ThomasWUK asked a question about Outing My Journey on Social Media on our old discussion forum and received some insightful answers from the Coming Home Network community. We’ve curated the topic for you here. Feel free to continue discussion in the Disqus comment box below.
I had a great sense of relief this morning when I decided to post on Facebook about some of my recent thoughts on theology and Church history that hint at me considering Catholicism. Here’s what I wrote:
Breaking the social media silence with a light post about theology! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I’m increasingly unsure of some of the main arguments. For example, Sola Scriptura is pitted against the Catholic view of Scripture & Tradition. Growing up, I barely thought to question this, when in fact Sola Scriptura has led to thousands of varying denominations with different emphases/theology. Would it not be more correct to say that, in opposition to the Catholic view of Scripture & Tradition, the Protestant believes in Scripture & Many Traditions? Interested in what friends have to say.
I’m keen to involve friends in my journey to the extent that they want to. What are other people’s experiences like of involving friends on their journey? So far, I’ve received thoughtful and open minded dialogue, but I’ve only really hinted at exploring Catholicism.
Looks like a wise incremental approach, Thomas.
Lord Jesus, I pray for opportunities for Thomas to share his journey with people who are open to it.
Good for you, Thomas! I did a similar thing, and had some really interesting (and good natured) discussions on Facebook about various aspects of theology with friends of various denominations and churches. I never made an announcement that I’m becoming Catholic, but the gradual change in what I posted and the kind of questions I was asking meant it wasn’t a surprise to anyone. As you said, it is good to include loved ones in the process. Nobody has given me a hard time, and some have unexpectedly liked aspects of the Catholic faith. I hope this works as well for you as it did for me.
I got off of social media several months before I decided to join the Church, so there was no coming out for me. My wife, however, has made some similar posts to yours and has received some good-natured responses. I think this is, in large part, because of her presence on social media and her personality. She never gets involved in controversy or comes across as heavy handed. I think that makes people engage her more evenly and kindly.
I would encourage you, Thomas, to continue in your irenic way. Also, I would be interested to hear what your own response is to the question you posed.
I kept my entire journey basically to myself, and I suppose there were reasons for that. The first reason was that it was a very short journey, only around five months at the outside, before I signed up for RCIA. I started living a bit of a double life, because things went very quickly. I started secretly popping out to evening Masses while none of my college-aged kids were looking. I let no Protestant friends know at all until about nine months in, when I had already been in RCIA for a bit, and when I had already decided that I pretty much HAD to become Catholic.
Secondly, I think I maintained “radio silence” because I knew that people would question me, panic about what I was doing, and try to talk me out of it. I was already a bit panicky myself about what was happening to me, because it was happening so fast, and I needed to be solidly behind myself becoming Catholic before I could risk outing myself to those who would be determined to dissuade me.
When I did let them know, I let people know all at once, and the reactions varied in the normal way; some were surprised and encouraged me, some were confused and a bit horrified, some judged me horribly and pretty much told me I was heading for hell. One night, though, I just decided that NOW was the time, and I ripped that old bandage off all at once, so to speak. As you said, the relief was huge. I didn’t have to live a double life any more. I could just believe what I did and let the chips fall where they might. Some people dumped me, some had wonderful conversations, some reluctantly accepted my decision and held their breath, but are much easier with my choice now.
I guess everyone approaches it differently, according to a mixture of personality, what your network of friends and family is like, whether you would find it helpful or not.
The responses to my outing were many and varied. Some people have pointed out that the Reformation wasn’t the start of division and outlined splinter churches and movements pre-Reformation, but of course this doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t establish one catholic Church. One of the interesting comments was someone claiming there was never ‘one church’, to which I responded that, if there wasn’t, then the ecumenical councils would have been impossible!
I have one strongly Reformed friend wanting to chat over Skype. Going to send him some reading material on Augustine before we chat. There’s a really good Dave Armstrong [*] article I found, which highlights that he was not a proto-Protestant, as some seem to claim, but absolutely Catholic. Could be a good conversation starter and hopefully an eye opener.
[*] Dave Armstrong is a prolific Catholic apologist. His website is on Patheos at http://bit.ly/2ICAGPu . The article referred to can be found by searching for “augustine proto-protestant” (excluding the quotes).