This post is the first in a series entitled: Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Belief. Click here to find out more about this series and to find a list of all of the posts. *This post contains affiliate links.
It started out innocently enough. My mother-in-law (a devoted Catholic) gave me the book Surprised by Truth, which is a compilation of 11 very different peoples’ Catholic conversion stories. At first, I didn’t really understand why she was (albeit very politely) trying to “convert me.” Didn’t she realize we were the same religion? I mean, we were both Christian and we both believed what I thought were the “essentials” (The trinity, Jesus died for our sins, Heaven, etc). So why did it matter if I was Catholic? Did she think I wasn’t Christian?
(My mother-in-law is wonderful. I wasn’t upset. Just confused. I didn’t understand what all the “fuss” was about.)
You see, faith has always been a very important part of my life. My mother was a preacher’s daughter and a lot of that commitment to church and to the faith was passed right on down to me. Growing up, my mom and I were at church pretty much every time the doors were opened it seemed–at least three times a week. And we usually showed up early and stayed late as well.
And we weren’t just “Sunday Christians” either. My mom and I both read our Bibles, read other Christian Living books, listened to Christian radio, prayed, helped others, etc etc very regularly. We both sang in the church choir and praise band and even attended the same Bible college (though not at the same time). I was helping out at church multiple times a week, was helping out in the community, and had just started a Christian blog. Not that any of these things MAKE you a Christian–they don’t. But if she needed to worry about “converting” anyone, it wasn’t me.
But hey, I enjoy reading about Christianity and Christian beliefs and I wasn’t really that busy at the time, so I figured, “Hey, why not?”
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As I sat down to read Surprised by Truth, honestly, I struggled to make it through the first chapter. I seriously wanted to chuck the book at the wall. I’m a very logical type thinker. I’m not going to believe something “because someone says so.” I want proof. I want facts. I want Scriptural support. Not that faith isn’t important–it is–but first the person better prove to me that they’re worth listening to. And here, the first chapter was full of “I believed because it just felt right, and I came into the Catholic church rejoicing and shouting “Hallelujah” to saint whoever!” Please. Spare me.
I mean, if you enjoy reading conversion stories (like this one you’re reading now 🙂 ), then it’s a really good book. It just wasn’t what I thought it would be or what I was looking for. But I kept reading. Because “hey, why not?”
And as I kept reading and wading through all the fluff, it wasn’t long before certain sentences began to jump out at me (both good and bad), and I started learning new pieces of information that no one had ever told me before, although in snippets.
Sentences like: “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” Now I’ll be the first to admit, I knew VERY little about church history. If I knew more, would that change the way I saw things?
And then, three-quarters of the way through the book, I finally found an author with a similar background as mine (Baptist), who gave an account that wasn’t fluffy, but that was actually full of facts and support and that made a lot of sense. Suddenly, things I was once so sure of… I wasn’t so sure of anymore.
The real turning point happened, though, during a conversation with my husband. I’m not sure what we were talking about specifically, but suddenly it clicked that “Protestant” was derived from Martin Luther’s protest. Now, yes, I did know this before, but I had never really thought about it much. Except, this time, I did.
How–in the 16th century–could some guy suddenly decide he didn’t like the church so he was going to make a new one of his own? Now, I’m not arguing that the Catholic church was in the right. From what I’ve read since then, there was definitely some awful, sinful behavior going on that needed to be addressed. (No one’s perfect, not even the church.) BUT, what gave Martin Luther the right to pick the beliefs he wanted to pick and to abandon the rest? Who was he to get to say what was Scriptural or not?
It was at that moment I realized I couldn’t be Protestant anymore. I couldn’t support a man who left the church, took things into his own hands and decided for himself what truth should be. It just wasn’t Biblical. We’re called to repair, not divide.
Ceasing to be a Protestant wasn’t a problem for me. We did a lot of church-hopping when I was younger, and I can count NINE churches I’ve regularly attended in my life so far. I’ve never taken a denominational label–just called myself “Christian”–and I was still a Christian, so that was fine.
But investigating the Catholic Church’s beliefs was a much longer and more tumultuous journey. A journey which involved a lot of questioning, a lot of struggling and a lot of tears. A journey which I hope to cover throughout this series.
So whether you are Protestant or Catholic or something else all together, I hope and pray you will join me with an open heart and an inquisitive mind. I’m not seeking to convert you or to say that one side is right and the other is wrong. At the time of this writing, I’m neither Catholic or Protestant, and I’m still unsure as to how this journey will end.
But what I DO know is it’s been quite an enlightening year and I’ve learned a lot. And I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you. Because honestly, wouldn’t you like to know if what you believe is true? I hope so. And I hope you’ll continue to join me every Wednesday throughout this series to find out more.
As we start this series, I’d like to know: Are you a Protestant or Catholic? Did you grow up that way or did you switch?
Ready to read more? Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!