Saturday, April 18, 2020
Today’s article will be different. It will be about my personal experience with the Catholic Church and its teachings. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am not a Catholic and that I disagree strongly with the Catholic Church on many issues, although there are some things they teach with which we can agree. For the record, I did not leave the Catholic Church for personal reasons. I was not berated by a bishop. I was not molested by a priest. I did not leave the Catholic Church because I wanted to shack up and live guilt-free with my girlfriend, or because I found its views on contraception too strict. And it wasn’t because Catholics are mean people. In fact, I live in an area with a high concentration of Catholics and many of them are great people and wonderful neighbors.
No, I left the Catholic Church for doctrinal reasons. I strongly disagree with many of its teachings which I believe are not biblical.
I was raised on a farm and was one of six siblings and, for the most part, had a great childhood. We were raised Catholic, although we were not devout. We very seldom went to church except for weddings and funerals. My dad didn’t see attending church as a necessity, although he certainly taught us right from wrong. My mom was the one who taught us our prayers and helped us through First Communion, Confirmation, etc.
Even though I was hardly ever in church in my younger years, I was somewhat tender toward the things of God. I really did want to go to church, but just didn’t get much opportunity to do so as a child.
I vividly remember one day speaking with my oldest brother about how old some people get. He said, “Yeah, some people grew to be 500 years old and even older. It’s in the Bible.” I thought, “Wow, that’s amazing! But it must be true if it’s in the Bible.” Now, I didn’t think this because we were Sola Scriptura (“Bible only”) believers. In fact, we didn’t even have a Bible at home (that I was aware of) and I knew almost nothing about the Bible, but somewhere down the line, I became aware that it was God’s Word and it needed to be taken seriously. From that moment, I had a greater respect for the Bible and I will ever be grateful to my brother for sharing that information with me that day.
As the years went by, I started attending catechism at my small-town elementary school. Almost everyone in that school was Catholic and I remember how most of the students knew a lot more about their catechism than I did, since they attended church every week.
Anyway, as a side note, there was kind of a funny thing that happened one day. As I said, it was a small school in a small town and we would sometimes walk from the school to the Catholic Church a few blocks away to attend catechism there. On one of these trips, a group of us were walking back to the school after catechism class and we found a dead skunk in the middle of the street. As we surrounded it, one of my good friends, Greg, somehow managed to toss it on me. I don’t remember how it happened, but it certainly did and the evidence was there! When we got back to school a few minutes later, the teacher immediately smelled it and scolded Greg for his mischievous deed. We still laugh about it today.
Trouble on the rise…
As a kid, I very seldom got in trouble. I was basically a good person in everyone’s eyes, a “goody-two-shoes,” if you will. But the sinful nature of Adam in me prevailed and I grew tired of this image. I remember walking down my gravel road one day as I decided I was going to do something bad. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do yet, but I really wanted to break out of this “good guy” mold. At that moment, all I can describe is that something definitely changed. Something seemed to “click” in my mind. My heart was set to do evil (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Because of this, a series of personal events occurred and things quickly went south. It was almost as though God was saying to me, “Oh, so you want to be a tough guy, huh? You want to go against the good I’ve given to you all your life? Ok, then I’ll turn up the heat!” God loves us but He will discipline us for our own good (Job 5:17; Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; Revelation 3:19). And the “spanking” began. This was the start of the worst period in my entire life. Things began to happen that caused depression, bitterness and hatred to set in. I had become a miserable, lustful, foul-mouthed and angry young man and I found out that when God decides to spank a wayward child, you’ll know you’ve been spanked! I don’t know what would’ve happened if God had extended this period of misery, but only by His grace did I survive it.
In desperation one day, I suddenly remembered I had a book written by a preacher collecting dust on my bookshelf. I opened it and read for the first time about God’s plan for His people. It was as though the author was speaking directly to me. I began to cry like a baby in a much-needed emotional release. At this time, God wonderfully began to change my heart and my whole situation.
A short time later, my girlfriend and I got married and since we were both Catholic, we were attending a local Catholic church. One day at work, I met a guy named Elliot, who shared the gospel with me. He told me things from the Bible that I had never heard in the Catholic Church. He also encouraged me to read the Bible for myself. So, I bought one and began reading it. This was an eye-opening experience.
My wife and I were still going to the Catholic Church, but we both felt like it was similar to going to a restaurant with a large buffet, yet only taking a tiny taste and leaving unsatisfied. We enjoyed the very short “homily” (sermon), but everything seemed to be swallowed up in rituals. As time went on, we discovered that many things the Catholic Church taught were not found in Scripture and that some things actually went against what the Bible teaches. Once again, we did not leave the Catholic Church for personal reasons, but because of what it teaches. If you are wondering about which teachings I object to, there are many articles on this blog which will give details on different topics. One of the most important topics with which we disagreed with Catholics was justification, i.e., how a person is saved, and the differences here are too important to ignore.
I want everyone to know that this blog was not produced out of bitterness or to personally attack Catholics. Throughout the blog, I am just attempting to share what God has shown me. Again, I have many great Catholic friends (and family) and this blog is not meant to disparage them. Rather, I hope that this article arouses their interest and lets everyone know where I am coming from.
Having said that, if I am wrong about the content of all these articles, you may have nothing to lose… but if I am right, there are serious spiritual consequences for those Catholics who choose to continue to embrace the teachings of Rome.
Lastly, I want to urge everyone – Catholics, Protestants and otherwise – to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), including the things I say, with Scripture, since it is the only God-breathed revelation for mankind today (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)