In the article below, Catholic writer, Patti Maguire Armstrong, sadly ponders why a friend
and her family have left the “one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” for an Evangelical church. She bemoans that her friend chose the “feel-good” vibrancy of the Evangelical fellowship over the Catholic liturgy with it’s “Real Presence.” She concludes that her friend has chosen evangelical “cotton candy” over Catholicism’s “well-balanced meal.”
My! It’s too bad mealy-mouthed Evangelical pastors don’t stand up for the Gospel of grace the way Catholic apologists stand up for their gospel of merit.
American Catholics like Ms. Armstrong obviously struggle to comprehend why members are leaving their church in droves. Three million left in the last seven years and more than a few joined Evangelical churches. Why?
Let me tell you why I left Catholicism and it wasn’t because I was seeking a “warm-fuzzy” fellowship experience. It was ALL about Jesus and NOT about membership in a religious institution.
Like most Catholic teenagers I walked away from the church because I thought religion wasn’t “cool.” I returned after I became a father and felt obligated to raise my children in the Catholic faith. For some Godly reason I also purchased a Catholic Bible and began reading it voraciously. Catholics aren’t generally encouraged to read the Bible and I soon found out why. What I was learning from Scripture contrasted with the Catholic religion so I stopped attending mass. The Lord continued to use His Word and several Christian individuals and resources to bring me to a point where I understood His Gospel:
- We are all sinners.
- Sinners deserve hell.
- God loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins.
- Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death.
- The Lord offers forgiveness from sins and eternal life with Him to all those who accept Jesus as their Savior.
I hesitated and hesitated but I FINALLY prayed to Jesus and asked Him to save me and be my Lord. All my sins – past, present, and future – have been paid for by my Savior. I could NEVER be “good enough” to merit salvation as the Catholic church teaches. My Savior covered me with His perfect righteousness. I have no plea of my own. My Lord isn’t a consecrated bread wafer sitting upon an altar. He indwells me. He guides me. He corrects me. He is my Shepherd. He is my Father. He is my Friend. He is my Rock. Armstrong appeals to history and tradition. I appeal to the simple Gospel of the early church as found in the New Testament.
I’m sure there are some who left Catholicism for a warm and welcoming “fellowship” as Armstrong speculates. But many of us left the legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism of Catholicism for the GOOD NEWS of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I hope that was the case for Ms. Armstrong’s friend who wasn’t able to clearly articulate the Gospel according to this account. Or maybe Armstrong’s friend was afraid to present the Gospel. Or maybe Armstrong wasn’t listening.
Ms. Armstrong continues to toil away, attempting to earn her salvation like all “good” Catholics. She feels sorry for her friend but she is the one who needs the Savior.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
Ex-Catholics Seek Happiness Without the Holy Eucharist
By Patti Maguire Armstrong
National Catholic Register