Why conservative Evangelicals should not become Catholic

Most Evangelicals will be confused by the headline. Of course Evangelicals shouldn’t become Catholic — for a long list of doctrinal reasons. If that’s your perspective I ask you to bear with me and accept the possibility that those doctrinal reasons don’t convince everybody, and, in fact, that some people find the Catholic arguments quite compelling.

Those are the people I’m addressing. So, all you Evangelicals out there who are considering the Catholic Church, please take a minute and listen to somebody who’s been through it. Yes, there are some pretty good doctrinal reasons to become Catholic. At least I used to think so, and many people still do. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I would like to ask you to consider that the practical, everyday mediocrity of the Catholic Church is the more important issue.

Evangelicals and Catholics measure churches by a completely different set of standards. Your average Evangelical might leave a church because he’s “not getting fed,” or because the Sunday School program is better somewhere else. There are reasons to criticize that kind of approach, but there are good reasons to admire it as well. It’s pretty practical. It realizes that the life of faith is like a muscle that has to be exercised.

Sometimes an Evangelical will leave a church and say that it was “dead.” It’s not just the lack of happy clappy songs or the predominance of old people. The “deadness” of the church may be a result of the content and style of the sermons, or it may refer to the education program. But in general it’s an assessment of how well the church makes the gospel compelling. How much it makes you want to live the Christian life.

Evangelicals have their standards like anybody else, but they have a fondness for results.

When I decided to enter the Catholic Church back in 1999, I knew what I was getting into. I knew the sermons would be tepid. I knew the educational program would be trite. I knew my kids wouldn’t be getting the same kind of faith-building discipleship they might receive at the local Awanas club. Yet despite urgent warnings from friends, I decided the doctrinal issues were more important.

I was wrong.

And I eventually lost all interest in Catholicism and, generally, in religion.

But I’m not out to ruin anybody’s faith. Rather, I’d like to help people who are happy in their faith to stay that way by avoiding the train wreck that is modern Catholicism. So if you’re an Evangelical who’s been taken by some of the fine-sounding apologetic arguments, please listen up.

You’ve probably heard the stories of happy converts. I ask you to stop and think critically about that for a moment. Might there be some confirmation bias going on?

How many people are going to say that they spent lots of time and energy fussing over the doctrine, finally converted and now … oops — it didn’t really work out that well.

It’s not a very compelling story.

And among those few who might want to tell that story, what publishing company is going to sponsor the project? There’s a market for “stories of ten people who found what they were looking for,” but maybe not so much for a collection of essays about people who converted to Catholicism and now wish they hadn’t. They’re out there, believe me. But how many magazines or blogs cover that topic?

The internet is full of convert stories, and lots of Catholics want you to believe that life is so much fuller and richer on that side of the Tiber. In fact, it is for some people. That’s great and I’m very happy for them. May their tribe increase.

But there is another story to be told.

It really does take a village

Parents can’t be everywhere at once. The fact that the neighbors might also be watching helps children to behave. More than that, the village has to support what the parents are saying. If everything the parents say around the dinner table is contradicted by the culture, the kids will eventually decide that their parents are out of touch … and maybe a little crazy.

When I was in high school my band teacher told me something that contradicted something my father said. I mentioned that, and the band teacher (an old Italian guy) immediately said, “That’s right. Listen to your father.”

That’s the way it should be. The culture should be supporting parents. Unfortunately it’s not that way today, and most of the culture undermines parents.

It’s very hard to limit those negative influences. But one place a parent has a clear choice is in what church to attend, and it’s important that what the kids hear on Sunday reinforces what they hear at home.

While there may be limited exceptions, you’re not going to get that support in the Catholic Church! It’s not that they say the wrong things. At least not most of the time. It’s that on the extremely rare occasion when any kind of practical topic is even addressed in the church, it’s done in such a milquetoast way that nobody even notices. And the pastor is so doggone boring that the kids zone out. Even in those very rare occasions where the priest is a good preacher and says all the right things, there’s no support structure surrounding the message. It’s just the silly guy in the robe talking. And Mom and Dad pay him to say that stuff!

Contrast that with a good Evangelical church. The whole structure supports families. Not just the sermons, but Sunday School and youth groups and activities and the volunteers who lead these things. A parent who wants their child to hear a conservative, “family values” message — in a context that will actually do some good — is almost certainly going to do better at an Evangelican church than at the Catholic parish.

So my first message to the Evangelical who is interested in Catholicism is to put a little perspective in your measurements. What’s more important to you — being in the “right” church, from some bookish, doctrinal perspective, or being in a church that helps your kids grow up with the values you want?


Since you won’t find the support you want in the parish, conservative Catholics have to look for it somewhere else. And, fortunately, there are such groups in the Catholic Church, although they can be hard to find. One of them is Opus Dei. Another is … (cue eerie music) … Regnum Christi. (Add horror show sound effect.)

Of course you’ve heard of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Fr. Marcial Maciel was one of the abusers. He was also the force behind the Legion of Christ and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi.

These groups are mind-control cults designed to support the late Fr. Maciel in his delusions of sainthood. They’re also incredibly effective organizations that do cool stuff, support good family values and help familes raise decent kids.

Bizarre is hardly the word for it.

Fr. Maciel was a favorite of John Paul II, and it’s pretty astonishing how many high muckety mucks and influential people were deceived by this fraud. The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus famously wagged an accusing finger at anybody who dared credit the negative stories.

Catholics like to make fun of the anarchy that seems endemic to Protestantism. All these denominations teaching all these different things. What a mess. Who’s in charge?

Well …. Who’s in charge of the Catholic Church? The pope and, apparently, just about everybody at the Vatican was deceived by Maciel. For all their organization and oversight and such, how come nobody knew about this guy? Maciel’s life shows that all those Catholic claims about the bishops and the hierarchy and the Holy Spirit guiding the church and such don’t amount to much, practically speaking.

And Maciel isn’t the only creep, and Regnum Christi isn’t the only cult. There’s Miles Christi and the fringe characters who obsess on Garabandal and Medjugorje, just to name a few.

Sure, Protestants argue about baptism and the rapture and can get into some weird obsessions about the end times. From a strictly doctrinal perspective, Catholicism might look like a haven of stability and sanity. But that’s only if you look at it the way they want you to look at it. Catholics are just as fractured and confused — just over different things. And some of those things are really, really creepy.

So please imagine that you’re holding an old-fashioned scale, like the one Lady Justice has. On the one side, put “Protestants are fractured on doctrinal issues.” On the other side put the abuse crisis and all the associated bad management. Now hold it at arms’ length and see which way it’s leaning.

The Sissiness of it All

I’m going to lose some friends on this one, but I bought some extras to cover my losses, so it should be okay.

The Catholic Church is not a welcoming place for men. I know that doesn’t sound right, because all we hear about in the press is how the Catholic Church is a male-dominated institution. It’s not. In the least.

Yes, men are nominally in charge, although in most cases it’s the women who fill the pews and run the parishes. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. The problem isn’t that woman run the ministries. The problem is that Catholicism is culturally effeminate, and without some kind of strenuous intervention it will alienate men and make boys think that religion is for sissies.

There are lots of reasons for this, and some very interesting things have been written on the topic it you want to pursue it. Just to give you a tidbit, women, like Catholics, are more contemplative and emotional while men, like Protestants, are more interested in practical issues and getting something done.

Yes, I know that’s a broad generalization, but I’m talking in broad generalities. Call me a Neanderthal if it makes you feel better. And I’m not going to try to convince you in this short article. I just want to plant the seed in your mind and let you stew on the thought for a while, because as soon as you let the concept rattle around in your brain it will become so horribly obvious that you won’t be able to miss it. It will start to leap out at you and you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it before.

Right along with this problem is the feeling you’ll get about every other week at mass when they’re reading that horrible “translation” they use. You’ll feel like you’ve been poked in the eye with a sharp stick, because the American bishops have allowed some committee to mangle and neuter the Bible. They’re so intent on keeping patriarchy out of the readings that they’ll stoop to the most God-awful translations imaginable to avoid it.

And then you’ve got to reckon with John Paul II, the alleged hero of conservatives, who piles on the anti-male agenda. He went completely off the rails with a somewhat ridiculous attempt to undermine the biblical and traditional teachings about male headship. (I’m not kidding. Look it up. And as a general review of whether JPII was a conservative, read David Palm’s article, Catholic Confusion at the Very Top)

I don’t like writing about this topic because calling the church “effeminate” makes it sound like there’s something wrong with femininity. There absolutely is not. That’s why “sissiness” is the better word.

So be warned. If you’re a conservative Evangelical, you probably agree with the biblical teaching that the father is the head of the home. That belief will be undermined and attacked in ways you can hardly imagine at your local Catholic Church.

Once again, put your issues on the scales and see what’s more important to you — an allegedly infallible Magisterium, or a church that completely misunderstands the biblical teachings on fatherhood.

Music and Liturgy

While I’ve got you thinking about the lousy translation of the Bible used at mass, don’t think that’s the end of it. They not only mangle the passages they do read, they make “controversial” readings optional. Yep, that’s right. If somebody doesn’t want to hear the “offensive” parts of Ephesians 5, they just don’t read it.

There’s reverence for you. And a great example for the kids, right?

When you hear “The Word of the Lord,” you’re trained to say, “Thanks be to God.” But if it bothers you, well … never mind. I guess that wasn’t God after all.

Of course the neutering isn’t limited to the text of the Bible. They also change hymns and Christmas carols to avoid offending the feminists. And the other songs they sing …. It’s hard to describe them, but I’ll give it my best shot.

If you imagine what you’d get from group of scared, neurotic, musical bunny rabbits in velour, turtle-neck sweaters, drinking sherry and composing little ditties on one of those really old synthesizers, that’s about what you can expect for music in the Catholic Church.

I have a musically talented friend who approached me after mass one day with a pained expression on his face. He said, “You know, sometimes I look around the church and I ask myself, ‘Is everybody here insane?’”

The apologists like to portray the Catholic Church as an old, wise institution that takes the long view and isn’t swayed by passing fads. Don’t believe a word of it. Fads rule.

Take out those scales again. What’s more important to you, being in the “correct” church, or being in a church that lives up to its alleged standards?

The Magisterium as Professor Trelawney

A couple times I’ve alluded to the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the church. Just to be clear, the Catholic Church teaches that the decrees of an ecumenical council are infallible when they address faith or morals, and that the pope is infallible when he addresses the entire church on faith or morals.

It’s a pretty complicated issue, with lots of historical twists and turns. For example, not all of the decrees of the Council of Constance are considered infallible because the pope only approved some of them. You won’t be surprised to read that he didn’t approve the decrees that said a council can overrule a pope, which, if you think about it, is somewhat like that Star Trek episode where Kirk tells the android Norman that everything Harry Mudd says is a lie, and then Mudd says “I’m lying.”

Anyway, the allegedly infallible stuff is a small part of what the church does. Most of the rest is from the local bishop or a local council. That stuff is reliably lame, and when it addresses a political issue, reliably left of center. Except, of course, on abortion and same-sex marriage.

If you want to do a little homework on this, go find Robert Bork’s response (in an old issue of First Things) to the bishops’ recent position on the death penalty. It’s quite instructive.

The overall impression you get, after listening to these guys for a while, is that the folks who make up this mystical “Magisterium” are a bunch of barely competent old guys with limited talent who are always making silly pronouncements on things they don’t quite understand, but you’re supposed to believe that when they meet in ecumenical council … abracazam … they prophesy.

It reminds me of Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter books. She spends most of her time acting like a complete loon, but a couple times she goes into a trance and genuinely blurts out a real prediction.

Take out your scales again, friends. On the left, put the doctrinal certainty you might get if you believed that the Magisterium had actually ruled on something infallibly, and on the right put the day to day reality that most of what they say and do is pedestrian at best.

Word and Sacrament

The trump card for many Catholics is that they “have the Eucharist.” And you don’t.

In Catholic theology, the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and believers receive all kinds of “graces” when they partake.

The longer I’ve been Catholic the more I’ve realized that this is the old hammer and nail problem. You know the saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.”

The mass is repetitive and boring. The music is trite. The translation of the Bible is sophomoric. The preaching is weak. Their only unique selling proposition is a collection of specially ordained priests who can say the words and transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Since that’s their only real claim to fame, that’s often the default message. “Okay, all this other stuff may be true. You have better preaching. You have Sunday School. You have a congregation of people who love the Lord and live like they mean it. But we have the Eucharist, and the Eucharist is Jesus, and that’s all there is to it.”

This article is for people who are tempted by Catholic apologetics, so let’s assume for the sake of argument that Catholic theology is correct on this point. How do we put this issue on the scales?

I’ve seen and felt the practical impact of good preaching, and if you’re an Evangelical, you have too.

Have you ever seen the practical impact of good sacraments?

Okay, maybe a few of you have, maybe a little. Maybe you’ve seen someone deepen their prayer life by praying in front of the Eucharist. But how big of an impact is it?

Everything about the sacraments is this hidden stuff that you’re just supposed to believe. There’s no evidence. There’s no clear effect. There’s just words and promises that don’t seem to have any reality behind them.

I’ve seen word without sacrament, and I’ve seen sacrament without word, and I think I can see a pretty profound difference. Word without sacrament works. Hearts are touched and lives are changed.

Sacrament without word isn’t very impressive. Which leads me to believe that of the two, the word is more important.

Obedience is what matters

Conservative Protestants have more in common with conservative Catholics than either have with the liberals in the pew next to them. That’s because conservatives believe in the idea of being discipled. They recognize a standard above and outisde of themselves, and they’re willing to be changed to conform to it.

In Protestant churches that means obedience to the Bible. In Catholic churches it means obedience to the Magisterium. What seems to make all the difference is the willingness to be transformed.

No, that’s not quite it. It’s the joy in being a disciple. The yoke is easy and light because it’s accepted gladly.

That’s what’s going to make the difference in your faith. Doctrine won’t. Abstract notions of the “right” church won’t. What’s going to matter to you in the long haul is being somewhere that encourages and supports you in your decision to take that yoke upon you.

I don’t think you’re going to get that encouragement or support in the Catholic Church. I know that I did not.

The final appeal

Most Catholics will chafe and argue with a lot of what I’ve said, but some will say, “Okay, all that may be true. So come and help us! We need people like you.”

There’s an appeal to that. If you’re an Evangelical, you like a good mission. You might think you’ll be able to bring some life to the frozen chosen.

Don’t fall for it. The Catholic Church isn’t what you’re used to. There aren’t adult Sunday School classes you can teach. You will have little or no outlet for your gifts and few opportunities to serve. Except soup kitchens and things. And I’m not knocking soup kitchens in any way, but it hardly answers the promise of the “we need people like you” talk.

They’ll just draft you to teach 5th grade CCD, and you’ll be fielding questions from kids who want to know if it’s a sin to wear a rosary. You’ll have doctrinal questions for the pastor and he won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. You’ll have a hard time finding like-minded souls.

If you’re single, if you have enormous patience and if you believe that you’re called to this sort of mind-numbing sacrifice, … well, okay. Don’t forget that I warned you, but if that’s what you want.

Think of this the way you would think of a mission trip into hostile territory. You can sacrifice your own life on some crazy idea, but don’t think about bringing a wife or kids along with you.

They won’t be eaten by cannibals. They’ll be lulled into spiritual torpor. They’ll get accustomed to thinking that the Bible is really boring, only to be read out of duty, and practically irrelevant. They’ll think that their chief moral obligation in life is to feed the homeless.

Or, perhaps worse, they’ll get caught up in weird Catholic devotions that will make you feel like an alien in your own home. They’ll actually believe Catholic rhetoric, and you’ll be grinding your teeth and pulling out your hair.

59 Responses to Why conservative Evangelicals should not become Catholic

  1. rachel29 says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been Catholic for almost 10 yrs. I’m starting to regret it. I thought I was all alone. I too just wanted all the fractious Protestant bickering to stop. It was driving me nuts. And I wanted more emphasis on Communion (Eucharist). But it’s just as much a fractious mess in Catholicism.

    I told my husband that its like being in a dining room two tables are there, everyone has eaten and left. One table (the Protestant one) is a mess. Looking at it makes one groan at how long it would take to clean up. The second table has the tablecloth spread out over its mess. At first one doesn’t notice that anything is wrong. It looks beautiful and ready to be set for dinner. As one draws closer, one notices that the cloth is covering something. As the cloth is lifted one sees a mess very much the same as the first table.

    Thanks for writing this and helping know that I’m not alone.


  2. one should convert to Catholicism because, despite its “issues”, you believe it to be the true Church established by Christ…and for no other reason….So ask yourself that?…After reading this article…one wonders if you could find the good in anything….”Have you ever seen the practical impact of good sacraments?” No wonder you have such a negative outlook….Sounds like you had little faith….Eucharist…Confession…Established by Christ Himself!!!….revealed by the Spirit in scripture!!!…Believing in those alone are a greater experience than preaching any day…If what the Catholic Church claims is true(such as the true presence of Christ)…it is no small matter to regard His Church as simply another option….it requires serious consideration…Are you so sure in yourself that you would risk possibly misleading souls in such a serious matter?

  3. Jan says:

    “Could we not say to God: Here is someone with whom I cannot get on. She belongs to you. You made her. If you do not will her to be the way she is, at least you allow her to be that way. Dear God, I want to put up with her the way that you put up with me. Would we not find our heart a little lighter, more at ease, more patient?” (The Great Church Year, 379)

    • Patricia says:

      Amen!!!!! To everything you are saying. I’m a new convert to the Catholic Church and having a little problem getting use to parish life. I have joined groups and gone to functions but people seem disconnected from new people. It’s a small town in the bootheel of Missouri. I’m a little taken back by this and its making it harder to fit in. But I believe Jesus meant what he said when introducing the Eucharist. That is why I am there.

  4. Jan says:

    Jesus is really, truly present at each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Even if the homily is boring, even if the music isn’t to our liking, Jesus comes to us in utmost humility under the appearance of bread and wine – He, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, gives us His entire self, body, blood, soul and divinity and allows us sinners to consume Himself who IS Goodness, Beauty, Truth, Love. I am writing this for myself, as I often complain about the above (boring homilies, sappy music, etc.). Woe is me to lose sight of the greatest miracle in the world that takes place at each Catholic Mass and Orthodox Liturgy!

  5. Don Draper says:

    The Catholic Church parish changes every time the priest does, and in ours, that’s every two years. We go from big programs for all ages to nothing for almost three years, to good programs for all ages now. . . to “what will get in August if he leaves?” So OUR parish IS faddish—everything reflects the personality of the priest. A real pity. I will say, though, I went to a parish with a more dynamic involved priest (like our current one) when we had a foreign one who didn’t understand the evangelical situation—that they tug, pull, and steal from other churches. . .

    We have the Eucharist and the Saints. We NEED to have programming that keeps everyone growing, too. I’m a former Evangelical. I went to a conservative, non-demonstrative Church. So I wasn’t used to bells and whistles. What I was used to, was people with Bible knowledge, and that is greatly lacking in the Catholic Church, as is knowledge of the Catechism. I go to two churches for the most personal growth. . .

    • Jan says:

      So Don – why not follow the lead of people like Dr. Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Steve Ray, Alex Jones, etc. and help your fellow Catholics learn to love and delve into the Scriptures?

  6. Tom says:

    WOW! Another unhappy customer searching for meaning and truth but lacking in FAITH! This gentleman never took off his Protestant Glasses upon entering the Catholic Church. He scrutinized it from the outside looking in. I think he just wanted to try things on for size and if it didn’t fit he could jump ship. The following comment proves my point– ” When I decided to enter the Catholic Church back in 1999, I knew what I was getting into. I knew the sermons would be tepid. I knew the educational program would be trite. I knew my kids wouldn’t be getting the same kind of faith-building discipleship they might receive at the local Awanas club. Yet despite urgent warnings from friends, I decided the doctrinal issues were more important.”
    You gotta be kidding, did someone twist his arm? Look, with all due respect to this gentleman, in my opinion, he will continue to church shop until he recognizes the authority of the Catholic Church established by Christ. The bible calls the Catholic Church, “The pillar and bullwark of truth.” The Catholic Church is a world wide church with a 2000 year history. I think we are entitled to make some mistakes along the way. There is nothing “Mediocre” about Christ’s church that has persisted for 2000 years under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I imagine it’s more manageable to coordinate a protestant church where the pastor is the Pope, so to speak, and he gets a nice paycheck to interpet the bible as he see fit; espically those Mega Churches! However, the gentleman made some valid points about what is lacking in the Catholic Church–ie, Homilies lacking in passion and content, and bible studies/RCIA programs administered by unqualified teachers. There is a lot of work to do.
    Many Evangelicals bring a beautiful spirit and passion with them when they enter the church! Thank God for them and I welcome them home! As Catholics, we need to help them understand the richness and beauty of the Catholicism. It’s time to unite and not divide–the devil already does a good job at that. Can you imagine if St. Peter and the other Apostles departed from our Lord after hearing the Bread of Life discourse? Jesus turned to them and said, “Will you leave me too? I would love to address his comment about losing interest, “And I eventually lost all interest.” Also, his understanding of the sacraments, “Have you ever seen the practical impact of good sacraments? Yup! Try reverts who have returned to the church after 20 or 30 years of jumping back and forth between different denominations because they felt they weren’t being, “feed in the Catholic Church.” The Eucharist is routinely cited as the reason for their return. I guess crackers and juice didn’t satisfy the hunger in their heart!

    I wonder if the author had the opportunity to meet a faithful Catholic on fire for the Jesus Christ during his time in the church? If your still on this site, respond to my post and this faithful Catholic, on fire Jesus Christ, would love to talk to you about what we have in common–A desire to serve our Lord and his church! God bless and may the peace of Christ be with you!

    • Jan says:

      Great post Tom!

      • pam says:

        thank you ive been twisting in the wind as ive been in a mega church womens bible study and its awesome but it begs the qustion should i be going here on sunday as well ? wow ive been in anxiety central ever since ive entertained that thought because greg laurie is a knowlegeable and dynamic pastor help

  7. I enjoyed this article, and I agree with a number of your points, even though I am quite a liberal Christian. I have found an Episcopal parish that I love a lot, which I feel is the “village” you talk about to help raise my children, where I feel the music and liturgy are inspiring, where I find joy in my call to discipleship, and where I find engaging discussion of the Word. I converted to Catholicism at age 17 and have hemmed and hawed about whether that was a mistake for many years. I have tried to “make a difference.” And like you said, something that tipped the scale in a major way was having children. It’s one thing to stick around in spite of being completely miserable because I believe in the Eucharist “and that’s just it.” It’s another entirely to look at my young, beautiful, innocent children, and see a future of boredom and misery for them, resulting in rejection of religion altogether.

    So, thanks, brother.

    • Patricia says:

      If you really believe what the Catholic Church teaches then how can you go anywhere else?

      • dontconvert says:

        Patricia, that is precisely the attitude I am trying to address in this post. The assumption of your question is that doctrine trumps all — or, perhaps, that “being the true church” trumps all — and that all other considerations have to bow to that one.

        I don’t believe that’s right. Even if the Catholic Church is the One, True Church, and even if everything in the catechism is 100% true, and even if Jesus is only present in the Catholic Eucharist … if the practical reality of Catholic parish life is so awful that it ends up killing people’s faith, they’re better off somewhere else.

        • mochagypsy says:

          The problem with doctrine is when it fails to measure up against the Word of God. If your church or personal view of doctrine does not follow with what the Word says, you need to conform your mind to the Word, hang all who disagree with it. The one, true Church isn’t found in adherence to Catholic traditions, Protestant doctrines, or Eastern Orthodox rites, it’s found in those people who daily devote themselves to the careful, prayerful study of God’s Holy Word, washing and renewing their minds in its commandments. Obedience to the Word is the very best way to show you believe in it.

        • Nate Jusko says:

          “I don’t believe that’s right. Even if Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and even if everything He says is 100% true, and even if He is the only means of salvation…if the practical reality of Christianity is so awful that it ends up killing people’s faith, they’re better off somewhere else.”

          Please tell me this article was intended as satire? Please tell me that you see the ridiculousness in the statement above and how close you are to actually thinking that based on your current train of thought?

          If you, as a Christian, are not putting Truth (y’know…that whole “veritas” thing) above all else…and instead are looking for more of a practical approach to Christian philosophy in your day-to-day life, I seriously second-guess your true faith. Christianity is not a practical faith, it is not a reasonable faith, but it is True. If your priorities seek practicality and reason above Truth, then you’re lost no matter what denomination you stumble into.

  8. John 6:54 says:

    Obedience to the Magisterium is obedience to the Bible and it is obedience to Christ. After reading this I don’t think the author will be satisfied with anything; Catholic or Protestant. This is just a rant with some valid points and some way off criticisms. Not every parish in the Catholic world is the same, some are way better than others, some are way more faithful than others. Its a big world. The Pope can’t control it all he can only teach and when he teach’s on faith and morals its is the Gospel. The Catholic Church is the body of Christ. Step outside yourself for a moment and what you want and ask what Christ wants.

    Does he want thousands of denominations that teach everything under the sun? Or did he want ONE?

    Did he give keys to His Church to all the apostles or did he give them to Peter?

    The Catholic Church has lots of problems and because of the size of the Church they appear to dwarf Protestant problems. But if you are really honest all the answers are available within the Catholic Church because Christ is there and always has been. The question is will you humble yourself and list to them, and for them, or will you just whine because you can only see the human aspects of the church which are not perfect. Or will you wise up and look to the divine aspects of the church, if you do that you will see Christ.

    God is calling you to come home and to stay home, but he will not force you.

  9. Edmund Jacoutot says:

    I am not an Evangelical wishing to “relocate” elsewhere. I am however a Catholic and have been ever since I was baptized over 80 years ago. I was raised in a tepid Catholic family – my parents were young who struggled to raise 4 children and had little time for “practicing” their faith. During all these years observing mostly in passing the non-Catholic Christian world I have observed almost nothing to recommend it over the Faith I inherited. And too, though I would willingly admit it if it were true, have I almost never met within my environment non-Catholics of any persuasion who were exempliary Followers of Christ. Religiongof any kind barely penetrates the space we inhabit in our modern culture.

    I have – I admit – gone often to church hoping only to hear good music, an uplifting sermon, revel in the solemn beauty found there in ways no where else. But my gaze – my heart – and I’m sure my Soul found a place where I knew God was – and He was the One I hoped to be near.

    In the 80 years I have been aware – I have seen a great deal and the gentleman giving us his observations here insist he never found anything like it in the Catholic Church. I have no just reason to call him wrong – but I want to address his judgement and say that I wonder if we both exist on the same planet? He asks some of you to “re-consider” any decision on the subject you may be making. Exercising the same right – I ask those to re-consider – yes – but question carefully the reasons he gives.

  10. Brenda Clarice says:

    This is such a childish rant…you give NO good arguments at all. It’s not the Catholic church or any church’s fault that you are an agnostic, that’s your fault. Your article is full of generalities, meaningless rants and inaccuracies, You wrote “You will have little or no outlet for your gifts and few opportunities to serve. Except soup kitchens and things” The Catholic church is one of the largest if not the largest charitable organization on planet earth. There are PLENTY opportunities to serve and use your gifts.

  11. mochagypsy says:

    I was born Baptist and converted to Catholicism almost four years ago. Mainly because I appreciate it’s rich history as the original organized Church (succession of Popes since St. Peter, etc.) and to provide (what I believed) a sound and nurturing spiritual foundation for my future family (if I’m blessed to have one). Though I cannot say that I fully regret converting, I quickly noticed that the Catholic Church lacks a true community outside of the 45 minute Mass. The Evangelical Churches, on the other hand, reaches out to support people in a practical way and have activities for adults and children almost every day of the week! It gives an opportunity for people to grow, have a feeling of belonging, and remain faithful to God’s path in everyday life. I would complain to my Catholic friends about this difference. It really does take a village to grow a community in Christ… You really hit the nail in the head there! There are too many negative forces attacking us out there to invest our spiritual energy in anything less. I will most likely return to the Evangelical Church very soon.

  12. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    Obedience to the Magisterium is obedience to the Bible and it is obedience to Christ.

    I’m sorry but that’s an utter crock, and I say this as someone who worshipped as a Catholic for most of my life before seeing Catholicism for the cesspool of apostasy and institutionalized immoralalitly that it is.

    I can offer three examples but those will be plenty. The first is the Church’s accomodationist, appeasement-oriented attitude toward Islam, which reflects the encyclical Nostra Aetate from Vatican II. Since JPII’s tenure, the Vatican has been silent about the persecution of Christians by Muslims and about the “culture of death” that promotes genocide even among Palestinian children!

    The second is the revisionist, abolitionist attitude toward capital punishment, which not only contradicts Scripture (Genesis 9:5-6) but everything taught by Catholic Tradition from Augustine and Aquinas until JPII.

    The third is the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Sorry, but until Catholic leaders and apologists realize that crisis for what it is — a systemic collapse on the level of Greek tragedy that took too many innocent lives with it — they will never understand it, let alone attempt to resolve it.

  13. Nick says:

    I’m very sorry you feel this way and had a negative experience in a Catholic Church.

    As a Catholic, I have to say that I’ve found the church extremely compelling. At my parish, we’re challenged every week to live out the teachings of Jesus and find it an honor to serve the poor. Our church is full of great Sunday school classes, youth groups and outreach programs. There certainly is no right way to worship, it’s different for everyone; but as Christians alike, we all believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and for that, no one way is better than another – more importantly, we all have reason to celebrate!

    You talk about “selling points” and “claims to fame” of the Catholic Church – I’m not sure where you’ve been worshiping, but this certainly is not a universal objective of the church. The only objective of the church is to spread the word of God, and we don’t see the Eucharist as a “claim to fame.”

    As a man, I have to vehemently disagree with your statement that “the Catholic Church is not a welcoming place for men.” That is your opinion and simply not true. Again, I’m very sorry you had that experience, but with over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, there are certainly millions of men who are finding the church very welcoming.

    My prayer for you is that you can express a more pro-Jesus and a less anti-Catholic message. Your judgments on the Catholic Church are extensive, but I would urge you to refrain from any generalizations about the Catholic church – I’m sure you’d like the same as applied to Evangelicals as a whole or any other Christian denomination. We’re all on the same team – we all seek to know God better. Catholics aren’t perfect, no one is – but we’re all brothers and sisters in the Lord’s eye and let’s find peace and joy by sharing in his good word!

  14. Carol says:

    One huge reason Evangelicals should join the Catholic Church — Matthew 26:26-29 … The Real Presence … If Jesus meant what he said elsewhere – then was He lying in Matthew 26? Why would anyone believe John 3:16 and not Matthew 26::26-29?

    Jesus spoke Truth through out or He lied through out — you can’t have it both ways and not be branded a hypocrite — Matthew 7:21 — believe it ALL or don’t believe any of it. You don’t get to pick and choose. The Bible is not a buffet, it’s a complete sit down meal.

  15. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    Carol, you offer a false choice. We know Jesus cannot lie but that doesn’t mean church authorities can’t misunderstand, misinterpret or misconstrue His words. You talk about the Last Supper. Jesus established the meaning for that in John 6, after He fed thousands. John 6:30-65 does not refer to transubstantiation but rather the opposite. Jesus was speaking metaphorically about Himself being “the bread of life,” just as he metaphorically referred to Himself as a “good shepherd” and as a “sheepgate” elsewhere in John’s Gospel. The tip-off is verse 63: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” He used those words to refer to His own resurrection. Therefore, He could not have meant the literal “eating and drinking” of His flesh and blood the way the crowd thought — and, essentially, the way Catholics think today.

    For that matter, go back to John 4, Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman. Thoughout that conversation Jesus metaphorically refers to “living water” which cannot be drawn from a well. The woman plainly thought Jesus was talking about literal water — just as the crowd in John 6 thought he referred to literal bread, flesh and blood.

    If John is a reasonably intelligent writer and his portrayal of Jesus is reasonably consistent — even if you take divine inspiration out of the equation. — then He can’t speak metaphorically in John 4 and literally in John 6. The passages are too similar in style to allow for that.

    As someone who once worshipped as a Catholic, Carol, I dare say that Catholics are the ones who “pick and choose” because they allow their Magisterium to do their thinking for them!

    • Hamsa says:

      It will be very sad, when Jesus returns soon, to find out that it is you who has (willfully) misunderstood.

      • Joseph DHippolito says:

        Hamsa, when Jesus returns, He will call those who belong to Him because of their fidelity to Him and His Father, not because they belong to any particular denomination — least of all, one that dragged His Name through the mud for centuries and effectively substituted itself for Him. If you think that a holy, righteous God plays favorites or will ignore what Catholics do merely because they are Catholic, then you are more than sorely mistaken. You are tremendously ignorant about the nature, character and integrity of God.

        • HJ says:

          Joseph, I am perplexed by your comparison. In John 4 he obviously continues explaining himself to the women but doesn’t do so to the many that leave in John 6. Also there are protestant denominations that believe he wasn’t speaking metaphorically here as well.

  16. oi vey! but you protest so much… i kinda think you’ll be back. Godspeed!

    • Earnest G says:

      I don’t.

    • Hamsa says:

      This isn’t a ‘real’ article, but simply a plant by evangelicals. They do this thing all the time – call it lying for Jesus – to convince people to get ‘saved.’ (Or to not leave their churches).

      • Joseph DHippolito says:

        Really, Hamsa? How do you know that? What evidence do you have?
        You know, in your responses on this thread, you don’t bother to offer any specific. All you offer are generalities. If you know so much about the Catholic Church, then why don’t you offer better arguments? Or are you one of those self-satisfied Catholics who look upon Protestants and Eastern Orthodox with contempt? (They run amok in blogdom, and they have their Protestant and Eastern Orthodox counterparts who look upon Catholics with contempt).

  17. Finally Home says:

    Maybe it’s just me but one of the reasons I left the evangelicals was because of the “community.” I like going to church, saying hello and goodbye and being on my way. No one gets into your business under the guise of holding you accountable for little things. No one ostracized me here. No one criticized me here.

    • Plunderer says:

      I am sorry you feel this way, however, where is the determination and motivation for growth if you care content with the status quo? I totally agree with you that some churches are overly obsessed with pointing out problems, but conversely, there is love in showing common members areas for improvement. If I am doing something wrong, or not being as truly committed as I should be, I want to be called out. I want the awakening of my spiritual indifference.

      There is a balance between ostracizing and caring and any good church home will know the proper balance.

      Speaking in generalizations, Catholics seem to lean more towards indifference and tolerance towards the devotion of fellow members whereas more evangelical churches seem to push for improvement, genuinely caring about the growth of all.

  18. brians says:

    I’ve had this conversation a bazillion times. You’re blind to 20 centuries of forest for one half-century of trees. The renewal is underway, liturgically and culturally. Check out the guys, 35 and under, coming out of the seminaries right now. Once the gray-ponytail baby boomer priests all finally croak, we’ll have our Church back. The current bishops may be spineless eunuchs, but the next generation simply isn’t. We may have to parish-shop like protestants for another decade, but the remnant exists. The future belongs to those that show up, and modernist, progressivist Catholicism is already dead. While you may not realize it yet, so is protestantism. 1,500 years from now, seminarians will be sitting around, drinking Guinness, arguing in Latin about which heresiarch came first, Luther or Photius. Error is divided. Truth is One.

  19. dontconvert says:

    @brians, I’ve heard those same sorts of comments for decades. It’s great for lifting the spirits of traditionalist Catholics, but the reality is far different. Have you noticed that it’s always about the future? The renewal is coming. Just hang on a little longer. The next generation of priests will be better. etc. etc.

    It hasn’t happened, it’s not happening, and it’s not likely to happen. And even if it does, people need to deal with reality — not with hopes and dreams about the future. The reality is that the current Roman Catholic Church is a mess, and taking your family into it is a mistake.

  20. brians says:

    You’re wrong. It’s happening. You gave up too early. Come & have a seat at my parish. You’ll get good, ole’fashioned fire & brimstone. You’ll see regular joes in flannel with head-covered wives and 8 kids. You’ll see faithful CCD instructors, reverent liturgy, and genuine “evangelical” community. You’ll see monks in brown robes, and nuns in their habits. You’ll hear jaw-dropping sacred music. Right now.

  21. brians says:

    You’re right – it’s a mess. But the battle is to be joined inside, not outside.

  22. brians says:

    You can’t reform from the outside. That was Luther’s misstep, and Satan’s victory. His victory is always temporary, though. We know who wins in the end. Hosea’s bride was a serial adultress, and so was the nation of Israel herself. The Church may be too – the typology rings true, anyway – but her groom has promised to present her spotless before the Father.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      brians, you can’t reform from the inside, either. The prelates worship their power too much. As far as your typology goes, the Church must repent of its institutional arrogance, sense of entitlement, monarchistic trappings and lust for power and influence before the Groom presents her as “spotless before the Father.” Without repentance, the Church is just another stubborn whore.

      • brians says:

        Reform can only come from the inside. The Church is clearly in need of repentance, including some items you mention, but “monarchistic trappings” (I would call it liturgical reverence and majesty:) are hardly sinful in and of themselves, particularly in the ecclesial body which draws it’s authority from the authority of the King of Creation, the incarnate Word.

        Remember C.S. Lewis’ “Meditation in a Toolshed?” Once you step into the beam of light, rather than looking at it from the side, you see it very differently. Step back into that beam & have a look. Like I said, reform is happening now. I’m watching it unfold.

        Besides, to whom shall we go? The only other alternatives are, and can only be, endless division or an ever increasing relativism.

  23. Joseph DHippolito says:

    brians, let me give you examples of “monarchistic trappngs:” The title of “monsignior,” medieval pomp, the excessive deference given to the hierarchy, the bishops’ fundamental isolation from the laity and lower clergy, the mere fact that the Catholic Church essentially has classes (laity, lower clergy, hierarchy), and the Vatican’s view of itself as a political power broker. Can you argue that Jesus intended any of this?

  24. brians says:

    Monsignior means “my lord.” Maybe one here is a lack of understanding of the etymology of the word “lord.” Here you go:

    lord (n.) mid-13c., laverd, loverd, from Old English hlaford “master of a household, ruler, superior,” also “God” (translating Latin Dominus, though Old English drihten was used more often), earlier hlafweard, literally “one who guards the loaves,” from hlaf “bread, loaf” (see loaf (n.)) + weard “keeper, guardian” (see ward (n.)). Cf. lady, and Old English hlafæta “household servant,” literally “loaf-eater.”

    We’re hardly calling an aged priest Dominus. We’re calling him hlaford, master of a household, or keeper of the loaves. It’s a title of honor, along the lines of pater familias. I can’t claim, of course, that there haven’t been institution-wide abuses of title and position. It shouldn’t come as a shock that there are sinners in the hierarchy. In fact, considering the corrupting nature of power, we should expect the hierarchy of a powerful institution to be at least slightly more corrupt than the general laity. That’s why the Church is so much more effective when it doesn’t have political clout to hang on to, and it’s why the renewal is happening while the Church’s power and influence are on the decline.

    Yes, hierarchical isolation from the laity is a problem that needs addressed, but again, you’re expecting the bride to be spotless before the groom presents her as such. You’re looking at the Church, and assuming Jesus looked at the Church, through the goggles and assumptions of democracy, but the Church was never a democratic institution. In fact, ecclesial democracy is nowhere to be found, even as a possibility, in the Scriptures or other ancient Church documents. Democracy, is, and only can be, the subjection of the minority. But what if (and this is normally the case) the minority is right, and the masses are wrong?

    Now that politics have come up: the Vatican sends ambassadors to prevent interventions or wars by proxy that will result in the slaughter of it’s own people, and that’s a probem? Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria…Can you argue that Jesus has been pleased with the last decade of U.S. intervention in the middle east? The Church has every right and responsibility to peacably plead and negotiate for the lives of it’s own.

    One of the things that convinced me of the claims of the Church is that it, and it only, assumes “all authority on earth.” If all authority in heaven and earth is given to the Son, then all authority on earth is given to His body. An institution that doesn’t claim all authority – over the sacraments, over affairs of state, over what happens in my checking account and in my bedroom, just like Jesus does, just like the Scriptures do, simply can’t be the true Church.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      Brians, here’s my response to your last post:

      1. Regarding the title “monsignior,” I suggest you read Matthew 23: 8-10. The issue isn’t titles per se but the attitiude one has toward those holding them. Jesus is telling people not to give the type of honor that God deserves to men. For centuries, Catholics have been excessively deferential to clergy merely because of their office; the fact that many lay people were slow to condemn the clerical sex-abuse crisis reflects that. Of course, Catholics aren’t the only offenders (just look at the popular evangelical pastors who cultivate followings) nor the worst (just look at the cults of personality surrounding Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Castro, Khomeini, etc.). But Catholics have needed to look at their “shepherds” more circumspectly.

      2. “You’re expecting the bride to be spotless before the groom presents her as such. You’re looking at the Church, and assuming Jesus looked at the Church, through the goggles and assumptions of democracy, but the Church was never a democratic institution.”

      No and no. I expect the Church to practice what it preaches. Yes, the Church has had scoundrels in its leadership for centuries. It’s also true that the Church has no effective internal mechanisms to hold bishops accountable. John Zmirak makes the point here:


      This isn’t a matter of the Church being a “democratic” institution. It’s a matter of moral consistency. For example, clercal sex-abuse is not a new thing. Just do some research on “papal pornocracy,” “St. Peter Damian” and ‘Liber Gommorahianus’.”

      A holy, righteous God doesn’t look too kindly on those who claim authority in His name yet act radically contrary to that authority. Read Ezekiel 34 and 1 Samuel 2:12-36, for starters.

      Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits. Bill Parcells, I believe, put it just as bluntly: You are what your record says you are. The Pharisees demonstrate that intricate theology is no substitute for morality.

      3. “The Vatican sends ambassadors to prevent interventions or wars by proxy that will result in the slaughter of it’s own people, and that’s a probem?”

      Then why doesn’t the Vatican demand in no uncertain terms that Muslim leaders hold their charges morally accountable for persecuting “it’s own people”??


      4. “Can you argue that Jesus has been pleased with the last decade of U.S. intervention in the Middle East?”

      May I remind you that such intervention destroyed two brutal, totalitarian regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. May I also remind you that Pope John Paul II opposed the 1991 invasion of Iraq to extricate Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. That invasion had UN approval. Had the world listened to the late pope, Kuwait would have been annexed as an Iraqi province and Saddam would have been emboldened to attack Saudi Arabia — thus resulting in a war that would have cost far more lives.

      Besides, can you argue that Jesus would be pleased with His Vicar kissing a document that denies His divine nature and salvific mission? Can you argue that Jesus would be pleased with the general atttitude of appeasement that the Vatican has toward Islam — an attitude that has cost far more Christian lives than anything the U.S. has done or failed to do?


      5. “If all authority in heaven and earth is given to the Son, then all authority on earth is given to His body. An institution that doesn’t claim all authority – over the sacraments, over affairs of state, over what happens in my checking account and in my bedroom, just like Jesus does, just like the Scriptures do, simply can’t be the true Church.”

      That is the role of the Holy Spirit and the individual conscience formed by the Spirit through constant prayer and study of Scripture, not any human institution that takes God’s name in vain (and the Catholic Church certainly isn’t the only religious institution that does that)..

      At this point, I should say we probably won’t be able to convince each other of the other’s views. You view the Church as a fundamentally benevolent institution that perfectly reflects the mind of Christ. I view the Church as a fundamentally malevolent institution that long ago sacrificed its spiritual patrimony on the altar of power, wealth, secular prestige, political influence and institutional arrogance — and I say that as somebody who was baptized as a Catholic, graduated from a Catholic high school, worshipped as a Catholic for the vast majority of his life and took God seriously from childhood.

      But now, I could no more be a Catholic than I could be a Muslim or a Communist.

      Nevertheless, I wish you well in your spiritual endeavors and I certainly bear no ill will toward you.

      One final piece of advice: Avoid Mark Shea’s blog like the plague. He truly is a malevolent, obsessive bully whose Catholicism is skin deep when it comes to moral behavior.

      • brians says:

        Like I said, the Church forces a choice, and at least your position is consistent. It’s either good or evil, but it’s certainly not just another denomination. I don’t think it’s a human institution: it would’ve imploded centuries ago if it was. Protestants have saved the Bible from the hands of those dirty Catholics only to rip it into 40,000 pieces. Personal judgement in matters of faith is the beginning of disintegration, and 500 years later, here we are.

        I respectfully suggest that you may be just the type of fellow who, as I mentioned earlier, is blinded to 20 centuries of forest for 60 years of trees. It was a nasty 60 years, and there are some millstone rewards coming to many in the hierarchy. Chesterton would say you’re too close to see it for what it is. Considering the hurt that many Church leaders have inflicted on faithful laypersons, I understand how you’ve arrived at the conclusion you have, but Truth is still one, and can’t be divided.

        I hold the same animus toward Calvinism, fair or not, thanks to the decades of torment over whether I am one of the elect for whom Jesus died, and over God’s eternal decree, before the foundation of the world, of the destination of my soul. What I’m thankful for, though, even in the Puritan context, is being taught the fear of the Lord, and the love for & memorization of the written Word. Similarly to you, though, I couldn’t turn back to the shallowness and division of protestantism any more than I could be a Muslim, republican, or democrat:)

        I don’t have an opinion, one way or the other, on Shea. I hope whatever it is the two of you have against each other is settled and forgiven one day.

  25. rachel29 says:

    It’s interesting, I was the first one to reply to this thread, and I must have clicked something that had all future replies come to my inbox. And what is funny, in such a tragically sad kind of way, is that the current argument is what has completely trashed my interest in organized Christianity. ( I wad an Evangelical Protestant from my ‘salvation’ experience at a Billy Graham crusade until 12 years ago when I started investigating the Catholic church and then became Catholic 10 yrs ago. So, I am not on either side of this fence. I am actually exhausted by all of the fighting. Truly exhausted. So I pulled away. I have spent my time reading the New Testament, and have also started reading through the Old Testament (as both a Protestant and a Catholic, I only knew parts of it and decided I needed to remedy that.

    You are both missing the point. Do you remember that St. Paul said that if “you have not love you are an empty resounding gong?” There is no love here, in these replies…only judgement, self righteousness and contempt. That is not of Christ, no matter what you want to think. He quoted the Old Testament when he said to the Pharisees who loved arguing about who was right and who was wrong, “Think on what the scriptures say when it says, ‘I desire MERCY not sacrifice.” There is no mercy here. Where is “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you”? And last, and this is where all of organized Christianity is dropping off a cliff, what about this: Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, EVEN AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, that you also love one another. By THIS all men will know that you are MY disciples, if you have love for one another. As just someone stopping by this post and reading through the replies, I would think there go Christians battling it out again, no better than the rest of the world.

    No wonder the Pew Research group has shown a steady exodus of parishioners from both Protestant and Catholic churches. People who love the Lord and genuinely want to follow Him are just fed up with crap. God knows I am. I am sure nothing I have said will stop any of you here on this thread from continuing to go after each other. I just wanted to let you know that this isn’t a closed system and the others are watching, be careful the example you set.

    In all honesty, I wish you both peace. Maybe you should realize neither one of you is going to change the other one’s mind. What did St. Augustine say, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”


  26. dontconvert says:

    “I am actually exhausted by all of the fighting.” Rachel, I totally know how you feel.

    Before I became Catholic I spent many, many years trying to understand it all and decide if I really wanted to take the plunge. The fighting was exhausting.

    The real message of the original post in this thread is that there are far larger issues to consider than all the geeky theological crap that people argue about on the internet. It’s one thing to talk about “the one, true church,” and to argue about who was at fault in such and so dispute 500 years ago.

    It’s another thing entirely to take your impressionable young children into the pitiably mediocre Roman Catholic Church. If your real goal is a life of faith, hope and charity, the RCC is probably not your best bet.

    • brians says:

      No, that wasn’t the point of your original post. Your point was that one shouldn’t convert to Catholicism, and should remain in division and doctrinal error for assumed cultural benefits. A preposterous position in the first place, but made more so by the reality of evangelical church life. My daughters are more statistically at risk of sexual abuse by protestant clergy than my sons are of Catholic clergy. Evangelicals not only can’t agree on anything, but many think they don’t even have to agree on anything. Again, the 3 options are: Catholicism, endless division, or relativism. Rachel has unwittingly fallen into relativism, and dontconvert just flows from one to the other as it suits his purpose. Jesus is either 1)who He says He is, or 2) not who He says He is, the Catholic Church forces us into the same choice. At least Joseph’s position is consistent.

    • Nate Jusko says:

      Yeah…who cares about all that “geek theological crap” like hermeneutics, eschatology, and soteriology (I mean, they only have to deal with what actually happens to your everlasting soul) what really matters is whether or not your “church” fulfills you in the here and now (oh, and whether or not they have a good kids’ program, coffee bar, and music performance).

      This message brought to you by the Church of America (a Disney company)!

      • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

        Nate, neither hermeneutics nor eschatology nor soteriology can save people from sin. Only the blood of Christ can do that because Jesus was the only acceptable sacrifice in God’s eyes for human sin. If you think theology has the kind of power you think it does, then let me remind you that the Pharisees were the leading theologians of their day. Not only did they reject Jesus as Messiah, they conspired to kill Him because He was a threat to their power.

        “…what really matters is whether or not your “church” fulfills you in the here and now (oh, and whether or not they have a good kids’ program, coffee bar, and music performance)…”

        No, Nate, what really matters is whether your church has intellectual and moral credibility. Catholicism has neither. The bishops don’t even defend the faith they claim to uphold!

        Your snotty, self-satisfied remarks reflect the attitude of the majority of Catholics concerning evangelical Protestantism (and, yes, I know that evangelicals have similar attitudes about Catholics). Such people think they’re “better” because their worship is “better” or their “theology” is “more intellectual.” Well, neither worship nor theology will get you to Heaven. Only embracing Christ’s sacrifice as your own will.

  27. brians says:

    Rachel, I don’t doubt your sincerity or the legitimacy of your weariness, but still, you’re arguing from a position of relativism, which is hardly what Augustine had in mind. Remember, for him, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, submission to bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and the authority of priests to absolve sin were all givens, and essentials – any honest reading of his writings makes this obvious. Those who reject these items simply can’t be called orthodox Christians. Christians, maybe in a nebulous, spritiualized, unincarnated sense, but not orthodox Christians. I don’t think Joseph would say that he hates me, and I certainly wouldn’t say that about him. The fact is, Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. Before Abraham was, Jesus is. Jesus breathed His authority into the apostles, who passed it to others by the laying on of hands. This isn’t extra-biblical. It’s there, in the undisputed New Testament. The authority of the Church on earth is the authority of Jesus. If you’re not in submission to the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, you’re not in full submission to Jesus.

  28. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    “I suppose you’re on the same page Falwell was: ‘Blow them all away in the name of the Lord!’”

    First, I never said in any of the links I posted that Muslims should be nuked to smithereens. The fact that you even insinuate that is utterly disingenuous and smacks of ad hominem attack.

    Again, the Catholic hierarchy is not in full submission to Jesus and hasn’t been for centuries. The hierarchy will pay a profoundly heavy price for that. See Ezekiel 34 and 1 Samuel 2:12-36.

    Adam, “once saved, always saved” doesn’t mean you can do whatever you please and not suffer any consequences, either in this life or in the next. None of the authors of the epistles even suggests that, let along Christ Himself. I have found that those who “abide in Christ” and listen to the Holy Spirit, which is a deposit of the salvation to come, will be saved. Sanctification is a process that continues throughout a Christian’s life.

    Interestingly, my experience is quite the opposite from yours. You find yourself living a much more holy life and having a real relationship with Jesus in the Catholic Church. I had to leave the church to find such a relationship. To each, his own….

  29. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    Adam, if you want an answer to the “once saved, always saved” proposition, I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 3. In the context of the controversy surrounding personalities, St. Paul talks about how each man’s work will be divinely evaluated. Even if an individual’s work is nothing but “wood, hay and stubble” that will burn, the individual will still be saved “as one escaping through the flames.” Granted, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement; nevertheless, the individual is saved.

    brians, one more thing: More than a millennium ago, St. John Chrysostom said the following:
    “The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”
    If that was true then, it’s certainly true now.

  30. replying to mochagypsy re: “the word”
    um… where in “the word” does it say anything remotely like that..?
    matter of fact, what DOES the Bible call “the pillar and foundation of the truth”?
    the CHURCH! :-)))
    1 Tim. 3:15

  31. Ian Dunn says:

    This reply concerns the original text. I, too, am a convert to the Catholic faith from a strongly evangelical Baptist background. For almost all of my life (20 years) I have attended Baptist churches. Most of them preached the Gospel with uncompromising fervency while a few others were more lax. The results of my experience in Catholicism have been nothing like what is described above. The sermons are gentle but not wishy-washy. They always convey a solid truth. The repetition of the Mass is not boring, but on the contrary, strengthens its effect on my faith and is a source of our unity as the Church. As for the Bible translations, the modern ones are somewhat easier to read, but I typically use the Douay-Rheims version. It is much older and is not subject to the dumbing down of today’s translations. It could be compared to the KJV. I have found that the devotions and prayers of Catholicism have a spiritual impact that is strikingly absent from other churches. The music of the Novus Ordo is good but one cannot forget the purity of the older, classic Catholic hymns that are more likely to be heard at the Tridentine Mass. Also, my parish has an abundance of opportunities to serve God and probably many others do as well. While the abuse scandal that has recently plagued the Church is certainly nothing over which to rejoice, I feel the need to point out the difference between the actions of the Church and the actions of those within the Church who don’t live up to its moral standards. Concerning Fr. Maciel, I have little knowledge of the subject and therefore cannot speak extensively about it. A person can have a founded understanding of God and sound teaching, but still commit evil acts. Once again, I state that I know almost nothing of that particular case, but I would say that just because a person sins against his faith does not mean that everything that he taught in his lifetime is necessarily false. On the topic of the Magisterium, they are an indispensable guide in our understanding of the faith. They, along with Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, are the compass that keeps us moving in the right direction. The Bible is not irrelevant but is understood in its proper context and role in the Church. The practices of Lectio Divina are a wonderful way to engage God’s Word. Though members and leaders of the Church may have varying political leanings, it is important to remember that the goal is to stand for moral truth, regardless of what party in politics holds to that truth. The standards of which remain unrivaled in other denominations. The Eucharist is an essential dogma. I would not be Catholic if I didn’t believe in it, but the point of this comment is to point out that we also have much else. Yes, I was originally convinced by doctrine. And yes, Catholic apologetics played a strong role. However, what I received upon entering the Church extended far beyond intellectual knowledge in that I found a faith that truly changes the lives of those who fully practice it. Everything from crossing myself at the baptismal font, to the daily readings of Scripture, to the inspiring lives of saints play a part in forming my spiritual life. A theme in many of the comments seems to be a choice between doctrinal truth and practical application. I don’t have to worry about choosing between the two because I know that I have both. I have both Sacrament and Word.

  32. MS3104 says:

    It seems to me that you were attending a “Church of Nice” where very little “true” Catholicism was taking place. I am a Cradle Catholic and left the church for a period of 7 years but returned because of my longing for the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacraments. Sure I missed the contemporary music, but have grown to love the traditional hymns again. The purpose of the Mass is not to entertain, it is to help save your soul.

    I have started attending a traditional Latin mass on Sundays that has helped to progress my love of the church even further then before. The sermons are direct, non apologetic and often times hit home where it hurts. I find that now when I attend mass where the post Vatican II format is used, I am not as “fed”

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