I have a lot of devout non-Catholic Christian friends whom I love very much. Many of them have more faith and integrity then some Catholics I know, however, having said that, I am concerned with a new trend I am seeing in some non-denominational churches.
I have met many members of these congregations who were formerly Catholics. They state that they were not taught Scripture in the Catholic Church. They express that they did not understand salvation. However, my research and observation has shown a tragic and different reason for their leaving.
It is not that they were not taught Holy Scripture, it is that it did not conform to the choices they were making through the understanding and teaching of the Church Jesus Christ Himself established. I am often told by them that we shouldn’t judge, because everyone sins and Jesus died for all our sins. Okay, but there are different types of sin. In order for sin to be forgiven, you must repent and not sin again. So, if you join another denomination in order to be allowed to persist in a sin, is the sin forgiven? Or are you conforming God to your beliefs instead of conforming your actions to God’s teaching? In other words; Did Jesus lie?
I most often see problems in two areas, divorce* and the teachings on the Eucharist. Let’s look at what Christ says about these subjects:
Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Mark 10:11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Matthew 26:26-28 ” Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
John 6: 55-57 “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
John 6:60 “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said , This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
John 6:61 “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?”
John 6:65-66 “And he said , Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back , and walked no more with him.”
Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-30 “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
So, again, the question arises, is all this Scripture wrong? Is divorce and remarriage allowed? Did Jesus want us to eat His Body and drink His blood, or not? Does Jesus mean what He says about these teachings? Does Jesus ever lie or misrepresent the truth? If one is educated in these teachings through the Catholic Church and then chooses with forethought to leave and find an ‘easier’ path at a different church, aren’t they participating in the sin of presumption? (The wrong thinking that presumes God will have mercy on those who choose wrong and continue in that sin.) Remember, Jesus promised all sin would be forgiven, but He said, “Go out and sin no more.”John 8:11. God bless.
* I know this will raise questions on whether or not Annulment is Catholic Divorce… NO! It is a careful study of the marriage to see whether the couple understood, and had the full ability to enter into said sacramental marriage in the first place. If a tribunal finds that the marriage was not entered into freely, without conditions, or without the necessary maturity, they can deem that it was not a valid, sacramental marriage. If, however, the tribunal finds the marriage is sacramental, the marriage can not be dissolved. There are many articles on this subject, please research it carefully.
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I am now on my 40’s but I was raised Catholic and devote to my Catholic faith from the age of 7 to my college years. I taught 1st grade Religion at my local parish throughout my High School years and was a Lector at Mass for my first 2 years of college.
It was while in college when a friend invited me to her non-denominational Christian Church. I actually went to her church with the intention to explain afterwards why my friend should be Catholic. Instead, I found myself intrigued with the Church Service and the openness and fervor of their faith and love of Christ of those attending this church.
I attended this Christian church on their Friday evening services while still attending Mass and serving as a Catholic Lector for 1 year.
I realized that in that 1 year my faith in the Lord grew more than in all the years I attended the Catholic Church. It was because of the emphasis of KNOWING and STUDYING the ‘Word of God/Bible’ that caused me to grow. It’s not that I wasn’t ‘taught Scripture in the Catholic Church’ but that the love and passion to ‘know’ the Word of God’ was missing.
(While I ‘left’ the Catholic Church, I still have devout Catholic friends and I don’t see it that I ‘left’ but that the Lord lead me in a different direction in my faith in Jesus. There was so much I learned as a Catholic that I still treasure.)
One of the major differences is that Catholics do not treat the Bible as other Christians do. (I actually found Mother Angelica on TV because a ‘non Catholic’ Christian told me about her. The Christian friend was so excited as seeing a Catholic Nun reading from a Bible – but my Parish Priest of the Catholic parish had warned me to NOT listen to Mother Angelica because he thought she was too nutty!)
Evangelical Christians carry their Bible everywhere – to church, in their car, etc… and treat it with more relevance than Catholics do. They treat their Bibles fondly and as the most important gift the Lord has given. The community of an Evangelical Christian Church is also much more of a family. No one is in a hurry to leave the Church Service and people are truly engaged with each others lives and act as a ‘family’ – something I never experienced as a Catholic.
As for your comments:
The Eucharist – I have been at Church services when in receiving Communion that the very presence of the Lord could be felt in the Service. The Christian Pastor would lead the entire church into Communion and afterwards everyone was weeping on their knees because the Holy Spirit had filled our hearts and the entire church with the glory of God. (There are times I can actually see a mist over our heads.) I have never had a more moving experience in Communion ever as a Catholic. It is because ‘Christians’ expect in Communion to cause the Lord to move in our hearts individually as well as a ‘body’ of believers. I realized that as a Catholic, I took the Eucharist in a more selfish way – that the presence of the Lord was in me & caused me to be more pious in my faith. There wasn’t a sense of Jesus being alive in my heart to be joined in a true community as a family of believers.
If Jesus is received in the Eucharist then why do so many Catholics not cherish it as much as I’ve seen ‘non-Catholic-Christians’ do when Communion is received? Why do so many Catholics treat it as an obligation and once received then they can’t wait to leave Mass? I just don’t find Catholics relishing their fellowship together in a true Communion of joining us together with Christ as non-Catholic Christians do.
It’s true that I see divorce taken much too easily in the evangelical Christian circles but Catholics do also.
Divorce is just as high among Catholics as it is among non-Catholic Christians. As for the annulments – give me a break! Many devout Catholics that I know have received them as long as they ‘paid’ their $500 or more to get them. How about what the Catholic Church teaches about fornication? Most Catholics singles are living in sin with their boyfriends/girlfriends with the parishes knowing full well they are doing so.
I’m just pointing out that sexual sin has gone amok in our society as a whole – and the Catholics are just as badly living in sin as many other Christians.
On the other hand my parish in particular, and the Catholic Church in general, receives a steady stream of Fundamentalist and Evangelical converts, and that includes pastors. They become Catholic because their lifetime of Scripture study persuaded them that this is the the Church which Christ founded, and which contains the fullness of truth. They don’t care what they see poorly catechized or indifferent or nominal Catholics do. They seek the Truth, and the Catholic Church is where they find it.
And as a cradle Catholic, I don’t lie around like a beached whale waiting for the Church to assume responsibility for my faith formation and Bible study. I’m a grownup and I take care of that like a grownup should: I do it myself.
You misunderstood my comments. I was not trying to point the finger at the Catholic Church because of ‘poorly catechized or indifferent or nominal Catholics do’.
Trust me when I say that there are PLENTY of Protestant/Christian faiths who are also ‘poorly catechized AND indifferent AND nominal.
As for changes – the Catholic faith has had plenty of good changes in studying the Bible with Catholics such as Mother Angelica, Dr Hahn, Marcus Grodi, etc….
I also think Pope John Paul II was one of the best Popes the Catholic Church has had and the more I see/hear Pope Francis – the more I like him!
I am in a great place in my Christian faith that I am involved with Christian ministries that have no understanding of the Catholic faith and the Lord uses me constantly to counteract the ‘anti-Papal’ falsehoods.
Carol’s story above is intriguing to me, because I experienced just the opposite. I also think it intrigues me so much because it’s full of people making mistakes, not church teaching. I started out a protestant going to those same services she claims to find God in and I did enjoy them. I felt like I was receiving drops of grace in a desert of sin. Every once in a while a small soothing drop of water would touch my seared, dry tongue. Then I married a Catholic girl.
I went to the Catholic church with the intention of converting my wife to a protestant denomination, any of them.. I would go to church carrying my trusted bible, just as she talks about, and I’d sit in the back taking mental notes and jotting down things that I wanted to question. When I got home I’d look at my wife and start to try and argue with her, about this or that, and ask often “Why do Catholics do this? is that in the bible!?” She’d look at me and without an argument, condescension or anger say “find out. ”
So I did. I studied hard. I read the bible. I read the catechism. I read the church documents. I found out something startling, Mass IS the bible. You see as a protestant we believe you have to study the bible, and you should, but as Catholics we LIVE the bible. Almost every word spoken at Mass is from the Sacred Scriptures. From the first reading, to the prayers, to the Eucharist, all of it is from there. I still carry my bible, I still study it, and I have joined Catholic bible studies.. in fact the Catholic church teaches that ignorance of Scripture IS ignorance of Christ. I still read it daily and I still pray the scriptures, just as I did as a protestant.. but I’ve found something I didn’t have then..
Living it. The Eucharist. You can say a communion service is a communion service, but it’s not. There are so many denominations out there that believe it’s just a symbol, just bread and grape juice (some won’t even use wine!) Which one is right? I trust the one that was doing it for 2000 years, exactly the same way. You see if you begin to look back to the beginning of Christianity, you can find writings as early as the second century describing what Christian worship looked like.. and guess what? It looks almost identical to Catholic Mass today.
If you really are serious about you faith and you’re really serious about the Bible? Read Scott Hahns the Lamb’s Supper. I’m not saying the Holy Spirit cannot be present in a protestant church.. God owns the Catholic church, the Catholic church doesn’t own God… but I am saying that I KNOW the Holy Spirit is present in the Mass.. and as such I am no longer looking for a drop of water here or there.. I am going to the fountain that Christ promised, and I’m quenched beyond my wildest dreams.
I was not saying that the Holy Spirit is not present in the Mass. There is much more to the Catholic faith than Protestants/Christian faiths think there are. I found my faith in Christ as a ‘Catholic’ and I know the Holy Spirit is present in it because I had also felt it there.
But, to me this is the problem I see over & over – the Protestants ‘Anti-Papal’ nonsense but also the Catholic ‘Who’s On First?’ viewpoint and both misses the mark.
I have read many of Dr Hahn’s books but Dr Hahn has never said he wasn’t a ‘Christian’ before he was a Catholic. He said he found a fullness of his faith as a Catholic convert. All I’m saying is that I found the opposite – I had found a completeness of my faith in Jesus Christ as an Evangelical Christian.
The Holy Spirit is present in other Christian Churches too because the ‘Church’ is NOT just Catholic nor Protestant nor Evangelical – it is ONE Body of Christian believers. Catholic/Protestant/Christians – one Church in Jesus Christ. The Catholic position that the Protestant/Christian faiths are too diverse & not one Church like the Catholic Church is nonsense too. There are so many divisions within the Catholic Church of different orders, different Catholic perspectives of ‘truth’ also but just as long as they are under the umbrella of the Catholic faith than it makes it all OK? And, as a Catholic we were supposed to just ignore the very unGodly parts of our Catholic history but keep pointing the finger at the Protestant/Christians for their unGodly errors – all because the Catholic Church was first?
The truth is that the Protestants/Christians faiths have truths of Christ AND the Holy Spirit also because they have Jesus Christ too.
The fullness of truth lies in the Catholic Church. Not outside of it.
Elizabeth Tichvon says
I wonder if a debate such as this went on after all those disciples walked away from Jesus in John 6? As a returning Catholic who sees some denominations as “blessed stepping stones” as I call them, I found the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church and I pray others will find it too. When it comes to the Holy Eucharist, we must trust in the ways of God; in the words of Jesus. There’s no other way. We are not above Him. A wafer is a wafer unless it has become the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. How is that to be done? By our imagination? No. Bread and wine can only be made Holy by the words of consecration by a priest. Bread and wine can only be changed the way it’s been changed since the Last Supper according to Holy Scripture and Tradition that continued after Jesus died. We as Catholics have changed nothing. We as Catholics are part of that unbroken chain. We as Catholics don’t do things “man’s way, we do things God’s way. That’s why we are Catholic. To quote Jesus, “Does this shock you?”
Lisa Mladinich says
This is a beautiful conversation. Thank you, everyone. It always saddens me, as a Catholic, to see poorly-catechized adults and children taking the Eucharist for granted, getting divorced, living in sin. It’s tragic. But we have to remember that the Church is there because we need it, not because we deserve it or exemplify its teachings. We all sin. It is very easy to see someone else’s sin (to try and take the splinter out of his or her eye) and be blind to our own.
I was poorly catechized, too, and living a gruelingly dark life, long ago. I had to eventually do what Christian recommends; I started studying the Faith. I was not disappointed. In a firestorm of conversion, almost 20 years ago, I began to truly live for the first time. My whole life has been healed through the Sacraments as well as Sacred Scripture, and because I have run toward God in my small, weak efforts, He has met me on the road and embraced me, fed me, and given me a life worth living. My protestant friends are beautiful and their faith is real. I love that they love the Lord in His Word so much. But as beautiful as they are and as real as the presence of Christ is in their lives, what they have is incomplete without the Eucharist. I wonder if they feel the spiritual hunger of that lack. The living Word of God should be our constant companion, but Jesus said in no uncertain terms that to have life we had to eat His body and drink His blood. An open and honest reading of the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6 shows this. If you love His Word, live it.
Lorenza Palmares says
“TRULY! CATHOLIC FAITH IS OUR WEALTH. . . AND THESE ARE THE TREASURE THAT MY PARENTS PASS – IT – ONE TO US THEIR CHILDREN; THAT WE KEEP, SHARE AND LIVE IT TO OTHERS AND TO THOSE WHOM I MET. I was born in a Catholic Family, and studied in the Catholic University in my place, The Philippines.
Being a Catholic, it is my JOY AND GRATITUDE TO THE LORD FOR GIVING ME SUCH DESIRE TO LEARNED HIS WORDS AND TO LIVE IN EACH AND EVERY DAY IN MY LIFE.
I ALWAYS GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD FOR GIVING ME A CHANCE TO BE FORMED AS A CATECHIST, 10 YEARS AGO IN MY DIOCESE- [ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA- DIOCESE OF PARANAQUE].
As I learned and studied the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BOOK, AND THE HOLY BIBLE, MY NEVER ENDING THANKS TO THE LORD FOR GUIDING ME AND LEADING ME TO KNOW HIM LITTLE BY LITTLE.
NOW, I AM SERVING AT ST. FRANCIS PARISH CHURCH- MA ON SHAN, NT., HONGKONG, AS A LECTOR, COMMENTATOR AND VOLUNTEER CATECHIST.
For us, Migrant Workers, our companion in LIFE IS CHRIST, each and every detail we confined our lives to HIM, because we are far away from our Families.
SUNDAY, IS OUR DAY OF JOY AND LOVE TO SEE AND RECEIVE HIM IN THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST CELEBRATION.
TRULY, CHRIST IS OUR COMPANION IN OUR JOURNEY IN THIS LIFE. . . IN OUR PRAYER WE TALK TO HIM AND BE WITH HIM.
TRULY, THAT THE WORD OF GOD IS OUR GUIDE AND HELPER IN EACH AND EVERYDAY OF OUR LIVES@
THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME A CHANCE TO SHARE!
Regards and GOD BLESS