Stumbling Block for Protestants?

Why do more Protestants not convert to the Church? Is the Sacrament of Penance (confession) a stumbling block to conversion? We see many Catholics no longer going to confession, and many others converting to Protestantism. Blaise Pascal several hundred years ago commented that he believed Confession was indeed a stumbling block to Protestant conversion.

Your thoughts?

I think that is one of many things that present a stumbling block to most Protestants. It isn’t easy for any of us to walk into the confessional, but I think papal authority and issues such as Mary and the saints are just as much a stumbling block.

For some I suppose it is. It’s hard to say just what might keep a Protestant who has seriously looked into Catholicism away. We have to remember that the vast majority of practicing Protestants have no notions of being reconciled to the Church–the are happy where they are. And now days there are far more people who have abandoned all forms of organized faith in favor of nothing or their own form of spirituality or are have no religious preferences of any kind, if any. So, confession out of all the things that might keep people from the faith, is not on the top of my list, at least not in our day and age. :slight_smile:

I remember a relative of mine who was Presbyterian complain about the very words “poor miserable sinner”] said during corporate confession at the start of Mass. So even public confession can be a stumbling block for some. The fear of private confession is understandable until the penitent experiences the overwhelming sense of relief at holy Absolution.

Most of the people that were in my RICA class were converting from a Protestant denomination. Out of 53 of us, I would say that maybe only 5 or so had no religious background or were from a non-Christian religion.

I suppose it must be a stumbling block to some. It could be for ideological reasons, such as the old “why should I confess my sins to a mere human being when I can confess them directly to God?” or it could be for personal reasons of fear and embarrassment.

I think for more Protestants though Mary and the Pope are on the top of their lists of why they would never be Catholic.

This particular Protestant wouldn’t mind confession to a priest, if she thought it necessary. I just don’t agree with RC theology.

Your saying this makes me think of all the people that most will tell their sins to others, such as confidants or counselors or even on TV shows, so why should they be reluctant to talk to a priest who can give them absolution of their sins instead of merely sympathizing or trying to find psychological remedies for that which only God can give? Funny, isn’t it? :smiley:

It comes down to the understanding each person has of God, the Church and the plan of salvation. Protestants generally (always a dangerous word) have a similar view of God as us, a profoundly different view of what the Church is and a truncated understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

When a protestant (generally!) looks at Catholicism, he often sees a group of people that has incorrectly, maybe even arrogantly, conflated their organization with “The Church” (which they understand to be fundamentally invisible). Even worse than that, he often misunderstands the catholic understanding of God’s plan for human salvation as being one in which people must at least partially “earn” their salvation through good works. Why WOULD someone with those views want to be a part?

Most of what my stumbling block was what I thought the Church was, not what she actuall is.

Idol worship, Mary worship, disregard for the Bible, priest forgiving instead of Christ forgiving in confession, etc. etc. etc.

This book fixed all that:

This is where most of us sit…your practices aren’t an issue…IF we thought they were authentic, God-given rituals we had to engage in, we would do it…we simply to not embrace RC theology…I’m sure some “fence sitters” might have an issue with your rituals and rites…but most of us simply do not believe RC understanding of things.:shrug:

The stumbling block for Protestants is Protestantism itself. It keeps them from having full communion with God due to flawed teachings and practices. We should pray for them.

Ok, but sometimes the term “stumbling block” is used to refer to something good and legitimate which nevertheless is the occasion for someone rejecting the truth. For instance St. Paul called the crucifixion a stumbling block for the Jews.

“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

I think this quote applies (not saying all Protestants hate the Catholic church). I believe it illustrates that there are vast areas of misunderstanding about the teachings and practices of the Church held by those who are just not educated about them. If you talk to Protestants about the Church or read stories of those who have ‘come home’ I find that Mary, the saints and the Pope (with much misunderstanding about them) are the primary stumbling blocks. That and…'Why do I need the Catholic Church? It’s just another church and mine is just as good,"

I’ve done it with my Luther pastor/confessor, so, no, not for me.


For me, a non-Catholic Christian, it is not about confessing to a priest, it is that he is given the authority to forgive me of my sins and impose penitence upon me. For me, the fact that I have sinned in the first place and have remorse, and that I ask God to forgive me, is enough.

He tells us that once we repent and ask for forgiveness, forgiveness is given to us immediately, and our slate is wiped clean and forgotten.

This at least, is my understanding of forgiveness of our sins by a loving and merciful God.

So what would you imagine that Jesus meant when he said this:

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:22-23)

There is only one other time that God breathed on mankind and that was when he created Adam and Eve. The significance of this should not be underestimated. Christ was giving the Apostles (and their successors) his own authority to forgive sins.

Which would contradict the reason Christ gave the authority to forgive sins to the Church. Forgiving one’s sins presupposes that the sins must be confessed. Why would Jesus give this authority to the Church if it were not necessary? And, where did you acquire the authority to do differently?

Well said; judicious cautious use of qualifying words.


Well…then why did God not just forgive directly Eliphaz and his friends here:

Job 42:

7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

Why did God tell Eliphaz to have Job pray for them to be forgiven? What do you think was God’s purpose in telling Eliphaz to go through Job?

I understand this fully, but it did not give the Church the right to deal out punishment. If the sin is forgiven, then it is forgotten. So why should a person have to say 10 Hail Marys to receive full forgiveness?

What happens when I commit a sin and no priest is around to confess it to, like if I live in a very remote rural area. Can I not confess my sin to God alone, and ask Him alone for foregiveness?

This makes no sense to me.

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