The Day I Realized My Religion Got It Wrong

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

The Day I Realized My Religion Got It Wrong

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?”

 

Love Catholic conversion stories? Find it on Amazon!

 

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.

 

Statue with arm extended

 

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?

 

 

10 Common Catholic Myths that Critics Believe

 

Ready to read more? Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!

 

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

About the author

Brittany Ann is an author, speaker, and founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping women be “all in” in faith and family.

  1. Roman Catholic,
    Cradle Catholic at that.
    My husband converted after we married.
    St. John Henry Neumann pray for us!
    God Bless You.

  2. hi Brittany-

    I stumbled across your page tonight and am very interested to catch up on your posts and thoughts. I’m a “cradle catholic” (didn’t know that was a term until tonight) as is my husband. Through the years I’ve gone through periods of hot and cold, though have never left the church. While believing has never been an issue, sometimes it has been troublesome to understand what it means to be a part of the larger institution of Catholicism. Looking around, many parishes are literally growing old and dying out. It isn’t trendy or easy to be catholic- as can be seen at mass. I’ve always had the faith thing down- I’d like to be knowledgeable and educated as well! I look forward to reading some of the literature recommended by other commenters. Good luck on your journey!

  3. Hi! I was browsing through Pinterest and noticed a Pin that brought me to your website. I was born a Catholic, and like you, I use a lot of logic to explain certain things… My fiance was born Catholic and as a young adult converted to an Evangelist, and then left that, and last year he went back to being an Evangelist. I have been struggling with him being indecisive, and I wanted to understand your journey so thay maybe I can understand where he’s coming from. I read Scott Hahns book Rome Sweet Home, and it was so enlightening, I’m a Catholic (like I previously stated) but it’s also been a learning experience for me and one that confirms why I love being a Catholic. Thank you for sharing your experience, you are God sent!

    1. Thanks, Claudia. I don’t think indecisiveness has to be a bad thing. Maybe it just means that he really cares about getting it right and wants to know for sure–instead of just accepting what others say without questioning–which is exactly what many, many Christians do.

      1. I’m sorry I think I didn’t quite explain myself, he’s was indecisive as to say he was Christian and then say he doesn’t practice any religion, he “just believes in God”. And now he’s back to deciding to be a Christian. The thing is, he doesn’t want to base his decision on knowledge, he just says its more “fun” and I agree, if you don’t know the reason behind every single thing in mass, then it’s harder to appreciate… (I’m from Guaetmala, and I’m pretty sure that Catholicism is pretty much the same everywhere, but I can’t say that about protestants, as each pastor leads his church differently, the thing is many Protestant churches here (envangelists to be precise) are very anti-Catholics, and he used to be a part of one, my struggle is with that point of view he has due to his old pastor) I’m very grateful for your reply! and I look forward to reading more of your experiences! xoxo

  4. I have recent realized how much Protestant ‘Christianity’ is similar to Catholic ‘Christianity.’
    Most of the protestant leaders came out of the Catholic church, and while they ‘may’ have straightened out some doctrinal problems, the cultural ones remained and still effect most of european/american Christianity today.
    The church culture today looks little like the church in presented in the New Testament… One led by the Spirit of God, not by an intellectual understanding of scripture. I have flopped on different issues, and I can still argue either side from scripture today (for the most part). What changed is my knowing of God. Not a God of my parents or of anyone else, but a God who is personal to me… who reveals Himself to me.

  5. I know I’m months late posting this. I’m really interested in Catholicism now. I’ve done more than my fair share of faith hopping. I even identified as an atheist for a while. I went to the Salvation Army with my family when I was a child but we stopped going when I was about 10. Ever since then I’ve ready about so many religions, but I stayed away from Christianity. I grew up in a conservative town and I always felt the Christians to be very judgmental and close-minded and I wanted nothing to do with it. (Now I don’t think Christians are as judgmental as much. I realize now that any misunderstandings probably occurred because everyone involved was a little immature.) I’ve recently started looking into religions again. I’m trying to keep it a bit of a secret. Even I’m tired of how many times I’ve switched religions. I finally gave Christianity a try I like what I see with the Catholic Church. I agree with what you said about Protestantism. I find it dubious that someone could create a church to suit his own personal beliefs and the Protestant movement has so many factions it can’t possibly be coherent.

    I really hope this works out for me. I’m just a little scared because it seems like such a huge commitment.

    1. Christianity CAN be a huge commitment. I’d say I’m pretty committed to it! Don’t let that scare you though. It’s not an upfront commitment like you have to make a decision right this very second and hope for the best. Instead, I encourage you to look into it with an open mind and see what happens.

      I actually wrote a blog series after this one that you might find very helpful. It’s called “Christianity: Fact or Fiction? Examining the Evidence You Need to Know” and it will take you through a lot of the big tenants of Christianity and why Christians believe what they do in a very logical fashion. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: Christianity: Fact or Fiction? I can promise you’ll learn a lot! 🙂

  6. I am a devout Catholic. Best decision of my life.

    Was raised Catholic but there was a couple years where I didn’t want to be Catholic. I researched and prayed. What got me to be confirmed in the Catholic Church was the Eucharist. Jesus fully present in Communion brings me so much joy and peace that no other could fulfill. There is NOTHING like having the Eucharist.

    1. I think we all go through periods like that–where we aren’t sure what we believe or don’t want to. At least I know I did.

  7. I was raised Baptist and converted into Catholicism in 2001, partly due to Patrick Madrid’s book entitled Surprised by Truth. I struggled a lot in the Baptist faith, regarding ideologies and specific beliefs. His particular book probably reiterated what I believed to be true regarding the Catholic Church.

  8. Hi Brittany,

    I want to thank you for the way you have presented your spiritual journey in a very reader-friendly format that is easy to follow, especially the way you summarized what would have taken me months to read in books on apologetics etcetc…I hope you dont mind that I have shared your work on my fb page and with my parish – Fatuoiaga Holy Family Parish in American Samoa. Just sorry that you chose not to convert but at least I am sure you have impacted a lot of people to convert…to the one true holy catholic and apostolic church!!!!

  9. The point to be taken from this post is many many many people have gone through this before you and many many many people will go through this after you.

    At my age, oh the stories I could tell of both my own realizations gained from my own questions as well as being privy to other’s ‘encounters’ with their faith. This is not a new story and I believe it’s one God wants us all to go through at some point in our life. Why? Because it is through a personal ‘encounter’ often brought about with many questions, that we often get to a point where we have a one-on-one relationship with Him.

    I have one story to relate: Many years ago as a Christian education director of a large Lutheran church, I was sitting in on the music portion of Sunday school one day. (BTW, before I was hired, they knew I had grown up in the Lutheran church but no longer considered myself Lutheran.) The kids were going to sing the little song “I Am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.” The song leader asked the kids “…and what does that spell?” They responded by saying “Christian” of course 🙂 One little 4th grader in front of me leans over and says to his teacher “I thought we were Lutherans?” Her reply was one that made me wonder about her own faith. She said “Well, we’re kinda both.” Say what?!?!?! Hahahha!

    There are many ways to find your way to God, be it through an organized religion (Catholic, Lutheran, other protestant ones, etc.) God cares not about the little roads you take but rather that you get to His destination.

    1. Well, I imagine the road does matter somewhat, but praise God that He can and will draw us to Him no matter what road we’re currently on! 😉

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