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Going AWOL Out of The Christian Civil War: How My Desire for Christian Unity Lead Me Home to The Catholic Church (Part 1)

“So, that girl, do you know if she’s a Christian?”

“Uh, well, she’s Catholic…”

This was a statement that I have said more than once growing up. If someone asked me, for whatever reason, if someone the two of us know is a Christian, and if I knew they went to a Catholic church, my response was the aforementioned… skeptical at best.

Indeed, just because someone identifies as Catholic does not necessarily mean they are living the Christian life outside of Church or even acknowledging Christ in their hearts. It was not my place to give a definite answer, because only God knows their true heart. But the problem with my skepticism was the fact that if the person in question identified as Baptist or another “Bible-believing” denomination, my response was much more confident. Ultimately, the general attitude I had about most Catholics was that if they are truly living for Christ in their hearts, it is in spite of their Catholic faith, rather than because of it.

Like so many Protestants, all I knew about the Catholic Church was distorted misconceptions about what the Church teaches, why the worship is structured the way it is, and what the Church actually is in relation to Christ. The Catholic Church as an institution is corrupt, the followers do not read or care about the Bible, and they are merely taught to go through the motions of worship without thinking about the meaning of their actions. And they clearly don’t care about the Ten Commandments, because that commands against idolatry and Catholics worship statues.

Never in my life did I think I would become of them. Never in my life did I think I would cross over to the dark side of Christianity, where the Holy Spirit isn’t actually present and the overwhelming majority of its followers are hell bound and in dire need of salvation.

Never in my life did I think I would come to realize that everything in that preceding paragraph is terribly wrong.

I started my walk with God when I was fourteen years old. It was the summer before my ninth grade year, and before that year I didn’t heavily acknowledge God in my life. I believed in the existence of God, I had a Bible at home, and I went to church occasionally, but I wasn’t living a life surrendered to Him. He was a distant relative who crossed my mind occasionally and who I visited from time to time, but putting effort into growing closer to Him was not on my priority list.

Summer before the ninth grade, during a worship and prayer service at a week long church retreat, God’s spirit gripped me in a way that it never had before. I found myself on my knees, promising with a sincere heart that from that point forward, I would strive to live a life that was less about me and more about Him. I told God to begin to teach me and mold me into who He wanted me to be, and I would follow wherever He leads.  I left that day feeling like a new creation, and I always refer back to that moment as the day I began my relationship with God. About six months later I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All of these events occurred in the First Baptist Church in my hometown, and I know that I was blessed to begin my Christian life in a church full of godly role models and amazing friends who held me accountable in my walk with Christ. I was highly involved in the youth group throughout high school, where I grew spiritually through summer camps, mission trips, Wednesday night Bible studies, and various fellowship events throughout the years. I am thankful that I had such a wonderful faith community to call home during my teenage years, in which temptations and threats to my walk with Christ were at every corner.

However, when I was seventeen, I began to question some things I had never thought about before. This question was brought about when I became involved in a young adult program at a non-denominational church in my hometown. As a senior in high school, I would soon graduate from the youth group. This worried me because my church did not have a strong young adult program, and I knew that I needed community to stay strong in my faith. When I was introduced to the young adult group at this new church just in the nick of time, it was like a godsend. To this day that is still how I view it, because inclusion in this group caused me to question for the first time the reason for multiple Christian denominations.

This new church did not claim a denomination, because they wanted to simply love God free of denominational titles. Nonetheless, their theology did not differ greatly from that of my Baptist church, with a few minor exceptions. These exceptions were few, but they caused a slight division that was noticeable to me as I spent time with both groups. My new group would jokingly poke fun at the Baptist style of worship, which they perceived to be rigid and without freedom. Alternatively, my Baptist youth minister was infuriated with me for involving myself in a church that he thought wasn’t entirely biblical.

This division stirred something up in me, and I began to wonder why there are so many different kinds of Christians: Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians are only naming a few, as I soon learned that there are over 30,000 registered denominations and sub-sects.  All groups read the same Bible and claim to worship the same God, but are divided by some sort of disagreement in scriptural interpretation or practice. Then there is the identification of “non-denominational”. I initially thought, like many do, that attending a non-denominational church was the answer to refusing the Christian Civil War, as I would not be claiming any type of structured faith. I came to realize, however, this this is ultimately another denomination in and of itself, except that one freestanding church may interpret scripture entirely differently from another in the same five mile radius.

The more I thought about this in the months that passed after high school graduation, the more it began to truly anger me that as Christians, we aren’t unified. Christ wanted us to be unified. He wanted us to be one body, all in agreement with each other. I came across I Corinthians 1:10, where Paul says “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say, and there be no divisions among you, but you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”  People would often tell me that denominations do not divide the Body of Christ because we agree on most things. We all love Jesus and claim Him as our Lord and Savior, and that is all that is important. But Scripture does not tell us that we should agree on most things but then agree to disagree on that which keeps us in separate churches; it says we are to be perfectly united with no divisions.

This was a very hard time for me, as I was so broken about the fact that the Church was split up in so many ways, which is not what Christ wanted. In me grew a passion and desire to reunify the Church and to tear down denominational walls. This calling only overwhelmed me, because I was lost as where to start. Common sense clearly states that there can only be one truth, not multiple truths, and certainly not 30,000 truths. And when five different people from five different denominations say the Holy Spirit guided them to a particular understanding of scripture, and none of those interpretations perfectly coincide, that  presses the question, “who is right?”

It did not occur to me right at first that perhaps Christ gave us a physical Church: one which He ordained as His authority, whose Teachings are divinely guided by His Spirit, and will keep us unified in one Truth, a Truth which this Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will preserve throughout the years.

As I earnestly prayed and sought after God for the next several months, He led me to this answer, and in the most unexpected place: my longtime foe, the Catholic Church.

 

 

Part 2 of this story will be published on CatholicSistas August 24

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About Tiffany P

Tiffany P. is a 23 year old wife and Mommy to two babies born 16 months apart. Tiffany’s relationship with God began when she was 14, where she was baptized at a large Baptist church in her Texas hometown. She spent the next five years growing closer to God through daily prayer, Scripture meditation, and her active membership in her Baptist youth group, where she made lifelong friendships. At 18, a burden was placed on her heart for the lack of unity in the Body of the Christ, as evidenced through the existence of multiple Christian denominations. Thus began a search for Truth through a re-evaluation of Scripture and history, and she found that the fullness of Truth is found in the original Church established by Christ Himself. On April 11, 2009 at 19 years of age, Tiffany took the next step in her 5 year-old Christian journey by receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist, entering into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church. Her passion is to see all Christian brothers and sisters reconciled and unified once again.

  • Tricia - I loved the post and agree with you completely!

    I hope you write another post telling more of how you “ended up” in the Catholic Church!July 21, 2012 – 8:31 amReplyCancel

  • Tiffany P - Oh yes Tricia! This is just part 1 🙂July 21, 2012 – 8:34 amReplyCancel

  • Adrienne - Tiffany, I’ll never forget how we met you, in a Christian debate forum where a group of us knew each other and were defending the Church against some typical rant or another behind screen names, and none of us could figure out who such-n-such was… and it was you! Someone we’d never met, yet you were defending the faith like one of us to an unusual degree of solidarity, because you were one of us. It was such a testament to me of the unity of Catholic teaching.

    I was once talking with a woman who was so proud of her non-denominational approach to Christianity, feeling it was the solution to the 30,000 denom stat… not realizing non-denom was yet.. another denomination. She chuckled a little at that realization.

    The non-denom approach fails because unity doesn’t come from separating from others, then welcoming them to follow you. Unity, to the degree that Jesus prayed (“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” John 17 20-21) isn’t accomplished in finding common ground where people agree in truth. Ultimate unity in what we say to the degree that the Father and Son are one is only found in submission, complete submission to be taught the truth, and to repeat what you’ve been taught. It is found in giving up the right to be right… and that is a very un-American and un-modern concept. I hear many descriptions of unity from the Protestant world that allow for their disagreements, and if I didn’t have the Catholic understanding, I’d believe them! But in Jesus, we see complete submission to the Father. Jesus, being God himself, could have taken credit for his own guidance, yet instead, He always presented himself in submission to the Father. This beautifully illustrates for us how complete unity comes about.

    Thanks for sharing this, Tiffany! I can’t wait to read your next installment!July 21, 2012 – 10:02 amReplyCancel

  • Richard - This is a very strange article. It does not really offer a solution to the civil war. It just says that you have chosen a side. Catholicism condemns other denominations: just many more than the others. So in a way, adopting Catholic belief is less unified than Protestantism.

    I consider myself non-denominational as well. But I attend a Pentecostal church. I have found that I can say confidently to every Christian that I ever meet, that I disagree with them about something. But these are disputes among brethren. I dispute with members of my Pentecostal church, friends who endorse Reformed Theology, and indeed, even Catholics.

    But we are all part of the body of Christ and unified in this way. We are all trying to get our theology straight. But I would never say that these differences separate us. Therefore I would also never say that because most Catholics have similar beliefs among other Catholics, that they are therefore more unified than Christian denominations. They disagree with other Christians about many, many more issues.

    The greatest difference, I would say, is that Catholics differ with other Christians in a fundamental manner. So while they collectively agree with each other, that says absolutely nothing about how unified they are, or whether they are even correct. That issue can only be settled when appealing to the Bible, and there are some Catholic beliefs that are in head on collision with fundamental scriptural teachings. July 21, 2012 – 10:52 amReplyCancel

  • Tiffany P - Richard,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and reply. 🙂 Keep in mind that this is only part 1, and in my next post I will go more deeper into explaining how I came to be introduced to the Catholic Church and what really drove the point home to me that it truly is the solution to the “Civil War”. So stick around for it…it gets better. 😉

    I can see where someone who does not understand fully what the Catholic Church is in relation to Christ may think that in choosing the Catholic Church I am merely just picking a different team to root for, so to speak, and doing nothing on the part of unity. I used to think this, too, which is why I thought a non-denominational church was the best solution.

    Simply put, the reason why the Catholic Church is the solution is because it is the Church founded by Christ. Man created denominations. Martin Luther kicked it off with his 95 Theses, and from there it snowballed into the 30,000 we have today. Every Christian denomination, including the freestanding “non-denominational” churches, were founded by some reformer, preacher, or theologian, who is man. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ, who is God. It is the only Church that Christ ordained as His authority and it is the only Church whose Teachings are divinely guided by the Holy Spirit.

    The reason why Christ established a Church for us is because He did not want a myriad of denominations with multiple slightly-different beliefs floating around. He wanted us to have one Church to call home and one Church whose Teachings we can rely on because we know that they have been protected by this divinely guided Church. In coming home to this church, I wasn’t merely picking another man-made church based on man’s interpretation of Scripture, I was choosing the Church that Christ gave us and preserved His Teachings through, so that we may be unified.

    The only way for us as Christians to be truly unified is for us to be all under one flock, under the leadership that God ordained for us, and following the Teachings of the Church that Christ established. We may still disagree on some things that Christ has chosen to not make perfectly clear to us or that are not crucial to our faith and are thus not infallible Teaching, but we will be perfectly unified in terms of theological faith and morals. And that is what Christ intended. Not for us to be divided into multiple denominations (or non-denominational communities), but one Church. That is why He created a Church for us, that Church still stands today as Christ promised it would, and that Church is the Catholic Church.July 22, 2012 – 1:11 amReplyCancel

  • Celeste - Can’t wait to read the rest of the story! I love reading conversion stories. Being a cradle Catholic, I learn SO much and your testimonies help me to grow in my faith as well.July 22, 2012 – 3:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I have to agree with Richard here. The Vatican doesn’t seek unity — it seeks to calcify and reinforce the boundaries which it has created between itself and “everybody else who is so wrong.” You write about your upbringing, believing that most Catholics were headed to Hell. Well, in the Catholic church, I grew up being taught that it was a rare non-Catholic who would ever end up in heaven.

    In her comment, Adrienne writes, “The non-denom approach fails because unity doesn’t come from separating from others, then welcoming them to follow you.” But isn’t this exactly what you are doing when you join Catholicism and hope “to see all Christian brothers and sisters reconciled and unified once again”?

    I can’t help but think that you are not fully aware of what you have joined. You may find as the years go on, that more and more about the Catholic church troubles you. Or perhaps you may find that it is just as good a fit when you are 50 as it was when you were 23. But life seldom offers a nice, neat packaged solution to everything. Catholicism bills itself as The Answer, but perhaps it isn’t — consider that according to Catholic standards, your early pre-conversion faith experiences weren’t even real, because they happened apart from The Sacraments of The One True Church. Perhaps they were just shadows of reality, but they certainly weren’t experiences “in their fullness.”

    You write of the problems of individual interpretation of scripture, and certainly such problems do exist. But does it help to give up trying altogether, and just blindly obey? It seems to me that the struggle toward understanding, like the one that Richard writes about, might be the real point of Christian life — to struggle without giving up, even when things are ambiguous and confusing. That is where the real fruit grows, and this is why Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    These are just my thoughts to consider. I know that everyone is on a different part of their journey. I just want to encourage you to keep courage if you find that, in a few years, your zeal for Catholicism begins to fade. Christ is much bigger than any particular church.July 23, 2012 – 5:42 amReplyCancel

  • Nick Z. - I saw this article and instead of commenting on your posts from another web site I thought it would be best to comment here. I agree it would be best in trying to get a proper understanding of catholic teaching don’t only read what the evangelicals say about it but also what Catholic Answers says along with some other catholic web site. And I do have a couple friends who are catholic apologists. I could go to RCIA but the problem is I work second shift. Or I could meet with a priest and go to confession telling him that I now am in agreement to what the catholic church teaches. Can I receive the Eucharist? With that being said I feel its important to have a good relationship with the priest as St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:15 he was a father to one of the disciples. I’ve seen situations with rude priests where the parents wanted to get their child baptized and when the priest asked if one of the parents had received the sacraments and gone to church regularly he said he hadn’t. The priest got real demeaning. I was angry too. I bet you 70% of ex catholics now protestants had a bad experience with a priest. At best the priest should have just used Luke 14:25:33 where our Lord Jesus Christ tells the eager seakers to think about what they are doing before choosing to follow him. It would have been a lot more respectful. But then again no one’s without fault as in the evangelical church I attend now a member was wrongly excommunicated because he tried to encourage the pastoral staff to discipline someone who needed it.I will continue reading both protestant books like Sola Scriptura, “The Protestant Position On Authority by James White, and Not By Scripture Alone by Robert Sungenis. For I think Proverbs 18:15 says to never judge anything without hearing both sides to every story.July 23, 2012 – 10:25 amReplyCancel

  • Allison Howell - If someone is truly interested in the Catholic Church’s teachings, then please go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) instead of arguing strawmen.

    My husband is a former protestant pastor and the CCC sent him straight Rome-ward (Story on a page at the top of my blog.)!

    Nice work, Tiffany; will look for the next installment!

    Warmly,
    AllisonJuly 23, 2012 – 2:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Tiffany P - @ Nancy. You made a lot of statements and I want to respond to all of them and have it be clear as to which I am responding to, so I am going to quote you and then type my response underneath it. 🙂

    ” The Vatican doesn’t seek unity — it seeks to calcify and reinforce the boundaries which it has created between itself and “everybody else who is so wrong.””

    ^^I would argue that our current Pope has been called the “Pope of Christian unity” , because of his strong desire to see all Christians once again united under one flock.

    But the point is not whether or not the Vatican “seeks” unity, the Catholic Church provides unity in and of itself being the only Church established by Christ and the only Church divinely guided by the Holy Spirit. Its divine guidance keeps it unified in one Church free from heresy. Protestantism are all the denominations who broke away from Christ’s Church, in search of their own version of Christianity. Protestantism, as a result, inevitably brings about disunion because no one can agree with one another. If they do not like one’s implications or interpretations of Scripture, they simply find a new church within Protestantism or start their own church. The Catholic Church is separate from that, as her theology has remained consistent and divinely guided since Christ established her.

    “You write about your upbringing, believing that most Catholics were headed to Hell. Well, in the Catholic church, I grew up being taught that it was a rare non-Catholic who would ever end up in heaven.”

    ^^I am sorry that you heard this, as this very false and certainly not Church Teaching. Sometimes even Catholics don’t have a good understanding of their own Church’s Teachings and speak what is not true. The official stance is that Protestants are our separated brethren (separated from the original Church) and true Christians by virtue of their baptism, provided they are living out Christ’s Teachings to the best of their knowledge and ability.

    “In her comment, Adrienne writes, “The non-denom approach fails because unity doesn’t come from separating from others, then welcoming them to follow you.” But isn’t this exactly what you are doing when you join Catholicism and hope “to see all Christian brothers and sisters reconciled and unified once again”?”

    ^^The difference is, the Catholic Church has not separated from anybody. It is One Church, established by Jesus, that has remained consistent in Teachings throughout the years (making only cultural changes). Protestantism and all of its results, including the myriad of non-denominational communities in existence, broke away from the only Christian theology that was taught for 1,500 years to form their own version and have people follow them. When I say that I have a passion for people to be once again united under one flock, the key words should be “once again”, as it were for years before the reformation. All of us united under the one Church established by Jesus, not spread out into many, many man-made faith communities.

    “I can’t help but think that you are not fully aware of what you have joined. ”

    Though my understanding of the faith will never be perfect, I am fully aware that I have joined the only Church that is instituted by Christ and ordained by His authority. I am aware that I have chosen to reconcile with the only Church whose theology is not based on man’s opinion or interpretation of Scripture, but rather Jesus’ Teachings which this divinely guided Church preserved.

    “consider that according to Catholic standards, your early pre-conversion faith experiences weren’t even real, because they happened apart from The Sacraments of The One True Church. Perhaps they were just shadows of reality, but they certainly weren’t experiences “in their fullness.””

    ^^I fully admit that when I was going through the process of coming into the Catholic Church through the RCIA program, I was held back a lot by this thought. Though I knew I was doing what God asked, I felt as if my Christian history was being erased as if that did not matter, as if I wasn’t truly a Christian before. No one was making me feel this way, it was simply my own fears. I finally talked to my RCIA director and priest and confided in them this fear. I was assured then, and am even more assured now, that those moments in my past DID count toward God. Unlike many Protestants, the Catholic Church does not limit our Christian journey to one defining moment, but rather a series of moments throughout our life, some that will stand out as milestones. Realizing my need for God and committing my life to Him in my heart was a valid moment for me, as was my baptism (coming into the Church as someone already baptized in a Christian faith, you are not baptized again). Reconciling with the Catholic Church was simply another milestone in my journey.

    “You write of the problems of individual interpretation of scripture, and certainly such problems do exist. But does it help to give up trying altogether, and just blindly obey?”

    ^^I prefer ‘surrendered’ to ‘gave up’. I surrendered doing something that is not my job to do, (try to interpret Scripture on my own), and began to follow the Church whose job it is to interpret the Teachings and preserve Christ’s Truth. I am not divinely guided by the Holy Spirit. Christ’s Catholic Church is.

    “That is where the real fruit grows, and this is why Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    ^^But when two people say the Holy Spirit lead them to a different belief, then that is testament enough that we misunderstand the Holy Spirit, because we are imperfect. That is why we need a perfect Church to turn to.

    ” I just want to encourage you to keep courage if you find that, in a few years, your zeal for Catholicism begins to fade. Christ is much bigger than any particular church.”

    Thank you for your encouragements. 🙂 I always need to be encouraged, and I encourage you in your walk with Christ, as well. I do not see myself ever returning to a man-made denomination or faith community, when I am now part of the Church that Christ established in Matthew 16:18,19. Christ’s Church will never be bigger than its creator, but it will be bigger than those which man founded.July 23, 2012 – 2:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Nancy - @Tiffany, thank you so much for the civil tone of your reply! 🙂 I hope that my post was civil as well. Discussions of religion can so often devolve into meanness, and I really appreciate the attitude of openness and kindness that you show here. I lived a full Catholic life for several decades — not a halfway “cafeteria Catholic” but a full-tilt Catholic, until the Holy Spirit quite unexpectedly led me away a little over a year ago. It has been an very interesting, fruitful, and unexpected journey, and it sounds like you have also had a very fruitful and unexpected journey yourself! I often think that the experience of being a Catholic child and a Catholic adult are very different, and that the way we view the divide between “Protestant” and “Catholic” has a lot to do with which of these we experience at which times in our lives.

    I have to disagree with many of your statements intellectually and spiritually, but I appreciate the integrity and kindness with which you offer them. Peace!July 23, 2012 – 2:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Leticia Adams - Tiffany,

    As a convert I am so glad that you are Home! I was raised culture Catholic but went to a Baptist Church all my life. I am grateful for everything they taught me about Jesus and what He did for me by dying on a Cross to save me.

    I started RCIA as a way to get my live in boyfriend to marry me. I knew he would not marry me unless I had gotten all of my Sacraments and we were married in the Catholic Church. I found Christ in my RCIA program and my life has never been the same. I had all the same arguments that most of the people who are commenting have. And since I know you, I know that you had them too. I know that most converts have those arguments. But one thing that I personally never did was pick up a catechism to see what the Catholic Church actually taught. I never read anything a pope ever wrote, and I never once ever read anything written by early Christians. Once I did there was no denying that the Catholic Church was established by Christ Himself, not any man. Men died for this Church, men who knew Jesus. And men who didn’t such as St. Paul who wrote most of the New Testament. How could I explain that?

    People who grew up Catholic in the last 50 years were really cheated out of the beauty of the Faith by people who watered the Truth down for whatever reason. But anyone who will take time to really look into the Catholic Church will see the Truth and His name is Jesus.

    Are there bad Catholics? Yes, I’m one of them. But that does not change the truth the Catholic Church teaches, rather it proves it, because nothing man creates could last 2,000 years like the Catholic Faith has.

    What I have found, is that people who want to hold on to the misconceptions of what they believe the Catholic Church teaches do so because they are afraid of letting go of being comfortable Christians. Yes, if you want to be a sunshine and lollipop “not matter what I do I’ll be saved” Christian, then the Catholic Church is not for you. We are a Church made of martyrs, of Mother Teresa’s, Joan of Arcs, Catherine of Sienna’s, we are not a Church of pansies. It takes guts to face the Truth, to believe the words of Christ that Peter is the Rock upon which He built his Church, that only those who eat His Flesh and Drink His blood will have everlasting life, that following Him will come with a Cross and that the world will hate us. That takes Courage. And not everyone has it. It’s much easier to believe that believing in Jesus alone will get us to Heaven. But if that were true then why did so many people die for the sake of this Church? And why is the devil not saved? After all he believes that Jesus is real.

    In the end it comes down to believing that Jesus is who is said He is and following Him and not following what makes me the most comfortable.

    God Bless you Tiffany for telling your story. May the prayer of Our Lord come true one day and we will be of ONE flock. Not 33,000 different flocks.July 23, 2012 – 3:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Adrienne - Nancy, welcome to Catholic Sistas, we appreciate your stopping by and visiting with us.

    I would like to take a moment to clarify my point. I have to admit that I am terribly bewildered with approaches to Christianity which result in another well meaning, Christ loving, Gospel seeking Christian casting aside all existing churches as unfit in order to start his own Bible based, simply following Christ, non-denominational church. Mathematically speaking, when there are 30,000 denominations, and Pastor John begins his own church instead of assimilating with an existing one (based on “non-essential” differences that are still too important to ignore), then he has increased the denominations to 30,001. This has not promoted Christian unity, even if Pastor John is doing everything he can to invite Christians of all denominations to join him.

    Tiffany used Pope Benedict’s efforts as an example of promoting Christian unity, and I agree. He has not added a new denomination, and entire Anglican churches are coming into communion with the existing Catholic Church, not simply lone sheep. The more Christians are willing to fold into existing churches instead of throwing them all away to start over, the more we will regain Christian unity.

    Protestantism failed from the get go in retaining Christian unity, to the degree as prayed for by our Savior, because while the reformers all agreed Rome was wrong, they could not agree with each other on what was truth. None of them were willing to admit they could be wrong about issue A, and thus would not submit to another reformer’s well researched take on that issue. Instead each stood his ground as Rome is wrong, you are wrong too, and I am right, so splintering happened immediately.

    What makes submitting to the Catholic Church as different, like Tiffany has done, is checking your individual right to be right at the door, assuming that where you disagree with the Church is because you have a flawed human understanding, instead of assuming the Church is the one who is wrong. This kind of submission can only happen when one is humble, and when she trusts Jesus that He left us a Church to teach us until He returns.

    Peace be with you!July 23, 2012 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Tiffany P - @ Nick: In order to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist, you have to come into the Church or start down that road, and you usually have to go through some sort of RCIA program to do that (just so that they know that people are being properly taught the Faith and are coming into the Church knowing all they need to know). Not all programs are offered at the same time or in the same way. At my parish, we do RCIA Thursday evenings, but provide DVD recordings of each class for those who cannot make it. I would definitely seek out a priest in your area and talk to him about your dilemma: you don’t want to commit yet, but you want to learn more about the Catholic faith firsthand. Ask him when they offer RCIA, and if it conflicts with your work schedule I am sure he will be able to work something out for you. If not there, then at another local parish. 🙂

    There are bad priests, and that is unfortunate, especially considering the severity of their ordination. But for every bad one, as I’m sure you know, there is a faithful, godly priest who takes his role very seriously and is passionate about the Faith.

    “Not by Scripture Alone” is a great book, my husband has read it. My personal favorite is “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic”, by David Currie, a former fundamentalist theology student. It is a really easy read and written with a fundamentalist audience in mind, using that jargon rather than “Catholic-speak”. He makes a lot of eloquent points. 🙂July 23, 2012 – 3:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Nancy - @Adrienne, thanks for your clarification. Here is a quote from your post:

    “What makes submitting to the Catholic Church as different, like Tiffany has done, is checking your individual right to be right at the door, assuming that where you disagree with the Church is because you have a flawed human understanding, instead of assuming the Church is the one who is wrong. This kind of submission can only happen when one is humble, and when she trusts Jesus that He left us a Church to teach us until He returns.”

    This strikes a chord with me because I believed it with my whole heart for many, many years, and I nearly broke myself trying to live it. It is so hard to know how to respond, because even just two years ago, if I had read the comments that I have made here, I would have responded just as you and Tiffany have here. I totally get where you are coming from. I think it takes a certain level of personal experience — being pushed to the edge of faith, and the edge of reason — to tease out who we really are, spiritually. I have been through many personal trials, through which the Catholic faith sought only to punish and blame me further rather than reaching out a helping hand. I threw myself 100% into Catholic marriage and motherhood, and I ended up on the other end, burned out and nearly hospitalized from exhaustion. Catholicism made my physically ill, and I am still recovering from the OCD perfectionism that it placed upon me as my burden, which I had earned through my “flawed human understanding.”

    I have not started a new church, nor do I believe that a particular Protestant denomination is the “one true church.” I actually believe that the Catholic church is the original church, but it is held hostage by the people in the Vatican who would make themselves God rather than submit to God’s will. Protestant denominations, as they attempt to gather the pottery shards and put them back together, are necessarily going to create an imperfect, flawed vessel that will never be as good as the one Jesus originally instituted. But the difference is that in my belief, study, and experience, the Catholic church as it is today is not the image that Jesus had, either. For some people, this tension is resolved by sticking it out and working for better days in the church. For me, that tension became too much of a strain on my person, and I have decided to separate myself from the daily goings-on of the church until I am led back, if such a day should come within my lifetime. Right now, I believe that it is better for me to be a good Protestant who dares to believe in Christ’s mercy and still has energy left over to be kind and live a Christian life, rather than to be a bad, constantly failing, spiritually/mentally/physically exhausted Catholic who hates herself and lives in constant, grinding fear of Hell. I fully admit that it is a question of personal experience. If I had more energy, I could have stayed with the Catholic church. I held on for as long as I humanly could. Right now, I have to choose physical and mental health, and perhaps one day the doors to Catholicism will be open to me again. And perhaps not. Either way, my faith grows that Christ is my guide, and the Holy Spirit will order my steps, whether toward or away from Rome.July 23, 2012 – 3:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I am trying not to be a troll here, so this will be my last comment, unless someone wants to very specifically engage in conversation with my further. (And I apologize for how many comments I have put here — for some reason this feels like an important discussion. If you feel like my comments are distracting from your message I hope you will delete them, with no hard feelings from me.)

    When it comes to the question of the Catholic church being perfectly unified from time immemorial, I would encourage everyone who holds this belief to research the Great Schism of 1054 not just from Catholic sources but from Orthodox and secular historical sources. This event damages the Catholic church’s claim at being the original church. It was not until 1054 that the bishop of Rome claimed primacy over the other bishops — until then, the bishops had worked as a committee of equals. The true church only existed with an accord of all of these original bishops. In 1054 the bishop of Rome announced that he was the boss of everyone, and that they could either love it or lump it. When the other bishops disagreed, this caused the Schism, and from that point forward there has not been a true church, in the original sense. From 1054 onward, everyone has been doing the best they can, in pieces. I believe that the Protestant Reformation (and the historically verified abuses within the Catholic church which precipitated it) were a direct result of this previously existing brokenness, which came into Christ’s church when the bishop of Rome decided to place himself above the others. I think that everything that has happened since then has just been a symptom of that original illness.

    Ok, I’m done now 😀 Like I said, if this veers to far off topic, delete away, and peace to you all.July 23, 2012 – 7:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - @Nancy: I can thoroughly appreciate your explanation of why you moved away from Catholicism. I also have OCD and it mainly manifests itself through religious scruples. Though baptized Catholic, I was raised Baptist/non-denominational and came back to the Church when I was about 16. OCD has greatly impacted my faith experience, and I have been on the brink of despair many times. My primary consolation though is that I’m not the first person to go through this, nor am I alone on this journey. There are two main people in the Church’s history that help me continue carrying this cross within the Catholic Church, though I know that it would be easier (mostly, but not entirely) to be a Protestant. Both of these people desired to serve God, they wanted to live holy lives, they wanted to be united with God in Heaven and they wanted truth and holiness to be the faith experience of all their fellow Christians. From what can be gathered and inferred from historical evidence, both of them also had OCD. One of them carried this cross with prayer and a focus on God’s mercy and love, inspiring generations of Catholics to serve Him and witness to him even if they could only do “little” things. Even an intense struggle with despair before death was overcome. The other person concluded (rightly) that God did not intend for His children to live in fear. But rather than realize that the source of the fear was from their own mi d’s interpretation of Church teaching and practice, they concluded that the Church must be wrong in much of its teaching in the first place. This was the beginning of our current 30,000 denominations. The two people I speak of here are St. Therese of Lisieux and Martin Luther.

    OCD is ever present to me, but I have to always remind myself that it is a lens through which I see the world. It is caused by my own neurological disposition, not the laws of our country or the morals and traditions of our Church. Also, If I must carry this cross, I would much rather do so with the Incarnate God physically present in me through the Eucharist than walk the path with Him in “spirit” only. God works both ways, but He clearly intended to be with us as closely as possible. And though my scruples often keep me from Communion, I would rather be there with Him than not. I pray God’s peace for you — please remember me in prayer also.

    Much love in Christ,
    A Fellow Cross-bearerJuly 23, 2012 – 9:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Conversion Pornography Addiction Black Abortion IVF India | Big ☧ulpit - […] How My Desire for Christian Unity Lead Me The Church – Tiffany P, Catholic Sistas […]August 7, 2012 – 6:01 amReplyCancel

  • Oscar - @Nancy:you said: “This event damages the Catholic church’s claim at being the original church. It was not until 1054 that the bishop of Rome claimed primacy over the other bishops — until then, the bishops had worked as a committee of equals.”

    A good book to look into for an intro to what the early church taught and believed is Jimmy Akin’s “The fathers know best”. Pope Clement wrote, (before 80AD — Clement died in 80AD), to the Church in Corinth in Clement’s First Letter to the Corinthians. In this letter he writes very forcefully saying that the Corinthians must come into line with his teaching. He writes that “If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgressions and in no small danger.”

    Also, Clement’s letter was written in response to a request from the Church at Corinth (700 miles away) for clarification – why would they write to the bishop of Rome and not the local bishop, or even Saint John, Clement died in 80AD making him a contemporary of St. John, if the bishop of Rome did not inherent Peter’s primacy?August 7, 2012 – 6:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel Gohlman - This is wonderful. Can’t wait to read the second part!November 18, 2012 – 2:55 pmReplyCancel

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