Religious Oaths/Vows and Breaking Them



I though that was the most appropriate title for this thread. It involves vows of Church Membership.

Don’t think that I’m really close to leaving my church, but this has been plaguing my off and on for some months. As I more and more want to be Catholic, I’m aware that the time is likely to be coming soon. But don’t hold your breath or spread rumors.

Ok, when I joined my church some 3 years ago after college, I was required to take an oath of membership to basically support the teaching of the church, desire to obey Christ in love by endeavorouing to keep the 10 Commandments, things like that.  Part of my trying to not violate this is manifest in the fact that I don't go around my church bringing up conversations about Catholicism.  If I discuss it with anybody, it's because they bring it up and I'm still hesitant and make it clear to them that THEY are the one that asked, and I answer as well as I can.  I take this pretty seriously, being Reformed, and I'm kind of afraid to break this oath, yet at the same time, I'm aware that perhaps the only way to truly fulfill it is to become Catholic!!  

About a year ago, during a church discipline case with some girl in my church, I brought it up to the pastor that since we had been given no written copy of this oath, maybe it would help if he give it to us in some written form. He said that was a good idea, but nothing has been done about it. So, I’m stuck with this practically “unwritten tradition” that I’m scared of breaking!

Any thoughts on this? I’m sure some of you converts from Fundamental churches have been through the same thing.


Having a split Spirituality is worse than having a split personality. Maybe you need to consider taking the step and asking to go through the Rite of Welcome at that point your relationship changes with the Catholic Church and you can stop attending the old church. After the Rite of Acceptance or Welcome Catechumens and Candidates should break ties with their old church or community. Because it is at that Rite, that is the point that you have decided to become Catholic. Put your hand to the plow and do not look back as the Scripture says.


Perhaps the folks at the Coming Home Network ( can help you during this stage of your journey. Although they specialize in helping Protestant clergy who are interested in the Catholic Church, I am sure they would be happy to assist you and put you in contact with someone from the Reformed tradition who has lived through the transition to the Catholic Church and who can offer you some good advice.


Ok, I suppose I shouldn’t expect any other than what basically has been said. That’s good advice and I’ll consider it as that.

I should spend less time on these forums now and really prepare for the “loving” rejection of friends if/when I do indeed convert. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised at their reactions. And maybe they’ll cut the brake lines on my truck!



Reformed Bob:

This is just my two cents:

I think you can realistically view your conversion to Catholicism as not a rejection of the oath you took, but a fulfillment of it. What I mean is this: you say you took an oath to uphold the teachings of the Church. I think by converting to Catholicism, the true Chrurch of Jesus you will be fulfilling that oath in the utmost degree. Think of it not as “converting” but “growing”. Supplementing the truth that you have.

Another thought, if you decide to convert it would be obviously becuase you believe the Catholic Church to be the true Church of Christ and the Preysbyterian Church to be defective or in error. Otherwise there would be no reason to convert. In light of this, you might view that oath as null. For you did not have “full knowledge” at the time of the oath taking. You didn’t see the bigger picture. I don’t believe Christ would hold you to a defective oath.

I’m a revert to Catholicism. Born Catholic, then protestant, back to Catholic. Just my thoughts on the issue. Hope I helped and made sense.

God Bless you!


Yes, that makes sense.

I’m mindful that in Matthew 14:7, Herod the tetrarch promised “with an oath” (NAS) to give Herodias’s daughter anything she wanted, and she wanted John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Well, he would have been better off not fulfilling that request, even though he’d promised her whatever she wanted.

And also Proverbs 20:25
It is a snare for a man to say rashly, “It is holy!” and after the vows to make inquiry.

So, the approach I’m trying to take is to at least reasonably get a feel for the prevailing arguments for and against the Catholic Church, and it’s doctrines.

But, I have to say, that if I were Catholic, I’d have a much firmer foundation for trusting the teaching of the church, as opposed to trusting my Protestant minister, as wise as he seems to be.


I offer this from the experience I have through teaching for RCRIA, that I can see from your posts that so far your approach to the Catholic faith is primarily intellectual, that you have an analytical, logical bent of mind, and that you are well grounded in sacred scripture and know how to weigh what you read against it. I can tell you this that your conversion will be a matter of the heart as well as of the intellect. And until your heart is engaged wholly you will not find a way past those last few nagging doubts.

It is not necessary for you or any candidate to know inside and out and accept completely to each and every doctrine of the Catholic faith. For one thing a lifetime of study would not be enough for this. For another thing as long as you rely on conviction through intellectual understanding and assent, you will not have learned to place trust in magesterial teaching of Christ’s Church. For another thing, Christ is asking for your heart, and you cannot divide your heart. Your mind, memory, will and heart are indivisible, as Ignatius says in his prayer of renunciation.

As long as you are waiting for an intellectual understanding and assent of each and every point of doctrine, you are still trusting in your own knowledge and understanding, rather than relying on the 2000 year old combined knowledge and understanding, guided by the Holy Spirit, of the Catholic Church.

What is necessary, as John says in his recounting of Christ’s message, is love, love and unity.


Thank you ASQUARED,

Yes, it seems that most of the things that enter my mind to discuss here on these forums are of the things “intellectual” as you referred to them. It seems that’s what 90% or so of the discussion here in the apologetics forum is geared towards.

I suppose you could say that my recent Reformed background has put that at the forefront.

So thanks, that’s a helpful observation. To set you at ease, the times I am most desiring to leave my congregation and join the RCC are when I’m thinking about Confession and the Eucharist, and oddly enough, having a Catholic Sacramental marriage and family. That’ll turn the girls away quick, unless they’re Catholic! It really took very little study, if you will, to understand what the church teaches about those things and to want it.


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