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Andrew Macdonald wrote:

Hi, guys —

Before I address my problem, I would like to say that I'm not the most religious person out there but I'm not the least religious person out there either.

I have read some of the stories in the Bible and they have really made me think about what Christian denomination I want to join, and that denomination is Catholicism.

I feel like Protestantism and many of its followers are not in touch with reality because of the Protestant beliefs they hold. For example, I support gay rights and gay marriage (although I'm not gay), and when you're Protestant you have to go against gay rights because the Bible is the first, last, and only thing you should listen to, but with Catholicism, you listen to the Bible and the Church.

When I first heard about the Protestant belief that you should only listen to the Bible, at first, I thought that it was a good idea, but then I realized sometimes, in the Bible, God changes his mind multiple times.

  • If He changed his mind in the Bible, then why can't He change his mind on things now?

Then I realized that having the Pope and the Church in the mix was good and right since they tell us the up-to-date beliefs of God while Protestants are believing in things that God may not even believe in anymore. Therefore, I want to join the Catholic Church. The problem is, both of my parents are Protestant. My Mom is Presbyterian and, though I don't know my dad's faith, I know he is Protestant.

My parents might get me baptized in a Protestant church, although my parents haven't talked about getting me baptized in a while, so maybe I can wait until I can take matters into my own hands and get baptized in a Catholic church. Another problem is that, like I said before, I'm not the most religious person out there. I really only pray during times of need.

  • Am I fit to be a Catholic?
  • Or, should I stay as a non-denominational Christian?

Thanks!

Andrew

  { Based on the views in my e-mail and seeing I want to join the Church, am I fit to be a Catholic? }

Mike replied:

Dear Andrew,

First, let me make one small correction.

You said:
I have read some of the stories in the Bible and they have really made me think about what Christian denomination I want to join, and that denomination is Catholicism.

The Catholic Church is not a denomination. This is a common misperception many non-Catholics make. The word denomination has a similar meaning to the word denominator used in fractions.

The denominator (the lower part of any fraction) represents the total number of parts created from the whole. Generally, until 1517 A.D., there was only one Church, the Catholic Church, but the outcome of the Reformation resulted in many smaller religious groups, all claiming to be the true Church of Christ but holding different beliefs. Since the Church recognizes those with valid Baptisms, we refer to them as denominations . . . parts from the whole (the Catholic Church).

I sense they incorrectly equate:

  • denominations among other Christian groups that broke off from the Catholic Church in 1517 A.D.
  • with the numerous religious orders we have in our Church.

The various Catholic religious orders in the Church all believe the same set of Catholic teachings that any faithful Catholic does so we are still One Church. They just differ on how best to model their lives, grow in holiness, and live out their faith, using the dynamite saints we have had throughout the centuries as their guide. . . all using the Ultimate Guide, Jesus, Our Lord. Check out:

You said:

  • Am I fit to be a Catholic?
  • Or, should I stay as a non denominational Christian?

First, let me commend you on being open to the spirit in your life.

My colleague Eric offers a great reply . . . from another reply:

The right reason to become Catholic is not because Catholicism lines up with your personal beliefs but because the Catholic Church is a truth-telling Church. In other words, as a Catholic you should believe that your beliefs should align with Catholicism, and not the other way around.

You will be asked, as a convert, to accept whatever the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God — now and in the future, known and unknown. You should choose the Church because She tells the truth and always will, not because what She teaches agrees with your opinions.

While you have a good grasp of the reasoning behind why the Church exists, your views are contrary to what She teaches. Some in the Church struggle to understand why the Church teaches what she does. The key to being a faithful Catholic is to have a pro-Church view that seeks to understand why She teaches what She does, rather than just dissent or, even worst, encouraging others to dissent. This is where prayer, study, and making holy hours are key.

You said:

  • If he changed his mind in the Bible, then why can't he change his mind on things now?

On issues of faith and morals, the Church will never changes Her views. Jesus promised as much in Matthew 16:13-19. Also check out 1 Timothy 3:15.

You said:
I realized that having the Pope and the Church in the mix was the good and right thing since that tells us the "up to date" beliefs of God.

Exactly! For this reason, I encourage you to study what Church teachings on homosexual issues.

Finally, check out my Scripture passages page; I think you will like it:

My colleagues may have more to add.

Mike

John replied:

Andrew —

Let me add a few thoughts.

First of all none of us are fit to be Catholics. Scripture clearly tells us in Romans 3:

All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

Yet God calls all men to the fullness of the Christian faith which fully subsists within the Catholic Church. For that reason, we need to remember that we aren't fit or worthy within ourselves but are worthy only because God extends His Grace to us. He Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, United Himself to man, in and through the Incarnation, becoming man, and establishing a Covenant with us whereby He elevates us and makes us fit and worthy.

Also, God doesn't change His mind. Only a superficial reading of the Scriptures would give that impression. As it says in Hebrews, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, God did establish certain provisions which were meant to be temporary . . . perhaps to teach a lesson or as a reminder. When they had served their purpose, they were done away with.

Now on one level you can sort of say God can change His mind, that is, He may want to do something for us, but He leaves to us to ask and pray. If we pray we get it, if we don't, we don't, but:

  • in terms of Doctrine
  • in terms of Eternal Truth

they, nor God ever change.

Now you mentioned gay rights. Well, the Church believes that every person has a special distinct, human dignity and therefore has basic human rights. That includes people who suffer from same-sex attraction disorder. The Church teaches that these unfortunate souls need to be treated with respect but She always has taught and will for ever teach, that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and sinful and no special rights should be granted to homosexuals and lesbians, such as redefining marriage.

One cannot be a Catholic in good standing and believe that homosexual behavior is not sinful and that so-called same-sex marriage ought to be legal. That's heresy. That is has been the constant teaching of the Church from the very beginning. It will never change because it can't change.

God doesn't change matters of faith and morals and neither does the Church. That said, doctrines do develop, that is to say, our understanding of Divine Revelation becomes further illuminated, but any development of doctrine, precludes a direct contradiction of the constant teaching of the Church.

For instance, in the area of homosexuality, it was once only seen as a moral issue. Now because of science and further study we are open to look at other causes of a clinical nature, be it bio-chemical or psychological so while the actions still remain a moral evil, we understand that the inclination or tendency towards this sin, could have non-moral causes. Those causes don't excuse the behavior. We are all capable of resisting temptation by God's Grace. St. Paul makes it clear in Romans 8, that the deeds of the flesh can be put to death by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in believers and God will always extend grace to those who seek it when they are asking to avoid sin . . . even non-Christians.

Now let me be clear . . . I'm not condemning all homosexuals to Hell here. That's not my job. I have my own sins to deal with. God is the one who judges souls but, objectively, homosexual acts are sinful just as any other sex outside of marriage.

God is calling you to Catholic unity but, as Eric wrote in the answer Mike sent you, don't enter the Church because you're looking for a Church you agree with. Seek the Truth with all your being and God will lead you to the Catholic Church.

I hope this helps,

Warmly,

John

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