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Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Protestant Church: What We Should Learn from Catholics

Dear Protestant Church,


Dear Protestant Churches I Have Attended or Heard About Recently, Anyways,

We need to take some notes from the Catholic Church, guys.

I know, I know, there are lots of (generally minute, but some larger) things that we do differently and believe differently. While we've all made a really stinking big deal about those differences (we don't have to get into the church history now), for the most part, we're all made of the same stuff. The underlying message is the same. We all believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, died for our sins, and rose from the dead. Those of us who truly believe that have all been transformed in Him.

But honestly, Protestant church? I'm seeing some things we really need to work on. Growing up in a little bit of a lot of different theologies, I truly treasure worshiping in both the Catholic Church and also in Protestant congregations. I attend a Protestant church currently (and I love the fellowship, the straight-outta-the-Bible teaching, and how I am growing in my faith), but I'm still influenced greatly by Catholic ideas. And I've got to say, I think in many ways, I agree with their perspective over yours, Protestant Churches.

The Catholic church isn't afraid of telling it like it is. I think we've lost that, Protestants. We're so focused on being "nice," being politically correct, not making waves. Is that what Jesus would want of us, though? I mean, He came and definitely rocked the boat. He challenged the teachings of the Pharisees, He overturned the tables at the temple. Wasn't our Christ- the One we model our lives after- wasn't He the one who said, "I am the way, the truth, the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through ME?"

We've started to gloss over things, Protestants. Things like gay marriage, for example. We're so focused on being nice that we aren't focusing on what is true. "Well, we don't want them to think we're judging..." is not enough of an excuse. "Homosexuality is natural" is also not an excuse. It's natural to hate, it's natural to kill, but that doesn't make it right. Of course, this issue is only one of many, but our response as a church is telling.

Don't even get me started on the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. In 2009, they began to allow “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”  

 Well, as long as it's *monogamous* homosexual behavior... 

What? Where is God's design in that? How are we representing the intention of our Lord in the relationship of marriage? Just because homosexuality is acceptable (and often celebrated) by the standards of our culture does not mean that it is acceptable in the leadership of the church!

In my experience, I see the Catholic church getting personal with their parishioners. I see them challenging people to question their personal lives, the decisions they make in their own bedrooms, in regards to their families. Protestant church- we teach trust in God. We teach that He knows best, that we need to lay our lives down and seek His will for us. But trust Him with the number of children in our family? Crazy. Sure, He said that children are a blessing, but are we acting that way? Do we trust God with our finances, or do we 'forget' to tithe or give to the needy?

Teenage pregnancy is rampant in many of the churches I've attended, but sexual sin in youth group... is it even addressed? Well, it's uncomfortable and unpopular. Do we tell our teenagers to be modest, to be abstinent? Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it okay. Are we focused on being attractive and cool to teenagers, or are we focused on helping them to be holy?

I am far from perfect. I struggle, I mess up, I fight against the cross I carry daily. But church, aren't you here to support and encourage my walk with the Lord? To help me and teach me to give him the obedience and worship that He deserves? Because in many cases, I'm not seeing that. I'm not seeing you challenge us. I see you trying to blend in. I see you trying to market to the masses rather than make disciples. And I'm concerned.

We've vilified the Catholic church for being too strict, for focusing on the outside more than the inside. We point to arguments within Catholic circles- like whether women should wear pants- to prove that we're somehow 'better.' But guys? What about holiness? We believe that according to our salvation, we've been set apart- are we acting like it? And what about humility? The Catholic church has held to many teachings for hundreds of years. These huge paradigm shifts some Protestant churches are undergoing, most of them very recently- who are we to make such enormous (and often completely un-Biblical) changes?

When it becomes more about what is popular than what is Biblical,
When it becomes more about what is interesting than what's humble,
When it becomes more about being nice to everyone than about what is pleasing to God,
When it becomes more about what is okay in our culture than about the Truth of God,

Then we are deifying ourselves. And Protestants, that's not where we want to be.


-A Concerned Protestant



  1. Hello! I followed the link from your comment at Conversion Diary here. I'm Catholic, not Protestant, but I just wanted to say that I like your post. We all need to be challenged to strive for holiness, so good for you for calling on your Protestant brethren to look at the places where they can improve. I know that there are definitely some things Catholic parishes can learn from Protestant ones, like improving outside-of-Mass fellowship for instance!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, and from stopping over and commenting! I agree with you- we all need to be challenged and pushed toward holiness. I think it's important for all Christians (myself definitely included!) to remember that the Church is made of people, and people- even with the best intentions- are sinful.

  2. I agree with Casey too! I'm only a newly converted Catholic coming from a long Protestant background, and the fellowship thing is definitely something we could work on. I miss having intimate relationships with people I attend Mass with outside of the Mass. It's so hard to get to know someone when you are newly Catholic and attending a different parish even than the one of your conversion.

    But also being a convert from Protestantism, I know where you are coming from too! How special that you posted this during the week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan 18- 25) too.

    Also, when I married my husband who is Catholic, it was before my conversion, and this Bible verse really became something precious (about unity) to the two of us and we had it read at our wedding.

    "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:1-6

    Great post and inspired thinking!

    1. Unity is definitely something to aspire to!

      I cherish so many things about the Protestant church- the one I attend in particular- and the emphasis on small groups for adults is one of those things! The fellowship we've found is amazing.

      I think it's important to learn from one another- and I think that the Protestant church (at least many of the lay-people I know) are quick to write off the Catholic church.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!


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