Should Catholics have a better "knowledge" of all things Protestant?


#1

As many of you know, I am a recent convert to Catholicism (April 10, 2004) after over 40 years of evangelicalism.

I have a question. Opinions welcome, please!

I am always amazed when I talk to Catholics who haven’t a CLUE about Protestant church practices, issues, and lifestyles.

Oh, many of them know Protestant doctrines and apologetics, and have answers all ready. That’s good.

But Catholics don’t know what it means to actually BE a Protestant, especially an evangelical, fundamental, Pentecostal, or non-denominational Protestant.

Being “evangelical” or one of the other groups I mentioned is an entire “lifestyle.” That’s one reason I was so utterly devastated when I was asked to leave my old evangelical church. My lifestyle was gone. I went from activities every day and evening to nothing. I had no friends, no interests, nothing much left outside of my church. Pretty desolate.

I’m not sure Catholics understand that. They think being an “evangelical” is just having a different set of beliefs, but basically, still living like Catholics.

Not true.

Here is an example. I went to one of the dear priests in our church a few days ago to discuss a problem. In the course of the discussion, I told him how much I love the Adoration Chapel, and try to do a Holy Hour everyday. Then I added, “Hey, it’s a cinch! Just one hour a day! In my old evangelical church, I spent several hours a day at church. And I don’t have to prepare any lessons, music, lectures, activities, crafts, treats or ANYTHING for a Holy Hour! I just show up and sit with Jesus. Cool!”

He laughed along with me, but expressed amazement that I really did spend several days or evenings a week in my evangelical church.

He also seemed amazed that most evangs/etc. do a Quiet Time everyday–or else. (It’s one of the unspoken “Rules” of the evangelical world. Read the Bible and pray daily, or you might not really be a Christian.)

So while Catholics might think a Holy Hour is a really special commitment, evangelicals can’t understand why everyone in the parish doesn’t do it!

Another example is drinking alcohol. Catholics drink. But most evangelicals/fundies/charismatics do not. I can’t speak for non-denoms, since each church is different. And some evangelical denoms are lightening up on alcohol rules. But many churches are still “NO ALCOHOL or alcohol-related paraphernalia such as t-shirts or drippy wine candle holders or Clydesdale horses.”

Intellectually, I accept that alcohol is not evil, but I don’t think I will ever be able to accept it as “normal” for Christian people. (Sorry. I promise not to make a fuss at the Annual Parish Picnic. In fact, I didn’t attend my parish picnic because I knew there would be alcohol and I can’t deal with it.)

Do Catholics know what “seeker church services” are? Or “Praise and Worship teams?” “CCM?” “PDL?” “Focus on the Family?” “Promisekeepers?” “Four Spiritual Laws?” (That last one’s a biggie!)

Do Catholics even know what non-denoms are?

These are all little things, I admit. But to me, it makes sense to “know the enemy.” Wait, I am not trying to imply that evang/fundie/charismatic/non-denoms are “enemy.” But they are different and apparently they attract Catholics, especially teenagers, and it seems to me that Catholics ought to understand what goes on in these churches that are stealing their sheep.

Catholics do know what “sheep-stealing” is, don’t you?!

So what do you think? Is this not important and I should just forget about it? Or maybe write up a stand-up comedy routine about my “evangelical lifestyle” to make Catholics laugh at parties?

Parties? Christians don’t party! Oh, wait–that’s my old evangelical church. I’m Catholic now.

But I still don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable at a party.


#2

I think that is one reason people point to the “fruit” of non-Catholic Christians and compare it unfavorably to Catholics. I too spent way more time “at church” preparing for church activities and functions. Now at the Catholic Church, I also spend time doing for the church, but more time is spent just doing for the community at large. Frequently, those activities not spent at church are not seen in the wider picture, therefore there is less “fruit” SEEN in Catholic churches.

It is also part of the fellowship that is enjoyed to a greater extent in Protestant denominations than in Catholic.


#3

Parties? Christians don’t party! Oh, wait–that’s my old evangelical church. I’m Catholic now

But they Pot Luck.:smiley:


#4

cat,

So what is a PDL? I recognized and understood everything else you wrote about. Maybe I know PDL but can’t remember it. I find it absolutely necessary to be able to “speak Evangeliscal” or “speak protetant” because I actively interact with so many and thay do not “speak Catholic.” Unless at least one of us understands the other’s language and jarson we just talk past one another, sometimes using the same word, but meaning very different things.


#5

Cat–You must be going through culture shock! Catholics really do speak a very different dialect of Christianity than do the non-denominational/evangelical/fundamentalist/Protestant Christians. I think most Catholics are basically live-and-let-live Christians. They expect that they can practice their Catholic Christianity and are just fine with Protestants living their own form of Christianity. But you are right, Catholics are pretty oblivious to efforts to evangelize to Catholics and convert Catholics to other forms of Christianity. Now that I am aware of those efforts, I am amazed by my Catholic friends who don’t believe that the non-denominational Bible studies and youth groups often don’t view Catholics as Christian and want to convert them. But also, most Catholics don’t know much about other Christian religions because we have few ways of knowing about them. (Heck, most of us don’t know enough about our own Catholic faith.) Thanks for sharing your experience. I find it fascinating to meet converts to Catholicism and hear their religious journeys. You converts put too many of us cradle Catholics to shame. God bless.


#6

I’m actually pretty familiar with the groups you talk about, not because I’ve joined any, but because even when I was in “atheist” mode I did a lot of reading about religion and religious groups. Also, some of my co-workers are evangelicals so I get an idea from them.

I do think that the whole “lifestyle” aspect is probably one of the most appealing aspect of these types of religious groups and quite truthfully I can’t see why anything else about them would pull a Catholic away from the experience of the Real Presence… Additionally, the idea of voluntarily giving up things that the Catholic does not regard as sinful - parties, an occasional drink – and joining an even more restrictive faith community seems crazy to me, but I think a lot of it has to do with the issue of community. In the latter half of the 20th centure our family & communal ties have disintergrated and I think the evangelical and other non-denom churches offer a way to regain this loss. I believe it is a loss that many people feel greatly and so giving things up is a small sacrafice to pay to regain that feeling of belonging.

I think one of the big non-doctrinal differences between Catholicism and the non-demoninational churches (in particular) is that in many ways Catholicism is a faith that is practiced in solitude and in the heart where it is less visible. “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” (Mt 6:6) I think this idea permeates Catholic behaviour. We have many private devotions. Sure, lots of people say the Rosary in a group, but at heart it is a private devotion and I’m sure many more people pray it privately than they do collectively. Also, the church holds the solitary, the hermit, the anchoress, in high esteem. This esteem reflects back into the community.

As a result, it is very possible to have a Catholic lifestyle, but it is more difficult to have a Catholic lifestyle in community with other Catholics. This isn’t to say that it is impossible, but you generally have to look beyond the parish to provide it to you.

In order to find it though, you have to know what a Catholic community looks like. Just let me give you an example. In skid row in Los Angeles there are several missions. One of them is Catholic. You can tell the Catholic one from the other ones because the Catholic mission feeds you, plain and simple. The other missions proselytize you before they’ll take care of your physical needs and if you do not want to be proselytized then they will not feed you. Why is this so different? Catholics tend to use words only after actions fail. We’re supposed to live our faith so that people will be attracted to it by our example, not beat them over the head with it. This means that we’re generally out serving in the community rather than hanging out at the parish hall brainstorming about how to convert people and holding potlucks. It is a totally different lifestyle that requires more individual responsibility for action than the non-denoms that take care of all your needs and provide preplanned activities for you to participate in. You need to be proactive in seeking out community if you don’t want to go it solo.


#7

PDL-Purpose Driven Life

Or PDC–Purpose Driven Church.

It’s everywhere!

Last year, my husband did the “40 days of Purpose” with a Methodist Church as his “Lenten Sacrifice!” It was harder than giving up chocolate! But now he knows first-hand what PDL and PDC is. (He has no serious objections to it, BTW, he just thinks it’s kind of basic Christian stuff that churches already do. The PDL and PDC just puts a “label” on church life and outlines it on paper.)


#8

[quote=Cat]PDL-Purpose Driven Life

Or PDC–Purpose Driven Church.

QUOTE]

As I was driving to Mass this morning before I got you response it came to me what PDL was. I have skimmed the book after another Catholic gave her copy to me for my comments. It seems like a lengthy elaboration on the old Baltimore Catechism question numer 4 from First Grade. “Why did God make me?” " To know love and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him for eternity in the next." No harm and often helpful to review the basics and extrapolate the daily application in our lives.
[/quote]


#9

Yes. Catholics should have knowledge of all things Protestant, and they should understand Judaism as well. Unfortunately, Catholic culture often fosters ignorance, and many Catholics fail to take responsibility for their own faith. My suggestion: get a Catholic Study Bible and read one book per week. Also take advantage of the adult education classes at your parish, and never be afraid to ask questions. Love God with all your heart, soul, and your mind.


#10

I do agree with the point of this thread, but if I am fortunate enough to lure a Catholic youth or adult to a weekly hour long class I will spend my efforts on teaching Catholic doctrine first, because they are woefully uneducated on their faith.

To be fair, asking us to become conversant in “protestant-speak” is a little like criticising Americans for not speaking the language when the visit Europe. On a 14 day tour they may visit countries with a dozen different languages, so it would be unrealistic to expect them to be conversant in all of them. Which does not mean they should just shout louder in English to communicate. Nor should Catholics try to just “shout louder” to be understood. Maybe we should “listen softer”.


#11

Some 40 years ago, a fellow named Thomas Kuhn wrote a book entitled “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” in which he made use of the phrase ‘paradigm shift’ to describe how science ‘really’ changes. The idea is that scientific discoveries are rooted in ‘paradigms’ or complex over-arching assumptions and super-theories which are ‘fruitful’, ‘interesting’, and ‘promising’. At some point these ‘paradigms’ become burdened with ‘problems’ which cannot be easily resolved and cease to be quite so ‘fruitful’ or interesting; the number of ‘promising’ avenues of study become limited. At that point, a new ‘paradigm’ can often emerge, which displaces the old because it resolves the problems of the old paradigm while giving new avenues of study which are ‘fruitful’, ‘promising’, etcetera. Unfortunately, those who are heavily invested in the old paradigm will frequently resist the new simply because they feel that the new paradigm ‘robs’ them of the work they may have invested a lifetime into. Worse–the new paradigm may seem almost to communicate itself in a totally-different ‘language’ than was used by the old paradigm, so that adherents of one paradigm seem almost to be plagued by a ‘confusion of tongues’ as at the Tower of Babel: communicating accross paradigms seems to be very difficult.

Since Kuhn, the term ‘paradigm’ has become a popular carchphrase for any world-view that carries as much emotional baggage as reason. My impression is that in religious conversions are very much like ‘paradigm shifts’, and when people convert, they often ‘shuck’ not just the old ideas, but entire ways of thinking about the world. They ‘adopt’ the world-view of the ‘new’ relgious system, often so competely that they quickly lose the ability to communicate their new ideas to their former co-religionists.

I find, reading conversion stories, that it is difficult for me to believe (for example) that Scott Hahn or his wife ever belonged to a Protestant denomination: they have bought into ‘catholicspeak’ and ‘catholicthink’ so totally that they no longer relate very well to how Protestantism really works. This is true of the majority of conversion stories I read, from whatever former faith to whichever current beliefs. (I do listen to “The Journey Home” whenever I can catch it on our local radio station–on it’s re-broadcast time, which seems to be whenever the local station needs to plug a ‘gap’ in programming). Thomas Howard does a better-than-average job of articulating the gulf between his former Evangelicalism and his present Catholicism, but not many others seem able to do likewise. The conversion-story may help the new convert strengthen his or her faith; it may help other new converts, but it often sails right over the head of those strongly committed to their present religious faith. The reaction tends to be, “You were bothered by that? You didn’t understand the answer to that?”


#12

i was born an raised in puerto rico so i never need it to know much about fundamentals because most people in the island are catholic. but now living in the states that is another story, it took me a bad experience in a bible study to get to know baptist followers. now i want to know more about the rest of the denominations so i can defend my catholic faith. god bless you all.


#13

[quote=Cat]PDL-Purpose Driven Life

Or PDC–Purpose Driven Church.

It’s everywhere!

Last year, my husband did the “40 days of Purpose” with a Methodist Church as his “Lenten Sacrifice!” It was harder than giving up chocolate! But now he knows first-hand what PDL and PDC is. (He has no serious objections to it, BTW, he just thinks it’s kind of basic Christian stuff that churches already do. The PDL and PDC just puts a “label” on church life and outlines it on paper.)
[/quote]

As an aside it’s interesting to note that Lent has resurfaced in the Church of Scotland (presbyterian) after being deleted for several hundred years. ‘Catholic’ beliefs and practice are creeping back in in many areas, e.g communion generally used to be strictly 4 times a year, weekly becoming more common, - candlelight Christmas eve services etc, etc, etc


#14

Yes, Catholics should have a good knowledge of protestantism, particularly of the shade prevalent in your area, if there is one.

I do remember vividly a talk by a Catholic school headmaster who had been asked by a parent why their 12 year old was not doing any ‘comparative religion’. His answer was that you should be thoroughly grounded in your own faith before studying other denominations or religions. Something in that I think.

With a good knowledge of your own and the beliefs of who you are speaking to much good can be achieved. A great post in another thread is worth remembering. ‘Turn your charity knob to max’ - or conversly much damage can be done…


#15

*have to second the headmanster’s recomendation *JGC.
Many catholic don’t even know enough about their own faith before investigating others. In fact that makes them right for conversion.

And i don’t think without being a part of a protestant community you can ever really know where many converts are coming from.
But I wouldn’t suggest you drop your faith and be an evangelical for a year to find out!

Simply catholic need to be aware and symphathetic to the virbriant and friendly communites that protestnats leave in order to join us old fuddy duds in the catholic community we can learn a lesson in being a little more friendly sometimes.


#16

As I was reading and studing Catholicism on my own I slowly started disengaging myself from evangelical activiites. I didn’t volunteer for this or that ministry. I didn’t go to the dinner before communion. I didn’t take communion at all. I did go to church with my husband and talked to the people but I just stopped getting involved.

When the time came for RICA class all I was doing was taking up a seat during the worship service, which is what I’m doing now when I attend the Protestant services with my husband… It was much less traumatic for me to let go a little at a time than suddenly all at once.

So now…I find I really don’t miss it all that much.

However I don’t think that all Catholics ned to know the vocabulary and the nuances of Protestant culture. If you are going to be involved in evangelism or apologetics or teaching RICA it would be helpful to know where the others are coming from and to understand their mindset but Catholics at large really don’t need to know unless they are just curious or have Protestant family members. In other words if you have a NEED to know it probably would be a good thing. If you don’t ‘need’ to know don’t worry about it.

That’s just my humble opinions.


#17

[quote=La Chiara]Cat–You must be going through culture shock! Catholics really do speak a very different dialect of Christianity than do the non-denominational/evangelical/fundamentalist/Protestant Christians. I think most Catholics are basically live-and-let-live Christians. They expect that they can practice their Catholic Christianity and are just fine with Protestants living their own form of Christianity. But you are right, Catholics are pretty oblivious to efforts to evangelize to Catholics and convert Catholics to other forms of Christianity. Now that I am aware of those efforts, I am amazed by my Catholic friends who don’t believe that the non-denominational Bible studies and youth groups often don’t view Catholics as Christian and want to convert them. But also, most Catholics don’t know much about other Christian religions because we have few ways of knowing about them. (Heck, most of us don’t know enough about our own Catholic faith.) Thanks for sharing your experience. I find it fascinating to meet converts to Catholicism and hear their religious journeys. You converts put too many of us cradle Catholics to shame. God bless.
[/quote]

Well, I am working in Bolivia and if Catholics dont wake up
soon to the fact that a lot of Protestant Churches are flock
stealing South America will be lost! The Protestant churches here arent large, but I am surprised by the numbers. My blood boils when I think about it. When I meet Protestant missionary people here from the states and I tell them I am working with street kids with a Catholic organization I get the cold shoulder. They bring the same bigotry here that exists in the states and Bolivia is 85 to 90 percent Catholic. Not sure for how long though. WAKE UP Catholics in the U.S.!


#18

The original question was “Should Catholics have a better knowledge of all things Protestant?”

There have been many ideas revealed so far on this question. I agree with the Catholic Schoolmaster who said we want to ground our kids in Catholocism first before talking about other religions. The only reason for knowing “Protestantology” would be to prevent a Catholic from leaving the Church. I HAVE NEVER heard of a Protestant helping a Catholic Church!!!

I have 2 things to say:

  1. From having taught H.S. CCD to public school kids, I know they are defiencient in their knowledge of Catholic Teachings. And they are not too interested in learning either.
    2.When I hear that a “Catholic” has joined a Protestant Church I think that person really wasn’t Catholic to start with. They probably stopped going to Mass at age 15 but kept telling people they were Catholic.

#19

[quote=Exporter] I HAVE NEVER heard of a Protestant helping a Catholic Church!!!
[/quote]

:eek:

This is generally not the case in most parts of the world and I’m sorry to hear it if it is in yours!

E.G. Here we have quite open formal co-operation between various denominations
acts-scotland.org/


#20

[quote=Exporter] The only reason for knowing “Protestantology” would be to prevent a Catholic from leaving the Church…
[/quote]

Another good one would be to give information to protestants interested in knowing about or joining the Catholic Church. Or to charitably correct protestants if they hold a mistaken belief about the Catholic Church.


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