What Do You Miss From Your Protestant Days? - Epic Pew

What Do You Miss From Your Protestant Days?

When people leave their Protestant communities and cross the Tiber into Rome, they often struggle to leave behind certain facets of the Protestant community lifestyle. They aren’t bad characteristics, usually, they’re just comforting or habitual or something they were accustomed to. I had that experience too, when I was received into the Catholic Church. But time and contemplation have led me to conclude that I don’t miss much of it anymore.

Here are a few things that I’m glad to be without:

The Music

Oh, yeah, I know, you probably think everyone misses the “Praise and Worship” music, the band playing, the drums and the bass guitar, etc. Well, not all of us miss it. Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t any good, or that I didn’t get any enjoyment out of it. What I am saying is that I like when there is no semblance of performance, no entertainment factor.

I love good music at Mass, and one of my favorite musical experiences at Mass was a single vocalist with a guitar and piano. Mass should always be solemn, and it should also be joyful. Music ought to lend itself to the solemnity and the tone without ever becoming the centerpiece. When I was a Protestant, the music was almost a distraction by design, a piece equal to the sermon and every other element. To be fair though, that was because there was never a Eucharist celebrated.

Lack of Obligation

There was, at times, a sense of obligation or social pressure to do, or not do, something or other. Protestants don’t completely lack expressed obligations, but there is a concrete difference between Catholic obligations and Protestant obligations.

Virtually all Protestants in America believe in a heretical notion called “assurance of salvation”, which itself is closely tied to the equally false idea of “eternal security” — you might know the latter as “once saved, always saved”. If a Christian believer thus knows he is saved and is in no danger whatsoever of losing his salvation, then every moral obligation becomes a potential victim to fall prey to rationalization. “Yeah, I’m supposed to go to church on Sunday, but it’s not as if my eternal salvation depends on it.”

Hence, in the Protestant framework, violating obligations is certainly sinful, but not “mortal”. But in Catholic teaching, known and deliberate violations of grave obligations do place a Christian’s salvation at risk. Maybe it has something to do with being a man, maybe not, but I’m glad that my actions really matter. I’m glad to have the authority in the Church to place demands on me.

Bible Studies

“What!? How could he say that?!” Let me ask something, how could a group of people get together to read a book by Jim Cymbala, or Josh McDowell, or John Piper, or Francis Chan, or whomever and call that a “Bible Study”? Don’t get me wrong, there are great books written by Christian authors that are great to read in small groups, but those aren’t Bible Studies. Bible studies can incorporate the reading of extra-Biblical material, but the point is to study the Holy Scriptures, with those ancillary texts being exactly that, ancillary.

The Theology

Another question: Did you ever find a Christian community of Protestants who were all in accord theologically? Have you ever come across even a small group that had a homogeneous theology? I didn’t. Everyone I knew differed from everybody else in some way. The closest that any group came to agreement was on the things that they “just don’t know about”. The thousands of rifts between Protestant groups reflect the internal rifts and struggles of the individual Christians.

The Catholic Church has topics about which we are permitted a variety of theological opinions, but what she doesn’t have is a split between Calvinists and Arminians, between those who believe that speaking in tongues is legitimate today and those who deny it, between those who acknowledge miracles today and those who do not. I don’t miss wondering about things that are settled, things that were settled centuries before Calvin, or Luther, or Zwingli were ever born. Catholic theology makes me happy.