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Northernrain
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I found the article rather thought provoking. Here are some brief thoughts.... I'm not sure if my own experience is skewed, but I was puzzled as to why the research cited did not really line up -- or perhaps identify -- with what I've experienced over the last forty years. I was raised in fervent evangelical culture in four countries, and now, in my early 60s, I tend to look back and ask "why". Why did so many leave their Christian faith? Stats aside, anecdotal evidence is worth something, so I'll just cite one example. Between 1980 - 1995, I saw 50% of my protestant evangelical friends leave their faith, opting for either agnosticism, new age, or a privatized personal "faith" of some nebulous shape that seemed without creed or even open to discussion. Many of those I knew who left the faith were well-studied in theology, in the best of evangelical apologetics, some were elders in churches where I attended. For some of us - possibly a small minority -- the only other route -- the last resort, so to speak -- was to return to the ancient church, as "historical evangelicals", or into full communion with the Catholic or Orthodox churches. Our own personal experience in this has been tremendously fulfilling. My wife, raised in devout Plymouth Brethren circles, can now say that the Catholic church is "what I've been searching for my whole life." We also know many people here who, raised in evangelical culture, returned to the ancient eastern orthodox church. Some of the same reasons which I have listed here.... major questions about the roots of the faith, about the nature of the church, and the basis for believing in Christ. For many of us, protestantism came to be seen as arbitrary, suspended somewhere in space with no roots. We also know many ex-cradle Catholics who did not seem to find their spiritual experience satisfying, and so they left. Now, after 12 years in the church, we can see various reasons. I have to say that one reason, is poor catechesis, really understanding what the faith is all about. Much of catechesis has tended to be poorly taught. Catholic theology is very deep, has to be seen as a whole, and much of it is commonly misunderstood or distorted. Unfortunately, the distortions are where the flash points between catholic and protestants tend to occur. The evangelical emphasis, its emphasis on the relationship with Jesus, can be a real gift to the catholic church -- whether offered by those who enter into full communion (I do consider myself "evangelical"), or those who must remain protestant, and seek to nurture close friendships, better understanding, and fellowship across the whole spectrum of the body of Christ. The fact that we are drawn to each other, across boundaries, should be an encouragement, an affirmation of the truth that the church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic", and it is an unhealthy woundedness which divides us. Thanks for posting.
Toggle Commented Jun 3, 2011 on The Great Catholic Exodus at John H Armstrong
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Jun 2, 2011