Church Angst, or Why I Am Not Catholic, or Why Am I Not Catholic?, or The Problem With Protesting

I want things my way. And that’s the Protestant way. If things don’t go my way, I’m leaving.

I want us all together, and I don’t want to have to stupid vote on stupid decisions, assuming that I know better than an authority would (cardinal or bishop), and potentially putting myself at odds with others in my congregation (time for another protest…schism). Why am I not Catholic?

I don’t like everything about Catholic doctrine. So I’m not Catholic. That makes me Protestant, not just by default, but also by spirit and action – I’m actually refusing to be a part of the Catholic church because of something about the Catholic church (doctrine, method, etc.).

I like to think I’m catholic. But not Catholic. But sometimes, after a long business meeting at a Baptist (Baptists are like Protestant individualists on steroids…and I know Baptists say they are the original church…so does everybody) church, I wish I was. I’d rather someone else make these decisions. I’d rather leadership be more sensibly structured (and not tainted by some for-profit organization like LifeWay). I’d rather a lot of things. And yet, I’d still rather not be Catholic.

So it’s the dreaded catch-22.

It’s this  Versus this

I can either convert to Catholicism – a move I don’t want to make – in order to squelch my individualistic, capitalistic, sickeningly-democratic inclinations (all of which threaten my spiritual well-being, in my experience). Or I can stay Protestant. But if I stay Protestant, I must be Protestant. So if I disagree with people in my congregation, I ought to form a new church with people I agree with (the Protestant way). Oh, it sounds like it would just be based on differing opinions, but you know how it goes – we can connect all our opinions to some crucial theological position, which becomes our hill to die on (to form a new church on). But I don’t want to be Protestant, or protestant. I want to be catholic. But not Catholic. But if I’m not Catholic, then I’m protestant and Protestant, and among none of those do I find a very good way to be catholic.

God help us.

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16 Responses to Church Angst, or Why I Am Not Catholic, or Why Am I Not Catholic?, or The Problem With Protesting

  1. Pingback: Church Angst, or Why I Am Not Catholic, or Why Am I Not Catholic … - Christian IBD

  2. Anthony says:

    Question: why do you think doctrine is up to your likes in the first place?

    I have never met a Catholic, myself included, who did not struggle in some way with the faith’s doctrines. Human beings don’t like to be told what to do and what to believe. Besides, lets say you did become Catholic, you’d find plenty of things to not like about individual Catholics.

    I struggle with lots of the Church’s teachings: the entire teaching on sexuality and euthanasia are my “biggies,” but I’m often confounded by transubstantiation and precisely how exactly to be a charitable person. Personally, I’ve never understood those who had huge hang ups over Mary, the communion of saints, papal authority, etc. I think they’re great, and pretty sensible. 😉

    I guess my point is this: don’t let your struggles, or worse, your dislikes, keep you from pursing authentic Christian faith. Obviously, for me, “catholic” and “Catholic” are pretty much the same thing, but I think you get my point. Even if you never make that jump into the Tiber, you should seek out knowledgeable Catholics or a good priest to talk to. Hopefully they’re as charismatic and charming as myself.

    • Meredith says:

      You make very good points. The teaching authority of the Church was the hardest one for us, but once understood and accepted was the sweetest relief.

  3. Joel says:

    I love this post, Nathan. And I need to apologize for being so bad at returning the voicemail I have from “The Ozark House” dating all the way back to November. No excuses for that.
    Looking forward to the next time we all get to catch up on life and its new experiences offered to us.

  4. johnny pronto says:

    A perfect illustration of why not to major in “philosophy” – confusion reigns in “lovers” of wordly wisdom – at best, myoptics leading the blind – stick to neo-hippie homesteading – least you can draw from experiences in that area

  5. How about just join an Episcopal or Anglican church? That’s where we are and we love it, even though we still struggle with some of the issues you are wrestling with.

  6. safestorm says:

    My struggle… it surfaces when I plunge to the depths of thought on a given subject. Delocious, you’ve seen this with me. My struggle is living in the tension of the thought and the action. That I would not find myself so crippled by that which I can’t make sense of.

    I continue to read your posts with great longing for conversation.

  7. mselizondo says:

    First of all, I’m REALLY not big on denominations. I’ve been a member at different churches that include 3 different denominations, and I have family that’s a part of many others. I feel like if the individual church is following God, that’s the most important thing. That being said, Michael and I have been surprised by how much we like some of the things at the Methodist church. Granted, we don’t agree with all of the theology, but we didn’t at the Baptist church either. But at the same time, we really like the liturgy and going to the front for communion and how so much of the service is corporal worship (if that makes sense). The business meetings at the Baptist church can be terrible. I’ve left many in tears in the past. I hated how people could fight like crazy and see nothing wrong with it. It might just be my experiences at my churches…I don’t know. I definitely do see your frustrations, though. But, honestly, you might try some other denominations. Just see. 🙂

  8. Meredith says:

    Anglicanism was our first step out of the Baptist church. We have been Anglican for a year. We started to become increasingly disillusioned with them as well. Finally, we completed our 4 year or life long journey (depending on how you look at it) to the Catholic Church this year.

    We found ourselves in the exact dilemma you describe above so many times. However, with much prayer, research, reading, and conversations with devout believers on both sides we felt God leading us into the Catholic faith. A scary move yes, but a rewarding one none the less. I can’t describe to you the feeling of satisfaction. I feel more enriched spiritually than ever before. Not at all threatened.

    I will be praying for you guys in your struggle. It is one I can identify with all too well. It is a very lonely place to be indeed. It is a sad thing when you realize the only thing you will be missing about your protestant roots can be accessed in a book store and Itunes, i.e the literature and the music. There is so much more than that to gain in the Catholic Church. I encourage you to keep digging if the denomination appeals to you in the slightest.

    I have only met you once, but feel free to ask any questions you may have as all this is still very fresh on my mind.

    Blessings to you and Kate and the baby. Tell Taylor and Adrienne hello and please pass along the news of our second baby to them. We are due in NOV.!

    Taylor’s cousin,


    • Meredith says:

      One more thing. If you looking for material to help you dig deep I highly encourage you to read the early Church Fathers. Reading the beliefs of those in the early Church who walked closely with Christ and His disciples will really grant you a new perspective. I recommend they have a whole section on the Fathers.

  9. craig says:

    I am Catholic and struggle with other issues in the church. But lets look at history. Peter was the first bishop of Rome. I am not saying pope here but bishop. All the apostles appointed bishops after them and that grew into the church. Things like transubstantiation are historical and pretty early on. Read Justin Martyr and Ignatius of Antioch. People were considered outside of the church if they were not in union with the bishop.

    I am not saying that the church has been perfect by any means and I wrestle with the whole abuse scandal. At the same time, I cannot be Protestant. I went to a Lutheran Church for a couple of years and it was not the same. I have started going to an Eastern Catholic Church, which is closer to Orthodox than Latin Catholic. At least I have found peace with the woriship. I still wrestle with some of the political issues in the church. If you want to know how the early church practiced and believed look to the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics. The oldest Liturgy still used comes from the 4th centurty. That says a lot in my mind.

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