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Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 1.30.21 PMOur devout, fundamentalist-evangelical family of six children attended Sunday School, Sunday morning and evening worship services, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, and choir rehearsal after prayer meeting — even when traveling. My parents alternately took us to Nazarene and Baptist congregations. Nazarenes taught Arminian doctrine; that sinning resulted in loss of salvation. Baptists taught “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for eternity.” As early as grade school I became aware that different denominations taught contradictory doctrines, yet logic dictates that only one can be correct. Fundamentalist-evangelical pastors taught the precepts: (1) the Bible is the only authority; (2) salvation is by faith alone; and (3) the requirement to live according to biblical morality while simultaneously believing that our actions (works) had nothing to do with salvation. Fundamentalists erected legalistic barriers around immoral behavior in order to avoid any occasion for temptation.

I never remember not believing in Jesus Christ, though our family had faith, we were not happy. There was, however, one bright spot in my childhood: Bible Club.

The late Allan Emery, Jr. and his wife, Marian, held Bible Club in their living room for 50 to 90 teenagers every Thursday night. Allan was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. These loving Christians made everyone feel special and welcome at Bible Club — Protestant, Catholic, or un-churched. On alternate weekends, twelve teens were taken to Whisperwood, their New Hampshire farm, for weekend retreats. The strict rule was no more than two weekends, per teen, each year. One year, because the Emerys knew about each teen’s home life, every weekend they found a way to “need” one more boy. I was that fortunate boy. The Emery’s personal commitment led me to view them as being “Christ to me.” Bible Club was a godsend where my first happy memories were formed and where I  met, courted, and (in 1975) married Paula (the perfect girlfriend) in the Emery’s flower garden.

Innate desires

Besides Bible Club, two other childhood factors influenced my faith journey. I had an intense yearning to participate in communion, but to receive communion in my childhood church required being twelve years of age, baptized, and a member. After communion one Sunday, at about age eight, I discovered that the communion trays of Matzo crackers and cups of grape juice were left unattended in the kitchen. On subsequent communion Sundays, after the ushers returned from disposing of the trays, I would ask to use the restroom and proceed to reverently serve myself communion. When our family moved to a new congregation, communion was infrequent. Later, as a busy student at Wheaton College, the congregation I attended never seemed to have communion, yet my deep desire for communion never faded.

Besides a desire for communion, I was drawn to the story of Christ’s birth and the Ave Maria (my mother’s favorite music). Our beautiful (Catholic) Advent Calendar was a treasured Christmas tradition; however, because my mother was the choir director in all the congregations we attended, and my father was a deacon, we children were advised never to discuss these topics with other members. None of the congregations we attended were open to ecumenism with other Protestant denominations and utterly rejected the Catholic Church. The serene image of Mary brought a sense of peace to me, especially as a child in an unhappy family. Interestingly, the Emerys were the only Protestants I knew who openly recognized Catholics as Christians. Although Paula, who was Catholic, joined me in Protestant congregations, the Emerys never encouraged her to leave the Catholic Church.

A jigsaw of interpretation

Living with many mutually contradictory doctrines made understanding the faith similar to trying to complete a complex puzzle from a combination of different jigsaw puzzles stirred together. As a teen I viewed the contradictions with perplexity. For example, altar calls in the Nazarene congregations (when only members were present) made sense based on the Arminian doctrine of the possibility of losing one’s salvation. However, in the “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for eternity” Baptist congregations, altar calls to members seemed utterly absurd. In one congregation, this only impacted one mentally feeble woman who tearfully went forward each time and “finally accepted Jesus — again.” As an adult, maintaining the theological tension between contradictory biblical interpretations eventually led to a minimalistic faith. That is, the acceptance of Jesus was the only necessary aspect of the faith; nothing else mattered. So after college, since both Paula and I were employed at different evangelical agencies with weekly chapel services led by pastors and missionaries, we readily substituted the chapel services for Sunday attendance. But there persisted a desire to find a church that taught all of what we knew Scripture taught.

In 1979, a move to a small New England town resulted in a limited choice of congregations. Two of the local congregations were so theologically liberal that the pastors were more likely to quote sentimental poems than Scripture. One fundamentalist congregation was pastored by a high school graduate whose exegesis was agonizingly embarrassing. Another congregation was so unreceptive to newcomers that not a single member of the congregation, or the pastor, greeted us.

Discounting the Catholic church in town, Paula and I hesitantly visited the remaining small Episcopal chapel. The beauty of the liturgy and the opportunity to receive communion at every service was such a blessing that that congregation became our spiritual home. Two years later, in 1981, we moved again for graduate school and attended a large, active, Episcopal congregation with dynamic liturgy, powerful sermons, and some of the best music we have ever enjoyed. Yet, sadly, it was in that congregation where it became evident that, while the words were biblical, a double-speak was at play. The realization that something was amiss occurred after learning that the rector’s “wife” was actually still married to an ex-parishioner. Gradually, it became evident the evangelical and biblical language was actually code for left-leaning political messages.

Without describing every issue, my Protestant experience confirmed that there was no congregation in which I could trust that all (or only) biblical truth was being taught. Certainly, much truth was taught at all the congregations we attended, but never was “all truth” (Jn 16:12) taught. In fact, it took only a few sermons to identify some false, unbiblical doctrine being proffered. It became increasingly evident that every pastor and member — not the Bible — was his or her own final authority. Utter discouragement with the contradictory theological doctrines led us to live our faith on our own for more than two decades. During that time many evangelical clients came to my practice specifically because I am listed with insurance companies as a Christian psychologist. Often, what these clients believed and practiced was foreign to what I previously knew to be evangelicalism. This made it apparent that evangelicalism had changed radically during those two decades. Many aspects of moral living were also conspicuously absent.

“Correcting” Scripture

These experiences made it obvious that the “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for eternity” doctrine was “a different gospel” (Gal 1:6-7). The carefully guarded and entrenched belief regarding their prerogative to a personal, private interpretation of Scripture insulated these individuals from recognizing the fallacy of their beliefs and practices. I came to recognize that the schismatic nature of Protestant denominations is likely due to this non-biblical and faulty assurance that individual believers are guaranteed to be led into “all truth” (Jn 16:12). Yet, as I later discovered, Scripture is clear that only the Apostles, individually (Jn 16:12), and “God’s household, which [is] the Church of the Living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:15) were given any assurance of acquiring “all truth.”

This forced me to face up to the fact that sola Scriptura (the belief that the Bible is the only source of authority) is not found in Scripture and sola fide (the belief of salvation through faith alone) was soundly rejected by James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Accepting these doctrines would suggest that the Holy Spirit leads entire denominations of sincere, devout, Bible-believers to contradictory conclusions on such vital matters as salvation and morality with modern denominations contradicting basic orthodox doctrine and adopting pop-culture morality. As Marcus Grodi would say, I discovered Bible passages I had “never seen” before and those passages did not support Protestant doctrines.

One evangelical congregation near my practice hired a new pastor who did his first communion service “In the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Allah, Buddha and all other deities.” Evidently sola Scriptura gives one a license to interpret Scripture, free from all authority, in violation of 2 Peter 1:20, “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” These experiences made me recognize that something was terribly wrong in evangelicalism. I was forced to realize that I, like all Bible-believers, didn’t accept what the Bible actually teaches.

From our wedding on, Paula and I had followed the advice of a number of devout Protestants and used contraception in order to get our careers and finances established. Years after having stopped using contraception, we concluded that we were infertile. Then, in 1991, Paula and I finally had a son, Sean. Paula’s labor of forty-eight hours seemed to last longer than the concurrent Desert Storm invasion. Selfishly, we had waited too long so now he is an only child who will face the responsibility and demands of our last years alone.

By Sean’s teen years, we realized home-based devotions were not enough. Because of the rejection of biblical truth in the liturgical Protestant denominations, we returned to a non-liturgical congregation for biblical, orthodox doctrine. Being away from evangelicalism for twenty years allowed us to recognize how many changes had occurred and how often Bible-believing pastors “corrected” Scripture. We heard statements like, “That passage doesn’t mean what it says” or “The word ‘is’ doesn’t mean ‘is’.” The phrase “faith alone” was verbally inserted into biblical passages in which it was not written. After declaring there was no need for baptism, one pastor explained, “See those lines in the text separating the verses? You don’t have to accept anything between those lines. Those verses are not in the manuscripts our scholars consider valid.” What a shock to be told to ignore Scripture! Sean’s teen Bible study interpreted Christ’s comment, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me…” (Mt 25:32-46)  by concluding: “Jesus is not saying you will be judged for what you do. He is just talking about having faith.”

Exegesis of this type resulted in our spending virtually all of our Sunday afternoons reviewing the morning’s biblical passages and correcting the faulty interpretations contained in the sermon. How? By merely reading the passages in context, reviewing topically related passages, and taking Scripture for what it actually said. Despite a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Wheaton College, a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, I found myself, approaching sixty years of age, entangled in a theological belief system fraught with contradictions that required me either to ignore, reinterpret, or wildly over-emphasize biblical passages.

All generations will call me blessed…

About eight years ago, my dear friend Bob Frasco, a Catholic, asked, “Why do evangelical Christians ignore, demean, and even reject the role that Mary played in redemptive history?”

I responded, “Evangelical Christians, led by the Reformers, have learned the lessons of the Old Testament and faithfully guard against idolatry. Therefore, we utterly reject the worship of Mary.”

Shocked, Bob exclaimed, “Catholics don’t worship Mary. We only worship God. We honor Mary, as we are told to do in Scripture.” He finished with what I thought to be the demonstrably absurd comment, “Don’t you know the Hail Mary is biblical?”

As a theologically trained evangelical, with no knowledge of Catholic theology, I intuitively knew my friend must be wrong, because no authentic translation could possibly contain pagan material. To my chagrin, once I learned the Hail Mary and re-studied chapter one of Luke, I was faced with the fact that all Protestant Bibles contain the text of the Hail Mary. More unsettling was Mary’s statement, “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). Never in my entire life had I ever heard Mary blessed. Rather than hearing Mary be blessed, I had uncritically accepted the teaching of pastors who downplayed her importance. In fact, what was commonly taught about Mary is summed up in statements such as:

• “Mary wasn’t born sinless.”

• “Mary didn’t remain a virgin.”

• “Mary wasn’t assumed into heaven.”

• “Mary never became a Christian, because there is no evidence in Scripture that she ever accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Savior.”

• “Mary was rejected by Christ at Cana, because she was a social status-seeking mother, trying to show off her son as a miracle worker.” With a snarling voice, a pastor once quoted John 2:4 (KJV), “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” and almost spat out “woman” and “thee”, as if Jesus, righteous in all things, would have violated the Fourth Commandment and dishonored His mother.

One pastor said, “Mary was only a vessel and any teenage girl would have sufficed.” He named two teens in the congregation “who just as easily could have been the mother of Jesus.” Even as a twelve-year-old, since I knew that the one girl had a lengthy history that precluded her from being a virgin and the other girl was quite rebellious, that suggestion seemed wrong.

In one Christmas sermon, a pastor only used the phrase, “the virgin.” As a child, I was afraid to ask my parents who the virgin was, since I knew the word had some questionable connotation. It was not until the car ride home, when my mother complained to my father about her discomfort that our pastor was referring to Mary “like that,” did I understand.

During my childhood, I heard sermons on most biblical characters, godly and ungodly, familiar and obscure — even a sermon on what Christ’s coming meant to the ass on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Mt 21:2-7; Jn 12:14-15). But, in more than fifty years of sermons, I had never heard a single sermon on Mary. I became aware that in an effort to avoid being in submission to the only source of authority established by Christ, Protestants, including me, had defied Scripture and failed to bless Mary.

Breaking through misunderstanding

To understand my point of reference: my parents and childhood pastors had taught us that our varied denominations (despite theological contradictions) were members of the true church that had been persecuted by Catholics throughout history. Our denominations were on a quest to replicate the Church of Acts. We were taught: that Catholics had turned biblical characters and deceased Christians into demigods (called saints) whom they worshipped; Catholics, contrary to the Bible, believed we must earn our way into heaven; that the pope was the antichrist and the Catholic Church was the Whore of Babylon from the Book of Revelation. Most pastors held that the majority of Catholics were apostate and pagan and thus, were consigned to hell. My mother would draw attention to the Catholic neighbors who were kind, sober, caring, charitable people, and state, “They are such wonderful people, it is too bad they believe they can earn their way into heaven by going to church every day. It is sad to think such nice people will end up in hell, because they refuse to accept Christ.”

My friend Bob gave me a subscription to National Catholic Register and recommended EWTN’s The Journey Home show. The discovery that Mary was to be blessed by all generations caused me, for the first time, to begin studying the writings of the early Church Fathers. The seven letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. ad 90 – 110) proved that the first century Church was undeniably Catholic. I consumed books by Catholic apologists and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In my first reading through the Catechism, I intentionally included only those portions discussing doctrines shared with Protestant denominations. Unfamiliar material (e.g., penance, purgatory, indulgences) would have been far too easy to reject out-of-hand. What I discovered was comprehensive biblical support for all Catholic doctrines. Nowhere did I encounter the simplistic proof-texting, which is so prevalent in Protestant theology.

Having presumed that none of the denominations I attended taught “all truth” (Jn 16:12), I had developed a complacency when reading Christ’s words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6:53-56). In verses 60-69, Christ didn’t reassure those who hesitated, because they thought He was suggesting cannibalism, which made it explicitly clear that Christ intended His words to be taken literally. It was with great distress that I became aware that the Apostles and the early Church did not view communion as symbolic. Of greatest concern was the reality that I had been excluded from receiving the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, which, according to Christ, is necessary for eternal life (Jn 6:51-53). Receiving Him in this way was only possible through His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

As a family, into the biblical Church

When taking Scripture at face value, the Catholic understanding of Mary and the Eucharist were correct and biblical. Sadly, what all the denominations we attended had taught about the Catholic Church was absolutely wrong and some of what these congregations taught as truth was actually anti-biblical. Since the first century, heretics viewed the Eucharist as merely symbolic, but not the heirs of the Apostles; not the Church. After discovering that Catholic doctrine on the familiar theological issues was based on a comprehensive view of Scripture and, thus, indisputably true, I realized the doctrines that are rejected by Protestants could then be recognized as true and necessary.

As a family, we explored Scripture and compared Catholic and Protestant doctrines, and together we discovered the historical longevity and biblical nature of Catholic teaching. We all agreed there was only one reasonable response. During late summer of 2007, I visited a local Catholic church to request how to enter the Church and was helped by a wonderful priest who met with Sean and me for RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and Paula for a review of catechetical material. For me, recognizing the roles of Mary and the Communion of the Saints in salvation history was the one puzzle piece that brought comprehension of the bigger picture.

In order for Sean to avoid unnecessary pressure from his lifelong evangelical peer group by a sudden departure, we attended Mass weekly, but also attended the Protestant congregation on alternate Sundays. The time to make a full departure occurred close to Christmas when the evangelical pastor found it necessary to launch into a debunking of all the “Catholic myths” about Mary, proclaiming virtually every anti-Mary comment I previously listed. I now find it horribly sad that, as a Protestant, I had ignored the teaching of Scripture regarding the Eucharist, baptism, and other sacraments, as well as demeaned Mary’s role in salvation history.

Sadly, the doctrinal errors of sola Scriptura and sola fide lead to a faulty interpretation of the Bible and allow some evangelicals to be trapped in sinful lifestyles, while believing themselves to be “saved” — safe and secure for eternity. It is not that Catholics are immune from sin, but the type of error is qualitatively different. Orthodox doctrine allows for correction, whereas false doctrine prevents correction. If a reasonably catechized Catholic chooses to sin, they know they are sinning. In contrast, the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura promotes the right to a personal, private interpretation of Scripture and, therefore, does not allow for the correction of a faulty interpretation that leads to an anti-biblical lifestyle.

Devoid of any and all authority, Protestants have divided the visible Church into thousands of competing denominations in violation of Christ’s prayer, “I do not pray for these only [the Apostles], but also for those who believe in me through their word [all subsequent believers], that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:20-21). There is no more explicit condemnation of Protestant denominationalism than that last phrase.

In contrast, Catholic doctrine consistently teaches what the Apostles taught, making Bible reading sensible. The Catholic Mass is composed almost entirely of scriptural passages. Celebrating the Eucharist involves the glorious experience of sitting at the Lord’s Table receiving Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

And then, there is Mary. While God could certainly have worked salvation history in some other way, Jesus would not be the Messiah if Mary refused to accept the angel Gabriel’s request (Lk 1:38). This biblical fact repudiates the hyper-omnipotent Calvinistic doctrine. Salvation history actually demonstrates that God subjected His omnipotence to the will of one young girl.

At Easter Vigil 2008, our family entered the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ. That Church was led by the Holy Spirit to establish all orthodox doctrines. I came to realize that the claims made by Luther, Calvin, and other Reformers (not to mention all those Protestant books about what the Catholic Church teaches) are false. Furthermore, we discovered that the faith, which all Christians in every place for fifteen hundred years had understood to be true, was stood on its head by the Reformers.

Though I previously considered abortion as an unfortunate, but unavoidable reality, I had an instantaneous conversion of heart when I became aware of the need to enter the Catholic Church. In addition to participating annually in 40 Days for Life, it has also been a joy to attend weekly Eucharistic Adoration and to serve as a lector and as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Paula volunteers weekly to publish the bulletin. Our son, Sean, is now an officer in the United States Air Force, training as a pilot.

In gratitude I offer the following prayer:

Heavenly Father we pray that, in Your mercy,

You will forgive those of us who have grieved Your Son,
Jesus Christ by ignoring His Mother Mary, the Woman, (Gen 3:15; Jn 2:4; 19:26f; Rev 12) 

whom He honors. (Ex 20:12; Lk 2:51; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15) 

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that in Your mercy 

You will forgive those of us who have defied Scripture
by not blessing Mary. (Lk 1:48) 

By the power of the Holy Spirit, 

grant that we may enjoy full communion with Your Church and with all Your saints. 

Grant that by recognizing You as our Savior and brother, (Rom 8:23; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5) we may recognize Mary
as our Blessed Mother. (Jn 19:26-27; Rev 12:17) 

Blessed be Mary, at whose request,
You revealed Your glory at Cana. (Jn 2:1-11) 

Blessed be Mary, Mother of the “Lord of lords.” (Rev 17:14) 

Blessed be Mary, Mother of the “King of kings.” (Rev 17:14) 

Blessed be Mary, “Ark of the Covenant.” (Rev 11:19) 

Blessed be Mary, Mother of God. (Lk 1:43; Jn 1:1) 

Blessed be Mary, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 12:1) 

Blessed be Mary, who reigns as Queen Mother
of Your Kingdom. (Ps 45:6-9) 

Grant that all who love You, grow to love her. 

Grant us understanding that to honor You, is a blessing to her, and to bless her, is to honor You. 

Amen. 

Wesley Vincent is a private practice psychologist in Enfield, Connecticut.

  • 1sola1verita

    This is a wonderful, inspiring story. Having come to the Catholic Church from a Protestant denomination, I think you appreciate the Truth – free of error – better than many “life-long” Catholics. I was not a life-long Catholic but came from a Catholic background. I too, hungered after the Truth which I have now found in the Catholic teachings… God bless you all!!!

  • Faithful1

    What an inspiring story. I am a life-long Catholic and this story reassured me that Catholic doctrine is based on scripture and has and is relevant. I think all Catholics need to read this story for that assurance, and I continue to pray for those Catholics how don’t appreciate what the Bible conveys and the Catholic Church teaches. Thank you for sharing.

  • ms

    Beautiful! I especially love the prayer. Thank you!!

  • Kenneth M. Fisher

    Don’t forget one of the greatest gifts God gave us Catholics, the Sacrament of Confession, and frequent it as often as possible, even weekly, especially weekly.

    May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika!
    Viva Cristo Rey!

    God bless,
    yours in Their Hearts,

    Kenneth M.
    Fisher, Founding Director
    Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

  • TheMule

    I pray that anyone
    that reads this realizes that it Catholic propaganda and should be taking with
    a grain of salt. I find it truly sad that most “lifelong”
    Catholics know very little about the Bible and blindly trust every word their
    priest says. Isiah 6 say ” But we are
    all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy
    rags”…..your best ‘works’ is trash in God’s eyes. No work you
    could ever do will get you into Heaven, you are saved by HIS grace.

    Countless people were SAVED by faith alone in the Bible. I know that most of
    you are Catholic and might not know but there were 2 thieves on crosses with
    Jesus that day. One chose to believe and by faith was instantly saved.
    What works could he have done before he died?

    What about Jesus preaching to the multitudes? The Bible tells us thousands were
    saved….is this not true? Maybe the Bible should have been clearer and
    said that they were saved, as long as they lived the rest of the lives during
    good works.
    I pray you do some reading on your own and realize that most of what you are told is to keep you in your place and never question the church.

    • Conor Carroll

      Hi themule,

      I think it is great that you are passionate about your faith and are willing to engage in debate like this. Your error is not in what you say, rather your understanding of catholic teaching. The Catholic church agrees that people are saved by faith. What it rejects is adding the word “alone” to that statement. The bible does not ever say that we are saved by faith alone, and James specifically says the opposite (as referenced in the article). The bible does make it clear that we are judged by our works. Think about the passage where Jesus explains judgement day and those going to heaven he says you clothed me, fed me etc, and to those condemned he says you did not clothe me, feed me etc. Think of the beatitudes.

      The Catholic Church entirely agrees that we are saved by Christ and our faith in Him, but do you really think that you can believe Christ is your personal saviour but then live a terrible sin filled life and still get into heaven? The bible certainly wouldn’t agree with you

    • Hegesippus

      ‘Catholic propaganda’. Please prove this is so, or remove this.

      ‘Catholics know very little about the Bible and blindly trust every word their
      priest says.’ Please prove this is so, or remove this.

      It is better to stick to accurate facts than to throw insults around. Especially if these insults are based upon what seems, from the article, to be protestant propaganda, where protestants indeed are guilty of what you describe regarding scriptural knowledge. So refuting the article with an argument will help more than throwing back the conclusions the article finds, but aiming them at others.

      A brief historical consideration is worthwhile: the Catholic Church compiled the Bible, and its NT writers were Catholic. The Catholic Church rationally carried out exegesis on its passages for around 1400 years (even before the NT Canon existed as a group, as defined by the Catholic Church). Several rebelled against the authority of the Church (Mt16) and claimed the right to interpret beyond the Body that had the authority in Christianity, given by Christ. Luther, who regarded reason as a ‘whore’ and saw salvation as a very unpleasant word (unrepeatable here), wanted to lose the Book of James as it did not fit with his novel theories; he was successful in losing the Deuterocanonical books, which were regarded as Scripture (septuagint) in Israel/Judaea at the time of Christ.

      Luther was also successful in losing the idea of works, so attested as scriptural by BrotherinChrist above. However, as pointed out, it is grace that “gets you to” Heaven. Grace is given freely, and it is for us to respond to it. Faith is necessary for this, and works must be in conjunction with faith:
      Do not hide your light under a bushel;
      Use your talents or they will be taken away;
      The good thief did not merely believe but he SPOKE.
      If the good thief had not spoken, Jesus would not have replied and told him he would be in paradise that day with Him. By responding to grace and having faith, he acted and was rewarded with beautiful words. Can you guarantee that, without witnessing to Christ in those words, he would definitely be in Heaven? Actually guarantee?

      Approach the actual teachings of the Catholic Church with an open mind, heart and spirit. Then engage with them. It is your soul at stake: if you have been right, then congratulations, but if wrong, we welcome you. It is not an easy journey, I know.

      God bless

      • BrotherInChrist

        Beautifully and concisely explained…Thank you!

    • gghd

      1. The Bible does NOT say, ‘by faith alone.’ Just the opposite is said; see the testimony by the doctor; and see the Bible, James 2: 24, “NOT by faith alone.”

      2. The Catholic Church teaches salvation by the Grace of God. The Catholic Catechism paragraph 1987, “The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism. Many people argue against the teachings of the Catholic Church >without accurate knowledge of teachings.

      3. When reading the Bible, we find Jesus Christ did NOT walk the holy lands ~handing out Bibles, saying, ‘here read this book and argue about what’s in it.’ Instead, Jesus Christ established and built a Church. (It’s in the Bible.) My recommendation is to look for the Church brought into this world by Jesus Church. Until 1054 AD, there was basically ONE Christian Church.

      4. As to the multitudes saved, >your analysis is based on >your conjecture. What we know about ‘works’ and salvation is found in the Bible in Matthew 25. We also can learn from the Bible, that there is ~NO free ride in Christianity;~ because that is taught in the verses about Simon the Cyrene; he carried the Cross for Jesus.

      5. One >work everyone can do is ~give up Pride, and give up our sense of entitlement.~ The Bible, Job1: 21, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” ~Giving up Pride, and giving up our sense of entitlement, is the >hardest work anyone can do. It takes True-Humility to say, “Let it be done to me, according to thy word.”

    • The_Monk

      TheMule asks, “One chose to believe and by faith was instantly saved. What works could he have done before he died?”

      Actually, the fact that this incident is recorded in Luke 23:39-43 is witnessing to the world, which is a work. It would be good that all of us should be so recorded in our witness, don’t you think?

      But, also, God can save whom He will. Please don’t deny the power of the Holy Spirit as He works in the lives of us sinners.

      God bless….

  • BrotherInChrist

    Obviously, “The Mule” missed the scriptural passage Wesley mentioned above: James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”…and has to revert to name calling; However, the Catholic Church has nearly 2000 years of history on it’s side…we must continue to pray for our separated brothers and sisters in Christ that their eyes, ears and hearts be made receptive to the truth and fullness of the faith, In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

  • Renita

    Beautiful! I can so identify with Wesley’s love for Mary. When I had doubts about seeking Mary’s intercession, I asked Jesus to help me love His mother like He did, and the Lord did just that. I am a better Catholic today, thanks to Mamma Mary’s support and prayers.

  • TheMule

    Connor,

    I realize that I am not preaching to the choir on this one
    and you are right, I do rather enjoy a good debate. To me the Bible is simple….it is the people
    that screw it up and make it confusing.
    The answer is yes, I do think you accept Christ as your personal savior
    and live a horrible life and still go to heaven. I would go a step further in saying that I
    even think you can accept Christ, murder someone, not repent, and still go to
    heaven. The reason for this is the precious
    blood of Christ covers all sin both past, present and future. If this was not the case we would still be
    sacrificing animals every year to atone for sins committed like in the Old Testament. For this reason alone God sent Jesus to die
    on the cross for us.

    I far as works are concerned I would like to reflect back to
    my earlier example because it is easy to understand and it a profound symbol of
    salvation. The thief on the cross that
    accepted Christ of his savior was saved by faith and faith alone. At what point did he or could have completed
    any work to coincide with his faith for salvation? All the thief does is acknowledge Christ as
    savior and believe, it is a free gift and the easiest to obtain. This is not single situation for the Bible
    gives us several examples of this but in my opinion it is the clearest and
    easiest for even a non-believer to understand.

    • BrotherInChrist

      “TheMule”, Where in the Catechism, the official teaching of the Catholic Church, does it teach that we can “work” our way into Heaven? You can’t, because it doesn’t. The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works…that we can “work” our way into Heaven.

      Second, show me where in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” You can’t, because it doesn’t. The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James…James 2:24, (As Wesley stated) where it says that we are not…not…justified (or saved) by faith alone.

      So, one of the two main pillars of Protestantism…the doctrine of salvation by faith alone…not only doesn’t appear in the Bible, but the Bible actually says the exact opposite – that we are not saved by faith alone

      Third, if works have nothing to do with our salvation…then how come every passage in the N.T. that I know of that talks about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone? We see this in Rom 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Ptr 1, Rev 20 and 22, 2 Cor 5, and many, many more verses.

      Fourth, if we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

      As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary…or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith “working” through love…faith “working” through love…just as the Church teaches.

    • gghd

      ~The “work” preformed by the Good-Thief on the Cross appears to be an ~Act of Spiritual Mercy,~ to (1) >rebuke sin. Luke 23: 40-41, “The other (Good Thief), however, >rebuking him (Bad Thief), said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’”
      ~All “works” of Spiritual and Corporal Mercy must be preformed with Christian Charity, = “Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s impossible to argue someone into Heaven. I’m another Catholic ‘publican of sorts’ hiding in the back-pew of the Church. FIY: the Eucharist is real! & All questions you may have about the Catholic Church have an answer, and the answers are available on the Internet. The doctor, in his testimony, makes an excellent argument for the Catholic faith.

    • gghd

      ~An excellent explanation of Christian ‘works’ can be found in Matthew 25: 31-46. Jesus Christ is describing people that >actually get into Heaven through the Gates. When I read those verses, I see Jesus Christ looking for ‘good works’ and NOT just ‘easy talking.’ The Good Thief >rebuked sin. There is plenty of Catholic information available on the Internet about the Catholic faith.
      ~The Church is here to help people ~make into Heaven,~ and NOT to just point out the road to Heaven. Please read those verses in Mathew 25. We all need to be working-sheep and NOT just talking goats.
      ~Remember the Parable, where the father asked his two sons to work in the vineyard. One big-talker said, ‘Yes’ but did No work. The other son said, ‘No’ to the father, but he >’went out and worked in the vineyard.’
      ~There’s plenty of information on the Internet about the Catholic Church. (Some advice: As an atheist would NOT provide good information about Christianity; = someone in opposition to the Catholic Church, may lack discernment-understanding.)
      ~You may ask, “What about folks confined to bed, and they can’t do any work?” Everyone is given sufficient Grace by God to make it into Heaven. We can ALL be prayer warriors. And, remember the Parable about: the friends of the paralyzed man that was lowered through the roof of the house to Jesus? >Everyone can be a prayer-warrior and help other people! Friends can help friends with their good-works! John the Baptist ‘leaped for joy’ in the womb. All the questions you may have are answered on the Internet. +The doctor is a good-friend of yours; he’s trying to help you into Heaven. The doctor knows, ‘The Eucharist is real.’

    • Texas Convert

      Regarding the thief and his works that accompanied his faith:
      (1) He rebuked a sinner.
      (2) He accepted responsibility for his own sin.
      (3) He publically confessed Jesus as a King.
      (4) He publicly confessed that Jesus is God.
      These works of the thief are the works of God within him. Thanks to Dr. Scott Hahn for this wonderful explanation in his massage, “The Seven Last Sayings of Christ.”

      • BrotherInChrist

        Very clear explanation! We sometimes forget that “work” is an “action” however small it may seem but, if it is the works or actions of God within us, it is “Good Works”…

      • rjt1

        I think one might also say he died in union with Christ, therefore the offering of his life/death was a redemptive work.

  • TheMule

    BrotherinChrist,

    Where in the Catechism does it say that you “work” your way into Heaven? Did you not admit it at the end of you post “We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants
    believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response
    necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith
    and works is necessary…”

    As far as James 2:24 looking for exact words or taking things out of context only muddies
    things. The Bible never say the words “Holy
    Trinity” does this mean it does not exist?

    The Bible does say that we shall be judged on our works, but this judgment is not
    the one that gets you or keeps you out of heaven.

    The meaning of 1 Cor 13:13? I like to think
    it means that the love that Christ had for us is greater than anything on
    earth, including our ever wavering faith.

    • Wes Vincent

      Discus will not let me sign in under my own name but I want to thank each of you who have made such heartwarming comments.
      TheMule, Thank you for your challenges. I used to be far more rejecting of the Catholic Church than you seem to be. But, when you seek truth, you will begin to realize that God is not divided nor is God contradictory. When you take scripture at face value you will realize that Christ speaks of judging our works, not our faith and Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…” before he, on the night of the last supper said, “This is my body… this is my blood…” I agree with you, scripture is very simple if taken directly as written. Sadly, as Protestants we allegorize passages that should be taken literally and literalize passages that are allegorical. Your comment regarding the Trinity is well taken. Are you aware that it was the Catholic Church that defined the trinity in the early centuries? Wes Vincent

    • Morrie Chamberlain

      “The Bible does say that we shall be judged on our works, but this judgment is not
      the one that gets you or keeps you out of heaven.” Let us stay on Mathew 25 which I believe you are referencing here. The final verses say in regards to the goats “44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

      Yes there is theological tension between faith and works but like so many theological tensions, the Catholic Church never seeks to resolve the tension by ignoring the whole truth.

    • FaithNReason

      “Do whatever He (Christ) tells you.”
      When Mary speaks, God listens so, let’s pray for our Mother’s intercession to bring soon to the fullness of the Truth to all separated brethren.
      Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

      In Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

  • Kieran Troy

    Thank you Wesley for a beautiful and candid story. Our little daughter Francesca was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2008 also. I’m going to print out your story and show it to her when she gets a little older and is able to understand. Thanks again Wesley for the care you have taken in recording your journey. It is a great form of catechesis for Catholics who maybe don’t think about their faith as deeply as they should. I think your story will be of immense help to others. Best wishes to Paula and Sean

  • kirk

    When I began reading yours I guessed your first protestant church even before you named it, for it was the one I grew up in and embraced, attended their college in Idaho and believed the doctrine as the only one with the whole truth. My prior study of Church history was not as extensive as yours, but there was always that spiritual searching, the feeling that I was missing something, maybe a lot. Then, when I turned 30, married with 4 children, living as far away from civilization as one can be and still be on US land (Alaskan Bush country), I argued theology with a Jesuit priest. We both won – he the argument, I the Church. I often think that all my prayers for enlightenment, for Truth, for peace of mind were answered instantaneously. The History lessons followed while the remaining questions resolved. (My story: see January 2012)
    Your story was beautiful! God works with each of us from where we are, the path unfathomable.

  • B Enright

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this story. I have great admiration for many of Christian brothers and sisters. I hope they are inspired by your story.

  • mikey

    What a wonderful narrative. I to was a Baptist. Welcome to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
    Mikey

  • Bonaverabella

    Great article. If only all Catholics has such a thorough understanding of their faith and the Bible! Thank you for sharing.

  • Humblesoul8

    We must stand together…we must understand when false teaching takes our spirit away from HIM. I have heard the dark and he spoke while I was in a Catholic Church…at first I thought this must not be the correct place if the dark can find it’s way here…until I realized the dark…did not want me to be there…he did not want me saved…did the snake not tempt JESUS in the garden…it is precisely because I heard him there… that I KNOW HIS CHURCH…because the dark would not care if I was there otherwise….JESUS saved me and told me to stay in the Catholic Church because it is HIS CHURCH…please RETURN HOME

    • BrotherInChrist

      Amen! Welcome Home brother!

  • George Loring

    A beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing.

  • RosLyn

    Sir: I love your story, and thank you for an inspirational comments and prayer about / for Mary. One of my roommates adamantly rejects Catholicism and I would like to know what to do to inspire him to read the material / books which I leave around the house. I cannot even get him to engage in conversation about it.

    • Wesley Vincent

      RosLyn, Thank you for your comment. I wish I knew the answer to your question. I spent more than fifty years viewing the Catholic devotion to our Blessed Mother as superstition. What was required for me was the time away from evangelical congregations followed by a return, in order to discover how far removed some of those congregations had moved away from scriptural truth, combined with the timely question of my friend Bob. Maybe encouraging your roommate to answer the same question regarding why evangelicals reject, ignore and demean the role of Mary would get him to begin thinking. But keep in mind, when encouraging a Protestant to consider anything Catholic, you are, in a sense, asking someone who believes he has all the truth he needs to consider pagan material (from his perspective) as being helpful for a deeper understanding of Christ. Few Protestants will even dignify the encouragement with a genuine effort to learn something new. Previously, as a Protestant who knew nothing about Catholicism, I knew Catholicism was in error.

    • Jim Giordano

      Pray…

      Tell him about the “Rosary for Protestants” the Divine Mercy Chaplet (just half-kidding, but it is a good way to introduce him to it in a non-threatening way to his indoctrination.

      And that brings up another thing, his indoctrination. He has been brain washed, so you have to be very careful to be a great Catholic all the time so his preconceived notions will start to implode. I read a lot of conversion stores that started with the faith and devotion of Sisters or others breaking down the wall of resitance.

      and again, Pray.

      Let him see you pray, especially the 3 o’clock prayer and chaplet of Divine Mercy, remembering the suffering and death of Our Lord at that time. If he truly loves Jesus, that will put a ‘bug in his ear’.

      and Pray.

  • kennyg357

    Oh, I don’t know. It all sounds good on paper but if the Catholic Church was truly lead into all truth I don’t think it would embrace things such as Adam & Eve being created by God through a process of evolution or their souls were created but their bodies evolved. I think Jesus was pretty clear when he said “in the beginning, God created them…” He did not say when he breathed into them.

    We all, whether Catholic or Protestant interpret Scripture privately. You would not be in agreement with the Catholic Church if you did not agree with their interpretation of Scripture. I think when the Scripture says you are not to make a graven image or bow before it, the Catholic Church is in violation of this commandment according to my private interpretation of Scripture. You on the other hand, whether you admit it or not, privately interpret it to not include statues. If I am wrong then you are reduced to a mindless zombie. All you have done is choose a different denomination so to speak which you are in agreement with as I have in the Lutheran Church and that is OK according to your own Church teaching. You can point your finger at Luther, I could point mine at some of your Popes.

    Personally I do not think it matters if one is Catholic or Protestant, but if he is following the example Christ gave. I think we can agree hell will be filled with both Catholic and Protestant, do you think Heaven will be filled with both? I do.

    • Wesley Vincent

      Kenny, I broke your comment down into five different components and will try to answer each separately.

      First, the Catholic Church makes no specific claim about how Adam and Eve came into being because the Bible does not explain the mechanism. However, the Catholic Church does make it explicitly clear that all that is, visible and invisible, was created ex nihilo (out of nothing). Since the Catholic Church recognizes that all truth is God’s truth, then, as science proves things, science is proving God’s truth. By the way, just to be clear, science is nowhere near explaining how the universe came into being, let alone how any of life developed, despite what some evolutionists claim. Here is an excellent discussion of that topic (http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution).

      Second, you are correct, all of us join the group we believe teaches what we agree with. Yet, there is merely using one’s self as the barometer (Protestantism) or using reason to distinguish which claim of
      truth is most reasonable. Since most, if not all, Protestant denominations claim that much of Catholic teaching is due to Catholicism “going pagan” at the time of Constantine (AD325), it is of significance that Catholic doctrine existed before the time of Constantine as demonstrated by St. Ignatius’ writings (c.
      AD107), St. Clement I (c. AD88-97), Justin Martyr (AD100-165). The first two would have been students of the apostles, yet their writings are unmistakably Catholic in nature. If they taught wrong, then Christ was wrong that the Holy Spirit would protect the Church from error and lead the Church into all truth (Jn
      16:12-15). So, if we cannot trust the teaching of the disciples of the apostles, how can we trust anything, ever? In accepting Catholic doctrine, I did not accept what I liked, I would much rather live under “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for eternity” than to have to confess my sins face to face with my priest. Rather than accept what I liked or agreed with, I accepted what was demonstrably reasonable, scripturally consistent, internally consistent and, thus, most likely to be true. Sadly, all Protestant theologies are only made internally consistent by ignoring certain passages or entire sections of scripture. The beauty of Catholic doctrine is that it is consistent with a comprehensive reading of scripture and with Church teaching since the earliest written Christian material. Not a single Protestant denomination can make a similar claim. I would recommend that you read Born Fundamentalist –
      Born Again Catholic by David B. Currie.

      Third, you are absolutely correct that God forbid worshipping graven images. But, did God forbid the making of statues or is it possible he only forbid worshipping statues? God ordered Moses to create the bronze serpent to save the Israelites from the poisonous snakes and to build the Ark of the Covenant with two golden angels (statues) on the top. God ordered Solomon to build the temple with statues of angels and other figures throughout. That leads me to ask, if I kneel to pray with my Bible on the chair in front of me, am I worshipping the Bible or the Chair?, certainly not. Likewise, when I worship God by kneeling in front of a statue of God’s mother, an apostle or one of the martyrs of the Church, I am not committing idolatry. I am worshipping the triune God and honoring those whom he loves as members of the Son’s body. If we are forbidden to have statues, shouldn’t we also be forbidden to have pictures
      of Christ, crosses, crucifixes, picture Bibles…?

      Fourth, I don’t intend to point a finger at Luther. He probably was a much better Christian than me. I am pointing a finger at his, Calvin’s, and all Protestant doctrines; only the doctrines… not the people. Like
      you, I can point the finger at some of the popes, a number of recent bishops, (some who probably should be in jail for their handling, enabling and possibly participating in the sexual abuse of children), or point at some lousy priests and certainly, most appropriately, at myself for being a repetitive sinner. But,
      I am only pointing a finger at the many Protestant doctrines that are, like God’s creation, ex nihilo; never heard of during the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity. Faulty doctrines have led to many denominations ignoring blatantly clear moral teaching in scripture. I addressed this above in regard to one issue “once saved” versus the need to repent of subsequent sins to avoid losing one’s salvation. If the “once saved” theory is correct then the “repent of subsequent sins” crowd is covered. If “once saved” is false, then many of the “once saved” believers may be lost. Getting that doctrine correct is really, really, really important – because if I believe there is no need to repent subsequent sin (but
      there is, in fact, a need) I won’t even know I am in trouble.

      Fifth, I agree with you. Hell will be filled with lots of Catholics and Protestants. That leads me to point a finger again at some lousy leadership by certain popes, bishops and priests throughout history and point
      at Calvin’s double predestination/no human free will doctrine, Luther’s “I can commit adultery a hundred times a day and murder as many men and not lose my salvation” doctrine and modern evangelicalism’s “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for eternity” doctrine. Please forgive what sounds like sarcasm (such is not intended) but, with the Calvin, there is no reason for me to pay any attention to religion – it’s all in God’s hands. With the Luther – what can I say – “Whoopee”; with the third – I’ll just start trying on crowns. But note: despite the presence of some grievously sinful popes and/or heretical bishops and priests in the Catholic Church; the doctrine remains unchanged. When there is correct doctrine there is correction of error. When there is incorrect doctrine, there is no possibility of correction. The truth was, is and always will be present in the teaching of the Catholic Church. And the presence of correct doctrine is not there because the Church teaches it – it is there
      because the Church can only teach truth as per Christ’s assurance to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth (Jn 16:16). So rather than move to a Church I ordained as correct, I moved to a Church that demands I change radically to conform to what is correct. By getting on the Catholic
      train, I moved from comfort to great discomfort. And while I am being bounced and slammed around, I know, at the very least, that I am on the train that started with the apostles, that still teaches the same Gospel and that is headed heavenward. We don’t know if it doesn’t matter if we are Protestant or
      Catholic. In fact, what I have come to realize is that it doesn’t matter what I think or believe. What matters is what God says matters. It was Christ who said, “I do not pray for these only [the Apostles], but also for those who believe in me through their word [all of us subsequent believers], that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:20-21). As I said above, there is no more explicit condemnation of Protestant denominationalism than that last phrase.

      • Wesley Vincent

        Sorry about the awkwardness of the formatting; I don’t know what went wrong.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    What a beautiful prayer and a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing, and welcome to our wonderful faith. :)

  • Wesley Vincent

    John, please forgive me for the delay in responding and for the possibility I am reading your comment incorrectly, but it appears that you may be discounting the Catholic doctrine of salvation by offering a Protestant article about faith “alone” written by Robert H. Stein, Ph.D. Since the article you reference is several pages long, I cannot respond to each and every point made. However, appealing to a scholar or expert should be utterly unnecessary since all reasonably intelligent, educated, well intentioned persons should be able to come to a clear understand of a Biblical passage without assistance if the foundational Protestant doctrines of sola scriptura and perspicuity of scripture (i.e., the Bible is the only authority and is self-interpreting) are correct. There is much in the article that is common with Catholic doctrine. For example, as the author states: “If, when a person is justified, he is also born again and made a new creation through the gift of the Spirit, (though Stein must have accidently left out “born of water and…”) the issue of whether faith must be accompanied by works is a moot one. Good works are not an option for the believer, but a necessary fruit. A “good tree bears good fruit” (Matt 7:17). A true faith, unlike mere intellectual assent, must bear good fruit.” I, and I believe the Catholic Church agrees.

    Also consistent with Catholic teaching, Stein debunks the false assertion of some Protestants (most notably Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism), that there is conflict between Paul and James. That clarification by Stein is fully compatible with two thousand years of Catholic teaching. However, many of the author’s conclusions are ideologically driven, and not Biblical. The author uses the word “alone”, as in “faith alone”, several times (as is the want of Protestants – I used to do so as well) despite the fact that Paul never said such a thing! It just isn’t Biblical. And if it isn’t Biblical, it is a man-made tradition. Third, the Pauline passages that refer to salvation are speaking to the issue of the process of becoming a Christian, whereas James is speaking to the issue of living out the Christian life. An analysis of Paul’s statement, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast,” is incomplete without looking at the further context of the passage, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10). Note: “created in Christ Jesus – for good works”. Paul and James are compatible, the Catholic Church recognizes them as compatible, the idea of “faith alone” is an addition to, and faulty exaggeration of, the text by Martin Luther and subsequent Protestants that has developed into the travesty known as “once saved – always saved – safe and secure for
    eternity”. So, Dr. Stein’s following final comment is peculiar at the very least in that it displays that the Catholic “both/and” is correct while the Protestant “either /or” is false. “A true faith, unlike mere intellectual assent, must bear good fruit. Such good fruit or works can never be the cause of salvation. Here the Reformation cry of “justification by faith alone” must be affirmed at all costs. But James’s warning that the faith that saves cannot be alone but will be accompanied by works must also be affirmed.” Either it is “faith alone” making both Paul and James wrong or it is “faith and works” as both Paul and James state. Stein’s ideology traps him in an absurdity. How gloriously freeing it is to be in the Church Christ established where faith and reason are recognized and practiced; to be free of the mental gymnastics required in Protestantism. We are saved by grace alone, through faith in order to do good works. No good works = No faith. The coin cannot be split.

  • Julie

    I am currently a baptist. My father was a Baptist preacher. I do not understand what type of church you attended. How disappointing it is to see that you were so doctinally mislead. I have never attended a service where Mary was dismissed. We may not have a prayer to her or for her but by no means could any girl have picked up that mantle. As far as salvation, The Romans Road to salvation is spot on. Faith without works is dead but it is merely an indicator of your salvation. If salvation were based on subjective works, we would all be going to hell. Praise God it is not. Also, the idea that we do not know or recognize sin is absurd. I have never been to a church where the pastor or any leader was in open sin. It simply was not tolerated. One last thing,for the time you said you were a Baptist, I am surprised you learned nothing about Baptist history. If you had, you would not have referred to us over and over again as Protestant. Protestants are churches tha
    t broke away from the Catholic
    faith. Baptist were never part of the
    Catholic faith. I am Baptist and would Never refer to myself as Protestant. God is the only judge when it comes to issues of heaven and hell. He knows your heart. He knows

    • guest

      What? Who are you addressing in this reply?

    • Wesley Vincent

      I am aware of the Baptist claim that it was never part of the Catholic Church. Any historical analysis will clearly demonstrate that claim to be fabricated. There is no trail of tears or trail of blood of the “true” Christians (Baptists) back to the time of the apostles. The groups often pointed to as precursors to modern Baptists are heretical sects, one of which, depending on your Baptist source, is the Albigensians (i.e., Cathars). Please read up on that group to see if you want to claim them as one of your early ancestors in Christ. The fact is that Baptists hold to all of the foundational Protestant doctrines of sola scriptura, sola fide and perspicuity of scripture, thus, are Protestant. I am happy for you that you never heard Mary demeaned in your experience. You are very fortunate that the ministers in your past have held a higher view of Mary than is typically the case in many Baptist denominations. Have you never heard claims that Mary was not a perpetual virgin? Have you not heard claims that Mary, after Christ’s birth, had sexual relations with Joseph? Is it ever respectful to hold such a discussion about any Godly woman, let alone the Mother of God? I consider those discussions to be horrifyingly perverse and demeaning. The actual reason for my family’s last attendance at the Baptist congregation we were attending is that, once again, after many years away from the Baptist denomination, during the Christmas season (2007), the pastor reiterated virtually all those same criticisms of Mary I had heard as a child. How blessed I am to enjoy membership in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that has always recognized the uniqueness of our Blessed Mother.

  • MoJo

    I appreciate your testimony; however, all the citations you and other protestant converts give as the reasons why you converted are the very things that have been attacked by the post Vatican II clergy, including the men in the papal chair, two of which are now ‘sainted.’ This is the very reason why many protestants, unhappy with their protestant churches, but who see the post Vatican II church telling the Jews that Christ isn’t their Messiah and they are ‘ok to wait for another” which Joseph Ratzinger clearly stated in his Hebrew People and Their Holy Scriptures, and which I consider an open endorsement of antichrist, quite frankly – this is why they are running away from the post Vatican II novus ordo or “new order Catholic” church. ALL the post Vatican II popes promote this IN OPPOSITION to what all the popes said before on such and many other matters. The Freemasons praise Vatican II and as far as I am concerned, Vatican II is the fulfillment of their boast that they would have Catholics marching under their banner thinking they were marching under the banner of the keys as they did in the Alta Vendita documents. Until some of you who have converted are willing to go all the way and fight the ensuing apostasy that has occurred thanks to Vatican II and the persecution of all those who want the Church back the way it WAS before Vatican II when the Church WAS the CHurch and not “subsisting” in the Church. Do you as a convert not see how horrendous it is for these men in the papal chair to change doctrine like THAT and also to call protestant heretics “other communions” when clearly you give reasons why they cannot be of Christ for “preaching another gospel than that which we have preached to you?” which St. Paul says anathemas people? I really do not know what to say.

  • chesterlab

    I also had a similar journey, and after growing up Methodist, (my mother would NEVER step into a catholic church unless forced) and I was also raised with a negative mindset towards Catholicism, even though my father was formerly Greek Catholic and as a child I spent a lot of time in his family church where an aunt of mine sang in their choir.

    When I grew up and got married I went through a series of evangelical churches, always feeling empty, or missing something with every one I tried. They would all start out all right, and then they seemed to well, splinter, as the Catholics like to say. So I finally left the evangelicals and started to worship in the Episcopal church in the town were I was raising my kids at the time, still being dismissive of the Catholic church, but it was always in the back of my mind, The episcopal church was a truly historical and beautiful old, little church, made of stone, with a side altar, confessional and a statue of the blessed Mother. I looked at that statue with discomfort all the time too. but I found that I really loved the liturgy,and when the Episcopal church became apostate, our priest died and they unwisely brought in a female priest, which was a disaster. I could no longer bear to worship mass there. I think the blessed mother was making me uncomfortable on purpose!

    I started attending the Anglican break-a-way groups that began to form after the Episcopalian apostasy, but I found that they were always small, far away and unstable congregations, not unlike the evangelicals, and I was never satisfied with them either.

    After recalling my experiences at my dad’s church, I realized that I could no longer worship in anything but a liturgical church. So I began to pray and explore the possibility of converting to Catholicism, and after a few years of searching and a geographical move, I finally found what I was looking for all my life, and that was a traditional Latin mass church. It may not be old church slavonic like my dad’s church, but the Latin is truly beautiful and there is something about hearing a mass in Latin which fulfills me. I love to hear the priest say latin prayers, his blessings, all of it is beautiful. I am now almost done with my RCIA classes and I joined their choir, being the only Anglican, and I trip over my Latin pronunciations (I sound too American) but they have welcomed me because I love their church and I love to sing their ancient music. I am learning Gregorian chant and polyphony and It is truly an honor to be able to participate in the mass by answering the priest’s chants with that call and response of the mass, and I never tire of it. The Gregorian chant is supernatural, incidentally, and anyone who wants a truly “spirit filled” church experience will find it among the traditional Catholics.
    Thank you for your story, Dr. Vincent!

    • Wesley Vincent

      Welcome to the Church Christ established that is represented in every culture, nation and race; the one and only universal, catholic, Church. God bless.

      • chesterlab

        Thank you, dr Vincent. God bless you as well!

    • Bob

      Jesus is the Way. Catholic or Protestant. Jesus is the Way.
      Don’t limit God’s power with religion. Religion is mans best effort to improve on God’s plan of salvation. I know what it is like to be lost and I know what it is like to be spiritually awakened. My first true prayer was “God if you are real please help me”. He is and He did. I wound up at the foot of the Cross not at a church door.

      • chesterlab

        I’m sorry. I get sick of people who say “you don’t need church. You worship in your own way”. Christ instructed the apostles on how to evangelize and then set up the church. If you don’t like the RC chuch, check out the armenian apostolic church which developed apart from the western church. Yet it is remarkably similar. The Armenians have been Christians for more than 1700 years-and were a Christian nation prior to emperor constantine’s conversion. ALL Christians need a church, period. The church and its believers make up the body of Christ.