Flashbacks of Catholic Threats
Question: I am a former Catholic. Every once in a while I still have "flashbacks" about Catholic threats about God's displeasure if we turn our back on the institution of the Catholic Church. I guess my mind and memory banks are not completely renewed yet. Did you experience a similar thing -- that is, that there was a time element involved before you became entirely free? Do you feel that you have arrived at the point of never having "flashbacks" or feeling false guilt or self-doubt?
Answer: It is an amazing fact that the Roman Catholic system so thoroughly indoctrinates her children, that many of them remain slaves all their life. Even when, by the grace of God, a Catholic is set free from the traditions of our fathers, he remains tormented by many doubts and false guilt feelings. I am not surprised by your experience, for in a very real sense, I continue to struggle against false teachings that have been implanted in my mind during my childhood.
This is the normal Christian experience. The Jewish Christians to whom the letter to the Hebrews is addressed had a similar problem. They had their traditions, their history, and external religious worship. When they became Christian, they detached themselves from a religion that clearly had its roots in God. Were not the priests and Judaism in direct historical succession to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and David? Yet, because the children of Israel, for the great part, rejected the Messiah prophesied in their Scriptures, the right thing to do was to leave the Jewish religion and join the new "sect" of the Nazarene.
We find ourselves in a similar situation. Roman Catholicism has a historical link with the apostolic church. Yet, in time, they added doctrines and practices that seriously undermine the truth of the apostolic Gospel. Catholic apologists boast about their historical succession, just as the Jews bragged that they were the children of Abraham. However, the Lord Jesus rebuked them and told them that God was able to raise up children for Abraham out of stones.
God is not displeased with us for leaving a corrupt and apostate church. To be sure, He positively commands us to "come out of her" in order to avoid the coming judgments. God requires us to know the truth of the Gospel and be faithful to His teaching. The only way that we can really be set free from our past is to learn and know the truth of Christ and obey it. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32ďAnd you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32).
Needless to say, we have not arrived yet. We are still growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Hence, we should continue to prayerfully and carefully study the Scriptures to learn sound doctrine, thereby correcting false ideas still lingering in our minds. Even so, if our knowledge of the Bible has humbled us that we should not place any confidence in the flesh for our justification, and if it has produced a living faith in Christ alone for our salvation, holiness, and love for God and our neighbours...well, brother, we can be sure that we are on the right track. Let us move on!
© Dr Joseph Mizzi