Former Protestant pastor tells how he led Catholics out of the Catholic Church

Steve Wood writes:

Step 1:  Get Catholics to have a conversion experience in a Protestant setting.

Most Fundamentalist, Evangelical, and charismatic Protestant churches have dynamic youth programs, vibrant Wednesday and Sunday evening services, and friendly small-group bible studies. In addition, they host special crusades, seminars and concerts. At the invitation of a Protestant friend, a Catholic may begin attending one or more of these events while still going to Sunday Mass at his local parish.

Most Protestant services proclaim a simple gospel:  repent from sin and follow Christ in faith. They stress the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus and the reward of eternal life. Most of the Catholics who attend these services are not accustomed to hearing such direct challenges to abandon sin and follow Christ. As a result, many Catholics experience a genuine conversion.

Protestants should be commended for their zeal in promoting conversions. Catholic leaders need to multiply the opportunities for their people to have such conversions in Catholic settings. The reason is simple. About five out of ten people adopt the beliefs of the denomination where they have their conversion. This percentage is even higher for those who had profound conversions or charismatic experiences that were provided by Protestants. (Believe me, I know; I was a graduate of an Assembly of God college and a youth minister in two charismatic churches.)

He goes on to explain a couple of other most interesting things. Then concludes:

Over the past three decades, thousands of Catholics have left the Church for Protestant pastures. The largest church in America is the Catholic Church; the second largest group of Christians in America is former-Catholics. The Catholic men’s movement has a solemn obligation to help men discover the biblical and historical roots of their Catholic faith. Then, rather than leaving, they will become instruments to help others discover the treasures of Catholicism.

Remember that a man who leaves the Church will often take his family with him — for generations. It took my family four hundred years — 10 generations — to come back to the Church after a generation of my ancestors in Norway, England, Germany and Scotland decided to leave the Catholic Church.

As one whose family has made the round-trip back to Catholicism, let me extend a personal plea to Catholic men, especially the leaders of various Catholic men’s groups:  don’t put untrained Catholics in a Protestant setting. They might gain a short-term religious experience, but they take the long-term risk of losing their faith. It would be highly irresponsible to expose them to Protestantism before they are fully exposed to Catholicism.

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15 Responses to Former Protestant pastor tells how he led Catholics out of the Catholic Church

  1. Pingback: Former Protestant pastor tells how he led Catholics out of the Catholic Church | Catholic Canada

  2. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    Not to be or sound insulting but asking Catholic laity to evangelize is like asking pigs to become kosher. Just not happening. Someone who knows evangelism from a Roman Catholic context needs to train the people what to do. If not, then they will do more harm than good and once confronted they will either become angry and drive them away or become a protestant themselves. Tread very carefully.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Matthew,

      You wrote: Not to be or sound insulting but asking Catholic laity to evangelize is like asking pigs to become kosher. Just not happening.

      I don’t see why not.

      I’ll grant you that there are many people who come to mass on Sundays who are basically indifferent to the faith, and they won’t do much under any circumstances. Those who really care, however, will do almost anything — including evangelize — if it is clear that their pastor, or at least a parochial vicar of their parish, is behind it.

      You wrote: Someone who knows evangelism from a Roman Catholic context needs to train the people what to do. If not, then they will do more harm than good and once confronted they will either become angry and drive them away or become a protestant themselves.

      Yes, I agree completely — and it’s the within each pastor’s duty, first, to provide this training at times and places that are convenient for his parishioners and, second, to encourage his parishioners to follow through with his words and, most especially, with his personal example.

      Norm.

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        Evangelisation is needed first for the evangelisers. If your evangelisers themselves don’t know the Faith–if they are like Mr. Norm–then they need instruction before they can begin the process of evangelising others. And where must this evangelising begin? Well, it’s called the New Evangelisation for a reason (although nobody in Rome seems to know what that reason is or even what is new about it). The reason is that the people needing conversion are already Baptized Catholics. They are those afflicted souls who attend NewMass and especially those who have lost the faith by imbibing the new catechesis. They are the 82% of American ‘Catholics’ who don’t know what transubstanti-what? is. So once Mr. Norm knows what it is, he needs to concentrate on teaching those Protestants who occupy the pews at the New Mass. Once he knows what the terms ‘sanctifying grace’ and ‘propitiatory Sacrifice’ mean, he needs to relay that message to the other NewMassers, who have clearly never even heard those terms. They just know that Jesus is love, man. Once that’s achieved, they can fix their gaze beyond the Lutheran suppertables they’ve put in place of our Altars and ‘reach out’ to others, or at least to others’ wallets.

        P.K.T.P.

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        It’s interesting that when we had the thin little Penny Catechism, everyone knew the Faith. Now we have the thick C.C.C. and nobody attending NewMass seems to know the basics. We even have look-alike Prots, the charismatics. Who would want to imitate a heretic unless he yearned to be one? The product of the Protestantised NewMass with its Lutheran suppertable facing the wrong way and its star wars vestments is a Protestantised faith. May all the families of nations, rent asunder by the wound of sin, be subjected politically to Christ’s holy and gentle will–including the Protestants attending NewMass each Sunday.

        P.K.T.P.

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      I gather we’re most effective when we’re teaching the faith in the classroom rather than out in the streets.

      Seriously, we invented that sort of thing. You set up shop, invite people interested to learn, and usually people with good will will go and learn about our faith, and get converted.

      It’s more efficient than shouting-in-the-street-evangelizing, because people will likely dismiss you as crazy and ignore you.

      The problem now, is the infection of secularism in Catholic schools. Gays who teach children that it’s normal when a child has “two daddies” in a Catholic school, or priests and religious who are afraid, if not hateful of what the Church actually teaches, so they end up not teaching them at all.

      This one missionary priest from the philippines came to our church as a guest celebrant, and said that he was a missionary at the muslim part of the country, and he taught them math, and other stuff, but he didn’t at all try to make Christians out of them, and I wondered why. It was like he was proud that he was “tolerant and respectful” of false religions leading souls astray.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Benedict,

        You wrote: I gather we’re most effective when we’re teaching the faith in the classroom rather than out in the streets.

        Seriously, we invented that sort of thing. You set up shop, invite people interested to learn, and usually people with good will will go and learn about our faith, and get converted.

        It’s more efficient than shouting-in-the-street-evangelizing, because people will likely dismiss you as crazy and ignore you.

        I agree with the substance of your thrust, but there are a few caveats.

        >> 1. For the classroom approach to work, you first have to get people into the classrooms. If you wait for people to come knocking, you won’t get very many. Rather, somebody has to go out, meet people, and invite them. This is clearly within the rightful province of the laity, even in an ardent Traditionalist’s view of the church.

        >> 2. The classroom itself can be intimidating to many. Sometimes what’s necessary is a less formal structure where one can discuss issues of faith — a casual discussion over a cup of coffee or over high tea, or an open “theology on tap” session at a local pub, or whatever. This, too, is within the rightful province of laity who have the formation and the knowledge to lead such informal discussions in a competent manner.

        >> 3. People who are not Catholic can be at many different places spiritually. A “one size fits all” approach to formation of inquirers is not going to meet each person where he or she is spiritually, and thus is not going to be as effective as a more individualized approach. At the extreme, I once heard gentleman who was previously a Professor of Theology at a major Protestant seminary describe his experience of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). He probably was more qualified to teach much of the material, particularly on the tenets of the creed, than the lay catechists who actually were teaching it! The miracle is that he did not decide that the lay catechists were incompetent and quit the program. Of course, the general instructions (rubrics) to the RCIA state quite explicitly that he, being already baptized, did not belong in the RCIA in the first place. It’s certainly reasonable for a group of individuals who are in similar situations spiritually to participate in formation as a group, but a pastor nevertheless must form separate groups for those whose situations are dissimilar and provide separate formation for the occasional outliers. At a minimum, each parish should have at least four groups of adult formation: (1) those not baptized (the real RCIA), (2) those baptized but not catechized, or who have learned only a few rudimentary truths of the faith, who are not properly part of the RCIA but nevertheless require a full program of Christian formation, (3) those who understand the central tenets of Christian faith but whose formation is materially deficient in other areas and who thus have significant gaps to fill, and (4) those who received a fairly comprehensive program of formation in a non-Catholic denomination and are now either discerning possible reception into the Catholic Church or seeking to complete the sacraments of initiation. Note that the second, third, and fourth groups contain no material distinction between those baptized in the Catholic Church and those baptized in other Christian denominations, with the caveat that the confirmation of those baptized in the Catholic Church normally would be reserved to a bishop whereas the pastor or parochial vicar who receives those baptized in other Christian denominations but not validly confirmed into the full communion of the Catholic Church would normally confirm them at the time of reception, as provided in the rite.

        But having said that, going out on the street corners and jamming the bible down the throats of those who pass by does not win very many converts for evangelical Protestant denominations, either. Rather, such practices have exactly the opposite effect, alienating far more than they convert. One can approach a stranger to share the gospel, but a much more gentle and friendly approach is necessary. And, again, this is what Catholic pastors should be training their parishioners to do.

        You wrote: The problem now, is the infection of secularism in Catholic schools. Gays who teach children that it’s normal when a child has “two daddies” in a Catholic school, or priests and religious who are afraid, if not hateful of what the Church actually teaches, so they end up not teaching them at all.

        In fairness, there are schools that purport to be Catholic in which this is a very serious problem and there are authentic Catholic schools that teach the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

        You wrote: This one missionary priest from the philippines came to our church as a guest celebrant, and said that he was a missionary at the muslim part of the country, and he taught them math, and other stuff, but he didn’t at all try to make Christians out of them, and I wondered why. It was like he was proud that he was “tolerant and respectful” of false religions leading souls astray.

        There is, on the one hand, a clear duty to present the truth — that is, Christ — in love. There is, on the other hand, the practical reality that forcing Christianity on students from non-Christian families would result in withdrawal of those students from the school and a consequent lost opportunity. In these situations, the Christian evangelist must walk a tightrope very carefully, presenting the Truth but not forcing it.

        Norm.

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        The fastest and best and most effective catechesis would be to put all priests into cassocks and all bishops in simars whenever they are seen outside of liturgical functions and to banish forever those wretched clerical business suits. An army in cassocks would do it. Where I went to school, the older brothers who wore the cassock each day were respected. We knew that the others were not to be taken seriously.

        P.K.T.P.

    • P.K.T.P. says:

      Mr. Wayfarer:

      They can’t evangelise because they don’t know the Faith themselves, thanks to post-conciliar catechesis. After thorough training in the R.C.I.A., nobody will be fit to defend or propagate anything. It’s all about feelings. Jesus loves us.

      P.K.T.P.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        P. K. T. P.,

        You wrote: They can’t evangelise because they don’t know the Faith themselves, thanks to post-conciliar catechesis. After thorough training in the R.C.I.A., nobody will be fit to defend or propagate anything. It’s all about feelings. Jesus loves us.

        Christian faith most assuredly is NOT about feelings.

        On the other hand, the formation of true Christian faith is NOT a PURELY intellectual exercise. It DOES have an intellectual component, but it also has an experiential component. The foot from the head to the heart is the narrowest chasm in the world, but nevertheless often the most difficult to traverse — but until our spiritual knowledge traverses that chasm from intellect to experience, it remains somebody else’s faith rather than our faith.

        Norm.

  3. Testing. Someone got a virus warning while trying to comment here. Did anyone else?
    Be careful! So far, nothing has come up from my anti-virus protection.

    • Tim S. says:

      The closest thing to a virus I’ve seen are the obnoxious, uncharitable ‘ad hominem’ remarks being made by one of your commenters in particular with apparent impunity. One may disagree with someone but there’s no need to resort to puerile name calling. Why is this person being allowed to do this?

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        Ah, you must mean Mr. Norm, who slanders the S.S.P.X with charges of heresy and schism–very serious charges indeed–is proved wrong by me and yet refuses to withdraw the charges. We have a name for that sort of person. We call him a bad man.

        P.K.T.P.

  4. P.K.T.P. says:

    The problem we have today is that Charistmatic Priests are leading faithful out of the Catholic Church even though neither they nor their converts realise it. It is a case of the blind leading the blinder. But Mr. Norm has now proved that one can suffer from invincible ignorance even while being a Catholic. What fruits these arid Vatican II deserts can yield.

    P.K.T.P.

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      The best place for the faith to blossom is on the ground where the blood of martyrs flow freely.

      According to the Orthodox, a good indicator of a healthy presence of the Faith is in the health of its monastic communities.

      To what extent does our western societies measure to those standards?

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