During the last few months, I have really begun to miss liturgical worship. I began to explore the primary Christian liturgical churches. These are Anglican, Lutheran, Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism.

As most of you are aware, Protestantism (Lutheranism) split off from Catholicism in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Church at Wittenberg, Germany. There are two main pillars on which Protestantism rests. The first is sola scriptura, the belief that the Bible itself is the sole authority for all doctrine. Anything and everything that can be known about God comes directly from Scripture alone. All interpretation is individual interpretation as God has set up no Church hierarchy. The second is sola fide—we are justified by faith alone. Luther said that sola fide is so important, that Protestantism would fall without it.

Anglicanism split from Catholicism for one reason only. King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife and the Pope wouldn’t let him do it. So he created his own church with himself as head. With such self-centered origins, there is no way I could ever consider this church as being Christ’s ideal.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism both claim to be the original Church that was instituted by Christ himself. From the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine to the year 1054, the catholic (small “c”) church had been divided into an eastern and western half. After the fall of the Roman Empire the western half of the empire waned until the rise of Charlemagne who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope. Before this time, the eastern half became known as the Byzantine Empire and was closely associated with the Patriarchs of the Eastern Church.

It was the preference of the Charlemagne by the West, and the preference of Constantinople by the East which lead to the Schism of 1054. Separation of Church and State was not a common belief back then and the Eastern Church viewed the crowning of Charlemagne as a political and ecclesiastical revolution. The Eastern Patriarchs excommunicated Pope Leo IX, and he returned the favor.

My natural inclination was to prefer the Orthodox position, because of my Anti-Catholic beliefs. At one time my firm belief was that every single Catholic on the face of the Earth was either ignorant of what the teaching of the Church was and the full ramifications of that belief, or they were being disobedient by not pulling out of an apostate church. Whenever I would attend a Catholic Mass, whether a funeral, a wedding, or a relative’s First Communion, I would grit my teeth through the service and think, “this is sheer Paganism!”

When looking at Orthodoxy it appeared to be almost exactly like the Catholic faith. There really were only a couple of big differences between the two that I could see. The first is the existence of, and the role of the Pope. Orthodoxy claims that all of the bishops had equal authority and that the Pope usurped them by proclaiming that he alone was the head of the church. The Pope claimed that the eastern bishops rebelled against the chosen of Christ. The second is that Orthodoxy is extremely ethnic-oriented. So much so that I don’t see how they can call themselves a truly catholic (universal) church. This was the main reason that I gave up on Orthodoxy. That and the fact that have have very long services, and they stand for them. There is no way that I could physically stand for a 3-hour service. Even a half-hour is a bit much for me.

Then I got to thinking about my Catholic past and what led me to come to the conclusion that it was unbiblical and apostate. As I said before, mine was not a very strict Catholic household. My sisters, brother, and I all attended Catechism (CDD) classes as kids. I stopped going during 9th grade. If you read my bio you will see that during this time, my religion had become something I was using in order to impress a certain girl at school.

I don’t know if it was because of poor teaching, because I wasn’t paying attention, or maybe the teachers weren’t getting in to Catholic “distinctives” until later in high school, but it became apparent that I had not received very good instructions into what a Catholic actually believes. Shortly after high school, I had been attending a Protestant Bible study and was beginning to look at everything through a very Protestant lens. I was having trouble squaring what I was learning in Bible study with what I thought the Catholic Church was teaching me. I went to my Parish priest about some of my concerns and the only real answer I got from him was basically, “you have to believe it, or you’re not a Catholic.” I could only take this for so long and I finally left the Church for a Plymouth Brethren assembly.

I was now firmly in the Protestant camp. A couple of years after this, I went into the Army and for the next four years had virtually no contact at all with anyone who was Catholic. From that time until just recently I have never given a serious thought to ACTUAL Catholic belief. The only thing I read about Catholics from this point on was firmly anti-Catholic material written by people who in order to make their point often lie about and exaggerate the Catholic position.

This pretty much left me with only two choices: Catholicism, and Lutheranism. My true goal was to discover how the early church was structured. It seems logical that the way the church was run during the first century, while the Apostles were still alive and could direct it, must be the way that Christ intended the Church to be. This is what most Protestant denominations say they are striving for anyway, a return to the early Church. So at this point, I decided that I really need to more fully explore Catholic teachings.

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