This heartfelt message was posted to the Proclaiming The Gospel BBS by Don VanZant on Sunday, 11 June 2000
This Messageboard exists for the sole purpose of providing you information. This is in the hope that occasionally some of you will wander by and stop in out of curiosity to read the postings. The fact you are here indicates that you are searching.
While some messages may appear antagonistic- most have been prepared out of love and concern for you. It's just that some of us still have strong feelings which resulted from the realization that there was a Great Deception.
Let me begin by saying that a few months back I was where you may be now. Searching for answers. For 43 years I was a member of the "Roman" Catholic Church. I converted in 1955 when I married a Catholic. It didn't seem too drastic at the time, although in my early years I had attended a Baptist church and received Christ as a boy of eight years old.
During this time I readily committed myself to the Church. I taught in the C.C.D. School of Religion for high school students. The subjects were apologetic in nature and dealt with the Protestant reformation period. I never even noticed at the time that the materials were not Christ-centered. Christ seldom came up. The subjects were; nonetheless, boring. Tedious church history from the RCC standpoint.
Later years I served in several different ministries. I considered myself a loyal, dedicated Catholic. I would have become angry and defensive, as many of you, had I come upon a website like Proclaiming The Gospel, The Berean Beacon or anti-Catholic literature.
In fact, I was twice invited to apply for training to the permanent diaconate. The first time, many years ago, I never seriously considered it. The second time I did. It drove me to seriously consider the Scriptures and to search for Christ's direction.
What I found were many descrepancies between what Jesus said and what the Roman Catholic Church claimed was necessary for salvation. Then really I began to seriously study the New Testament. Mat 15:9; Gal 1:6,9; Gal 5:1 ; Col 2:8
It certainly was never my intent at the outset to even consider leaving the Catholic Church. As I read the Gospel According to John , I found references to Eternal Salvation by Our Lord. The RCC considers it the Sin of Presumption to even consider that one can be certain of going to heaven. Yet there it was in Jesus own words. Not just in the gospel of John but throughout the whole New Testament. John 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, 5:39, 8:24, 8:51, 11:25,27; Mark 16:15,16 Romans 10:8,10; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:25; 5:11,13
As I read on I found more and more descrepancies. Infant baptism, auricular confession, purgatory, indulgences, prayers to saints, the Blessed Virgin, statues, I began to seek out more information about the reformation. What caused it? Who were the Reformers, the Protestors (Protestants). What were they protesting?
Was the "Roman" Catholic Church really what Christ had intended His church to be? Wealth, Power, unquestioned Authority? I wanted to know more about the early "primitive" Christian church of the New Testament. 2 Cor 1:17 ; Gal 1:8.9; 2 Cor: 4; 2 Peter 2:13; Rev.18:19,20
This site, the Proclaiming The Gospel and The Berean Beacon sites answered many of my questions. Suddenly I could see clearly. Yes, I knew Catholics who were Christ-centered. At least toward the Catholic version of Jesus Christ. There were many whom I met in the Charismatic movement that flourished during the last years of the 1980's.
[Interestingly their prayer meetings were more Christ-centered and seldom was the Virgin Mary or the saints invoked in prayers. Later it appears that the Church recognized this movement as a potential threat and began to closely supervise the movement, eventually limiting and diminshing it by withdrawing encouragement and support.
It became clear to me that many things had been added by the "Roman" Catholic Church as necessary for salvation. In short the bar had continually been raised throughout the centuries making it more difficult for a "Catholic" to achieve salvation. The Catholic version of Salvation certainly was not a done deal! Attained with difficulty, through works and penance- It could be easily lost by not living up to ANY or ALL of the many doctrines, dogmas and regulations which the Roman Catholic Church had established. 2 Tim 4:3-4
But what about the people in the early New Testament churches served by the Apostles? Were they really "saved"? If so, why had it been made more and more difficult for us down through the intervening centures by imposing so many "add-ons"? Where in the New Testament is the title "priest" (other than the Jewish priests) used, or the Sacrifice of Calvary re-enacted in a daily Mass? John 19:30
I had never even questioned the "Roman" Catholic Church's claim that it was the ONE TRUE Church founded by Christ on Peter.
As I availed myself of the information on these sites and began studying the bible by correspondence (email) this also was clarified. The words "Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings." jumped off the page at me. Romans 16:16. At this time Paul was writing the congregation in Rome was a fledgling church meeting in secret in private homes or the catacombs.
Yet the churches of Christ had already spread throughout the known world. By virtue of the fact that it claimed the name "Roman" Catholic did it not originate in Rome? Why is there no mention of it in history until after the Council of Nicea in 317 A.D.? A council ordered by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Who incidentally made the Christian church in Rome the official State religion of the Roman Empire. There's much more here than I can go into at the present time. There are other people posting here that either have or are more qualified than me to do it. I hope I've stirred up your interest for more.
I urge you to pray for clarification and enlightenment by the Holy Spirit and to read the Scriptures for yourself with an open mind. Look through the postings on this board which have been prepared to provide you with more knowledge.
As for myself I've chosen to follow what Our Lord Jesus, Himself, has told us. My eternal destiny is much too important (to me) to be entrusted to someone else's private revelations, interpretations and inventions.
But each of us must make that decision for ourself. John 6:39,40, John 10:27,39
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Addendum: Don added the following postscript on May 24, 2005. I know from my own experiences the truth of what he added.