Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 21, 2015 and has been revised.
In the article far below, Catholic columnist, Patti Maguire Armstrong (photo above), 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.”
The “cotton candy” metaphor is used frequently by conservative Catholic proselytizers and apologists to denigrate evangelicalism and the Gospel of grace. It’s a shame that mealy-mouthed, ecumenical-leaning, evangelical pastors and apologists don’t boldly stand up for the Gospel of grace the way Catholic apologists stand up for their false gospel of merit.
American Catholics like Ms. Armstrong obviously struggle to comprehend why members are leaving their church in droves. Three million Catholics left their church from 2007 to 2015 (and it’s certain millions more left the RCC since this post was originally written due to the 2018-2019-2020 priest abuse scandal tsunami – Tom) 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 a great number of Catholic teenagers, I walked away from the church because I thought religion wasn’t “cool.” Obligatory Sunday mass, with its repetitive, liturgical ritualism was the dreariest hour of the week. I returned to the church 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 of sins and eternal life with Him to all those who repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.
I hesitated and hesitated, but I FINALLY prayed to Jesus and asked Him to save me and be my Lord. All of 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 imputed to me His perfect righteousness. I have no plea of my own. My Lord isn’t a consecrated bread wafer sitting upon a Catholic altar. He indwells me. He guides me. He corrects me. He is my Shepherd. He is my Friend. He is my Rock. In her article, Armstrong appeals to Catholicism’s long history (in reality, not flattering) and catalog of specious traditions. 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 superficial warm and welcoming “fellowship” as Armstrong speculates. But many of us ex-Catholics left the legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism of Catholicism for the GOOD NEWS of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I hope that was the case for Ms. Armstrong’s friend who apparently 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, however 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
Postscript: I’m always puzzled by conservative Catholics like Armstrong who contend so earnestly for their works religion even though their own pope and prelates grant that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and even atheists are also able to merit their salvation. To call Catholicism’s false gospel spiritual “junk food” would be too complimentary, it’s actually spiritually deadly poison.
Ex-Catholics Seek Happiness Without the Holy Eucharist
By Patti Maguire Armstrong
National Catholic Register