Looking for an explanation from Protestants. How do Protestants go to all the churches?
You find some that go to a Lutheran Church, then a Presbyterian one, then, perhaps as a result of moving, now go to a Methodist Church, give that a shot until they find the other Baptist church more exciting, give Presbyterians a few months time and then bounce back to Lutherans, etc., etc.
How does this happen? Is there some common creed, so that the actual denomination matters not?
The only safe generalization about protestants is that it’s hard to generalize.
In my experience, quite a number of different protestant communities don’t really have any objection to the truths put forward in the apostle’s creed (except for the little asterisk whereby they explain that ‘catholic’ doesn’t mean ‘papist.’) They accept the fact that at a certain level there are doctrinal controversies that are not easily resolvable and that those controversies are less important than adherents to the basic truths of christianity (which some accept as summarized by the creed). If the basics are there, they often consider the quality of preaching and music more important than the fine print of doctrine. “Quality” of preaching, of course is tought to define. The success of people like Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen suggests that an awful lot of people have a rather shallow definition of ‘quality of preaching.’
Recall that evangelical protestants consider prayerful singing to be worship. In many congregations, that the closest they get. That seems sad to us (since we know the Eucharist), but to them it’s a powerful experience. That’s why music and sound systems are so emphasized; they are making the best they can of what they have left.
Bouncing off of your example, if someone is well catechized in Lutheranism, they will not move to Presbyterian, then Methodist (though this is a closer hop), then to Baptist, etc.
If for no other reason, Lutheran sacramental beliefs regarding the real presence, confession, and Baptism, though there are many others. IOW, there are significant theological differences between what Lutherans believe, as a doctrinal Church, as compared to almost any Protestant communion.
Now, if they do, either they don’t know or care about doctrine, other there are other factors, such as marriage, etc. And, of course, we see the same with Catholics.
The church is divided ALSO ‘thanks’ to a new doctrine called ‘new grace’. The 2nd pastor has gone away before Chrismas, the numbers of believers attending the services had reduced (the last 2 Friday we were in 6, if I remember well), 2 months ago they’re returned in the ‘old’ building of the church and I said GOODBYE.
Unlike the Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches, etc., the vast majority of Protestant denominations do not consider themselves alone to be the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
So it’s not a big deal to switch to a different denomination. If a person has a specific issue with another denomination’s take on things, (s)he’s probably not going to go there. If not, there’s no reason not to if (s)he discovers a church (s)he likes better.
Or they don’t consider something like the Real Presence to be a critical doctrinal matter. That sounds nonsensical to Catholic ears, but many Protestants do believe that only “mere Christianity” (by the C.S. Lewis definition) is non-negotiable, and that diversity in belief concerning anything that Nicene Christians aren’t all united on is perfectly legitimate.
I like the opening chapter of “Mere Christianity” by C S Lewis.
To paraphrase… The job of every Christian is to seek the truth. It’s like going down a long hallway with rooms on either side. You enter in a room and are very comfortable, but the truth isn’t being told; your friends elect to stay, but your job as a Christian is to seek the truth… You move on to another room and find it uncomfortable and you are tempted to leave for another room; however you are hearing the truth for the first time… You elect to stay.
C S Lewis does a better job, but you get the idea.
Only a few churches have the full truth… Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and a few others. Protestant churches have truth, but not the full truth; something is missing. And in some Protestant churches the goal is to make you feel comfortable by justifying your sin. Example: “The Gay life style is an alternate normal life style and is not sinful” or “Living with your friend & having sexual relations prior to marriage is OK”
So: Do Protestants dance from denomination to denomination because they are seeking the truth (after all, according to C S Lewis, that’s their job) [size=3]BTW; when they find the truth they may very well end up in the Roman Catholic Church >> Or to justify their sin?[/size]
Yeah, that’s why I said they were probably poorly catechized, or just don’t care about doctrine, the real presence or any other for that matter.
That sounds nonsensical to Catholic ears, but many Protestants do believe that only “mere Christianity” (by the C.S. Lewis definition) is non-negotiable, and that diversity in belief concerning anything that Nicene Christians aren’t all united on is perfectly legitimate.
It sounds nonsensical to Lutheran ears, too. For Lutherans, the sacraments of Baptism, confession/Absolution, and the Eucharist should be non-negotiable as well. But, they are just a few of many things.
EDIT: Just as an after thought, it is precisely this issue that would keep me out of all but one other protestant communion.
I never asked the meaning of this new doctrine. I remember that the last time in which I’ve been in the church, the only thing that the pastor said about this doctrine was: contains a little bit of truth, and other few words that now I don’t remember. I was so bored that maybe my mind has not registered all the speech, I went away 30 minutes before the end…
Now: I’m making peace with thw Catholic church, I’m learning and finally I’m serene
It’s not about which church is “most exciting.” This is a rather foolish-sounding description that makes it seem like you see us as immature and ill-formed. Let me remind you that Protestants, on average, attend church at a frequency that’s more than 30% ahead of Catholics, there’s less nominalism per capita, and we do take church quite seriously- much more than Catholics do on average, actually.
There is one thing that tends to be at the forefront of our thought process, though, and it might not be what you’ve heard. You might have heard that we’re bouncing around looking for the fullness of truth, but that’s generally not true- it’s a concept Catholic apologists wish that more Protestants had even heard of. We’re usually not leaving a denomination for reasons of doctrinal difference, either. It’s mostly about the praxis and the people, and when we move (which Americans do a lot of), any given Protestant denomination may not be nearly as accessible in a different part of the country. Then we have to make some choices. There’s also a lot of compromises that we’re perfectly willing to make for marriage, and that often means leaving two denominations behind in favor of a third one.
I got a little sidetracked there- I was about to tell you the overarching theme that tends to guide Protestants when they are searching for a new denomination. Which, well over half the time, is precipitated by either a move or a marriage. Generally, the idea is that we want to be a part of the denomination that will do the best job of helping us become better Christians. We’re usually more willing to give ground on doctrinal quibbles than we are on that one point. If it’s a family with young children, their formation obviously takes precedence. And overall, whoever you are, praxis and people are more involved in affecting this one all-important outcome than a certain doctrine is.
If you want to get a Protestant to stick around in a new church home, it is imperative that you do a very good job of helping that Protestant become a better Christian. Incidentally, fifty percent of Tiber swimmers return to some form of Protestantism within one year of converting to Catholicism. There’s not much of a focus on ensuring that new members of a parish are getting what they need in order to become better Christians. It might sound kind of odd to you in your head or if you ever say it out loud, but the Catholic Church is not particularly good at helping Christians become better Christians. This is the single most important issue that governs the Protestant thought process, and unfortunately, it seems to be a concept that many Catholics don’t really grasp. The solution is better mystagogy, but I guess there’s enough Catholic parishes that don’t see it as a high priority. Protestants do, though. We must be in an environment where we can become better Christians. If it’s not like that, it’s a deal-breaker and we will look elsewhere. When we’re looking around, that’s what we’re looking for- the place that lets us use our gifts and talents to help others become better Christians, while everyone else is just as invested in helping us become better Christians.
It’s a little different from seeking the church that excites you the most. And I know this was somewhere in the back of your mind- a Catholic parish is not going to excite you the most, so come back around when you’re looking for the right things. The issue is this, though- we are looking for the right things, and the average Catholic parish doesn’t do a very good job of providing them. It’s not God-awful, but it’s not a particularly viable competitor either, and that’s why so many Tiber swimmers leave.