In fact, the exact opposite is usually true: it was the commitment to Protestant Christianity and all that is good in it which made these inquirers study and ponder a further move into Catholicism, with its sacramentalism, Mariology, Tradition, papacy, etc. We saw the move as a simple progression upwards; not a reversal or revolution or rejection of what we had already learned. We were committed Protestants, "good" Protestants; who really believed in the system and tried to live it out.
In any event, the argument is made that we converted because we were either ignorant, or non-observant, already-compromised Protestants. We were never really part of the club: we had the smells and bells and attraction to mysticism and the goddess-Mary and a perverse desire to give up our mind and submit to every jot and tittle of the pope's utterances (including when we should blow our nose and what color socks to wear in the morning) in our warped souls, and so were easy-pickin's for Rome. I exaggerate, of course, but to read some cynical observations of Catholic converts, they aren't all that different from this scenario.
This is -- for the most part -- all a bunch of nonsense, of course (as those of us who are converts are well aware). But how often and how much do we hear about similarly ignorant converts from Catholicism to Protestantism? Did they really know their faith before they left it? Were they dupes of the anti-Catholic Protestant apologists and sophists? Or did they have an inexorable, irresistible attraction for private judgment and sola Scriptura in their souls from the beginning, and an irrational longing for whitewashed walls and plain clapboard churches and 90-minute hellfire-and-brimstone sermons and altar calls with the sinner's prayer and the King James Version or interminable pentecostal worship sessions where the people say "Praise God" and "Hallelujah" and "Thank you Jesus" 742 times without engaging in "vain repetition" and the same person goes up front to get "saved" for the 6th time in seven weeks? See how silly the rhetoric sounds if we turn the tables?
If we can cast doubt on Catholic converts due to ignorance and compromise in their former faith-lives, why not apply the same standard to Protestant converts? Yes, why not? But, as I have shown here over and over, anti-Catholics are nothing if not admirers of double standards.
Now, I do wish to note that the Catholic Church bears a great deal of blame insofar as atrocious, abominable catechesis has been scandalously widespread for well over a generation now. Liberalism (along with many other cultural and sociological factors) has made ignorance and nominalism almost the norm.
Yet the individual remains responsible for his own soul, too (Catholics are not just a bunch of mindless clones: we must learn on our own also). A proper understanding of Catholicism is no further away than a couple of books (or even several solid, "meaty" articles): either apologetics or catechetical material. Now with the Internet it is even easier to learn. Within a solid week of study, anyone could have a working knowledge of what they are required to believe as a Catholic, and why they should believe it. And this is why I do what I do and am so passionately committed to it. The more educated Catholics are, the more likely they will remain Catholics, and confident, spiritually-thriving ones. The less-educated they are, the more likely they will leave the faith.
I shall now provide one example of a convert to Protestantism who was thoroughly ignorant of Catholicism, from Eric Svendsen's NTRMin Board. Note well what has happened here! The bolding is added:
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3/1/04 1:18 pm
i've lurked here a long time, but will take this opportunity for intro, in case i decide to post.
my name's rich. i've posted under the name rswood in the past on julie staples' board.
i converted from catholicism 2 years ago now. i was a cradle catholic, but somehow managed to avoid many of the catholic distinctives because they felt inherently wrong. i never prayed to saints or mary, didn't really believe purgatory was real, didn't believe i needed a priest to confess my sins and for most of my time there didn't believe in transubstantiation (although for a season i did).
reading my bible during high school and college only convinced me further that something was amiss. years later i began taking these queries seriously. i was not content in being a lazy catholic. i would research the rcc's claims--if true, i would give up and submit and be a rosary-praying, flesh-eating catholic. if not, i would leave the rcc.
i read works by sungenis and hahn, and listened to every debate of james white's over and over. the slam-dunks for me were salmon's "infallibility of the church" and webster/king's series (yes, i even pored over every endnote). your book on mary was also very helpful, eric! far moreso than, say, hahn's.
i've lurked here for over a year, and am still reading a ton and gaining in knowledge. the next issue for me is going to be coming to terms with the doctrines of grace, although it seems a foregone conclusion that i already believe them--i will however probably give hunt/geisler some last words on it to see if i can be convinced otherwise.
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3/1/04 4:39 pm
oh i forgot to mention i'm californian, 29, and married almost 6 years. my wife converted with me--interestingly she was a cradle-catholic who went to catholic school and the whole nine yards and somehow avoided all the same errors, independently. i'm convinced there are Sheep in the rcc--despite the catholic church. i can think of no other way in which someone can be dunked in families of rosaries and prayer cards and not get wet, yet emerge with the three solas without evangelical interference or even knowing what the solas are. our own experience actually has really helped us understand the doctrines of grace.
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3/5/04 2:50 am
"i've also heard"
of people who claim a pure faith who stay in the rcc to win souls.
. . . they are still IN the rcc physically, but know Jesus apart from Rome's errors. one of the greatest things i came to understand as i learned rcc doctrine was how few in the rcc have a clue really what they're supposed to believe. time and again i talk with catholics who think it's ok to ignore a ton of catholic doctrine, and by so stripping themselves of romanism, end up purely though imperfectly Christian. by imperfect i mean that they aren't being fed, lack knowledge.
so that's just it--they don't tolerate rome's teachings, instinctively (most haven't been taught to avoid these things). they sit in the pews, partake of communion without understanding what they are assenting to when they say "Amen" before receiving it, pray without any mediator to their mediator, confess their sins in private, and so on. i feel like it's my job now to tap them on the shoulder and get them into the Scriptures, and ultimately into a church that will feed them properly. i have a brother and friend in just this position. by God's grace it's just a matter of time til they come out of the rcc entirely because in most senses they aren't there anyway.
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So who were the key players in causing this person to convert? All the usual suspects: James White, George Salmon (a 19th-century anti-Catholic Anglican), Eric Svendsen, William Webster, and David T. King.
I've refuted most of these folks over and over and they have never overturned my reasoning (in virtually all cases they totally ignored it, which seems to be the usual modus operandi of the anti-Catholic in the face of serious critique). This person was taken in by specious reasoning. He felt that he had to choose between light and darkness. Catholicism was the non-Christian system of darkness and Protestantism was the Christian light. So of course, thinking that, he had no choice but to become a Protestant. This is the lie that the anti-Catholic apologists try to put across.
Here are some refutations of these guys (perhaps another victim of their sophistries and slanders and inaccuracies and misrepresentations and anti-rational rantings can be saved):
See my Anti-Catholicism page. Look under white, Webster, Svendsen, and King. See also:
My Old Anti-Catholicism Page
The Church and Infallibility: A Reply to Anglican Polemicist George Salmon (B.C. Butler; includes much material dealing with Newman, the papacy, and development)