it. I love being Catholic and would never go back. Take your time. Pray, study, read, and find a good priest to talk with. And hang around here. God bless.


#18

Hi Richard! Welcome to the forum! :slight_smile:

I too was in the AoG, for about 20 years, so I know exactly where you are coming from–at least from my experience of those days. I’ve now been in the Catholic Church about as long as I was in the AoG, which doesn’t seem possible! :wink:

Anyway, I also got to the point in the AoG when I asked: “Is this all there is?” I got very restless there, especially after reading C. S. Lewis. I don’t know what your experience of it was, but I was told repeatedly that reason and logic were anti-faith or at least anti-“heart knowledge”. Have you heard that expression? I heard it all the time.

When you wrote that you prayed, telling God you needed to know the truth no matter what, I smiled because I prayed exactly the same prayer. It truly is dangerous to do! My prayer, though had something you didn’t mention. I also told God I would even go to the (shudder!) Catholic Church to find the truth, if necessary. To me it meant I would explore hell itself to find the answers–that’s how anti-Catholic I’d become.

To cut to the chase, I was drawn into the Catholic Church over the span of 3-4 years. I didn’t have the career considerations nor family objections to deal with as you do. In that I was fortunate. But, I did bring my family into my conversion process gradually, as I felt they could take it and understand it. I think you may want to do the same with yours, especially your wife.

You don’t want to just spring your final decision to convert on her without a clue. It would be similar to telling her you’ve been having an affair–in emotional impact, if you see what I mean. When you think she might be open to listening and you are sure of your facts, you should sit her down and explain you journey calming and reasonably. I imagine you’ve been thinking along these lines yourself. You sound like a very careful, thoughtful person.

All my prayers will be going out for you and your family as you explore the Catholic faith. I’d recommend the Father Brown Mysteries by G. K. Chesterton after you’ve read the theological boosk in order to absorb the Catholic world view, culture and sensibilities. They aren’t just mystery stories, they are apologetic works of the most subtle kind because they simply present a Catholic priest deducing who did what from his knowledge of the faith and of human nature. I think you would really enjoy them. You might like to read “The Everlasting Man” first, though. It is an apology that refutes the ideas of H. G. Wells and others’ veiw of history. GKC made Christ and his Church the center of history. It’s a classic, but then anything by GKC is a classic. God bless you and yours!


#19

Richard,

I am not at all surprised that God continues to use the life of His good and faithful servant, John Paul II, to draw people closer to Him. You have pulled back a veil and found what every Christian searches for – the Church founded by Christ, the teacher and guardian of the entire deposit of faith left to the apostles. It does not look the way you expected, because living things grow and develop over 2000 years.

The Father, in His great mercy as you say, has offered you the fullness of the Church founded by and for His Son. As Christ said so often, be not afraid! We all look forward to walking along side you as you investigate what has been revealed to you. God bless!


#20

Richard,

I converted from Protestantism about a year ago. The past year has been great, though there are still some struggles with Protestant family members and friends. My wife converted also. The thing about spouses is that they have to be allowed to come to terms with it over time. Pressure won’t work (and you probably knew that). Break the news slowly, but steadily. All of Catholicism can be evidenced in Scripture, so if you pick topics, you can do bible studies with your family and see what they think. And as you suggested, the history of Christianity is Catholic.

One book that I loved and really helped me was By What Authority: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, by Mark Shea. Catholic Answers and Catholic Encycopledia are also very good and reliable helps.

Ask away.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.