[quote=tkdnick]I have no doubt of that, and I am not trying to say that you haven’t completely changed. Maybe I should have made a better explanation on my original post. Let’s say that your pastor gives a sermon about some aspect of faith that you just don’t agree with. As a Protestant, you can just switch to another church that agrees with your beliefs. You can’t do that as a Catholic.
I think your experience with Protestantism is a bit limited. I grew up Protestant - everyone I knew, friends, family, acquaintances, etc. who was Christian was a Protestant. Not one of them would EVER dream of changing churches because of a teaching they questioned. Precisely because their pastors lack the authority that apostolic succession gives Catholic priests, bishops, etc., there would be no reason to feel that what your pastor was saying was absolutely binding or obligatory–you could happily disagree with him and continue to be a faithful church member.
Case in point: One of my brothers belongs to Zion Church of Christ. He and his wife disagree with the church’s doctrinal acceptance of active homosexuals. But it’s THEIR CHURCH, they will never leave it to start their own thing. (incidentally, lots of Catholics who disagree with the Church’s stance on ABC have the same attitude…)
This whole starting new churches thing is pretty much limited to fundamentalist and pentecostal movements. Most self-respecting Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. would laugh at the idea of going off to start their own congregation.
Finally, I have to take issue with your view that Protestants don’t demand a complete change of life in accordance with faith. In my experience, because Protestantism lacks the cultural trappings of Catholicism, it’s much harder to be a lax Protestant. I mean that often, people raised Catholic remain Catholics nominally only because that’s what their family and, often, their culture is, it’s the only faith they know. While they don’t agree with most of what the Church teaches, they attend Mass a few times a year and most of their theological concepts are distinctly Catholic. Daily Bible reading, prayers and study - forget it. Conspicuously chaste dating relationships? Nope. But they still call themselves Catholic.
In contrast, most Protestants who give up their faith or lose it utterly cease to present themselves or think of themselves as Christian. In other words, if you’re going to be a Protestant Christian, you’re obviously going to be an active one. Most Protestants I know would never bother with Christianity at all if they didn’t strongly believe the the fundamental precepts of the faith and the practical demands of that faith; you don’t find a lot of people just along for the ride. Rather, the mentality seems to be that if you really belive Jesus died for your sins and wants you to live in an active relationship of love of God and neighbor, every day and week of your life must be given to that relationship. The practice of daily devotionals and weekly Bible study or Sunday school is extremely common for most Protestants.
Obviously, lax Christians exist everywhere and in all churches, and it would be both wrong and misleading to try and determine who is better than whom. As a Catholic, I of course believe that it is in the Church and by means of the sacraments that we have access to the fullness of truth and the deepest communion with God. However, I have experienced all my life that most Protestants seem to do much more to actively grow in faith with the teachings they have than many of us Catholics who have the tremendous privilege of the Eucharist, Confession, etc. We have much to learn from our separated brothers and sisters.