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Questioning my Protestant heritage

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Mary Meg, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. Mary Meg

    Mary Meg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi. I grew up in a small Southern Baptist church that my something-great-great-grandparents helped found. It's not really a great place for dynamic preaching or worship -- it's just my family and a few other families, sharing the love and Gospel of Christ. I love it for that, and in some way, it will always be home...

    But as I've gotten older and learned things (maybe too much for my own good), I've started to have doubts and questions about a lot of things. I studied a lot of Christian history in school and Bible and theology and classical languages, and through all of that I've grown to feel a lot closer to the Early Church...... and honestly I've started to feel like it doesn't look all that much like my church today. :confused2:

    I know the Protestant narrative very well... that the Catholic Church was corrupt, had fallen away from the truth of the Gospel of Christ, and needed Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation to come and bring us back to the true Gospel. And I've mostly been happy with my church and my upbringing and everything, just now I am wondering...

    So I'm not sure I even know how to ask the questions I'm asking... How do I approach these things? Are there answers, and how can I find them? Where do I go from here? Or do I stay put?

    Good and great Christians -- So I've come to admire a lot of great people from the history of Christianity -- saints. That means they were holy people who are surely now enjoying God's glory in eternity. But my Protestant background tells me that no one is holy... But surely people go to heaven, right? Surely people can grow in sanctity and become more Christlike... I've seen that with my own eyes, and isn't that the point?

    But if I admire Christians from the first dozen Christian centuries -- it turns out I'm admiring people who believed very differently than me, who believed in things like baptismal regeneration, the perpetual virginity of Mary, that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus... Does that mean they were less than Christian, for believing something beyond what's revealed in the Bible? Should I even admire them? As much as I admire them, I'm afraid these people would have told me I'm not a Christian since I don't believe those things. :anguished:

    My Protestant background tells me that the Catholic Church went off the rails at some point in history. When? If I accept that these great saints -- it is what I want to call them -- were true believers, despite believing different things than me, then don't I also have to accept that the faith they had was true? And that the Church that was teaching them was teaching the true faith? At the very least, that it wasn't as wholly corrupt at that time as the Protestant Reformation would have me believe it became -- to the point that breaking from it and starting over was warranted? That it must have gone off the rails sometime later? The problem is, the more people I admire, and the closer they get to 1517, the more I start to wonder if anything really could have gone off the rails very far...

    (Don't even mention that I might admire Catholic saints after 1517... :fearscream:)

    This is getting long and I haven't even gotten to half the things in my head... but I'll have to put a period here and maybe post again sometime.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
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  2. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lutherans and Anglicans believe those things yet are still considered protestants.
     
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  3. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    Reading writings from Christians primarily from the 1st Century is what mainly led me away from Protestantism. If those who were alive when the New Testament was written can't be trusted to provide us a context in which to understand the New Testament, then scholars a millennium and a half later are no more trustworthy.
     
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  4. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother? Supporter

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    It’s challenging, I agree. The joke goes that to study Church history is to cease being a Protestant.

    Some of the first and second century Church writings were written by people who knew the apostles or were even students of theirs.

    And those first and second century writings sound rather Catholic.

    So if these writers are in error, did they learn their errors from the apostles?

    Feel welcome to stop over at OBOB with your questions about Catholicism. There are some terrific people there.
     
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  5. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I spent 50 years in a mainline Protestant church (i.e. Methodist) before a pivotal moment when I came to ask the same questions you now ask. For me, I was tired of my church's constant attempts to change to be innovative in a (failed) attempt to keep and grow members. I yearned for something ancient and traditional in worship practice.

    In business I've always thought that problems are best resolved by those closest to the problem. In religion, I came to believe that more ancient understandings of the faith closest to the crucifixion and message of the Apostles may have more merit than later revelations. On the surface of things, it seems rather presumptuous and borderline ridiculous for someone to show up 1,500 years later to say, "you've been doing it wrong all this time & I know better."

    My search took me to Anglicanism as the best fit for me. Best wishes in your search. In closing, I will say this: Taking the bold step of change was very hard to do, but I now regret that I didn't do it earlier. Don't be like me at wait so long if you know you are dissatisfied and yearn for something else. You'll be depriving yourself of years of experiencing that new thing you'll like better.
     
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  6. Anto9us

    Anto9us Well-Known Member Supporter

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    well Mary Meg - consider RCC or Orthodox
     
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  7. FenderTL5

    FenderTL5 864511320 Supporter

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    Mary Meg I recognize some of my own path in your OP. For me, there were numerous steps, across many years which eventually led me into the Orthodox Church.
    Godspeed your journey!
     
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  8. worshipjunkie

    worshipjunkie Active Member

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    I converted to Catholicism from a Protestant background 15 years ago. I've just recently came back to Protestantism. When I first converted, I thought a lot like you...I don't want to start a debate on your thread, so all I'm going to say is the reality is very different then it seems. If you want to discuss it with someone from my POV feel free to PM me; again, I don't want to turn your thread into a Catholic/Protestant debate. I can tell you'll get plenty of Catholic responses, and hopefully some more knowledgeable Protestants then me will respond, but there are answers to your questions without going to the Catholic or Orthodox church.
     
  9. Mary Meg

    Mary Meg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks... That's exactly what I'm looking for. I'm not looking to jump ship right now, that's a really scary thought! Mainly just wondering... whether I do or don't... how to deal with these questions.
     
  10. -Sasha-

    -Sasha- Handmaid of God

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    When Christ took on humanity and walked among people, didn't he set an example for how we ought to try to live? Aren't the Saints people who looked to this example and tried, as far as they could, to follow Him in their own lives? When I read the lives of Saints, the thing always most striking to me is their immense love for God and for other people. I don't see how Protestants could have an issue with loving and respecting them, but then again I don't have hardly any experience with Protestant beliefs. From my perspective, I love the Saints for the love they had for God. Reading about their lives softens my heart towards God, and towards the people around me. When I honor the Saints, it isn't for their own sake, but for the sake of God whom they loved and tried to serve throughout their lives...they provided a plethora of examples for how this might look, whether they were kings or peasants, hermits in a desert or living in the middle of a city, died peacefully in old age or as martyrs... they show us that we can grow in our love for God in whatever our station.

    Sorry, I realize this doesn't really answer your question as to what you ought to do, but no matter your denomination, I just can't imagine that loving people who did their best to love God is problematic.
     
  11. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    I wanted to address two of the points you've raised, because I think they're connected.

    There's a sense in which no one on earth is perfect, and in that sense "no one is holy"; we are going through a long process of sanctification that will not be completed until after death. Still, my Anglican tradition recognized that there are some people through which God's grace shone especially clearly, and we name those people saints. This doesn't mean that they were sinless. As we look back over their lives, we often see that they were flawed people who absorbed values from the culture around them that we would reject today. Yet they were committed to following God, and we can see God in extraordinary ways through their lives.

    I see the Catholic church somewhat similarly. They didn't go off the rails in any major way. They have always been a strong and ancient embodiment of the Christian life. They are also an organization of flawed human beings. Reforms have been needed along the way, and many of these reforms became part of the life of the church -- the formation of the various monastic orders, for instance. The Reformation, unfortunately, split the church. But still, it was not a matter of Christianity having been forgotten until Martin Luther opened a Bible one day. Rather, the church in all its manifestations -- Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant -- is holy, and also flawed, all at the same time.

    I confess I am full of meditations on being holy and sinful all at the same time, as I enter into these last days of Holy Week. If you've never experienced it, come visit an Episcopal church for the upcoming trio of services: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil. You will be seeing us at our liturgical best. :)
     
  12. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    Have you considered that there may be another line of Trinitarian Bible believers that are not Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Charismatic, etc.?

    Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination with approx. 1.2 billion members.
    Protestantism is the second largest Christian denomination with approx. 920 million members.
    Charismatic or Pentecostal movement is approx. 584 million members (in 2011).
    Eastern Orthodox is approx. 270 million members.​

    Sources:
    List of Christian denominations by number of members - Wikipedia
    https://www.google.com/search?q=charismatic+numbers+worldwide&oq=charismatic+numbers+worldwide

    Yet, Jesus said, "narrow is the way," and He also said, "and few there be that find it."
    (See: Matthew 7:14).

    In other words, I believe we are living in the last days according to 2 Timothy 3:1-9. Based on this passage (if you were to read it) indicates that it will not be the many who are doing things correctly.

    For Jesus said,
    "...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).

    "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:37).

    During Noah's day, the whole world was in wickedness and only Noah and his family were deemed righteous by God to build an ark as a way of escaping God's judgment.

    Does that mean only 8 people will be righteous before Christ gathers his church? No. The point here is that not many or very few are going to be actually just following the Bible alone in what it actually says. Many follow the traditions of their church or they follow the popular man made documents on the history of the church (and they place history as being on equal authority to God's Word). But God is looking for those who will just seek to obey His Word pure and simple. He is calling us out from the religious ways of man and into being followers to His Word alone by faith. It's not easy to follow the Lord by faith in His Word alone (When you don't see people around you doing that). But I imagine that was how Noah and his family felt. Everyone was wicked or disobedient to God around them. For we are going to be held accountable to God's Word (the Bible) and we are not going to be held accountable to what some church says or does.

    Jesus says (according to the words of the Bible),
    "He ...receiveth not my words, ...the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (John 12:48).

    So the words of Jesus will judge a person on the last day.

    Can you honestly look at the teachings of Jesus (Luke 10:25-28) (Matthew 19:17-19) (Matthew 5:28-30) (Matthew 6:15) (Matthew 12:37) (Matthew 25:31-46) (Luke 9:62) and say that people around you are doing these things that He actually says today?

    I would say it is not many. Many invent things that are not in the Word of God or they change what His Word says and ignore certain words that come from Jesus and His followers.

    So while people can be nice and sincere, and loving, they can also be sincerely and lovingly wrong, too. God is looking for those few who are truly seeking to follow Him.

    So my encouragement to you is to just follow your Bible. Follow Jesus, and do not follow men and what they do. Just stick to the good book (God's Word).
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  13. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    One of the five Solas of Protestantism is Sola Fide (Faith Alone). This is exclusively a Protestant doctrine that sets itself apart from "non-Sola Scriptura type churches" such as the Catholic church and Eastern Orthodox churches that believe in works of faith are an essential part of one's faith.

    See Sola Fide here:
    Sola fide - Wikipedia

    Note: I believe works of faith play a part in the salvation process after we are saved by God's grace, and I am not Catholic, or Orthodox or any other denomination. I believe this way because this is what the Bible plainly teaches.

    Anyways, most Charismatic churches believe in holiness and or good works as a part of one's faith, as well. But the Charismatics are an entirely different branch of Christianity and they are not Sola Scriptura or purely Sola Scriptura. Many of them believe in receiving outside revelation or words of prophecy that can be added to the Bible.

    Protestants (Which is defined by their acceptance of Sola Fide or Faith Alone) do not believe James 2:18. James says he will show you his faith by his works. So this is the true definition of faith. This is the kind of faith expressed in the Bible. There is no such thing as a "Belief Alone" type faith that does not produce good works and holiness. Protestants unfortunately define "faith" on their own terms and say it just means a belief alone, when this is not what it means.

    Catholicism and Orthodox churches (like Charismatic churches) attempt to add something to the Bible. Charismatics add new revelation, visions, prophecy, etc. Catholics and Orthodox add church traditions. Hence, why they are not Sola Scriptura (or Bible alone) as their sole authority. These church traditions cannot be confirmed in the same way as being divine like the Word of God (the Bible) is divine.

    There are tons of evidences that back up the Bible that proves that it is superior or divine compared to any other holy writings, traditions, etc.

    If you are interested in these many evidences, you can check them out in my Blogger article here:

    Love Branch: Evidences for the Word of God

    Furthermore, the extra biblical biblical practices (traditions) of the Catholic church or Orthodox churches appears to conflict with certain commands by God in the New Testament (i.e. the New Covenant). I will not go into detail about them here because arguing against Catholicism does not go over too well here at CF. But you can do a simple Google search and research it online for yourself the reasons why the traditions of the Catholic and the Orthodox church are not biblical. There are many that should give you pause if you pray about it and look at it with Scripture.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  14. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    I tend to prefer the word of God over all other sources.

    In fact, it bothers me a trifle when I hear or read people say that whatever some person in the first several centuries wrote must be the final answer to whatever doctrinal question it might be. Not a consensus, mind you, but just what one or a handful of churchmen had to say.
     
  15. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    I even see the gathering of fellowship today as an unbiblical practice (although God can still use popular church organizations for His ultimate good purposes and plans); But nowhere does the Bible teach that we have to build a big building and have one man preach to us (with him having authority over us). Nowhere does the Bible teach that we can invite unbelievers to hang out with us to worship until they are ready to accept Christ via an altar call. For what fellowship does light have with darkness? Anyways, check out these threads at CF here to learn more (with Scripture):

    God's Order in the Church vs Man's Order
    The Pastor King (New)

    But if you desperately need to have fellowship with others, the only Trinitarian Sola Scriptura church I found that believes in: "Grace + Works of Faith = Salvation" (from what I have seen) is:

    Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church: Christ's Sanctified Holy Church-Holiness unto the Lord

    Unfortunately I do not live near any of these churches to at least check them out in person. While I prefer house fellowship (Based on Scripture), I am at least curious to see how they operate (Seeing they have the same view of salvation as me as taught plainly in the Bible).
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  16. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    You may be encouraged to follow the Lord alone (according to His Word) by watching this Christian movie trailer (that is currently playing in limited theaters).



    I hope it helps;
    And may God bless you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  17. Mary Meg

    Mary Meg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes... I know that. But still seems a long gulf away from where I am now. How do I get there from here? :confused2:
     
  18. Mary Meg

    Mary Meg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes! That's absolutely it! If I read the Church Fathers as a Protestant, it's easy to say, "Wow, they believe a lot of things I disagree with" -- and look at the Bible and cite chapter and verse why. But if I read the Church Fathers with an open mind, I find places where they describe the same verses I'm looking at, only they understand them differently. And if I'm being honest, I have to ask... how do I even know I'm right? Aren't I basing this on somebody else's opinion, or my own interpretation? And these people were very likely taught by somebody who knew somebody who wrote the thing...
     
  19. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    Originally Christian meant a disciple of Jesus. And a disciple of Jesus is person who remains in words of Jesus.

    When he found him, he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year they were guests of the church and taught a large crowd. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
    Acts 11:26

    Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
    John 8:31-32

    So, don’t worry, if you want to be a disciple of Jesus, remain in the teachings of Jesus.
     
  20. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    Compare Scripture with Scripture. All of Scripture has to fit neatly together like one big puzzle. Ask God repeatedly (along with fasting) on a verse or passage you don't understand. Ask God to reveal it to you via by searching the Scriptures and reading a ton of Christian online articles, etc. Keep knocking, and keep asking and God will answer you. For God wants to reveal the truth of His Word to us. Again, I would not seek to follow a specific church organization (with a blind faith) because they can only push certain beliefs upon you that are unbiblical. Instead, get in the Word of God alone with the Lord and keep seeking and verifying the truth for yourself. For if we ask anything according to His will, He will answer us. But I see this as a continual asking. We have to sometimes never give up in asking the Lord until God confirms the truth to us with His Word.
     
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