I’m a member of the Churches of Christ (COC). The COC is an American low church tradition from the Stone-Campbell restoration movement of the early nineteenth century. I favor this tradition because it emphasizes ecumenism through Christian minimalism.
has been the greatest challenge to my COC identity because it
represents a nearly opposite ideology. I have visited Catholic clergy,
studied their doctrines, and meditated on my relationship to the
Catholic Church. There are three reasons I will not convert to
Catholicism in the near future.
Firstly, I feel
uncomfortable with too many Catholic doctrines to practice them without
violating my conscience. After moving to China last year, I’ve come to
think the Catholic veneration of saints is too similar to Chinese
ancestor worship. I cannot find a significant difference between them.
Considering the multitude of Bible verses condemning idolatry, I cannot
venerate saints without violating my faith, and the practice is so
central to Catholicism it doesn’t seem practical for me to convert and
Secondly, my decision is based on probability
and its relationship to the Church’s inerrancy claims. Much of the
Church’s legitimacy is based upon a claim to sole authority and
inerrancy. According to the Church, it cannot err doctrinally as a body.
However, after surveying history, I’ve found numerous questionable
doctrines (Assumption of Mary, transubstantiation, papal infallibility,
etc.). If even one of these doctrines is untrue it delegitimizes the
entire Church. It is statistically unlikely the church is correct on all
these precarious positions; especially when the positions are not
Thirdly, the Catholic Church’s doctrines
are often historically inconsistent. Its modern doctrine of sex and
marriage, for example, appears to directly contradict St. Paul’s
teachings in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2. Its position on celibate bishops
defies Paul’s qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2. Its positions on
historical events like the Inquisition and the Crusades have shifted
dramatically. Pope Francis has condemned the death penalty and
contradicted all of Catholic history (I understand Pope Francis wasn’t
defining doctrine, but still). How can I believe the Church is inerrant
when it doesn’t agree with itself?
I do not view
Catholicism as an enemy, and I believe Catholics are fellow Christians.
However, for the reasons outlined, I cannot in good conscience join the