Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion and Giveaway

This post is the conclusion post to a series entitled Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs. If you are new to this site or this series, I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the rest of the series as well. *This post contains affiliate links.

 

A little over a year ago, I began a journey–a journey to find out the truth behind Protestant and Catholic beliefs–and what a journey it has been! 

 

I’ve read countless books and articles, taken classes and talked with priests, debated apologetics, attended mass, listened to your stories, and shared my own. I was even on the radio! (Click here to listen to the recording.) 

 

My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Belief

 

We covered a LOT of ground in this series, and I hope it’s true to say that we all learned a lot. 

 

 

Of course there will always be more to say and more to cover, but hopefully this series has been enough to get you thinking and researching for yourself, instead of simply blindly believing what you’ve been taught from birth. Because when I examined what I’d always been taught, I found out a lot of it was wrong. My teachers were wonderful people, but so many of the principles they taught me simply were not Biblical. I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

 

Whether you are Protestant or Catholic–honestly, I could care less. Maybe I should? But it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that you have researched the issues yourself, that you know what and why you believe, and that you can confidently defend your beliefs to others. That you believe on purpose because you really know it to be true–not that you believe by default because someone told you something and you didn’t bother to fact check for yourself.

 

So now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for–what did I decide???

 

 

Eucharist

 

Is the Eucharist the Real Body and Blood? Yes, I believe it is.

 

From the language Jesus used to the Jewish peoples’ reaction to the early Church’s response–all of the research I’ve done so far leads me to believe that it has to be real. (Find the information that lead me to this decision in my post: Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol?) 

 

 

Is Faith Alone Enough? No, I believe God expects something more.

 

To be very clear: Both Protestants and Catholics agree that you cannot earn your way into Heaven through works. We are saved because of God’s grace, which allows us to have faith. But in light of the verses I shared in my Is Faith Alone post as well as the following two arguments, I have to agree that yes, you do need faith, but that you can’t just stop there. Once you are already “saved” (or “justified”), your life needs to reflect that. I think, deep down, many Protestants would agree. You can’t just say a prayer and then go on your merry way.

 

Argument #1: Protestants say that nothing we DO can get us to Heaven. Yet, the very act of choosing to believe is a verb–something we DO. God doesn’t force us to be Christians against our free will. We choose it. So we can’t reject ALL works, because believing is a work itself.

 

Argument #2: If simply believing were enough–well, even satan and his demons know that Jesus is God. They know He is the only way to Heaven. If all you had to do was believe–wouldn’t that make satan a Christian? Yet, I’m pretty sure we would all agree that’s preposterous. Why? Because he certainly doesn’t act like a Christian! He doesn’t repent, or submit or act like a Christian–all things Christians DO. So simply believing in Jesus can’t be enough.

 

So in light of alllll of the verses I listed in my Is Faith Alone Enough? post (check them out!) combined with the two arguments above, I can only conclude that we HAVE to play a role somehow. Faith alone is not enough. I have NO IDEA where that line is–concerning what we have to do, how much we have to do, etc, but I have to believe that something more is required.

 

Roman Catholic Church

 

Who has the Ultimate Authority–the Bible or the Church? The Church… I think? But which one??

 

Based on the findings I shared in Who Has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura, I strongly believe that the Bible was never meant to be a comprehensive how-to guide that covers every topic. It IS infallible on the issues it covers, but it doesn’t cover everything, and it leaves a lot of things open to (mis)interpretation. So, while I am definitely very much a Bible-believing Christian, I have to agree that we need more than just the Bible; we need the rest of the teachings and history–which we *should* find in the church.

 

However, while I totally understand and support the need for and appropriateness of having the church be our authority (under Christ of course!), I did not see any evidence that points to the *Catholic* church having to be that authority, instead of the church in general.

 

Catholics believe that the Catholic Church we have today is the same church the Christian churches had in the first century, but is it? How do we know they didn’t get off 5 degrees somewhere and end up way off course today? How do we know they clung to the right things? The pharisees thought they were experts at keeping the law, but they got in big trouble when Jesus came to town. I mean this in a polite and sincere way, but how do we know the Catholic Church hasn’t done the same thing? This has been my main nagging doubt this entire time, and it has yet to be resolved.

 

(And yes, I know that Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and keep her from error, but what proof is there that that verse is talking about the *Catholic* church–not the church as a whole or a different denomination?)

 

So…. I like the idea, but I haven’t been able to fully accept it yet. (Read more in my post: Who Has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura)

 

 

Is the Apocrypha Scripture? Don’t ask me; I have no idea.

 

Did you see the chart at the end of my History of Christianity post?? All of the information is hopelessly contradictory!! And while I can throw out several of the arguments on one side or the other (the books were found with the Dead Sea Scrolls–we checked!), I still see very logical points on both sides. So quite honestly, I have no idea. I am ever so slightly leaning towards the Catholic perspective since they were in the Bible for hundreds of years before Martin Luther took them out, but I could easily go either way. I simply don’t know at this point.

 

 

Concerning Priests, the Pope and Confession: Makes Sense to Me

 

I like the idea of having a God-led priest instead of every person misunderstanding the Bible for him or herself. Obviously with everyone being able to come up with whatever interpretation they want, we aren’t doing a very good job. (30,000 Protestant denominations!) Obviously not to say we shouldn’t think for ourselves (this whole series is so that you will!), but having one trusted standard sure seems nice right about now! (But is Catholicism it? I don’t know!)

 

I don’t have a problem with the pope being infallible (I don’t know if he IS; I do believe it is possible). I’ve always liked the idea of confession and thought it was a good practice. I do believe priests could have the power to forgive sins. It does seem a little unnecessary to me, but that’s probably just my upbringing. I don’t have any theological problems with any of it. Logically, it makes a lot of sense.

 

Mary

 

Concerning Mary, Saints and Statues: I Still Think it’s Weird… But There are Much Worse Things It Could Be…

 

I do NOT believe Catholics worship Mary, saints or statues. (Well, maybe some do in other countries, but your average American Catholic–no.) I personally think some Catholics pay them more attention than they maybe ought, but then again, you’re going to have people mess things up in any religion.

 

Mary: In all honesty, I simply don’t “get” all the hubbub about Mary. Yes, she said yes to God, but people say yes to God every day. Even if she is the most important human in history (and I don’t have a problem with that)–she’s still human. Even if she were sinless (and I don’t have a problem with that either)–it was because God preserved her from it, not because she did anything herself to deserve it any more than the rest of us. I understand that Mary is supposed to point us to Jesus, but I can’t help but feeling that, for some people, all the Mary stuff has become a distraction.

 

Saints: I don’t know if I feel particularly compelled to pray to any Saints, but I don’t necessarily have a problem with the practice **when done according to official Catholic doctrine.** I don’t think it’s really necessary, but I don’t think it’s sinful, either.

 

Statues: As long as Protestants have nativity scenes, they can’t point fingers at Catholics because it’s the exact same thing. I have zero problem with statues (when used appropriately).

 

(For more information on this topic, please check out my post: What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary, Saints and Statues?)

 

infant baptism

 

Is Infant Baptism Scriptural? I’d personally rather not wait.

 

I don’t know that Scripture is incredibly clear either way, and I say this because I can easily make good, Scriptural arguments for either side. Plus, when you look at early Church history, they did it both ways. BUT since it can’t hurt and it can potentially offer many huge benefits, according to Catholics–why wait? We baptize our babies as infants.

(Read more about the subject in my post: Infant Baptism or Believer’s Baptism? Which is Correct?)

 

Are Purgatory and Indulgences Scriptural? Probably

 

As I was researching for my post on Purgatory and Indulgences, I was surprised to find so many verses that *could* reference Purgatory. And honestly, the teachings make sense. I don’t know if I believe in them for 100 sure at this point, but I don’t have a problem with either of them. (Read more in my post: What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?)

 

 

So What Did I Decide?

 

I decided I wasn’t ready to become Catholic at this point. We attended all of the learning type classes and then dropped out before the rites. We still attend Mass every Sunday.

 

The reason I chose to drop out is because when I looked up what the rites of sending and election are (the “ceremonies” we would go to next), I read that I would be asked “Do you believe all that the Catholic church teaches to be true?” And my sponsor (my husband) would have to vouch for me.

 

Well, I can’t in good faith go up in front of an entire church and declare that I believe everything the Catholic Church teaches is true. I’m not saying it’s not. I’m saying: I don’t know. I still have questions. I’m still learning. I’m still seeking.

 

I haven’t read the entire Catechism yet. I haven’t read all of the Apocrypha yet. How can I state I believe they are true if I don’t know what is in them? At this point, I can’t.

 

I’ve changed my mind on a LOT of really important things–the Eucharist, confession, praying to the saints… I’ve learned a lot and I’ve come a long ways. But God isn’t finished with me yet.

 

So the series is done for now, but that doesn’t mean our journey has to be over. Go back and read through the posts again, really mulling over the points. Get and read the books above. Talk to your priest or pastor. Talk to me; I’d love to hear from you!! Don’t let your journey stop here.

 

Here’s a list of topics we’ve covered so far, in case you still need to go back and catch any you missed.

 

The Day I Realized My Religion Got it Wrong

10 Common Catholic Church Myths that Critics Believe

Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol?

Is Faith Alone Enough?

Who has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura

A Brief Look at the History of Christianity

What All Christians Should Know About Priests, the Pope and Confession

What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary, Saints and Statues?

Infant Baptism or Believer’s Baptism? Which is Correct?

What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?

Why Do Catholics….? Honest Answers to Your Burning Questions

Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion

 

So that’s an update on me–how are you doing? What questions are you still wrestling with, if any? Let’s discuss!

Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

  1. I am not sure why I said that! I just think that once you start reading the catechism, I think you will see that the Church teaches a lot of love and a lot of truth. Some church teachings seem harsh or difficult to follow, but the reality is that God wants what is best for us emotionally, physically and spiritually. The faith is so deep and so rich. It would take a lifetime to fully begin to know everything there is to know about it! Plus, I assume you are raising your children Catholic if you baptized them Catholic. I just think you will find yourself wanting the same things that they will experience in church. RCIA is a process, so I would assume that if you want to go through the Rites, you would have to begin again, at least that is how it is at our parish. 🙂 Blessings to you, I love your blog.

    1. Nope! No reason to take the classes again since I took them already. I’m pretty sure I would just jump in right where I left off. I don’t remember what the rite was called, but it involved me having to get up in front of an entire church and vow that I believed Catholicism was 100% correct in all of its teachings. Well…. I don’t know too many Catholics who could even say that…

  2. Oh, and I was allowed to go to all the classes with my husband when he was in RCIA, but when it came to sponsorship, they told us that a spouse is “too close” to be a sponsor. They want the decisions to go through the rites to be completely your decision, and not decided based off of what your spouse wants.

    1. Makes sense. I really enjoyed going through it with my husband though. It help facilitate discussions and helped us to grow closer (even if through working out our disagreements!)

  3. Hi, I came across one of your posts on pinterest.. I have read through this whole series and it was very interesting. I am going to come back and read more at a different time as well. I am not religious at all, grew up in a christianish houseshold but not practicing. I only went to church a few times as a child though I was baptized Lutheran as a baby, my mom grew up Catholic. I have always looked for a connection to something but have never quite found what I felt was right. Still don’t know what I would believe in. Still searching I guess. But thank you for all the information 🙂

  4. I just came across your series a few days ago and loved reading through it all! As a life-long Catholic I love to hear what it is that other people question or want to learn more about. I hope and pray that you will find what you are looking for! I wanted to share my favorite quote about Mary with you. It’s by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen and I just think it so beautifully expresses our relationship to Mary and what the big hubbub is 🙂

    “God, Who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. The moon would be only a burnt-out cinder floating in the immensity of space were it not for the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men. On dark nights we are grateful for the moon; when we see it shining, we know there must be a sun. So in this dark night of the world when men turn their backs on Him Who is the Light of the World, we look to Mary to guide their feet while we await the sunrise.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

    I write a small Catholic blog as well if you ever want to stop by maybe I can help answer additional questions you have. Thank you for doing this wonderful series! Prayers & God Bless!

  5. Hi! I just got to your blog for the first time today and saw this post. I don’t know where you currently stand or the details about where you’ve come from, but if you’re still interested in the topic of the Catholic Church and how to discern whether or not it is the true Church or just one of many denominations all with some truth, I would recommend a book called “Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today”. It was written by Pope Benedict when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. It’s on the academic side – pretty dense in content, but you might not mind that. I don’t know where it will lead you, but I think it will definitely give you ideas to “chew on”. God Bless. Ellen

  6. Hi there! I just stumbled across your series and have enjoyed reading about your journey. I was born Catholic and for the past 17 years drifted away from my faith. But over the past year I felt an incredible longing to seek God and delve into faith. I attended a non-denominal church with a friend in the beginning of my search, but having grown up in the Catholic church I left the service feeling major parts of the christian faith were missing. Especially the Eucharist. I started to wonder why there are so many denominations within Christianity. I felt even more compelled to seek the truth.

    After relentless researching and questioning, I have come full circle and everything was pointing toward the Catholic Church. Here’s just a few things I felt affirmed my belief as the Catholic Church being the one true church.

    There is no other church that history dates back to Jesus and the apostles. All Christian denominations WILL be traced back to the Catholic Church. The beauty of the Catholic mass not only dates back to the New Testament but also the Old Testament and ancient Jewish practice and belief. For example during the celebration of Passover before Christ, The eating of the Passover lamb and unleavened bread accompanied by drinking wine made them spiritual participants of the first Passover night, even though centuries had past since the original Exodus; God’s original act of deliverance was made present in the Passover liturgy. Therefore the first Christians being Jewish Christians, could understand the Eucharist in the Last Supper. That Jesus Body and Blood was the “New” Passover (He is the new lamb). Who is continually present in the Eucharist only in the Catholic Church.

    There is unity in the Catholic Church all over the world. No matter where you are in the world or what the native language is; all masses are unified by the same readings and rituals. You can walk into any mass and follow along even if it’s not in your native tongue. Christ established his church, and he will certainly not abandon it. Protestant churches are a result of man choosing to seperate from what Jesus himself anointed Peter to build. In my experiences at non- denominational services, I do believe that they are trying to spread the good news, but they are missing very intrigual parts. It makes me question the Protestant movement because what gave them the authority to pick and choose doctrine or remove books from the bible? The Catholic church’s authority stems from St. Peter himself whom Christ appointed. Because the Protestant movement rejected the papal authority it’s result in 30,000 offshoot churches isn’t surprising. I feel that the Protestant movement was a result of man attempting to interpret and change scripture to their liking on their own terms. We can see to this day that that authority has not failed in the Catholic church and its remained firm in its roots and values.

    I was very surprised this Christmas to find out a lot of the non-denominational churches in my area not having a Christmas Day service. Only Christmas eve. I find that odd, given that Christmas is our savior’s birth. To me, the Catholic church is accountable. No matter what the day, there will ALWAYS be mass and people will gather to worship, praise, give thanks, and be in the presence of God. There is no other church like the Catholic Church. I strongly believe that the fullness of Christianity lies within her.

    I encourage you to keep searching for the truth. What I found helped me was looking to the very beginning. At our jewish roots and how the beauty of the old testament makes way for the new universal church.

    You and your family will be in my prayers! God is faithful, trust in him and he will make your paths straight. 🙂

    On a side note – I’m not sure if you have looked into of any of the Eucharistic Miracles… I highly recommend taking a look at The Miracle of Lanciano. Truly amazing 🙂

    God bless!

    1. I also forgot to add… a great catholic radio station is Immaculate Heart Radio.
      Check out their app for smart phones or you can stream the radio online.

      https://www.iheart.com/#web

      I find myself listening all the time when driving. On the show Catholic Answers they take calls from callers who are Protestant or of other faiths that have questions about the Catholic faith. I’m sure there are many other people asking the same questions you may have. Defiantly worth a listen 🙂

  7. I want to thank you (so much) for this entire series. I grew up in the Catholic faith but never did the adequate research to understand it. As an adult, I stopped attending church and wasn’t confident in what I believed anymore. This past December, I decided to start reading the bible. That dedication and this series has really opened my eyes. I appreciate you taking the time to share your journey. It’s been so helpful for me!

    1. Aww hooray! I’m so glad you found this series helpful. I’m a firm believer that whatever people believe–they should know why they believe it and believe it for a reason. Glad this helped 🙂

  8. Hi,

    I came across your website while I was searching for misconceptions about Catholicism. The purpose of my search was to prepare for an upcoming RCIA lesson at my local parish. Many people have mistaken ideas about what the Catholic Church teaches, and I am preparing our recent converts to be aware of some of the allegations they might encounter from family, friends, and coworkers.

    I wish more people would examine the facts as you have instead of just believing anything they read or hear (often from dubious sources). Your story was an encouragement to me because sometimes I get very frustrated when people don’t investigate things to determine why they believe what they do.

    The lady I currently teach with joined the Catholic Church after five years of research that started when her daughter announced that she was seriously considering the possibility of leave the Baptist Church for a local Pentecostal Church. She initially set out to prove that the Baptist Church was the true church, and that the Pentecostal Church was wrong. The Catholic Church was not even on her radar at the beginning because she had been predisposed to believe it was a false Christian cult. Little did she realize where her research would take her.

    Anyway, one resource that she found helpful was the “Coming Home Network. Their website is: http://www.chnetwork.org

    What I find especially powerful is the conversion stories and the discussion forum. You and/or your readers might find this website useful.

    If you need any assistance with your journey I would be glad to help.

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with you and your family.

    1. That sounds like a great lesson for an RCIA class! Hope you found this article helpful. These were some of the biggest issues I kept seeing again and again when I was researching the subject. and thanks

  9. Brittany, I just stumbled upon your blog today and binge read about half of this series! Brava!!!
    I am so impressed by your open mindedness, your desire to learn and your in-depth reading and research to that end.
    I myself am a lifelong Catholic, still learning more about the Church as I go, and always striving to be closer to Jesus. I have many Protestant friends whom I love dearly! It is *never* my project to convert them, but it’s always my prayer 🙂 So many of your posts sound like conversations I’ve had! I can’t wait to share this series with friends.
    Thanks for sharing your journey!
    -Theresa

  10. Hi Brittany,

    Just came across you blog. Quite interesting and I learns from it.

    As a catholic, I respect your stand on being neutral, open to any fact, and not emotionally jump into becoming a catholic.

    Anyway, your article above makes me remember a quote that I read in a Sherlock Holmes book. I google it, and here it is:
    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes

    No big deal, just take it for fun

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