I’d be Catholic if I could

When Jerry and I were at Oxbridge with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, worshiping in Anglican churches, our experience was rich with meaning. What to those raised in a higher church tradition might be only formality and rote repetition was expressing our common faith as the saints had expressed it down through the centuries.

I told Carol once that her Catholic faith seemed so rich and fulfilling that for her to convert to Protestantism would be to lose something, to be more impoverished. I kept thinking I was supposed to get her to say the sinner’s prayer and be born again but she seemed to have a much deeper grasp of repentance and worship than I did. It wasn’t just going through the motions or working her way to heaven. She knew Him. Shortly before ovarian cancer took her Home she confided to me that her prayers had been reduced to one: “Lord, take care of your little lamb.”

She lived by the liturgical calendar, though she celebrated Jesus’ birth well into January, even February. Meditating on His life and the lives of His servants (“saints”) through those special dates, through the writings of the contemplatives, and through the stations of the cross, publicly affirming all the truths of our faith in church every week–I liked that!

If someone dropped into one of our evangelical services some Sunday, he might learn about tithing or some aspect of the Exodus or the possible interpretations of the word “vessel” in I Thessalonians 4:4 but would he hear God’s whole grand scheme from the foundation of the world to its corruption through sin to its ultimate restoration under His eternal reign? Rehearsing our common creeds would do that.

To be honest, I really want to come under the authority of the true church, the original church, the church which Jesus Christ planted. The idea of being part of that tradition flowing from Matthew 16 through Peter down to us is very attractive to me. I don’t want to be part of a splinter group or a resistance movement, even one that intended only to bring the true church back into alignment with its roots.

BUT the irreconcilable differences prevent it! I cannot in good faith believe doctrines which are not only not in the Bible (that I could accommodate) but those which are actually contrary to Scripture, those which are heretical. The biggest one of course is the role of Mary–and the growing minority of Catholic leaders who claim she is co-redemptrix with Christ, that together the two of them save us, is utter anathema, undermining the uniqueness of the blood of Christ as our only remedy for sin.

So here I stand, wanting to be reunited with Mother Church and prevented by its own doctrines from doing so.

“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.” Martin Luther

This post and the last taken from His Scribbler, Thursday, September 29, 2011.


About Jessica Renshaw

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11 Responses to I’d be Catholic if I could

  1. “Rehearsing our common creeds would do that.” That’s what we do every week – we have, printed in our bulletins, a question and answer from the Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), which we recite together aloud during the worship service. The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism – known as the “Westminster Standards” when taken together – are the secondary (after the Bible!) doctrinal standards of our church. And they’re much more faithful to Scripture than the Catholic Catechism is. Also, they are available online in numerous places – you should give them a read sometime!

  2. Oh, Jessica! I have a similar longing. I wish the evangelical groups could be beautiful. I miss Advent, and Lent. So, my church friends do not understand, but I practice Advent by myself, candles and all. I practice Lent. It lends more meaning to the resurrection. But I hold tenatiously to the Word of God. Several years ago I worked beside a woman who was Catholic. But she was different. A different kind of Catholic. When I questioned her obvious joy and assurance of salvation through faith by grace, just like mine, she said she attended a Charismatic Catholic church. Hmmm. In a way, she held in part to both worlds. I don’t want “dead” and I want beauty and meaningful worship services, but I also need fellowship with like believers of God’s Word in whole. So, I said all that to say, I sure do understand this post! Bless you, Dear, bless you.

  3. SR says:

    I am a convert to the Catholic Church and I was a Protestant for 48 years. I understand all of your questions and if I may offer you two books to read. “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” and “The Lambs Supper” both by Scott Hahn. What the Catholic Church offered to me more than anything was a complete understanding of the Bible. Especially traditions and Mary. A lot of the reasons I have found Protestants do not understand our “Traditions” is because they were not given them. Many of these “traditions” were handed down orally to the Church by the Apostles. Yet the Bible instructs us to “hold onto these traditions.” Have you ever ask yourself what those traditions were? I did not until I became a Catholic. Of course the Reformation did not come in until some 14-1500 years later. Martin Luther, took many of these with him, but due to the “break offs” many have been lost by Protestants. Martin Luther prayed the Rosary and also said, “All Jews and peasants should be killed.” As far as Mary goes, what the Church teaches is she was a part of God’s salvation’s plan for man. She was. She had to give birth to Christ. It was like Aaron was part of the plan of Exodus. Moses did the leading, but Aaron helped. This is what the Blessed Mother did. It is because of her I am Catholic today. One day I will post the story on my blog. It took me forever to pray the Rosary, but when I finally gave in and did it, my prayers begin to get answered so quickly. I cannot live without her prayers now. When we pray the Rosary, to us it is like me asking you to pray for me. We must remember those in heaven are not dead. They are our “so great a cloud of witness” which Hebrews speaks of, who are cheering us on in this race on earth.

    Please read those two books before making your mind up. Please read “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” first. A lot of what we do also, is in the seven books Martin Luther decided to rip out of the Bible, which had/have always been in the Bible. It is always said, “You have more books then we do” when actually it is Protestants who “have less” because they were there. Also you might want to note, the Bishops of the Catholic Church gave to us the New Testament. Now one must ask themselves, “If we trust this Church to decide on what Books were the inspired of God and what were not, why would we trust any other Church’s views on them?” See I know these things now, but I did not before, as I did not have all of this available to me. My knowledge began at the Reformation but we must remember there was over 1400 years prior to that. I will never convert back. I always say it like this, “Before I converted I had God, but now I have His fullness.” “She is nothing if not the Beauty of God.”

    Sorry so long, but wanted to answer some of your questions. God Bless, SR

  4. If “theshepherdspresence” held as “tenaciously” to the Word of God as she says she does she wouldn’t practice Lent.

  5. Jessica says:

    Pishtush, Richard. Don’t be an old prune. The Lord delights in our giving up something we cherish because we love Him more. I’m sure He even honored my unsaved brother’s attempt to honor Him by giving up smoking for Lent. That was years ago and Tim never resumed the habit, so even if it accomplished nothing at all spiritually, it may have extended Tim’s life, for which I am grateful. Lighten up. God is not as rigid with us as you are. Remember, when it comes to judging others, we ourselves set the standards by which He will judge us.

  6. SR says:

    Thanks Jessica for the “defense.” As Catholics we are very used to it. Lent is my most favorite times of the year. It is not only about “giving up” it is about reflecting on what our Lord did for us. That is what we do those 40 days of Lent mainly, and reflecting on Jesus can never be a bad thing. It is just time set aside to do this. I grow a lot during Lent spiritually and try to implement something in my life that I will do for the rest of my life. I also try and correct the things I feel I am not doing right. So a lot goes into Lent for most of us. Thanks again for “defense” but one cannot rob me of the love Jesus has for me and that is my joy! God Bless, SR

  7. Jessica says:

    Richard, I’m sorry for the personal attack. Please forgive me for judging you (I have to take my own warning to heart!) but please consider the point I’m trying to make. Lots of people genuinely believe in, worship, and serve the true Lord Jesus Christ, whether they attend Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches, Protestant denominations, Messianic temples or even if they call Him by His Arabic name Isa and came to know him through dreams. (And lots of people in each of those places don’t really know Him at all.) Lent is just one of a multitude of legitimate ways we can show our love for Him.

  8. Pishtush, yourself. Lent does not appear in the Word of God. Therefore, it is not something that is commanded by God (even by implication) as a way of worshiping Him. The Bible takes a very dim view of people either adding to or taking away from what He has said in the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church, in its love of syncretism, has a long history of doing this.

  9. Not to worry – I didn’t take it personally. I’ve learned to be patient with and tolerant of the elderly (wink, wink). But no – the Bible is the standard and sets the standard. God has the sovereign right to tell us how He wants to be worshiped. And Lent isn’t part of the package, much less Arabs and their supposed dreams!

  10. Everything any Catholic knows about Mary, came from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    Especially Luke, which is where the “co-redemptrix” stuff comes from, it’s just doctrinal development from the great dogma of Luke Chapter 1, the Magnificat- where God gave Mary a chance not to be a mother- and she accepted anyway.

  11. cMc says:

    Having been raised a Protestant, I’ve only recently been exposed to the concept of Mary being a co-redemptrix, and I’m appalled. I read the Magnificat in Luke, I’ve read it before, too, and nowhere does it mention anything at all about Mary being any more than the mother of Jesus, obedient to God’s plan. Why does the Catholic church go to such great lengths to bestow anything else to Mary, thereby ignoring all the verses which state that salvation is through Christ ALONE? It’s never Christ and….Never! I used to take wedding photos and therefore sat through a lot of Catholic church services, where I heard so many references to Mary interceding for believers, and yet, according to the Bible, Jesus is our intercessor, not Mary. Jesus is our direct link to God the Father, not Mary, not a priest, not a saint. Christ alone is the way of salvation. Christ alone intercedes at the throne of God. Christ alone.

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