September 28, 2007

Why I Left The Catholic Church (V)

So today's the end of the series and this has been a challenging one for me. Namely because people I care dearly for are still members of the Catholic church and attend it faithfully. Are they wrong for doing so? In some senses, I think they probably should explore the beliefs of the church deeper, but in other senses I'm glad that they are faithful church attenders.

And that's what makes this so hard to talk about. In the very core sense, recognizing that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father, Protestants and Catholics very much stand shoulder to shoulder. I have no doubt that the Catholic church recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died on the cross, was buried, rose three days later, and ascended into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Those are the core of the Christian faith and trust me when I say this, I'd rather have a Catholic priest right now than Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell or anyone else from Protestant liberalism.

But that doesn't mean I'd take a priest over Martin Luther, John Piper, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, DA Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, George Mueller, John Calvin or any other solid Protestant biblical theologian.

I know those who have read this series this week have wondered how I can possibly leave out "justification by faith alone" as a reason for leaving the Catholic church. Truth be told, I can't but it's the reason Protestant even exists. So it's a given. One that has been written about more extensively than I care to cover in a blog post! I also have left out:

  • Confession of sins to priests
  • Belief in literal transformation of bread and wine into body / blood of Jesus
  • Repetitious prayers in the Rosary
  • Mandatory celibacy of priests
  • Mandatory celibacy of nuns
  • Belief that sacraments are more than actual remembrance
  • Additional sacraments outside of those listed in Scripture
  • The Apocrypha

And the list could go on. Let me also say here that we Protestants have our MAJOR flaws. No doubt about that. Someone could, and I'm sure someone has, write about why they left the Baptist church and would have valid existential reasons for writing such a series. I think Catholics have Protestants licked in the areas of:

  • Pro-life fervency
  • Birth Control / Procreation fervency
  • Reverence for God

One of the real things I still love about the Catholic church in the collective responses during the liturgy, the fact that they stay true to the Nicene creed and recite it in every mass, and that they kneel and genuflect when in church and leaving church. They show a reverence for the God they serve. We Protestants would do well to return to that. I fear that sometimes we have become too flippant in our attitudes and behavior in the sight of God.

So I bring this series to a close. I have left the Catholic church but like Luther long to see her Reformed. I also look to my own side of the chasm and long for the Protestant church to return to the roots that birthed her as well. That is why I'm in Acts29. And that's why I want to plant a church. But that is also why I can no longer be a member of the Catholic church.


r.radewicz said...

"...they kneel and genuflect when in church and leaving church. They show a reverence for the God they serve. We Protestants would do well to return to that."

A building is just an edifice made by human hands. It is not the dwelling place of God - whose Holy Spirit dwells in temples not made by human hands.

Marc Backes said...


Totally agree...God does not live in temples...and by genuflecting the Catholics are not showing reverence to the building but merely an awareness for the presence of God...

The point I was trying to make there was that I think sometimes in our quest to be "relevant" or "new" we get flippant with the fact that as we gather to worship, we celebrate the presence of a Creator and a King...

Piper did a sermon here that I think makes the point rather well...

Agree with you...a building is not to be worshipped...sorry if that was unclear...

Anonymous said...

Dear Marc,
I is tragic to hear non-practicing Catholics to bash the Catholic Church. I would love to hear why you are a Christian without the sinful nature of backbiting. Did God not know you before you were in the womb? Did he not place you in the Catholic family from which you came. Do you not think that God knows were to place you? If the central tenants of the reformation are true, then why would Christ hide this truth from 15 centries worth of human history and Christian Revelation? Why can you not find anything resembling "Bible Christian anywhere in the time of the Church Fathers?" Let see a professed Christian act like a Christian instead of a spoiled child disrespectful of the gifts God gave him!

Marc Backes said...


Maybe you have difficulty reading tone in posts but I believe I've been fairly balanced about my feelings and views of the Catholic church.

I have serious theological differences which I've outlined in brief and attempted to provide links to other resources which explain them more fully...

To break from the Catholic church and to voice the differences theologically is not backbiting...if that is the case then I guess Paul was wrong when he called Peter a heretic for his behavior concerning Gentiles and Jews....

I know you may read it differently, but I'm comfortable with the tone I've taken concerning the issue...

Anonymous said...

When you state Catholic facts quote from the Catechism, word for word, site your sources. You are loose with the facts and seem to engineer your own personal version of Catholicism, not the Catholic Church as she presents herself. So you lack credibility and your arguments are weak.

Terry Delaney said...

Hello brother,

I, too, have left the Catholic Church. I was an alter boy and everything. I even wanted to become a priest. However, when I was going through Confirmation (in order to graduate 8th grade), I kept asking questions regarding Mary worship and Purgatory and other stuff. The priest finally took me aside and told me to quit asking all these questions and to just worry about what I need to know to get confirmed.

When I changed my name following high school, I took my Confirmation name as my middle name--Thomas. I am now an ordained Baptist minister who has been kicked out of my family for no longer being a Roman Catholic by my grandparents.

I agree with everything you said and I, too, have many friends and family members (practically all mine and my wife's family) who are still Catholic. It pains me and I have learned that you can't argue with Tradition. Most of my family members think I am a heretic or worse going to hell as an apostate. Some think I am going to heaven simply because I am baptized. My mom thinks she is going to heaven because I am a minister--regardless of the denomination--and because she did something "right" that I would be a minister.

Brother, I will join with you in praying for family and friends that the gospel of Christ would shine through all the junk and save just one through your heartfelt post. God bless you brother.

For His glory,

Terry Delaney

Anonymous said...

I know this post is very old but I wanted to clarify something for any other readers who happen upon it.

Catholic's genuflect for one reason only. Not because of the essence or spiritual presence of God being in the building.

They genuflect to the tabernacle because they believe that is really Jesus inside it. His body, soul, blood and divinity. His physical real presence in the consecrated bread.

That is the reason they genuflect. Not to show reverence to the Spirit that dwells within each of us and is present when two or more are gathered together.