I often read conversion stories from former Roman Catholics who turned Protestant or vice versa. Usually the RC turned Prot left the RCC because of some doctrinal difference, some realization that the RCC has added the traditions of men to the Gospel, and even in some cases some negative experience with members of the clergy. Usually the Prot turned RC converted because they realized that central tenets such as Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide were innovations of the Reformation and aren’t rooted in history. They read the early fathers of the church and see that they were more Catholic than Protestant. They see that Protestantism lacks in the rich tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. We’ve all heard such accounts time and time again.
My reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church were completely different. I’ll give a little background first… I was a cradle Catholic meaning that I was born to Roman Catholic parents and baptized as an infant. I was raised attending Mass on Sundays and CCD either on Sundays or Wednesdays (depending on the year). At the age of 7 I received the sacrament of First Holy Communion and then at 14 I was Confirmed (should have been at 13 but we changed churches after we moved and St. John’s confirmed every other year — don’t ask me why).
But in all the years I was catechized, in all the years I attended Mass and partook in the Eucharist, in all the times I went to confession, prayed the Rosary, etc., I can’t honestly say that I had ever had a genuine experience with Christ (at least not one I can remember). I knew God was real (although in my teens I denied this truth for a while) but I never knew that I could have a real relationship with him. At about 12 years old I started smoking and drinking and then shortly thereafter graduated to smoking weed which eventually led into harder drugs. My mind was on girls and partying.
I stuck around in the RCC just long enough to make my confirmation and make my mom happy but as soon as I was confirmed I was out of there! It wasn’t any doctrinal difficulty that led me away from the RCC, it wasn’t any maltreatment perpetrated against me — rather it was a sinful and selfish desire to satisfy my flesh. Now after years of living to please the god of ‘Me’ I was presented with the Gospel numerous times, rejecting it over and over again. I can remember working in an Italian restaraunt and having one of the Guatemalan chefs witness to me and tell me what Jesus did for me… My response: “I am God, Jesus never existed, he’s just a character in the world’s bestselling book.”
After years of rejection I finally came to a small Pentecostal church in Lakewood, NJ where I believed the Gospel and received Jesus and I haven’t looked back since. When I share my testimony with Roman Catholics they urge my apostate behind to come home to Rome and enjoy the fullness of Christ’s only true Church but my response is always the same — “No thanks, I never knew Jesus when I was in there and now that I do I don’t see a need to return.”
Now I don’t say this to persuade anyone away from the RCC — I don’t believe that I could persuade anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do. Even though it wasn’t doctrine that caused me to leave the RCC it is doctrine that would prohibit my return to Rome. I’m not persuaded by what I perceive to be the common Prot turned RC arguments for their conversions. I’m content where I’m at and am always looking to progress in the faith, but from where I’m sitting a return to Rome would be a step in the wrong direction.