Return to Catholicism - Parts I & II (Merged Threads)


#1

Hi Everyone!

I’m new here, but poke around a bit. I wanted to ask the advice and input of everyone here. I was raised Catholic and but have been attending a Baptist church for the past six years. Based on several things, I am considering coming back to the Catholic Church. I wrote up my faith journey below and like your input.

Thanks!

I was born and raised in a Catholic home. My parents are great Christians and did their best to raise me with godly principles. We attended church weekly, went to CCD, and made most of the Sacraments in the Catholic Church. Although I attended public schooling, my parents brought me to CCD and occasionally taught CCD classes themselves. I had a wonderful childhood and religious upbringing.

Although I attended mass weekly, religion wasn’t number one in my life. I wasn’t a bad kid or person growing up. I was average and quite happy. I had friends in school and enjoyed life. Drugs, drinking, parental problems, etc. never were on my radar screen. I would debate with my friends in high school about religion and about belief in God, but it wasn’t personal. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Right now, I am leaning toward the latter.

At the age of 17, I took a girl to our high school homecoming dance. Later that night, I knew I would marry her. I knew very little about her, but was immediately in love. Soon after we started dating. Life was wonderful. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was Baptist. Growing up, I didn’t know much about Baptists except that they danced on the pews. At least this was my childish understanding. Although I regret this now, I told her I wanted to know more about Christ to try and impress her. I didn’t care at the time but just sought to impress her. She was excited and invited me to start attending her youth group on Wednesday nights.

I’ve always noticed I wore my heart on my sleeve. This was true growing up. I remember being a teenage and seeing a retarded person in the store once. I felt so bad for the person and was on the verge of tears. My heart ached for this person. It was because of this, I immediately responded to the message of salvation at this Baptist church. I am sure you are aware of this formula. I realized the need for a Savior and immediately placed my trust in Christ. I said the “sinner’s prayer” and resolved to repent of my sins.

Soon after this conversion, I started attending church services regularly with my girlfriend. I really didn’t have a problem with the theology and enjoyed being with her. We attended Wednesday nights, Sunday services, and Sunday school. Her parents welcomed me into their home and were very nice to me.

My parents were less receptive. Although, I didn’t join her church or get baptized in it, they had a problem with me attending so frequently. They were upset that it was so one-sided. She had been raised the Catholicism was completely wrong. Most of the protestant churches around here (Wisconsin) don’t go so far as to call them the great Harlot, but believe they are severely in error. She told me of the problems with the Catholic Church: worship of Mary, Transubstantiation, prayer to the saints, the Pope, etc. This was the usual list of problems most Protestants have with Catholics. At the time, I didn’t have a proper understanding of theology or apologetics and couldn’t give her any answers on these questions. Because I didn’t know the answers, her difficulties with the church soon became my difficulties as well.

My parents and I fought about these things on an infrequent basis. They were upset about the fights and my frequent attendance to the Baptist Church. I was convinced they were wrong and that the issues raised were legitimate.

Although I was beginning to distance myself from Catholicism, I never felt any real draw to join her church. I would have like to if it just meant joining. However, in order to join, I would have had to been re-Baptized. I resisted this. At the time, I might have conceded to the points regarding infant Baptism, but I resisted anyway. Another event caused a fair amount of consternation for me. This came in the form of a unit in the Sunday school classes we attended. The associate pastor taught several lessons on the errors of Catholicism. I was steeped in Protestant though at the time, but became very angry during these classes. I listened as the Pastor would pick various Catholic teachings and say what was wrong with them. This was an adult Sunday school class, but didn’t resemble any kind of mature faith. The people would talk about their experiences and ridiculousness of the Catholics. I was offended at the half truths and problems with that line of thinking. I didn’t defend the Catholic faith, but tried to chide the people there. I raised my hand and told them that the classes were all well and good, but did nothing to reach out to Catholics and spread the message of Christ. I was essentially advocating bringing the “Sinner’s Prayer” to Catholics.

Before my girlfriend and I graduated from college, we began looking for a college to attend. I wanted to be with her and considered many of the school she did. She looked at some of the schools I was considering. Fortunately, we live near a great Catholic, liberal arts college. At my request, she went on a tour of the school. Because she wanted to go into teaching and the school had a superior education program, she decided to attend. I was ecstatic because this was the school I wanted to attend.

I’d like to comment on my girlfriend at this time. Although she comes from a very conservative, Evangelical family, she has always remained above the fray. Both of her younger siblings attend Bible colleges and are steeped in legalism, condescension, and many of the aspects associates with a Christian Fundamentalist worldview. She considers and likes doing what they would never accept. She dated me (a Catholic!), she drinks occasionally and enjoys it, she had no problem attending a Catholic college, etc.

College went very well for the both of us. We both got good grades, enjoyed friends and socializing, and enjoyed learning. I thank God for schools like ours. The small, private, Catholic, liberal-arts college was just what we need. Some of the professors were Catholic and some were not. Academic freedom was a blessing. I learned critical and analytical thinking. I fell in love with philosophy and theology.

After a few years of college, I decided I would propose to my girlfriend. I planned that we would get married after graduating from college. Her parents, like many Evangelicals, didn’t like the idea of a two year engagement but didn’t have that big of a problem with it.

As the wedding got closer, one problem would emerge: alcohol. My girlfriend and I drank on weekends with our friends. We saw no problem with alcohol. Her parents did have a problem, however. They hated it and did not want it at our wedding. Many fights, tears, arguments, and problems would ensue. My fiancée’ was divided between honoring her parents or me. She was torn. Through all of this, I stood my ground. I saw no problem with it. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding for goodness sake! I couldn’t believe the ridiculousness of their arguments. For four years, they thought I was the world, and because of this one issue, they thought my fiancée should leave me. They threatened to not attend the wedding and several other things. WE eventually reached a compromise to have it after dinner; at which point they would leave.

This event led me to see several problems in their thinking. I began to notice several problems I had with the Evangelical/Fundamentalist movement. I saw it as a kind of social club that verged on border line cultish. Let me be clear, I don’t think the Fundamentalist movement or Baptists or Evangelicals are a cult at all. I do think that “group-think,” “group-speak,” shunning, acceptance, and some of the other characteristics of group mentality are evident. Deviation from the norm is not accepted. Conformation is rewarded.

Over the past two years, these ideas became more and more evident to me. I also began reading and studying theology. I loved learning and reading. The theological tradition was so rich and enlightening. However, this did not exist in the Fundamentalist/Evangelical movement. I found this disheartening.

I too was attracted to Calvinism. Finally, there was something I could sink my teeth into. I began reading debates between Calvinists and Arminianists. I was convinced and in some ways still am, that this line of thinking was correct.

Please see Part II as it was too long!


#2

Sorry my story was too long! Here’s the second half!

Although we still attend a Baptist church, I long to change. I’ve recently noticed several aspects of my in-laws behavior that I find disheartening. They are impatient and always must be engaged in something. They are not content to just sit and talk. Events are rushed through only to bring on another event. It is almost as if they avoid silence and quietness. They always must be busy. The destination is more important than the journey. While they definitely have Type A personalities, it is much more than that. Again, the behavior displayed resemble the same behavior as people in a cult. I don’t think their church or religion is a cult, but rather can breed cultish behavior. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are afraid to question their faith. Debate lasts for about one minute. They must continually busy so their minds will never turn to questions regarding their faith or religion.

Ever since my wife and I got married, her parents have disliked me. This is due solely to the alcohol issue. Niceties and pleasantries are about the extent of our relationship. There are many hard feelings between us. Although my wife and I visit fairly often, the relationship between them and me is forced and artificial.

For me, the past two years events came to a culmination this weekend. I won’t bore you with too many details, but I was invited to help do some yard work. I said I would and went to there house Saturday morning. A friend I like was over and was talking with my mother-in-law and me. In an in-direct way, she implied I wasn’t a good Christian. This didn’t faze me too much at the time. I knew I had a good relationship with Christ and the truth of it. I thought, “Well, we’ll see. God is the judge of everything and He knows my heart.” Later in the day, I was relaying this to my friend and my father-in-law was right behind me. He heard me but said nothing in walked away. Again, I was surprised but un-phased. Later in the day, I found out my father in law was talking about me behind my back to this friend about how bad alcohol was. He didn’t want to say anything while I was around, because he expected me to chime in about it. I doubt I would have.

These events are relatively minor and seemingly unimportant. I attended church the next day with my wife, which is, unfortunately, the same church my in-laws attend. Afterwards my wife and I began to fight about what happened the day before. She said it was nothing. Shortly after the fight, I broke down and started crying.

I was sick of pretending. I woke up that morning dreading going to church with the people who were so fake. I hated having to change who I was for their acceptance. I hated the fact that their love and acceptance for me was based on how close I would align myself with their views. Keep in mind, this is not some rant of someone way out in left-field. This is a fellow Christian who may disagree with ten percent of their theology.

I was so sick of pretending and playing church. Most of the churches congregation is nice and welcoming. I believe it depends on the background of the individual. The elderly folks are warm loving and caring. The young people are smug and condescending. Not all the people in that church or any Evangelical church are bad. The pastor is a wonderful, kind, honorable man. However, large portions of it are condescending, arrogant, and sometimes mean. Unless you jump through every hoop, there is no acceptance for you. This includes, but is not limited to: listening to Christian music, attending Wednesday night and Sunday school, abstaining from all alcohol, hanging around with only Christian peers, not watching R rated movies or inappropriate television shows, etc. It is very much an in-group sort of atmosphere. Unless you adhere to the status quo of that group, you are an outsider. You won’t be thrown out, but there is little love lost over you. You are tolerated.

Because of this and studying theology, I wish to return to the Catholic faith. I realize all religions have some flaws and are problematic. I’ve had problems with Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. I’ll probably have problems with Catholics. I realize nothing is prefect. I admit too that people should not judge a philosophy due to its abuses. Perhaps I have been hurt by some Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Does that mean I should leave their theology? What if Catholics hurt you as well? Will you leave them?

I am aware of the many questions and work through them on a daily basis. At this point in my life, I no longer feel like I belong in an Evangelical setting. Truth be told, I never felt I belonged; I always felt like an outsider looking in. I do consider myself quite conservative and hope to avoid many of the clichés associated with the youth of the day, my contemporaries. I do not expect to find a religion that conforms to me. I do not run around looking for what suits my needs. I recently saw a news story reporting that said a certain percentage of American Catholics thought the Roman Catholic Church was out of touch with them. I was shocked and thought, “Maybe you are out of touch with the church.” The purpose of religion is not to conform it to your standards but to conform to the standards of that faith. An anchor is needed. By seeking to leave the Evangelical church, is this not what I am doing? Am I looking for something to suit my needs? I hope not.

More than anything, I value the theology of religion. I realize people will hurt you in any church. Whereas the Evangelicals can be condescending, Catholics can be apathetic. I can deal with apathy though. My major concern is: Is this religion the correct way to honor God. Does it express the fullness of the Old and New Testaments? Do its followers bear the fruit of Christ? The latter question was my biggest hang up in the Evangelical church. I found only a handful that were truly Christ-like. Sadly, I wonder if my experience in the Catholic Church will be the same. Do I bear the fruit of Christ?

Below is a brief summary of my current beliefs. They don’t change much but I am open and will listen to criticism and debate.

-I believe in God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.
-I believe in the Holy Trinity.
-I believe that God inspired Holy Scriptures.
-I believe that a profession of Christ is crucial to faith in Christ.
-I believe in the importance of repentance.
-I am unsure about Transubstantiation. I do think that that protestants treat it much too crassly. Even from a causal reading of the New Testament leads me to believe it is more important than currently stressed.
-I am unsure about Baptism.
-I believe in the doctrine of the Elect.
-I believe some Catholics are excessively caught up in Mary.

This list isn’t all-inclusive, it’s just some things I have been thinking about lately and wrestling with.


#3

Good thinking here! Humans are the short link in all faith.

I am aware of the many questions and work through them on a daily basis. At this point in my life, I no longer feel like I belong in an Evangelical setting. Truth be told, I never felt I belonged; I always felt like an outsider looking in.

Y’know, my beloved wife said pretty much the very same thing. If she had told me that about 20 years ago, I think we might have come home to the faith sooner. :frowning:

I do consider myself quite conservative and hope to avoid many of the clichés associated with the youth of the day, my contemporaries. I do not expect to find a religion that conforms to me. I do not run around looking for what suits my needs. I recently saw a news story reporting that said a certain percentage of American Catholics thought the Roman Catholic Church was out of touch with them. I was shocked and thought, “Maybe you are out of touch with the church.” The purpose of religion is not to conform it to your standards but to conform to the standards of that faith.

Here again, this is well thought out. Human beings are really good at bending the rules to suit themselves. :shrug:

An anchor is needed. By seeking to leave the Evangelical church, is this not what I am doing? Am I looking for something to suit my needs? I hope not.

A good point, but bear this in mind. [FONT=“Palatino Linotype”]"[6] “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

More than anything, I value the theology of religion. I realize people will hurt you in any church. Whereas the Evangelicals can be condescending, Catholics can be apathetic. I can deal with apathy though. My major concern is: Is this religion the correct way to honor God. Does it express the fullness of the Old and New Testaments?

I’ve found it so. :slight_smile:

Do its followers bear the fruit of Christ?

Some do, some don’t. Like you said no one’s perfect, but most will do as well as you do and some will encourage you while you will encourage others.

The latter question was my biggest hang up in the Evangelical church. I found only a handful that were truly Christ-like. Sadly, I wonder if my experience in the Catholic Church will be the same. Do I bear the fruit of Christ?

I have found that if am intent on my own walk with Christ then others can grow from my example. Remember 1st Corinthians 13.

Below is a brief summary of my current beliefs. They don’t change much but I am open and will listen to criticism and debate.

-I believe in God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.
-I believe in the Holy Trinity.
-I believe that God inspired Holy Scriptures.

Looks pretty good so far

-I believe that a profession of Christ is crucial to faith in Christ.

The Case For Infant Baptism

-I believe in the importance of repentance.

So did Our Lord and the apostles.

-I am unsure about Transubstantiation. I do think that that protestants treat it much too crassly. Even from a causal reading of the New Testament leads me to believe it is more important than currently stressed.

Here’s what I have discovered about it.

-I am unsure about Baptism.

See the links above…

-I believe in the doctrine of the Elect.

You mean Calvinism? That’s a thread by itself, but I suggest that you use the forum search engine to locate threads on it or search the CA Library.

-I believe some Catholics are excessively caught up in Mary.

True, but most are not. An excellent free course on what the church actually teaches on Mary can be obtained here.

This list isn’t all-inclusive, it’s just some things I have been thinking about lately and wrestling with.

I certainly understand. If you need anything or just wanna talk feel free to PM me here at CAF. :slight_smile:

The peace of the Lord be with you always.[/FONT]


#4

As far as I am concerned there is only one reason to remain or become a Catholic. **Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church. ** My faith does not depend on how holy the priests or sisters are or how prayerful the average Catholic is or how reverently the Mass is said. My Faith is in Christ and I can be in no other Church than the one He founded.


#5

We’re with you here! :slight_smile:

-I believe that God inspired Holy Scriptures.

Yes, but that’s not the extent of it. God’s full revelation to humanity includes the Scriptures but is not limited to them. That full revelation is preserved and taught by his Church, the Catholic Church.

-I believe that a profession of Christ is crucial to faith in Christ.

Agreed. Catholics recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday.

-I believe in the importance of repentance.

Most certainly.

-I am unsure about Transubstantiation. I do think that that protestants treat it much too crassly. Even from a causal reading of the New Testament leads me to believe it is more important than currently stressed.

Think of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist in terms of the Incarnation. Christ is now body, blood and soul as well as divinity. And we are body, blood and soul. Thus the fullest, most complete union of Christ and us must involve all that Christ is, and all that we are. This is the key to the Eucharist. It unites all of Christ (body, blood, soul and divinity) to all of us (body, blood and soul). Now that Christ no longer walks the earth, any other form of union is less complete.

-I am unsure about Baptism.

This is one of those places (as are those above) where it helps to see what the Church has always taught. And that includes the Eastern Orthodox as well. Protestantism, especially Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, is really a very small minority in the Christian world, and a very recent branch also.

-I believe in the doctrine of the Elect.

Depends on what you mean.

-I believe some Catholics are excessively caught up in Mary.

In a Church of over a billion members, that’s probably a safe statement. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I suggest you approach the whole question of Catholicims not by seeing where it agrees with you, but by seeking to know if the claims of the Catholic Church are true. If they are true then it must follow that her teachings are true. So, investigate for yourself if the Catholic Church is indeed the Church founded by Christ and protected by God from corrupting the faith given to the apostles.


#6

To prevent surprises should you decide to return, it sounds like you were raised Catholic and drifted away. If you never wrote your Bishop and told him you were leaving, you are still considered a Catholic. If you were a non-practicing Catholic who just walked away, you would have still been subject to the Church’s laws on marriage. If you married in a Baptist Church without express permission from the Bishop, your marriage would be considered in-valid and would have to be validated on your return. The return itself might only require that you get your marriage validated and go to confession. I don’t know how your wife would accept that. I have empathy for your parents as one of my sons, now 43 years old, just basically walked away and joined a Baptist Church when he married. If he returns it will be a bit more complicated as his wife was married once before. and divorced. I pray for him and his family every day. My wife and I have been to a Bible Study or two at his Church and while they greet us warmly, once in the study, we got into some heated disagreements particularly over salvation. You and your wife are in my prayers.


#7

Hey brother,

Just want to chime in with some support. My story is quite similiar so your not alone in what your going through.
Just stay focused on Jesus, no matter where that might lead. I have a feeling I know where it’s leading and can predict you will eventually be in full communion with the CC.:thumbsup:

What your going through has and will be one of the most difficult things you have ever done. Family is so important but truth has to prevail.

You ever need anything let me know

Jed


#8

My major concern is: Is this religion the correct way to honor God. Does it express the fullness of the Old and New Testaments?

That’s been my biggest question since converting. I sadly have been off and on again in my Catholic Faith. I went back to my Baptist church as much as the Catholic Church. I struggle a lot with that.

Do its followers bear the fruit of Christ? The latter question was my biggest hang up in the Evangelical church. I found only a handful that were truly Christ-like. Sadly, I wonder if my experience in the Catholic Church will be the same. Do I bear the fruit of Christ?

Some are and some aren’t like any Church. The big difference I see is Catholics don’t sweat the small stuff like Protestant Fundamentalist tend to.

Below is a brief summary of my current beliefs. They don’t change much but I am open and will listen to criticism and debate.

-I believe in God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.
-I believe in the Holy Trinity.
-I believe that God inspired Holy Scriptures.
-I believe that a profession of Christ is crucial to faith in Christ.
-I believe in the importance of repentance.
-I am unsure about Transubstantiation. I do think that that protestants treat it much too crassly. Even from a causal reading of the New Testament leads me to believe it is more important than currently stressed.
-I am unsure about Baptism.
-I believe in the doctrine of the Elect.
-I believe some Catholics are excessively caught up in Mary.

This mirrors me almost exactly. I will pray for you, pray for me.


#9

That’s a very interesting story. I pray that the Lord help you to discover the beauty of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Thanks.

Godwin A. Delali.


#10

Thanks for the messages so far! I can’t respond to any right now, but was wondering if anyone could point to some good literature regarding this post. I am aware of Scott Hahn, but haven’t read any of his books yet. I’d be interested to read about subjects that include practices of the early Christian church, Catholic Apologetics, Catholic conversion stories (particularly from a Evangelical/Protestant point of view), and debates between the two schools of thought.

Thank you!


#11

the Coming Home Network would be a good place start. Marcus Gordi was a Pastor before becoming Catholic.


#12

Books? You want books!? :smiley:

The Surprised by Truth books (3 volumes) are conversion stories compiled by Patrick Madrid.
Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating
Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie
By What Authority by Mark Shea
Crossing the Tiber by Stephen Ray
Early Christian Writings by Maxwell Staniforth
Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn
The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn

The CDs from the Bible Christian Society are just awesome. One of them is a debate on Sola Fide. Also, CatholiCity has some really good (and free!) CDs that might also interest you.

:slight_smile:


#13

I would recommend two books that would give you a great start, and give a thumbs up to the ones already suggested.

  1. Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words. This excellent book by Rod Bennett uses the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Iraneus of Lyons to chronicle what the early church was really like. Their writings are among the earliest works we have on Christianity outside of the Bible (except for perhaps the Didache). You will be surprised how Catholic it sounds

  2. Catholicism for Dummies. Despite its name, this excellent book is easy to read but not light on content. It touches on almost every topic you could think of in Catholicism in a remarkably clear manner. It’s written by two priests from EWTN. (As a side note, do NOT purchase the similarly named “Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism”, which is written by non-Catholics from a liberal perspective and contains several serious factual errors.)

Again, as posted above, you won’t go wrong with anything by Scott Hahn, and his book Rome Sweet Home tells of his conversion story. The Karl Keating and David Currie books are also excellent.


#14

Let me strongly recommend two by Evangelical->Anglican->Catholic Thomas Howard.

Evangelical is not Enough
-and-
On Being Catholic


#15

Well, this is interesting and I guess the exact thing I discussed. To get a fair assessment of my story, I posted my message here and at an Evangelical site (Edited). I frequently read the boards there.

A moderator sent me this message and I believe removed my post.

For someone who claims to be struggling, you certainly sound like the typical
Catholic e-pologist . . . from "I am trying to follow the truth wherever it leads"
all the way down to the subtle promotion of books by Scott Hahn.

Then again, your other posts reveal that you have trouble with just about everyone
in your life . . . your wife, your in-laws, the people you go to church with. Most of
which sounds trollish.

I can’t help but wonder why you’re really here?


This kind of behavior is the exact thing I encounter all the time. Cute too, I couldn’t reply to his message. :cool:


#16

I use to frequent (Edited), not anymore. Kinda same reason, if you ain’t like us we don’t want you mentality.


#17

Welcome home BMW. I would suggest you avoid forums like (Edited) as they are filled with fanatics who will only bring your spirit down.
Also I would read Church Militant’s article on the Eucharist. He does a very good job explaining it. The Eucharist was the central reason I returned to the Catholic Church. It is the spiritual food all Christians need.


#18

Hey everyone!

I’m a first time poster, so here goes.

I would definitely agree with those book suggestions above. Anything that Scott Hahn touches turns to gold I once heard. I have read the following of his books:

Lamb’s Supper
Lord, Have Mercy
A Father who keeps His promises
Catholic for a Reason 1(Scott and Others)

I am currently reading one of his latest books, Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith This one is a real overview of apologetics without getting really deep into detail. I started reading it Friday and I am half way through it. I can’t put it down.

I would also recommend reading, Fathers of the Church by Mike Aqualina. This book gives us some background to not only what they wrote, but also their lives. Like Polycarp, he learned his christianity from John the Apostle.

Good luck in your journey. Something I think is forgotten by Catholics talking to fallen away Catholics. Not just to give them the why/why not’s, but to invite them home. So…

“I invite you to return home to the Catholic Church.”

In the peace of Christ,

Matt


#19

Thanks to all of your suggestions and advice. I appreciate it.

I was correct that my post at an Evangelical site was deleted and my account has been suspended. I was first angry, but in reality, it just re-affirmed all of the thoughts I have been having regarding that particular religious movement.

Anyway, I’m going to get some of the books suggested and get into them right away.

One quick question though, any suggestions as to the next step I take?


#20

Just start reading and pray for the truth. :thumbsup:

Personally, when I was considering coming back home to the Catholic Church, I actually sat down & made a 4 page list :eek: of the issues & questions I had with Catholicism and in addition to general reading & learning/re-learning my faith, I focused on those issues, usually finding out how & why I misunderstood them, or finding out how they really are/were supported by the Bible.

My prayers are with you.

God bless,

Chris


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