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Structured prayer vs. spontaneous prayer

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What denomination did you used to be, and why did you switch? 

 

 

I used to be a non-denominational Protestant evangelical in a semi-fundamentalist church. There are a lot of negative things in Evangelicalism which drove me away, but most of those are either somewhat personal and so don't apply to everyone or vary from one evangelical group to the next. The better question is what drove me away from Protestantism and simultaneously drew me to Roman Catholicism and I think there are three things.

 

1. In a word, synthesis. Religions are or ought to be theories about how the world works, how every puzzle piece fits together. No field of research can so effectively do this as religion. In fact, there really ought not to be separate fields of study, but one since we're all, the scientist, the mathematician, the philosopher, the entertainer, and the provider, just specialists seeking to understand how the world works. Religion is not a discipline among disciplines, it is the genus within which all disciplines properly reside and find meaning. Protestant doctrine doesn't entertain this idea but attempts to divorce religion from its status as the  arch-discipline, into its own category as a sort of superstitious relationship which is almost shaman like in its inexplicable and unreasoned nature - the pastor or the Bible or even Christ himself, the witch doctor and God the Great Spirit.

 

2. The Catholic approach to the Bible seems more realistic. Catholics believe, as most Protestants do, that the Bible is the infallible, inspired word of God. However, Catholics do not approach the Bible as though it is something which need not submit, at least briefly, to human reason. Protestants, it seems, treat the Bible as though it has some life-force of its own and can pull the reader in even if the reader is not attempting to understand or capable of understanding the text at all. Again, this seems superstitious and not only that, but also implicitly condemned by the attitude of the biblical writers towards what they were writing. Now, obviously, there's the passage that goes "The Word is a double edged sword, dividing the soul" but I think that is more realistically understood in inactive sense - we have approached Truth and find ourselves impaled upon it, rather than it (or he) moves us. That idea seems to close to a sort of spiritual determinism.

 

3. I know that most Protestants express a mistrust of the Magisterium (the teachers of the Church) but it forms one of the reasons that I side with Roman Catholics. Though it hasn't always functioned well due to the character of its members, the Roman Catholic Church is a profoundly academic institution with an organized system for developing doctrine. The tendency to rely on personal interpretation and to shy away from an organized system in Protestantism is a profoundly democratic idea which, to paraphrase Isaac Asimov, tends to permit the attitude that says "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge".

 

Hopefully this makes sense. It's pretty late for me to be writing this kind of thing. Also, I should emphasize that Protestantism encompasses a wide variety of people and so what I say here may not be entirely true of everyone (though I think it is true enough of Protestantism in general). Take Caleb (Nicene Nerd) for example. He clearly is resisting anything like superstition whilst some folks embrace superstition as faith.

 

Please ask if something isn't clear.

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I used to be a non-denominational Protestant evangelical in a semi-fundamentalist church. There are a lot of negative things in Evangelicalism which drove me away, but most of those are either somewhat personal and so don't apply to everyone or vary from one evangelical group to the next. The better question is what drove me away from Protestantism and simultaneously drew me to Roman Catholicism and I think there are three things.

 

1. In a word, synthesis. Religions are or ought to be theories about how the world works, how every puzzle piece fits together. No field of research can so effectively do this as religion. In fact, there really ought not to be separate fields of study, but one since we're all, the scientist, the mathematician, the philosopher, the entertainer, and the provider, just specialists seeking to understand how the world works. Religion is not a discipline among disciplines, it is the genus within which all disciplines properly reside and find meaning. Protestant doctrine doesn't entertain this idea but attempts to divorce religion from its status as the  arch-discipline, into its own category as a sort of superstitious relationship which is almost shaman like in its inexplicable and unreasoned nature - the pastor or the Bible or even Christ himself, the witch doctor and God the Great Spirit.

 

2. The Catholic approach to the Bible seems more realistic. Catholics believe, as most Protestants do, that the Bible is the infallible, inspired word of God. However, Catholics do not approach the Bible as though it is something which need not submit, at least briefly, to human reason. Protestants, it seems, treat the Bible as though it has some life-force of its own and can pull the reader in even if the reader is not attempting to understand or capable of understanding the text at all. Again, this seems superstitious and not only that, but also implicitly condemned by the attitude of the biblical writers towards what they were writing. Now, obviously, there's the passage that goes "The Word is a double edged sword, dividing the soul" but I think that is more realistically understood in inactive sense - we have approached Truth and find ourselves impaled upon it, rather than it (or he) moves us. That idea seems to close to a sort of spiritual determinism.

 

3. I know that most Protestants express a mistrust of the Magisterium (the teachers of the Church) but it forms one of the reasons that I side with Roman Catholics. Though it hasn't always functioned well due to the character of its members, the Roman Catholic Church is a profoundly academic institution with an organized system for developing doctrine. The tendency to rely on personal interpretation and to shy away from an organized system in Protestantism is a profoundly democratic idea which, to paraphrase Isaac Asimov, tends to permit the attitude that says "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge".

 

Hopefully this makes sense. It's pretty late for me to be writing this kind of thing. Also, I should emphasize that Protestantism encompasses a wide variety of people and so what I say here may not be entirely true of everyone (though I think it is true enough of Protestantism in general). Take Caleb (Nicene Nerd) for example. He clearly is resisting anything like superstition whilst some folks embrace superstition as faith.

 

Please ask if something isn't clear.

Thank you that makes sense. 

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