Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, July 09, 2010

An Ex-Evangelical Reviews"Holy Ground" by Ex-Catholic Chris Castaldo Part 4

In Chapter 4, Mr. Castaldo describes ex-Catholics as feeling that an "array of rules" was imposed on them when asked about how they previously related to God. This again makes my point that he was interviewing nominal Catholics who did not access the grace available to them. These folks obviously did not have a personal relationship with Christ and thus it seemed like an authoritarian structure was imposed on them. This phenomenon can be found in all major religions and described by those who are not devout adherents of that particular religion. I am not sure what this proves regarding how Catholics relate to God. Should the reader make the assumption that this is how most, some, not all, or few Catholics relate to God? He makes it sound like these folks ran screaming from the Church looking for a breath of fresh air asking Jesus to free them from the bondage the Church had laid on them. No. It is more probable that these ex-Catholics, though baptized, did not have a living faith and were in need of conversion(as we all are). When they did have a conversion experience, thanks be to God, they unfortunately looked back at their nominal Catholic faith which was miserable to them and made the conclusion that Catholicism is a bunch of rules, not a relationship.
The author then goes on to describe a bad experience a person had in the confessional with a crabby priest and how that person vowed never to go back again. He says he heard this same story over and over again and it starts to form a "composite picture."
Would Mr. Castaldo have formed a different "composite picture" if he interviewed Catholics who go to confession on a regular basis? From personal experience and the Catholics I know, there is a great desire to make use of this sacrament and we all eventually find a confessor that we are comfortable with and who understands us. This is not "rules oriented experience" but the practical working out of Christ's power given to his disciples to forgive sins. When we go to confession, we believe we are "whispering in the ear of God," not man, and thus confession becomes a very intimate and personal encounter with our savior and healer.

As an aside, I would like to point out that Catholics are not the only ones accused of having "an array of rules." As a former devout evangelical protestant teenager, I used to go to a week-long seminar called Bill Gothard's Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts in the mid 1970's. This was an extremely cult-like teaching series by a fundamentalist who created more rules (Gothard called them 'principles') than one would ever encounter in Catholicism. The end result of attending several BYC's was the creation of a small band of legalistic "automaton" Christians who were guilt-ridden, judgmental and lacking the joy and freedom promised in the gospel. The leader of our fellowship used the "principles" of Basic Youth Conflicts to control and manipulate the young people under his charge. Would it be fair to use this example and draw the conclusion that evangelical Protestantism is full of legalism, control, rules and not relationship? Of course not.


Blogger Magister Christianus said...

"These folks obviously did not have a personal relationship with Christ and thus it seemed like an authoritarian structure was imposed on them." Bingo! This is exactly what is going on. For those who have that loving relationship with the Lord, rules are seen as the blessings they are. Unfortunately, those who are nominal Christians seem to grab the microphone, so that is all you hear. Even more unfortunately, too many churches yield to this and start retreating from the necessary rules and guidelines for living a faithful life. Thus you have churches ordaining homosexuals and blessing all sorts of immoral lifestyles.

It always has been and always will be unpopular to hold the line for what is right and true. Churches must stop trying to win popularity contests and hold that line, regardless of what the disenchanted say.

July 10, 2010 9:21 AM  
Blogger groovsmyth said...

Crossed The Tiber - please friend me on Facebook. <♥><

July 10, 2010 1:08 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

This is a great series of posts!

July 10, 2010 2:01 PM  
Blogger Moonshadow said...

Here's how C. S. Lewis puts it:

"though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke." - Mere Christianity

Trouble is, most people don't move on, don't mature in the faith, for any number of reasons.

(I came here by way of japhy's "Cross Reference" blog)

July 10, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Kkol. I hope it is illustrative for both Catholics and Protestants!

July 10, 2010 7:06 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Moonshadow- thanks for that great CS Lewis wisdom! Lets hope somehow that Mr. Castaldo has the opportunity someday to read CS Lewis, in light of his conclusions he made in his book.

July 10, 2010 7:08 PM  
Blogger truthfinder said...

Talk about rules! As a Protestant for 50 years (counting my early childhood as part of that), I was under so many, many rules. These were often said, more often unspoken. No dancing, no alcohol or tobacco, no playing cards, no going to the movies or circuses,no popular music, no makeup (I wasn't even supposed to shave my legs!), no wearing jeans or slacks (at least to church), no co-ed swimming, and no fellowship with those who violated any of these "Christian principles". As a Catholic now, I am to embrace the teaching of the Church for love of the Christ who has set me free!

July 11, 2010 12:53 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Truthfinder: thanks so much for your comments! You make a great point here about the freedom found in Catholicism by those Catholics who access that grace available to them.
I believe that Mr. Castaldo would be willing to change some of his conclusions in this book if he was willing to interview folks like you and the many other Catholics, both cradle and converts who have found a life-changing treasure in the Catholic faith. Thanks!

July 11, 2010 1:01 PM  

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