"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

17 March 2006

My Version of A Recovering Catholic

I mentioned in my list of 50 Things About Me that I was a recovering Catholic. Someone asked me in the comments to that post what that term meant so I thought I would go ahead and make a full post since my answer is a bit too long for the comments section.

First, the commenter also mentioned reading the term “recovering Catholic” in a newspaper article so I can’t say my definition is necessarily the same as others. I would guess that there are people who grew up Catholic that now don’t believe in a God that may also call themselves “recovering Catholics”. That’s not my personal definition.

I grew up in a Catholic family. I went to church every Sunday with my parents, was baptized as a baby, did first communion, confirmation, CCD, etc. Once I went away to college I only went to mass maybe twice on my own (except summers when I was home with my family). After all those years of religion I knew nothing about God, other than he existed. I don’t even think my family owned a Bible. If we did I never saw it. The same goes for my extended family and all of my friends that were Catholic.

Around the age of 27 I started to get interested in the Bible. Not so much the book itself, but in some of the stories from the Old Testament. I won’t go into the details as I’m hoping to write up my testimony soon. Anyway, I decided to try going back to church but wanted to try a Protestant church as my boyfriend (now my husband) had grown up in a Protestant environment and his family seemed more in touch with the Bible. In that church I heard the Gospel and accepted Jesus as my Savior and my life changed in an instant.

I call myself a recovering Catholic because by the grace of God I was able to overcome my entrapment. I believe that Catholicism is a dead religion that fools people into thinking they are bound for heaven when most are not. I believe this because of my own experience growing up in the Catholic church and because of my continual interaction with my Catholic family members and friends.

Of course I’m speaking in very general terms here as I do not know anyone’s heart, but I’m going with the odds based on my experience. Of all my Catholic family and friends I don’t know one that could tell me the Gospel message. I don’t know one that reads their bible and most don’t even own one. But I know that they all think that they will be going to heaven upon death simply because they believe in the existence of God and attend mass weekly.

I really could go on and on but I’d rather stop here. If anyone would like to discuss this further or would like me to elaborate on something I’d be more than happy to do it in a separate post or in the comments. There are clear doctrinal problems with Catholicism beyond what I know in my heart to be true. I may bring that up in a later post.

If anyone reading this is Catholic, I hope I haven’t upset you too much by what I have said here, but I must be honest. I personally don’t believe that you can have a legitimate relationship with Jesus Christ and be a Catholic. There is too much disparity. That may sound harsh but I’m willing to say it because I believe it whole-heartedly and I don’t mess around when it comes to salvation.

It breaks my heart that there are people who seem to be trying to follow God and are being mislead into a false sense of security. Since I currently have family members lost in this trap, I tend to take a hard stance on this. This is also why I take a hard stance on other religions that are not pointing people to the one true God . I guess it’s part of my “recovery” program.

Here is an excellent resource that states this better than I have here: Are Some Roman Catholics Saved

22 comments:

Terri said...

I agree completely! I, too, grew up Catholic and never heard the salvation of Jesus Christ ever mentioned! I came to Christ after talking with a friend who is Protestant. My parents are still Catholic - but they were both saved as young people and joined the Catholic church after they were married and had all of us.

Terri said...

Thanks for the added article link -I read it and it clears up a lot. Since I left the Catholic church so long ago, I didn't know many of the things which the article addressed. I will be praying for my parents and for other Roman Catholics, as well, and will evangelize to them.

Anonymous said...

Reading you is encouraging in light of so many so-called evangelicals who have already sold out to the ecumenism trumpeted by RCC...

Keep the good fight!

eph2810 said...

Carrie - what a wonderful post. Really, I totally understand what you are talking about. Although not Catholic, I am Catholic Light - meaning Lutheran...
To be honest with you, I didn't know the 'entire story' of salvation until I came to the US. I went to church in Germany, but don't remember reading from the Bible as often as it is done here. I think that was one of the major issues (but I don't think it is true only longer), that the Catholic church didn't encourage for their members to read the Bible. It was read to them, and in Latin for the longest time. I don't remember when it changed that the Bible was read in English, but I believe it was until the late 60's early 70's...so how can people hear the Message, if it is not in their own language.
Thanks again for sharing a 'partial' testimony on your faith walk.

Atlantic said...

Hi, I found this blog via a link from Ellen.

I'm a Catholic by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I completely agree that there are many apparently in the Church, many who call out "Lord, Lord", who are chaff. The state of catechesis in much of the Church in the US today is indeed scandalous.

However, the writer of that Chick essay seems to have some very serious misunderstandings of Catholic teachings. No Catholic who actually knows the Faith given by Christ and handed down by the Apostles could possibly give any credence to it.

I will be praying for you, and also for your family. The following article is an excellent place to start if you want to know what the Church actually teaches.

http://www.catholic.com/library/pillar.asp

Terri, I am not sure what you mean when you say that you never heard the salvation of Jesus Christ ever mentioned. I hear it every Sunday at Mass!

Carrie said...

Thanks Atlantic for sharing your view. I looked at the website you suggested and have to say that what was outlined there seemed very much in-line with what that Chick Publication said.

There is way too much to break down here so maybe I'll do a separate post. But there are ALOT of Catholic teachings (based on that website) that are not biblical. Please, look at the scriptures referenced and see if they support the claim.

I don't want anyone to be confused in case I can't post on this for awhile so I leave some excerpts from www.Catholic.com:

"The Church Jesus founded is apostolic because he appointed the apostles to be the first leaders of the Church, and their successors were to be its future leaders. The apostles were the first bishops, and, since the first century, there has been an unbroken line of Catholic bishops faithfully handing on what the apostles taught the first Christians in Scripture and oral Tradition (2 Tim. 2:2).

These beliefs include the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the forgiveness of sins through a priest, baptismal regeneration, the existence of purgatory, Mary’s special role, and much more —even the doctrine of apostolic succession itself."

"Since no gift can be forced on the recipient—gifts always can be rejected—even after we become justified, we can throw away the gift of salvation. We throw it away through grave (mortal) sin (John 15:5–6, Rom. 11:22–23, 1 Cor. 15:1–2; CCC 1854–1863). Paul tells us, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).

Sins are nothing but evil works (CCC 1849–1850). We can avoid sins by habitually performing good works. Every saint has known that the best way to keep free from sins is to embrace regular prayer, the sacraments (the Eucharist first of all), and charitable acts."

Atlantic said...

The Chick essay quotes some scriptures (verses with which I am quite familiar), but the author is misrepresenting Catholic teaching on the issues he discusses, because his arguments the scriptures quoted do not disprove the Church’s actual teachings.

It is as if I said, “Protestants say they know and worship Christ, but the fact is they really believe in sola scriptura – Scripture alone. Not Christ, but Scripture! They are making an idol of the Bible and worshipping it instead of God.”

But if I said that, you’d have a very good case that (at best) really didn’t understand either the principle of sola scriptura or Protestantism in general.

The Catholic Answers essay that I linked is “in line” with the Chick essay only to the extent that it mentions some teachings that the Chick author (at best) doesn’t understand very well. And some of the Catholic Answers essay directly contradicts the Chick one! The website as a whole has a lot of resources that go into much more depth.

If you want to discuss this in more detail, I’d love to!

Carrie said...

Hi Atlantic. Since you are basing all of your arguements off of the link you posted it is going to take me some time to go through that link more thoroughly and explain what I think is unbiblical (with scriptural back up).

Chick also has a tract about Catholicism which I like. Again, you may argue that what are classified as the Catholic teachings are incorrect but it seems to me that some of the Catholic teachings have been softened a bit to try and appear more biblical. So again, I'm back to looking at the resource that you are using to make a good arguement, but I'll point you to this tract also.

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0071/0071_01.asp

I hate to keep posting resources but my time is very limited and arguing these points will take some time. I appreciate your willingness to engage in the discussion.

Carrie said...

There should be a "p" at the end of that link. It keeps disappearing. the extension is ".asp"

Elena said...

If anyone reading this is Catholic, I hope I haven’t upset you too much by what I have said here, but I must be honest. I personally don’t believe that you can have a legitimate relationship with Jesus Christ and be a Catholic.

I'm not upset because I have heard it before and I kind of thought that's what your view was.

I agree with Atlantic that catechesis in this country stinks and it has for a long time.

I do smile though that you can presume to know that I cannot have a "legitimate" relationship with Christ since I am a Catholic. How can you possibly know that?

Thanks for expounding on your history though. I appreciate it.

Carrie said...

Thanks for your comment Elena.

I don't believe you can have a legitimate relationship with Jesus and be a Catholic based on my experience of having a strong relationship with Jesus and having been a Catholic. Once I accepted Jesus, was filled with the Spirit and started reading the Bible, I realized that the Catholic religion had major flaws. My point is - anyone who truly has a relationship with Jesus would soon recognize the unbiblical doctrine of Catholicism and would get no edification in the Catholic church.

I know many evangelical Christians that were formerly Catholic and they would all agree. But I also know there is nothing I can say here that will convince you.

I can understand why you would smile at what I say. I'm sure it seems like us "Protestants" are either looking down our noses at Catholics or thinking our ways are superior. That is not what I am trying to do.

I am trying to explain as someone having been on both sides of the coin that there is something SO much better on the side I am now. All I would ask is that you would at least investigate.

Elena said...

Actually, I did investigate. My sister left the church for a time about 18 years ago. While she was gone she challenged me on all of my beliefs and why I held them. I even went with her while she went "church shopping!"

I had the opposite experience. As I investigated and studied and researched her questions, I found the Catholic Church to be true scripturally, intellectually, spiritually and historically. My investigation lead me right back into the Catholic Church. Several years later my sister also returned.

In the late 1980s there was a rush of Evangelical ministers who joined the Catholic Church. It was an intense study of the scriptures that lead them there!

I do have to tell you though that my upbringing was different. My family DID have a bible, and we did pray together, and we attended mass weekly, and I saw my folks praying and living their faith. So maybe having a strong example through my folks I always felt that I knew God and I have always felt that I had a relationship with Him.

Thank you for your gentle answers though and I do enjoy your blog. I really love your template!

Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing that Elena.

I still disagree with you but at least you seem to have made an informed decision.

Oh no, don't say you like my template when I'm thinking of changing it!

Atlantic said...

It’s really fascinating hearing others’ stories! I’ve also had some experience of Protestantism: when my DH and I met, he was an unchurched Protestant who had views on the Catholic Church that weren’t too different to Jack Chick’s, while I was fallen away from my Catholic upbringing. When I came back to Christ, I had a lot of reasons to favour Protestantism: my husband’s influence, my desire to please him both as my husband and the head of the household, my original doubts about the Church, and also our (then) desire to assimilate into a part of UK society which is quite Protestant (to the extent it remains religious at all).

In the course of studying Scripture and finding out about the various Protestant denominations, I came across various Catholic books and materials, including essays like the ones at Catholic.com. (There were several other things going on as well, but I’m trying to keep this brief!) I read them, and a lot of piece started coming together, and I shared them with my DH. We studied (and argued!) a lot together over this. Months. Years. I’ll never forget the night he gave me a sort of stunned, thousand-yard stare, and said “It couldn’t possibly be the Catholic Church….could it?” That phase lasted at least six months. :) Now he’s into the “more Catholic than the Pope” phase. :) Both of us feel that our personal relationship with Christ is only deepened by participation in the sacraments He instituted, and by learning from the experiences and practices of two thousand years of Christian life.

I don’t mind having a long discussion if you don’t – this is a really big topic! Catholic.com, by the way, has a loooong article on Chick tracts. Part 1 is here, with links to the rest:

http://www.catholic.com/library/sr_chick_tracts_p1.asp

Carrie said...

Thanks for stopping by again Atlantic. I have to be honest, it stuns me that someone (especially from a Protestant background) could investigate the Catholic teachings against the scriptures and decide to become Catholic. Really, "stuns" me is putting it mildly.

I have found a bunch of resources online that I need to take the time to look through. I will look through the sites you have recommended also. Perhaps we can continue the discussion another time after I have time to go through everything.

So which passage is it that made your husband ask if it was the Catholic church? I think I know the verse you are talking about but it would help if you could post it.

I have no doubt that the Catholic religion has major flaws based on my personal experience and current knowledge. I'm hoping to find the time to look over the resources suggested to make a better arguement but to be honest, I'm not sure I can find enough time to do the arguement justice.

Plus, people much more knowledgable than I have had this debate before so I don't think I could add much. All I can offer that may be different is my personal experience.

Atlantic said...

If it makes you feel any better, he wasn’t raised Protestant, he was from a completely non-religious ‘post-Jewish’ family, although he first believed in Christ as a young child. He pursued Bible studies and Christian fellowship and worship as soon as he reasonably could as a teenager, but that’s not the same as being raised even nominally Protestant.

But as Elena mentioned, there have been quite a few scripturally-knowledgeable Protestants who have come into full communion with the Church in recent years. Check out this link:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/PROTPAST.htm

When DH became convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, it was a really long process, so I don’t think there was any verse or passage that could truly be singled out. He was then at the point where several distinctively Catholic teachings (or rather, distinctively non-Protestant teachings, since the Eastern Orthodox share them) seemed at least plausible, and (as with me) they started coming into focus as part of a coherent whole – you get a sudden sense that Christianity and the Church is a much bigger thing than you expected. It’s a most terrifying and joyful experience.

Which verse(s) did you think it might be?

You’re quite right that these debates have been held before, so we’re not likely to add anything to the sum of human knowledge here. But maybe you or I will say something that other hasn’t heard before, or never thought about in such a way, and maybe the Holy Spirit will work though us.

Personal experience can’t be ignored. I think my upbringing is probably somewhere in between yours and Elena’s. I never thought of us as a particularly religious family – we never prayed together, for instance, and we were not active in the parish. However, we did go to church every Sunday and I was expected to pay attention, and also I went to weekly religious instruction classes through 8th grade. I was given a children’s illustrated Bible earlier than I can remember, a missal at my First Communion so I could follow the Mass easily, a dynamic translation Bible around age 9, and a good Bible at my Confirmation. I remember starting to read the dynamic translation all the way through consecutively, but I got bogged down halfway through Numbers. :)

The flaws in my religious upbringing showed up later, but I did hear the gospel, read the scriptures, and definitely felt I had a personal relationship with Jesus. I remember that when I was about 9 or 10, a Baptist friend invited me to Vacation Bible School for a week. I had a wonderful time. This was definitely the first time I’d ever been asked to memorise Bible verses (all from Hebrews 11). But I don’t remember learning or feeling anything brand-new about Jesus or the gospel the way some ex-Catholics describe. It was more a case of, “So this is how Baptists relate to Jesus!” Similarly, I remember one of my junior high school teachers giving me a Chick track – this one –

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0045/0045_01.asp

– (I have no idea why that one) – and I remember finding some of the illustrations disturbing, but as far as the basic message went (including the back cover), again I didn’t feel that this was essentially a new or different gospel than the one I had already heard.

So I’m always a little mystified by people who say they were brought up Catholic but never knew Jesus or the gospel. I could understand it if a family’s Catholicism was really nothing but a leftover label from a generation or two back, like my DH’s Jewishness, but they often seem to imply more than that.

So I’d be really interested in hearing about your personal experiences, whenever you like.

Elena said...

Thank you for sharing that link Atlantic. Here is Professor Scott Hahn's conversion story. The conversion of he and his wife Kimberly were instrumental in my own reversion. I note that both of them were convicted by scripture to come into the Catholic Church.
http://www.chnetwork.org/scotthconv.htm

Carrie said...

Thanks Elena & Atlantic for the additional links. When I've had some time to look them over I'll try to comment again.

As far personal experiences I'm not sure how much more I can add but I'll think about it.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a super old post I have stumbled upon but I must point something out. The protestant ministers you have brought up several times that became protestant are NOT a good example in support of Catholicism. Here is an article:
http://www.bereanbeacon.org/apologists/The_Lost_Soul_of_Scott_Hahn.pdf

I was caught up in that line of thinking when I was still Catholic. Unfortunately the Jesus you are introduced to "every Sunday" and the so called "gospel message" you hear in the Catholic church is not the real Jesus or his gospel. Hence, people growing up Catholic do not know Jesus!

John 1: "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

You have to read Gods word to get to know the real Christ. Once you know his real word, you can tell counterfeit.

Anonymous said...

I just left a post about Scott Hahn. I just found an even better article which is an open letter to Mr. Hahn pointing out his errors scripturally. It is sad when someone isn't even a real Christian uses himself as a poster child of converting to Catholicism just to get attention...
Read it all here:
http://www.thepathoftruth.com/falsehoodexposed/catholic/scotthahn_vic.htm

Anonymous said...

What every Catholic should know:

http://www.whateverycatholicshouldknow.com/

Short and Sweet said...

Great post. I, too, felt the "entrapment" of Catholicism...Catholic school from kindergarten to high school graduation. Too bad I was taught to "fear the Lord" instead of love Him. I will not go to a Catholic Church anymore because of my rebellion to its man-made laws, intolerance, abuse by priests, greed...I could on and on. Isn't it amazing how some Popes had children but priests can't marry? The hypocrisy in the church is mind-boggling.

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