The Day I Realized My Religion Got It Wrong

🌺 Published by Brittany Ann

The Day I Realized My Religion Got It Wrong Pin

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 Pin

 

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 Pin

 

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

Brittany Ann

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. I am Roman Catholic. I was born and raised into the Catholic faith. I still am involved in the Catholic Church just not as much as I used to be. Mostly truthfully because of being lazy. I believe in one God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe in he Holy Spirit. I do not believe that all the “tradition” or “rules ” of the Catholic faith or biblical or come directly from God. I do feel there is always room for learning. I just feel comfortable worshipping in the way I grew up with.

    1. I think we all are most comfortable around the things we grew up with. I know there are plenty of Baptist practices I no longer find necessary but still continue to do…

  2. This post and the comments have been very interesting to read. Questions in religion should always be welcomed. It gives us the ability to increase our faith and strengthen our beliefs. I also love to learn about the faith and religion of others. I taught my children about Martin Luther this year for home school. I believe he had valid concerns and objections. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. I had my own period of time, where I questioned. I have never stopped believing, but just searching out truth. I believe in all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and all that He will yet reveal. I believe we know so very little compared to our Lord. I also know He loves us all and wants us to be happy and have joy and purpose and His laws. I feel He restored His ancient church back to the earth through Joseph Smith the prophet. I believe we again have prophets and apostles on the earth. I believe we have temples restored to the earth to bind families together. There is so much light and truth. If anyone would like more information, http://www.mormon.org. I do not want to get into arguments. I do not do well with confrontation, but my heart led me to share my brief testimony with you and give you maybe a little more information to research. I know, for me, that I could not be a happier Christian. Good luck in your journey. And I am grateful to all the other wonderful people who have shared their experiences here as well. It strengthens me to see others strengthened through our Savior, Jesus Christ. May God bless you and your family.

    1. Yes, I’m a huge fan of polite but in-depth religious conversation too (and it’s a good thing, because we have TONS of it here!). I do need to look into the Mormon beliefs more–not necessarily to convert, but just because I don’t know a great deal about how your beliefs differ and why. I think that would be interesting to learn.

  3. Hello Brittany,

    I found your article very interesting because the same happened to me but in the opposite way. I was Catholic before, I grew up in a catholic school and my parents serve in a catholic church. Being catholic was strongly part of my life until one day I realized I didn’t have the relationship with God that I wanted. I found myself hungry of God, craving for this presence and I couldn’t find it in any catholic church, I used to pray all the prayers they teach us in the catechism and still couldn’t find it. Until one day I really met Him, I felt His presence and His glory for the first time in a Pentecostal church. After that day, I have no doubt of Him.

    What I wanted to say is that I think there is a religion for each person, I can’t say Catholics are wrong because I didn’t find God in that religion. I respect every belief and I do believe my mom have a great relationship with God in the Catholicism, but I didn’t. I went out and look for God, and after that day I still having a great relationship with him, I could say deeper and deeper every day.

    It is very hard when the topic “which religion is right” comes out, but what I know is that Jesus said “follow me” He didn’t say follow this religion or this man. As he made us human beings with free will I know a lot of men and women made a lot of mistakes, even leaders of big churches or religions. But I know that God is watching us, He sees that we really want to follow Him and do the right thing in His name. I think that is what really matters.

    Thank you so much for all these articles, keeping that amazing woman 🙂

    1. Thanks 🙂 And you’re right–we definitely follow Jesus, not a particular denomination. But having these discussions is still SO important because I want to make sure I am believing the truth (or as close to the truth as possible), not just some version of it I grew up with.

      As far as not finding God in the Catholic church–I definitely agree that Protestants emphasize the relationship aspect way more, but I don’t think God is absent from the Church altogether. I think that’s all in how you interact with it personally… But then again, I’m not Catholic or Protestant… just trying to find God wherever He is 🙂

  4. Not exactly sure how I ended up on your blog, through pinterest somehow. I am not protestant or Catholic. I grew up in a bible believing to baptist churches. My husband and I converted to Orthodox Christians ten years ago. Our oldest two were baptized and received at the same time. Our youngest three have been born into our church. For us the journey “home” took a while. It took a severe crisis of faith and starting to question why we believed the way we did. Now I cannot imagine being anywhere else.
    http://www.st-marymagdalene.org/ << this is our church. It has a lot of links to follow on what Orthodoxy is.

  5. Hi Brittany! I am super impressed with all of the great discussion on here, as well as your thoughtful and polite responses to everyone’s questions and comments. Amazing engagement! I would just add, like Renee did above me, that there is a third option. In the West we tend to think of Christianity in terms of Catholicism and Protestantism, but don’t forget about Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church has existed for two thousand years. (We would say that the Catholics broke away from us in the eleventh century.)

    I completely agree with you about how crazy it seems to me now that one person could just decide to change the Church and start his own. It really is unfathomable. Christianity is not just “my Bible and me.” Thanks for a great series!

    1. Yes, I didn’t even know that Orthodoxy was an option until more recently. Still need to look into it more. I don’t believe it’s as popular around here, but that could just be because I don’t know anyone.

  6. I actually left the Catholic Church more than 10 years ago. I have found a true relationship with Jesus. I have learned to love like Jesus loved. If people want to become Catholic, that great, but I could not justify bowing to statues, praying to Mary, and supporting an organization that covered up abuse for decades. The Bible speaks against many of the things Catholics do and believe.

    1. I’m not completely sold on Catholicism either, but I think it is important to distinguish between what the Catholic Church officially teaches and the way people practice it. I really don’t care what individuals do in their own homes. People are going to mess it up–Protestant or Catholic both. So I look more at what the Church officially teaches. And it does NOT teach so many of the things people think it does. (I see you already saw my myths post, so I won’t link here)

  7. You realize the Catholic Church was started in the 1054 when Pope Leo IX decided he wanted to be in charge of the Orthodox church & they wouldn’t let him so he formalized his own? Kind of like Martin Luther did, but for the sake of power instead of a focus on the relationship between God and people? The new Western church picked and chose the teachings they wanted to focus on, just like Luther ended up doing, set up their own church hierarchy, just like Luther ended up doing. It’s called The Great Schism of 1054 or The East-West Schism. It’s a fascinating history, and one that should be understood before questioning any other religion as being started by a man.

  8. I was raised Catholic but did attend a Protestant church for a while in my 20s. I thoroughly enjoy my Catholic faith and am sure that it’s right for me. Your blog about Catholic myths caught my eye. I started volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center. I do some data entry which includes notes from the clients visit. As I type and read the note I’m forced to type, “She was raised Catholic but is now a believer.” My heart sank. I’m in a quandary as how to address this.
    Im going to think, pray and enjoy your blog until I figure it out!
    Peace to you!

      1. I don’t know them personally as I just started volunteering. It just saddens my heart that people are being taught that Catholics aren’t Christians. I hope that she will come to realize that, yes, indeed, I am a passionate Christian! As St. Francis said, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words!”

  9. I’ve just come across your blog and I love it. Because I’m Methodist and married to a Catholic. And my daughter is going to a Catholic school. And I have so often thought about converting, but why? It’s the same, isn’t it? Perhaps once I have read through your series, and analysed your findings, I’ll have my answer…

    Always a Christian, though, always…

  10. Martin Luther didn’t invent a new religion. Any article or book will show you that after Luther escaped being murdered by the catholic church he preached in non-catholic churches and wrote to leaders of non-catholic churches across Europe. How could he have done this if he invented the non-catholic church ? The catholic church’s own ”history” is the torture and murder of Jews and non-catholics for thousands of years. Many beliefs that catholics believe today would have brought them before the Inquisition years ago in the ever changing catholic church.

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