All of the former Catholics I have encountered online have left the Catholic Church for erroneous reasons. For example, many of them were poorly catechized, meaning, they don’t understand what the Church teaches. So they leave believing that they will obtain something that was already rightfully theirs as a Catholic. For example, you will encounter former Catholics who say things like this:
“I left the Catholic Church and gave my life to Jesus Christ.”
Without a doubt, this kind of person falls into the category I just described. A relationship with Jesus Christ is and was rightfully theirs as a Catholic, but for whatever reason they didn’t realize it. For more details on what I mean, see these posts of mine:
- The OSAS pattern is present in Catholic practice
- Jesus waits for us
- What does it mean to abide in Jesus? (John 15:5)
I recently came across the blog of somebody who is a former Catholic of that stripe, who is trying to convert Catholics away from the Catholic Church.
One recent blog post was arguing that the idea of having a pope was neither Biblical nor historical. (This, in and of itself, is a common objection that has been dealt with many times, in many ways, over many many years, by many different Catholics.)
In this particular instance, this blogger quoted from a few church fathers to make the argument. I noticed that the quotes discussed the office of bishop. Bishops are male leaders in the Catholic Church who can trace their ordinations all the way back to the Apostles. It was clear from the quotes that the office of bishop was legitimate and necessary. I read this person’s “About” page and a few other posts. I am not 100% certain what sort of Protestant he is, but regardless of that, he is either under and invalid bishop, or not under any bishop at all. From the Catholic perspective, a bishop is valid if his ordination is part of an unbroken chain of ordinations going back to the Apostles. This is called Apostolic Succession. Certainly most Evangelical Christians would agree that they are not under any bishop at all. From reading this persons other blog posts, I have the impression that he is part of a non-denominational church, which means he’s not under any bishop.
This blogger was relying on the historical legitimacy and existence of bishops, yet did not appear to be under a bishop himself. If he is not under any bishop at all, this seems like a big oversight. He was not arguing that the office of bishop was invalid, just the office of pope. The office of bishop was being invoked, yet the person doesn’t seem to be applying it to himself as a Christian. I wanted to respond but couldn’t think of a way to do it. The best I could come up with was to ask, “Are you under a bishop?” or, “Is the office of bishop a valid office?” but even that seemed provocative. I wrote this post instead so you could understand two kinds of arguments former Catholics make.
Related: here is the list of popes (aka Bishops of Rome), going all the way back to St. Peter: