Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve, Adventism and My Aunt Caroline

This night (on Christmas day) my eldest son was born. (You can imagine the jokes when I was wheeled into the ER on Christmas Eve about to give birth and I was admitted to the hospital under my first name, Mary.)

Also--Christmas Eve, my Aunt Caroline was born.

What a privilege to be born on the night Christ was born.

So special.

I take a deep sigh of both sadness and joy as I ponder the miracle of becoming Catholic in a Seventh-day Adventist world. (My world was Seventh-day Adventist, anyway.) Yes, this will be connected with Christmas Eve.

On my Facebook, a cousin posted a picture of my late Aunt Caroline to remember her birthday today.

Happy Birthday Aunt Caroline.

I miss her. And I wish I could explain to her family what happened to me a while ago, but because they are SDA, I can't. They wouldn't believe it because SDAs believe in soul sleep and don't believe anyone goes directly to heaven but sleeps both spirit and body until the resurrection at the Second Coming. They would see my experience as something demonic.

That is the sad part. The happy part is... well I better back up a bit.

Things have been pretty rough for a while for me. And that's okay, not complaining. What a joy to endure suffering to prepare my soul to meet Him face to face one day! But a few months ago, God sent me a dream. Sometimes you just know.... you just know something isn't natural. I don't have dreams this vivid.

In the dream, my husband and I were walking through a huge

bright white-marbled department store. It was clean and glistening white--and it was not like a Belk's or JC Penny--this was more like a rich and glamorous 1950's Neiman Marcus or Sax Fifth Ave. (Since my Aunt Caroline sold furs, I evidently associate her with the big department stores of Dallas in the early 1960's.) 

As my husband and I walked past the shoe department and women's jewelry towards the exit, I glanced up at a woman who was standing at a table. It was kind of like a little restaurant in the old department stores that served elegant snacks and sandwiches. This particular restaurant was up on a few steps--not another floor but a different level on the same floor. I particularly noticed how well-dressed everyone was in the restaurant. Women wearing dresses and hose and high heels, with matching bags. Men were wearing hats and long wool, tailored coats.

The lady standing among the other people looked at me. Not accidentally, but with a sweet intensity. She smiled at me and I had to have a double take. She was radiant. Like--other worldly radiant. She was the most gorgeous creature I have ever seen.

It was my Aunt Caroline.

My husband had my hand and was walking so that my only choice was to turn my head and strain to look at her, now behind me. I swallowed. Oh my gosh. My Aunt Caroline was no longer with us. She had died and yet, there she was. Absolutely. No possibility of mistake. In my dream I realized what was going on. My Aunt
These pictures don't come close to as luxurious as the setting in my dream. 
Caroline was there to give me a smile of encouragement. God had sent my dearest aunt to reach out in love if for only a moment.

In the dream, I stopped Arthur, after we exited the department store and were standing in a multilevel parking garage, and told him I had just seen Aunt Caroline. He believe me and turned around to go back in and see if she were still there.

There she was! She was standing at the exit door looking at us. She had followed us! So she really had been smiling at me! She knew who I was. She was just so beautiful I couldn't stop staring. Young, gorgeous, healthy, happy. 

Arthur took off and met her at the door and for some reason I was having a hard time getting to her. Everything was in slow motion as I ran to her. Not in a bad way.... I wasn't upset, I was profoundly joyful at this mystery. She talked to Arthur but I woke up before I could speak to her. But that last look she gave me, before I awoke was one of the most precious things. Her eyes were full of loving encouragement. I knew that she was in heaven enjoying eternity with the Father. No one could look like that if they were not touched with His holiness.

I have often longed to tell Aunt Caroline's family of this dream, but it would not bring them comfort or happiness. It would be seen as a Catholic attempting to impose spiritualism and the occult on them. So I keep silent.

On this silent and holy night I think not just of the birth of Jesus and my son, but I also remember the wonderful gift I was given, to see another person who shares a birthday with God who has already gone to see her Savior. And soon.... He is coming again. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Question from a Reader about a Adventist Turning Catholic

Here is a recent comment I got:
Teresa, I left the Adventist faith several years ago and officially became Catholic in 2010. My husband, also a former Adventist, is newly Catholic as well. What steps did you take to emotionally free yourself from the Adventist experience? I am having a very difficult time forgiving the Adventist community for their hatred towards other Protestant faiths, specifically the anti-Catholic rhetoric preached in their revelation seminars. I find myself stirring up such negative feelings when I remember the emotional prison I was in such as: always feeling unworthy of God like my name was in the "book of judgement", judged for wearing jewelry, constant worry of my salvation post death, etc. When I became Catholic, on the surface it appeared to melt away, but I still sometimes have anger towards the things I missed growing up like dressing up for Halloween, Easter dinner or even doing fun things during the "sabbath". How did you and your husband let these hurtful experiences go? 

Dear friend,

I think all former Adventists understand what you are going through--no matter where they go afterwards to find a spiritual community or if they just simply stall out and remain isolated outside of any church. One woman told me that even many years after leaving Adventism and having a wonderful relationship with God in her new Protestant community that she would experience nightmares and wake up with anxiety attacks about the Last Days.

So, believe me when I tell you that what you are going through is just part of the process. And it will eventually fade. Give it a decade--that's how long it took me.

I think you should be okay with being angry. When we are filled with lies, it is right to have a sense of horror and anger at the injustice of being raised with lies. We were created to hate injustice.

Let me tell you an incident that just befuddled me and again reminded me that Adventists are simply unable to see through the fog of anti-Catholic bigotry.

Recently, an Ohio priest had been approached and befriended by two Adventists. They began questioning him about the Catholic faith, so the priest took off time to go out to dinner with them several times and spend hours in discussion.

In fact, the priest was so eager to help these Adventists bridge the gap of misunderstanding that he offered to start a discussion group at his church each week in order to have the time to really talk about this. The two Adventists agreed.

So this priest began asking around for a Catholic convert from the SDA church so that he could ask questions about how to discuss theology with an Adventist. He was given my name, so we ended up having several discussions via phone.

(During this period, the SDAs gave the priest a Great Controversy as a gift. Which he didn't read at first.)

My family is always telling me that the SDA church is no longer anti-catholic and that they have moved on from taking Ellen White's prophecies so literally. So I thought I might ask them how this priest could approach a bridge of understanding with the SDA church.

My family reacted very differently than I expected since they so vehemently assured me time after time that I had left Adventism too early and that they were now enlightened.

Instead, they warned me that there was nothing the priest could say to the Adventist. They were not interested in unity and it would we wrong for the priest to try and force his opinions on the Adventists.

I was amazed, it was as if they didn't even recognize that the Adventists deliberately went out of the way to pretend to befriend the priest and they were proselytizing him into the SDA faith! My family turned the situation around to make it seem as if the priest was pushing when it was the Adventists.

When the priest found out the Great Controversy was not a kind Christmas gift, but a book of terrible slander and utter misunderstanding and lies about the priest's faith, he was stunned and hurt. He couldn't believe any group could be so arrogant and blinded as to give him hate speech for a gift. 

This priest was understandably very angry at this set up. And I assured him that the Adventists did not mean it to insult him that they are so utterly propagandized by a false prophetess that they simply are unable to see how insulting it was to give him that book. They actually thought they were doing something loving towards the priest. They were giving him "truth."

The priest was angry as he should have been. It is okay to be angry at lies.

After leaving Adventism, I tried to figure out who was intentionally lying to me among all those Adventists I grew up with. In the end, I knew that everyone truly believed the lies and even though some really had no excuse for not researching outside SDA sources for the truth, none actually meant to harm me with lies except Satan.

This is what my husband also added to this: He said that for him, because he was furious for years, eventually God showed him that he wasn't really angry with Adventists, per se. He discovered that he was angry at the Protestant divorce with the Catholic Church. Which led him into a very different way of looking at Adventism. They are just a little blip on the radar screen of schism. They are a schism of a schism of a schism.

And by the times you get several hundred years of indoctrination into the idea that we each have the right to decide what is truth for ourselves, you certainly can't blame the Adventists for seeing the mess of the Reformation and trying to correct it by making yet one more step down the road of schism. They knew something was wrong, they just turned the wrong direction because America had a history of incredible anti-Catholicism.

So my husband and I turned our hatred towards him--the Father of Lies. But that is impossible to do without God's grace. And as I read your letter, I feel you have already started if not gone down that road of grace a long way! You're Catholic!! That means you are very open to God. All heaven is rejoicing.

Not to say this will work for you, but I can suggest what I have done: I finally had to turn the anger towards the Devil for He is the one who is the puppet master of those who are telling lies.

Now... how to get on with ones' life after Adventism:

Being Catholic, one of the greatest healers for me was to go to mass and adoration and pour out my heart to Christ. I cannot tell you how many times I have sobbed and sobbed both with sadness and then with joy at leaving Adventism and finding the magnificence of the Catholic Church.

For me, I love the Catholic rituals, so I wear a veil (yes, it feels weird at first) but I do that because--for me--it is a symbol that God sees me as holy (for everything veiled in scripture is considered holy). And I needed that to move on from Adventism.... when I never could "feel" holy.

But if you can find some ritual you might go through occasionally--that helps you release all this anger--some little ceremony--a burning of a candle, a rosary for the SDA church, etc. That might help.

And by all means, enjoy making up for all those missed experiences! Make a huge deal of Christmas (I love going to midnight mass!), do up Easter and Halloween. Time to live it up in the Lord! 

My daughter and I went and got our ears pierced together. My children eventually converted and now we enjoy mulled wine together at Christmas. There is so much time before you to make up all those experiences you missed. And I don't know your age, but perhaps you can heal through watching your children and grandchildren as well as doing those great things with them.

Just grasp onto this thought--you will be seen as the great Moses of your children and grandchildren. You took them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. You will be on heaven's records as being a spiritual hero for your family's lineage.

Another thought:

I can go through times of great sadness, (perhaps its just the whole woman thing) and I can really get into the Lent and penitent times because I slide so easily into worry and anxiety about so much in life. But Christ has shown me that He gave His church times of rejoicing and the command is to rejoice.

I found that so strange and exhilarating. We are commanded each Sunday and each Christmas and Easter season to rejoice. And for people like me, who feel responsible to help out everyone who hurts and empathize with them, it has taken discipline to rejoice even through all the hurt I see. It is an exercise in faith that takes an act of God's grace and my will! But to discipline myself and resolve to look up and think of the joys of God has truly helped me personally. 

That of course may not be a problem with you. Thought I would throw it out just in case.

I have a book I wrote called, "It's Okay Not to be a Seventh-day Adventist" you can purchase through Kindle or get a hard copy at Amazon (dot) com. That may assist in in your PTSD and the deprogramming of some of the old tapes that go through your head.

It is a long, long process for all who leave Adventism. And many have and are making that journey. It gets better. And you are in the loving arms of Christ and His Church. And you have friends... my husband and myself. Write us anytime. 

Love and blessing to you and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gospel According to Capitalism

The United States was founded upon the capitalism economic system and it is the machine that runs our daily activities. Capitalism is imbedded into our perspectives when we decide where to live, when to have children, what we want to pursue as a career, down to where we decide to go for lunch. Everywhere we look, on the highways, on television, iPhones, computers, malls-- capitalism has refined its craft in getting us to want stuff, to reach into our pockets and buy happiness.  

Our worldview is formed within this system to the point that it has bled into our religious thought. 

God or Mammon

Many Christians, if we are honest, believe that money is our savior. Ask yourself how many times do you pray for God to send you money to solve a dilemma you or your family or friends are in? Rather than see God as 
having a thousand ways to solve a problem that have nothing to do with money, our ability to find solutions defaults into the capitalist system of money. "If only I had the money for more vacations," "If only I had the money, I would be able to see my children more often," "If I had money, I would be able to give to charities."

How many of us look to riches, perhaps imagining winning the lottery and never again having to worry about money? Actually believing that would solve our problems and then--with a little more money--we could be happy? 

Then in essence, we have substituted faith in God with faith in money. God is the Almighty Banker who distributes money rather than graces. 

How often do we see the Heath and Wealth gospel or the Prosperity gospel proclaimed? Many Christians truly feel that when they are not gifted with money that God has abandoned us and those who have money are more blessed and might even be seen as having greater faith! 

And yet, this belief prevails among Christians, even fundamentalists, who believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. And in that book Christ says that it is more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. God would never act counter to his own gospel by then making money the savior. When Christ said, "Blessed are the poor" He wasn't speaking hyperbole. There is little in scripture that would indicate God blesses us primarily with money. And yet because of our capitalistic worldview, we are deeply convinced that money can save us from our earthly problems. 

In fact, many of us give money to charities and believe that we have done enough to sacrifice (if even that was much of a sacrifice). We think we have done our part if we throw money at a problem instead of expending our lives (our fortunes, yes) as well as our sacred honor. We again see money as the savior.

The Gospel Commodity

The capitalistic system is a system of inspirational sounds and compelling images attempting to get a reaction from the audience. This bleeds over into all Christianity, but especially some evangelical communities. 

Many Christians, immersed in this system, primarily see the gospel as saying the right, emotionally compelling and convincing words. Very often, evangelicals spread the gospel through a series of meetings or revivals and then move on to the next unsaved group. They believe if they can get you to say the right words in response, then you are saved and the gospel commission has been fulfilled. 
These emotional experiences where someone is "saved" can resemble capitalistic sales techniques. In effect the best pastors are those who can sell the gospel in their sermons. There is the pressure sale where the pastor says that the time is now to give your heart to the Lord, don't put it off! The sales event is today only--don't miss out! 

Differing evangelical communities compete for customers... I mean, believers who will join their church and support it financially. However, there is little in their actual theology that says they are responsible for the convert from then on. Make the sale and move on to the next customer.

Their gospel is a distant gospel. They are the sellers, the distributers of the Word, but they are not responsible for the warranty on the product. Go to the manufacturer (God) if the gospel you bought malfunctions or you don't understand the directions or it simply doesn't work. Buyer beware! For many evangelicals feel no responsibility to sacrifice their lives either up front at the giving of the gospel or on the other end after the convert has bought into it. 

This places a distance between the gospel and ourselves. Like a football game, we become Christian fans of God shouting enthusiastically as we watch from a comfortable distance, using words to inspire our team. But the capitalistic gospel usually is not about training, sacrificing and giving one's 
life for the team like the players down on the field.

Sola Fide and Capitalism 

And this is due to the fact that our capitalistic system teaches us that words are enough and that we can be both a Christian and a good US citizen pursuing happiness first and somewhere after that we pursue Christ. In fact, it is more complex than even that, for we believe that Christ and mammon in the U.S. are the same. We pursue money and our own personal happiness believing that is what we are supposed to do as Christians. God wants us to pursue happiness through filling those store houses with stuff. We think we are being responsible stewards of God's money when we save large quantities of it for a luxurious retirement. 

I am not saying that is a sin, but Christ did say there is a great danger in our storing up more than we need daily, for it again, puts our faith in money and not in Him. It prevents us from that daily walk in utter faith. We are not to worry about the future He promises, for the day has enough problems in it. "Look at the flowers in the field, look at the birds"--they do not gather things into the barns, yet their Father in Heaven looks after them. He wants us to know intimately that we are far, far greater to Him than those things. Trust Him--not your 401(k), your IRA, nor Wall Street 
investments, not your Social Security. Feel free to have them, but our trust should be in God and He can work things out beautifully without money. He doesn't need the capitalistic system.

The Gospel of the Early Church

The early church was not capitalistic. It viewed the gospel very differently than Americans today. 

To the early church, the gospel was about a Kingdom. If you read the New Testament, those who spread the gospel said "Repent for the Kingdom is at hand." This was not a gospel of words alone. In fact, the words were meant for a person to not just believe as in mentally assent to, like someone believing that Donald Trump is the best presidential candidate (or Hillary Clinton). 

The words of the gospel were to get us to realize that we needed to change our lives and follow Christ. They were not words to get us to become a fan of a different team, but to change the most basic properties of our outlook. In fact, a convert was assenting to be utterly and totally obedient to God. They were casting aside their lives and bending the knee to Christ giving Him their fidelity. The Roman converts felt keenly that now their loyalty to Rome must diminish as their loyalty to Christ took precedence. In fact, the early church would genuflect to the bishops in a show of their newfound obedience to Christ rathe than the Roman government who forced them to bow to the prefects, legates and centurions.

To the early church, when you took on the gospel commission you understood that those you invited into God's kingdom were to make Christ their Lord and Master and they were assenting to a live of sacrifice.
In fact, after a person became a Christian, they were taking the responsibility to be Christ to others. They were now His family and His representatives on earth. The word Christian itself tells us that we are "Little Christs." We are Him to the world.

The gospel commission was never about going to a place and throwing out information about God and then moving on to the next audience. The gospel was about inviting someone into the family of God--His Kingdom--the Church. Converts were entering the kingdom where Christians lived out the gospel daily and the new coverts became your neighbor (even if symbolically) and relatives (literally, through Christ). You were then responsible for them and were obligated to sacrifice for them and it was mutual. 

Christian missionaries through the centuries, began the gospel by sacrifice first. They would move into an area, set up an eternal presence of hospitals, orphanages, schools. They would meet the needs of a community first, showing their love--not in words--but in sacrifice. 

Christians would bring healing first. They would first give the people the gift of their self--their lives. Usually a mission trip wasn't for a few days, or weeks, or months. Usually it was a permanent move. When the community felt loved by Christians, only then would they be invited to church and told what Christ believed. 

Historically, there was a trust built in the community, with the understanding that even if the people rejected the gospel that the Christians were going to remain sacrificing for them, giving to them. They were not going away. They would be there for them, helping them no matter whether they accepted God or not. 

For centuries, this was the gospel and it was trusted, for it was not a gospel of words alone, but of actions.

Each believer knew that He was Christ to the world. That if a community needed help in the fields planting or reaping, the Christian would be there to help. If there was a sick person, the Christian would be there. The gospel was an exchange of person to person, heart to heart, hand to hand--not bank account to bank account. 

The early church would not recognize what many evangelicals believe to be the spreading of the good news of Christ. They would not see Christ in much of what is labeled Christian. Not because it is necessarily bad, but it is different. It has moved from a 100% commitment to an assumption based upon a belief--a commodity to be bought and sold. 

The gospel has evolved into convincing someone with sincere, emotional words. 

We need to return to the authentic gospel lived by the early Christians. The gospel that is actions of self-sacrificing love that pursues the good of the other rather than pursues one's own happiness. In fact, Christ tells us that His followers, rather than following money or pleasure will take up their cross and follow Him. And where was Christ going with His cross? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I loved Jesus when I was a little girl. There has never been a moment of my life when I didn't want to love Jesus and yearned to be His little girl and the delight of His eyes. 

Most people who knew me growing up would have called me dramatic. Which could be a good description with one explanation. I felt more than I ever showed. The drama was not empty or exaggerated. There was nothing put on with my happiness and my pain. I didn't display more than I felt, I was careful to only allow a certain amount of emotion burst from the volcano that I was actually feeling inside me. 

I wasn't melancholy or depressed or angry. In fact, I distinctly remembering in 6th grade the first time I ever felt anger and it shocked me. Mostly my
feelings were on the positive side of the spectrum. I was dramatically silly and happy.

Most of my life, people felt free to dismiss me because they labelled me a "drama queen." They had no idea. They still don't. I have learned, as an adult, to discipline that overwhelming emotion percolating inside and exhibit only a small fraction of what I feel. Which is good. I am not complaining. 

The only reason I draw attention to this is that I realized as a child that some days I would feel so in love with Jesus and other days I would feel empty. So by the time I was in my early teens I knew not to trust my feelings about God. I didn't want a roller coaster religion or theology. I didn't mind feelings of course, I couldn't help experiencing them anyway. I just needed God to be outside of feeling, bigger than feeling

So by the time I was in high school I had made a commitment to myself to seek God outside of emotions. I wanted an intellectual relationship with Him. I needed that, because that had a fixed point in the turbulent seas within me. 

Try explaining to a Southern American Protestant that you want a rational, intellectual relationship with Christ. Try, as a teenager telling your pastors and teachers that you want more than a simple emotions-oriented relationship with God and actually telling your pastors and teachers this? I can assure you, that didn't go over well. 

I don't think they even understood the concept. And that was probably because I didn't know how to explain it. But they thought I was going backwards and replacing my heart of flesh (Jesus) and putting in a heart of stone. 

However, I was not limiting, but expanding my walk with Christ. I already had the heart. Christians simply did not understand. They absolutely told me that a simple relationship was all that was needed. And by "simple" I felt they meant--"don't think, stay in the world of intuitive, otherworldliness." They equated emotions with the spiritual world. 

Because of this need for a stable relationship with God that dealt with the intellect, facts, rationality, I began to think about what I believed. When I reached out for evidence, facts, reality, rationality and especially philosophy, you'd have thought I had become an atheist, or was treading on evil ground. 

Believe--don't think!

I do understand. Because the minute I began thinking, I realized that what I was taught and reality simply didn't add up. 

When newly married, I became disillusioned with the church I grew up in, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because I had to walk around with a cognitive dissonance between reality and what I was taught. So, my husband and I eventually left the church. 

And what I have learned is that there is a great danger in Christianity with this over-emphasis on feelings. There are Christians out there who do not believe one can make an intellectual commitment to God. That unless one has this dramatic "experience" with God you are not legitimately saved. That is a travesty. 

Using the power of one's will to commit to God is every bit as legitimate a decision to follow Christ as an emotional one. God accepts both. 

So with that personal introduction, I recommend the below video to all of you out there who resist a "drama queen" relationship with God. You too, may identify with this man's need to reach out and understand God with philosophy and rationality. 

Maybe you want more than a simple faith. Perhaps that is not enough for you. That's okay. There are a lot of people out there who need an intellectual faith. You will enjoy this video. It doesn't give you the answers but shares with you the philosophy of having a theological philosophy!

Here is the book that helped Dr. Sullivan to come into faith: 


Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Fear of Martyrdom

The Seventh-day Adventist Church teachs that the seventh day of the week is an obligatory day of rest and worship for the Christian. 
SDA Fundamental Belief No. 20:
The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. ... The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people.
They also believe the writings of their 19th-century prophetess Ellen White "speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church." Fundamental Belief No. 18 

Prophetess White had an end-time, prophetic vision that she believed came from an angel of God. This apocalyptic message is part of the beliefs of the SDA church and today you will hear Adventists warn that one day soon, the seventh day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, will be the final and ultimate test of loyalty to God. 

Her accompanying angel showed her specifically that the Catholic Church and Apostate Protestants will someday soon unite in their quest to force everyone on the planet to keep Sunday as the Sabbath day. Which basically means to Adventists, that everyone will be required by law to go to church on Sunday. 
      "Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth [Roman Catholicism and Apostate Protestantism] uniting to war against the commandments of God will decree that "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond" (Revelation 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false
sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the Creator's rest day demands obedience and threatens wrath against all who transgress its precepts. With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon God's law to obey a human enactment receives the mark of the beast; he accepts the sign of allegiance to the power which he chooses to obey instead of God." 
Those who do not keep the Seventh-day Sabbath--or more clearly for those who are not SDA--she is saying God told her those who go to church on Sunday receive the mark of the Beast and are damned!
    "The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them [non-SDAs] in its true light. ...The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God. Great Controversy, Ellen White, page 605-607
Coming from an SDA family,  from the time I was a child, I was being prepared to face the ultimate test--the Sabbath test. In our churches and in our church schools, we were prepped for the last day test with Sabbath School classes, Bible classes, retreats, seminars, etc. We were even read novels written by Adventists that dramatized these last-day events in elementary school. 

Those who face martyrdom to keep the correct Sabbath day--the seventh-day--will survive the test and be received into heaven. Those who fall from pressure of persecution and are faithless will "pinch the incense" by going to church on Sunday, renouncing God's holy Sabbath day, receive the mark of the beast and will not enter eternal bliss. 

Most of my life, I absolutely believed this with a sincere heart. I pledged to God at night that I would do my best to keep the sabbath even if it meant death. There were times, not often, but times in my childhood that I would have panic attacks imagining Catholics standing next to policemen, dragging me from the dark, dank jail cell I had been in for months, my hand sheltering my eyes from the bright lights and my body shivering with cold. Unmoved with pity for this frail, hungry ten-year-old who was trying so hard to follow Jesus, they would draw their guns, point them at me and tell me I was going to church on Sunday or I would die. When I refused they would torture me. That was terrifying, but then, the most horrifying
thought was that if I stood up for the sabbath and refused to worship on Sunday, that they would bring my little brothers and sisters out in front of me and tell me that they were going to torture them with the most horrible tortures known to humans--they would begin chopping off fingers, hands, etc until I relented and went to church on Sunday. 

I thought that if I saved my brothers and sisters, I would betray Christ and lose heaven!! Oh, how I prayed so many times that God would give me the strength to endure such a nightmare. 

This fear of not being able to stand for Christ when that test came, followed me even after I left Adventism. When I was a Protestant, I feared failing the test of martyrdom over Christ when Muslims or mass murders put a gun to my head and asked me if I was a Christian. I continued such dread when I became Catholic. 

Oh God! I have prayed so often I can't guess the thousands of times--Oh God, don't let me fall at that moment of martyrdom if it ever comes!

Though I let go of the idea that I would have to die for the Sabbath, I continued to believe that if tested with martyrdom, pinching the incense to Caesar's genius and not being martyred for God when my
life depended upon it was the worst sin. My fate for hell would be sealed. It was the unpardonable sin. That was it.

However, that is not a historical or biblical belief. 
Nowhere in scripture does it say that the unpardonable sin is betrayal of Christ. 

Please Adventists and Protestants and Catholics, if for some reason you have been tormented by your fear of failing at the moment of the test of martyrdom, look at St. Peter. 

St. Peter, the head of the church, who was given the keys of the kingdom failed Christ and betrayed Him three times!

Consider this carefully. Peter did not have a gun to his head. No, after Peter declared to his best friend  and Lord, “even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” Peter betrays him three times to the commoners--two servant girls and another nobody! He wasn't on trial, there was no mob about to hang him. He was scared of course that he would also be sent to trial as Christ was. But as of yet, Christ had not been convicted and sentenced. Peter betrayed Christ three times and he was made the head of the church. 

Don't fear failing martyrdom. It is not the unpardonable sin--that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. In fact Jesus, from his own mouth, told his followers that "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven." Matthew 12: 32.  
So failing the martyrdom test is not unforgivable. Be at peace! 

I am counting on my readers to know that I am not advocating an indifferent, lackadaisical attitude about a martyrdom situation. Of course not. I just want those of you who have been traumatized by this fear your whole life to look at this in a new way. 

God wants to give you the courage to give up your life for Him out of love not fear.  

Often, fear is the beginning of our journey with Christ and that is good!
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Ps. 111:10, Prov. 9:10
  • [T]he LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Ps. 147: 11
  • [L]ove the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. I Peter 2: 17
Then as we grow in Christ any ungodly fear is cast out--driven out--and it is replaced with a holy respect and awe of God based in the foundation of perfect love. 
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4: 18
Replace those old nightmares of that martyrdom moment. Think of them this way, if when someone gives you the ultimatum of death or Christianity, know that if you fail God, you can be forgiven. It is a sin, like other sins such as adultery or stealing. It is a sin of self-preservation and weakness, that even the Apostles and bishops and great men of God have failed. It is bad, but it is forgivable. 

Think at that moment of what God wants. He wants you to give up your life for love of Him, not of fear of hell. It is said that many martyrs died with smiles of joy on their faces. These saints may have been frightened, but not about hell. They freely gave their lives for Him out of love. The Holy Spirit was there, the angels and the Host of Heaven were there and it was a moment where love transcended the fear of eternal punishment. 

Trust God. If you fail, you have an advocate with the Father. It's not over. Repent and maybe like Peter, when you face the trial again, you will stand firmly and die with great love for your Lord and Savior. 

God bless you! 

Monday, July 25, 2016


I recently cleared out all the stuff from my storage unit and I have been going through my

memorabilia. While I am finding out in some ways I have a good memory of how I perceived my childhood, other things I have been chuckling to find out how wrong I was. I had forgotten all the sports our family did. I remember being boy crazy, I remember being sensitive and dramatic. But my grades are not as good as I remembered and my handwriting is atrocious. And unhappily, my plays and short stories were not even as close to being interesting as I remembered. I thought I was a lot more creative than I really was! There is ample evidence that I tried anyway! I know these things to be true since I kept a diary and did a lot of writing, I have proof.

However, I have forgotten something till
yesterday, when I opened up a Bible I had in my childhood. First, though I want to back up and give some context.

We lived in a huge home in Lakewood, and area in Dallas, Texas. And I was not yet in kindergarten. I remember being in the kitchen and I asked my mother if I could marry Jesus when I grew up. She told me that Jesus was God and didn't get married. Well, that was disappointing!

"Can I marry daddy?" "No, I am married to daddy," my mother explained to me. Now I was getting very upset and there was no other men I could think of that were good. "Okay, then I will marry Little Edmund," my older brother. When mother told me that was also not possible I was concerned. While I understood about dad and Little Edmund, I still couldn't quite understand about Jesus. He wasn't married, after all.

My mother kept Jesus always before us in our house. She sang children's songs about Jesus all the time. First to us then I got to listen as she sang to my little brother and sisters. Looking up at my mother, I thought she was an angel from heaven. I really did. No exaggeration.

My mother once told us when we were children that our shoulder blades were leftovers from our wings when we were in heaven. I believed her. Only I didn't really think hers were gone. I always saw her with a soft halo over her head and phantom wings coming off her shoulders.

I remember my mother being very kind. I felt awful one day when I spilled my milk, thinking I had done something terrible and she wiped it up and told me, very sweetly that it was only milk and people were more important than things. She had to tell me that a lot growing up. 

Mother had a way of showing both judgement and mercy that was very much like I think Christ will be. She was relentless about making us admit what we did wrong and apologize, but then all of a sudden once the apology happened, all was well again. The gloom of guilt and embarrassment was over and I found out the sun shown brightly again once you did the right thing. The wonderful world was restored.

It seems like we had family worship every Friday evening from the time I can remember. Once when it was my turn to pray, I said something and my mother said, "amen" and I thought she was telling me to end my prayer and I started to cry. She gently told me that "amen" meant that she was agreeing with what I said. I was so relieved!

The greatest thing I could imagine was being like her, my mother.

Growing up we were very involved in church. As soon as I could, I started teaching in the kindergarten Sabbath School because I thought my early teen Sabbath School was disrespectful to God. Our family sang a lot in church and often in the choir. We sang at the Dallas jail to the prisoners many Sabbath afternoons.


wanted to be baptized when I was ten or eleven and went to our church youth pastor and I was told I was too young. One year, on my birthday, I decided to start a Bible collection and saved the money I received and also the money I got at that next Christmas and purchased a little leather Bible for my purse. I wanted to start memorizing scriptures and needed a Bible small enough to take in my purse.

I remember the money in my pocket and entering the Christian book store. I found the beautiful little leather Bible with much excitement and I had some money left over. I spotted a clearance table and there was a huge Bible called The Jerusalem Bible on sale for five dollars. That was going to be the second Bible in my collection. I was so
excited. Sitting in the back seat of my car riding home, I was puzzled because when I was looking through my new and exciting purchase, I realized there were some strange books added. My father told me I had accidentally purchased a Catholic Bible. That made me feel weird, so I put that book on my shelf and decided I wouldn't read it till I was older. But my collection had begun and I was excited.

I also made a commitment to read the Bible all the way through once a year. Some days I forgot, so I would skim as fast as I could through to catch up. Which did me no actual spiritual good, but I had made a pledge to myself and God and I wasn't going to break it!

Isolating these incidence makes it seem like I was this little saint of a child. While I loved Jesus from the time I can remember, mostly I loved Jesus because I loved my parents. I felt Jesus must love me a lot to have put me in my family and so I would never be bad. Never. Ever. I wouldn't make Jesus cry over something I did because that would hurt Him and my mother. 

The vast majority of my childhood I was obsessed with boys. I was going to marry a minister and have eight children. Therefore 70% of my childhood thoughts were of love and romance. Jesus was the structure, but inside that structure were boys, my siblings and my dreams for life.

However, there was something more yesterday when I was looking at my little purchases that day after school when I was (twelve, I think) that made me smile.

My name is Teresa, spelled without an "h." My mother's name was the same but spelled with an "h. However, no one ever called me by my name, for I had a nickname. I signed everything with a nickname--all my school papers, my poems and plays. So when in later years I thought I had lost my little leather Bible, I decided to write my name in each of my books so if anyone found one, they could return it. My nickname was in most books. In the Bibles, I wrote "Theresa."

And I remember exactly why. In my Bibles, I wanted to be the best me I could. I wanted to be reverent and holy. I added the "h" to my name so I could be more like my mother. For there was no one I could imagine being more like Mary the mother of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


My husband works very long hours, so when we are together in those few precious moments of the morning, we try and concentrate all our
conversations into what is important. We do very little chit-chat. We always start the day at 5 am. drinking coffee, reading the Bible and praying. Then, we have about ten minutes to talk. It's always something important! (So I think, anyway. Yeah, that picture is exactly how we look at 5 am.) 

This morning, as most mornings in the last couple years, we discuss what has gone wrong with our world, with Christianity, with the USA, with our smaller circle of family and friends. 

There is perhaps a backstory I should drop in here: I began about five years ago researching what happened to our country that we could so easily let it slip out of our hands without most people even realizing it and those who do realize it, feel there is really nothing that can be done. Oh, we have had some attempts, like the Tea Party, but I always feel deep down we are scratching the wrong itch. At its root, our nation doesn't really have a Constitutional or liberty or bigotry or cultural or economic or immigration or terrorist problem. If you trace all those symptoms back to their root, we find there is a heart and soul problem. But what is that problem? I know a lot of people will say sin or a lack of Christ, but how does that manifest itself? How would a historian track sin's path in America? That's what I want to discover. And so, most mornings, we discuss different theories about how and when and why America has fallen. 
Okay, now back to this morning's episode in the daily drama of our morning conversation.

I have noticed that parents, at least in my life experience which goes back to the 1960's, don't act upon what is best for their children. Most parents live life as they want to, pursuing their own goals and fit their children into their life. Empty slots of time and energy? Okay, let the kids fill them. But, their first priority is work and most of America has a two-parent working household.

Whether mothers have to work or whether they want to or should or shouldn't isn't really the discussion here. What has amazed me is that parents seem to be oblivious to their children's temptations and struggles, and if they do realize them, they often do not make a plan to get their kids out of the situation and then follow through or act upon the plan. Parents today seem to be unable to derail the inertia of the trajectory of their own lives in order to help their kids.

I am not speaking of parents sacrificing their time, energy or money to give their kids a swimming pool or going to hockey or football games or a trip to Disney World. I am talking about making sacrifices that have to deal with their spiritual well-being. That thought doesn't even occur to the parents I have been around.

Generation after generation of parents have fallen prey to this illusion that as long as their kid's name is on the church membership and church school roster, they have sacrificed enough. That's it; they feel they have done their job. Then they go on to--me time. They do little, if any real soul-searching and deliberation about getting their kids into heaven. Or at least figuring out a way their kids can surviving the minefields of temptation to sin that Satan has sowed in all the fields they will be skipping across during their childhoods here on earth.

I can hear many of my reader's thoughts, "Hey, that's not me! Where is she getting this?"

My response: My childhood was in Dallas, Texas. But I have lived all over the US. However, everywhere I have lived I see some of this. But mainly my experience comes from my twenty years in the SDA mecca and holy city of Keene, Texas.

Keene is a small Seventh-Day Adventist town south of Dallas. That is where my kids spent their childhood. I was actively involved in both their school and their youth groups. I paid attention. I mean I really paid attention. I couldn't understand why parents there turned a blind eye to their kids seeing inappropriate things on television and movies. I saw a majority of parents either be oblivious to or ignore when their kids were disrespectful, bullies, used bad language and then later these same kids started trying drugs and became sexually active.

When I heard their conversations in Sabbath School (Sunday School for other Christians) and saw their potentially long-term destructive activities in elementary and high school, I would talk to them and when necessary, talk to their parents. The parents often would get highly upset that I would dare to speak of their child in any way but as perfect. I assumed they just didn't want to have to do the hard thing and take care of their children. In fact, when several girls attempted suicide, one girl began cutting herself, and a boy succeeded in his suicide attempt, I ramped up my efforts to let the parents know what I was seeing when they were not around.... okay, do something!

I am horrified to report that almost none of the parents even saw themselves as part of the problem. They blamed everything else, even me for warning them. I look back on those kids I 

loved so well and most of these kids lives have been shattered with unnecessary pain, unwed pregnancies, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse and even jail time. These kids were abandon to make stupid, self-destructive choices while their parents were right there-- just buried deep within their own activities.

My husband made the comment that most parents aren't even aware that they can do something about the kids' situation. They can see the problem but they think they are hopeless to act in any different way than they have been programmed. It would never even occur to them that perhaps they should talk to the child, get the child away from the situation, get another teacher, classroom, set rules and follow through, move to another city to get the kids away from bad influences, or turn off the television/iPhone/computer. I was assuming that these parents were making willful, selfish decisions, being irresponsible, while Arthur was making the case that many of them simply had no categories in their way of thinking to even know how to parent. They can't parent because they never saw anyone parenting.

I think we can also add to this that when parents have made bad choices in their lives, often they assume there is nothing they can do to stop their children from making poor, destructive choices. They act as if they do not have the right to instruct their children because they were so stupid when they were young.

It is frustrating that for those parents who do want to be good parents often get the worst advice from "experts" and grandparents and teachers and pastors. 

My parents were some pretty good sources of wisdom because they had six children and my mom studied diligently reading and trying different things out. She also was a full-time stay-at-home mom which gave her the ability to focus on doing the right thing as a parent. But I have to tell you, as a child, most of the mothers of the people in my classroom didn't have to work but they were pretty awful parents. I watched terrible parenting from the beginning of my life in my friends' families.

We, as Christian parents, really need to wake up and smell the spiritual battle going on for the souls of our kids. Quit ignoring the world around you--especially your children's world. Quit assuming that you have to bear up under hopeless passivity. Make a plan and act.

And if the problem is more than in your particular home, if it is a systemic, cultural problem--get out of that environment. If necessary, move if you see a problem where your children are unable to cope with a temptation. MOVE. Move schools, move cities. No excuses. Your child is more important than...."fill in the blank."

Here's why this is important. Because:

1) While we must teach our children how to deal with certain temptations, remember that Jesus didn't say when temptation overwhelms you in a certain environment--try, try again to fight it off. Jesus said to flee temptation. Especially when your kids are too immature to know how to fight 

temptation. Teach them it's okay to flee--they are not being quitters and giving up. Flee because that is what Christ commanded us to do. (2 Tim. 2: 22) Show them by your own example, by fleeing overwhelming temptation yourself.

2) When your children see you take firm, decisive action against evil, they will know that it can be done. You are not passive and enslaved by circumstances--that a human can fight back even just by getting out of the situation. They will learn by your example of action.

3) They will see that they are worth you taking action--their souls are of inestimable value to you and God. Talk about giving your child self-worth! That is a message that will drive down indelibly to their souls way more than you showing up to their piano recital. Take action!

4) And finally, when your children see you suffer for them--their parents suffering--for them--the extraordinary action of losing a job, moving or acting to save them in a sacrificial way--they will understand the Cross better. One other thing, gird your loins for this, because your child will inevitably hear mockery, condemnation and scorn from other parents who may not be willing to sacrifice their jobs and homes for their children's spiritual or physical safety. They will loudly condemn you as irresponsible. If your children come to you with these criticisms, just calmly tell them it is because you are willing to do anything to follow Christ and see your child in heaven. You will have shown them a little of Christ's Cross and it will make an impact for the rest of their lives.

There is no formula for perfect parenting, nor to ensure a child will want to follow Christ. But what I can see in Christian parenting today is a total lack of planning a strategy of actions for your children's spiritual health. It's as if they really don't want to believe it is possible for their children to go to hell or that they can act to help assure their children will not be faced with a lifetime of digging themselves out of the mess they made with poor moral choices.

There is so much more I could write on this subject, but I have wandered around enough today and this topic was the point of this morning's discussion with my husband. God bless.

Monday, June 27, 2016



[This post has been updated at the end.] 
MY PRAYER IS NOT FOR THEM [Apostles] ALONE. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 20-23

Often I hear that Catholics are not Christians. And of the people who believe this, there are some who believe that Catholics so dangerously distort the gospel that they cannot unite with them in prayer. So, effectively, these certain Protestants live in a state of anathematizing Catholics by avoiding them. I write the following to defend my faith, not to proselytize Protestants but to show them that Catholics do not reject scripture, they just interpret it differently.

Protestants will most likely still disagree with a Catholic perspective, but perhaps a respectful debate and a heart that is open to listening to the Catholic interpretation, will allow these people to see that Catholics are truly Christians. And rather than fighting each other, we should turn our spiritual swords and energy to fight the dark forces in the spiritual battle knowing that we are on the same side. And by uniting in prayers and in spreading the gospel of peace,  as the Body of Christ, we can fulfill Christ's greatest hope and his last command before His death—that we all may be one.

A Conversation with a Protestant: 

ProtestantProtestants believe the Bible is the highest Christian authority. We are sola scriptura. We don't believe in following a pope, a system set up by the traditions of man.

Catholic: We totally agree with your point that Christians should never trust a system that was set up by the traditions of man. We believe that Christ chose His apostles who then formed a church and passed on Christ's teachings. That the Apostolic Church wasn't set up by man but was set up by Christ and given His authority.

Protestant: We don't believe that.

Catholic: I know, that is why you are Protestant and not Catholic. Right? Because if you believed that Christ started the Catholic Church and gave the Catholic Church His authority, you would be Catholic and not Protestant, right?

Protestant: Christ didn't start the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church started at the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century.

Catholic: Let me ask you a question. Just go with me here for a second. What if you found out, without question, that factually Christ did start the Catholic Church. What if you found out that Christ did give the Catholic Church His authority, would you become Catholic?

Protestant: No, because even if you could prove Christ started the Catholic Church, it became corrupted and so it lost it's authority.

Catholic: Okay, let's go down that road. Let's assume the Catholic Church did become corrupt, what in scripture tells us that:

1.  God sets up authorities that do not make mistakes or do not become corrupt?
2. God give us the authority to decide when His authorities are corrupt?
3 God gives us the authority to divorce from His authorities and go and become our own authority or start another church? 

Protestant: There are lots of texts that say we should shun someone who gives a false gospel and what about all the texts against wolves in sheep's clothing? By their fruits we shall know them. And so if the Catholic Church has false shepherds and bad fruits then we don't have to follow them.

Catholic: This is where Catholics and Protestants part ways in their interpretation of scripture. We interpret those texts as God telling the Church—as a whole—not the individual—that they must throw out and excommunicate false shepherds. The church should examine the fruit and make the call, not individuals. Matthew 18 makes that pretty clear because when a person sees another sinning, they should first go to that person privately and exhort them. But after that, the person doesn't excommunicate them and walk away. No Jesus said then you take witnesses for the next confrontation. No individual gets to pass judgment. You must have witnesses. But then, if the person doesn't turn from their immorality, it is taken to the church and the church makes the final call—and only then, after the church has made the final call can the people disconnect from their brother. 

Protestant: So what if the church itself is corrupt? Then how can a corrupt church make a right decision about false shepherds. That is the blind leading the blind.

Catholic: Throughout history God has allowed, in fact, anointed men as His authorities who have fallen to the depths of corruption. Judas is an example. But in fact, when you look at all of the Apostles, they all ran away when Christ was arrested. All of them deserted the Lord when tested. Yet, they are not as bad as the white-washed tombs and hypocritical snakes who were authentically anointed as God's Israelite leaders found throughout the Old Testament. These men caused Israel to go astray and worship idols and sacrifice their children to Molech. These were very weak if not demonic men, and yet God didn't give Israel the okay to follow their own leaders or start a new Israel. Nope, in fact Jesus told the disciples to avoid being like those who sat in Moses seat, but that they still must carefully obey them. (Matt. 23).

Protestant: That was before the New Covenant was established.

Catholic: Yet, God established authorities for the New Covenant also and we are to be subject to them.  See: Matt. 10: 2, Luke 11: 49, Acts 1: 2, 26, 42; 4:33; 5: 12;  8: 18; 15:4; 16:4, I Cor. 12: 27-29; Eph. 2: 20; 3:5, 4: 11, II Tim. 4: 3,  I Thess. 2: 6, James 3: 1,  2 Peter 3: 2, Rev. 21: 14,
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Rom. 13: 1-5 
(Many Protestants limit the "governing authorities" to civic only. That would make no sense considering the theocracy that Israel lived under.)
You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters,  to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I Cor. 16: 15-16
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Heb. 13: 17

See also: Ephesians 5, 6, Colossians 3 and I Peter 2, 5, II Cor. 2: 9

Protestant: If we take those verses literally and as meaning for today, then we at least are supposed to follow the shepherds who are closest to the Bible.

Catholic: There are two false premises that fundamentally underlie that statement. Number one is that you assume your understanding of scripture is infallible and that you have God's authority to choose your authority.

In raw reality, people choose authorities that will not challenge their way of thinking. People choose their spiritual authorities like they vote for their political authorities. They go with the one who agrees with them. They want their civil government to reflect what they see in the mirror, just like they will make their God out to reflect what they see in the mirror. 

We have to be brutally honest with ourselves. Does the Bible really tell us that the sheep are equipped to choose their shepherds? I don't see that in Israel. They would have ousted Moses many times as well as many other judge and king God anointed.

And secondly nature tells us that even if our God-appointed authorities are imperfect, we don't get to choose them. Kids do not get to choose their parents, but scripture tells children to obey them.

Protestant: Well, I won't obey the Catholic Church, I absolutely totally would never, ever believe they were God's authorities.

Catholic: I understand. But if they were God's authorities, you would obey them, right?

Protestant: They aren't.

Catholic: But you would obey God's authority or authorities if you knew them to be God's authorities, even if they were corrupt, right?

Protestant: God would never ask me to obey corrupt authorities.

Catholic. I know what you are insisting on. You are believing that corrupt authorities will take you to hell. I totally get that. But if God were to appoint authorities and tell you to submit to them, you would wouldn't you?

Protestant: Only if they taught the Bible. As long as they have the Bible correct.

Catholic: So you have set up guidelines for God? So children can disobey their parent's if they disagree with their parents theology or if their parents sin? So God allows children to judge their parents theology and lives in order to accept being obedient?

Protestant: We are not children in the New Covenant.

Catholic: So God does not give authorities to His people in the New Covenant.

Protestant: Yes… but they have to go by scripture.

Catholic: So you believe that God's authorities will go by your interpretation of scripture to be authentic?

Protestant: No, just go by the clear Word of God.

Catholic: The clear Word…. according to your interpretation. And if they don't you are free to disobey and go find another authority or go start another denomination. Can you show me in scripture where it says that?

Do you see how your argument is endlessly circular and endlessly unworkable? Your argument is basically that I have the God-given right to decide who my authority is based on my interpretation of scripture. So God's way is that the sinful, uneducated, immature human gets to choose to whom God has given His authority. Is that what you believe?

Protestant: No, I believe the Holy Spirit will guide me.

Catholic: Does scripture tell you that the Holy Spirit guides you infallibly to choose your authority?

Protestant: Yes. The Spirit will bring us to all truth.

Catholic: Then why do you need an authority at all? If you are infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, why do you need scripture at all? Why not just trust the Holy Spirit in your heart and be done with it?

Protestant: The Holy Spirit guides me to the Bible as Sola Scriptura.

Catholic: Is that what scripture says? That the Holy Spirit guides you to the scriptures as your highest authority and the scripture guides you to the church as your highest authority in moral debates among Christians?

Protestant: The Bible says the Bible is the highest authority.

Catholic: Could you show me that in scripture?

Protestant: St. Paul told Timothy that the Bible is God-breathed and "are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Tim. 3: 15-17)

Catholic: So Paul, who was given authority to teach, told Timothy that Christians were allowed to disobey authority because they had the Bible? Is that what the Bible says?

Protestant: The Bible says to follow the Bible.

Catholic: The Bible also says to obey your God-appointed authorities.

Protestant: As long as they go by the Bible.

Catholic: Show me where the Bible specifically states that God allows a Christian to jettison His appointed authorities because they don't agree with their interpretation of scripture. Can a child walk away from his father because he disagrees with his father about scriptural interpretation?  Let me ask you an honest question?

See how ridiculous this argument is if you substituted our earthly father in the circular reasoning. The Protestant child would then say that the didn't have to obey their father because their father had a difference of opinion about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
        The child could say, "I refuse to believe God wants me to obey you dad because I believe the scriptures are my final authority." 

"But honey, " the dad responds, "the Bible says you are to obey me."  
      "Yes, but only if you believe in Sola Scriptura," the child responds.
"I am your final authority according to scripture," says dad, "So if you really consider the Bible God's Word, you will obey me."
"But you don't believe in Sola Scriptura, so God wouldn't want me to have you as my authority."
"So if I told you that my highest authority was scripture, would you then obey me?"
"Yes, because you obeyed me and admitted I was right about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura."
"So you wouldn't obey me if I had said God made me your authority?" Dad looked puzzled.
"Right, you first have to meet my check-list of doctrines I believe to be true from scripture." The child insists. 

The Catholic continued: If you found out that the Catholic Church was truly an ongoing God-appointed authority, would you submit to them?  Because what Catholics have found is that most Protestants still wouldn't. They don't believe they have to submit to anyone. Isn't it true that for some Christians, the Bible alone doctrine is used to make the individual Christian their own authority and they wouldn't submit to the Catholic Church even if they found out God-appointed it as His Church?

At this point, the Protestants usually stop the conversation having the last word about the evils of the Catholic Church…. forgetting about the evils of the Protestant churches and completely ignoring the fact that they too are sinful and corrupt. And that if the same standard they held to judge the Catholic Church would be held to themselves, no one would ever be able to be an authority. No one.

And yet God placed His authorities on earth. In each family—both the small one of one man and one woman and their children as well as the New Covenant family. 

A couple of Protestants have objected to this post saying that I have not given the best theological responses for Protestants. I am absolutely willing to change the Protestant responses if someone gives me better ones. All I had to go off of was the answers I have experienced. 

However, understand that I am not interested in taking the conversation off topic. Or in the Protestant asking what they believe to be a better question. I invite Protestants to answer this question exactly as I have stated it: 

IF Christ were to have a church that He gave His authority to, would you obey it? Please don't answer.... "He doesn't have such a church." That is not the question. 

They point of this question is not to get into any other Protestant objections to the Catholic Church. It is to one: Show the Protestant that there is really no evidence they would ever accept for us to show Christ started the Catholic Church. Their position is not based on evidence. 

But the much more important point I am making is that Catholics have been convinced that Christ started the Catholic Church. 

For us to have any meaningful dialogue that premise is where we must start. We don't believe in in the doctrines of sola scriptura or in sola fide because we believe Christ started a church.

We remain faithful to the pope, not because we like him or think he is infallible or pray to him or think he is God. We remain faithful to the bishop in Rome because we believe Christ started a church. 

We are horrified by the priestly scandal and the witch trials and the inquisition and all other things the people in the church have done over its 20 centuries, but we understand Judases infiltrate us and people fail God but God will not fail Catholicism because we believe Christ started a church.

IF Christ started a Church and He gave it His authority, we will be a part of that church and obey her.... because of our love for Christ. Just as we would follow our biological fathers because Christ told us to. It is about obedience. Because Christ started a church. 

Once you understand where the Catholic is coming from (the Catholic perspective), and we understand thoroughly that you don't believe that...but once you have understood the basis of all our beliefs, we can discuss all the theological ideas you have--which are based in the Protestant perspective of sola scriptura. 

I hope that is helpful in our dialogues.