One of the regular commentators on this blog is a British fellow who was brought up a Catholic and has left the Catholic Church for charismatic Protestantism. It’s great to have him here because his questions and comments are always lively and, although sometimes punchy, are always put with good humor and a charitable spirit.
I can certainly understand why some people would leave the Catholic Church for charismatic Protestantism. Maybe within Catholicism they had a genuinely bad experience at the hands of some terrible priest or some other Catholic hypocrite. Perhaps they were poorly catechized and only made what they feel is a personal response through the ministry of the Protestant Church. If that is so, then the Catholic Church let them down. Once in the Protestant church they no doubt received anti-Catholic teaching and became critical of the Catholic Church. All that is understandable (though regrettable)
Our particular commentator though, claims that one of the reasons he went for the charismatic church was because there was a lack of miracles in the Catholic Church. This is one I just don’t get. I realize that charismatic Protestantism claims great miracles: they claim to raise people from the dead, people are healed of AIDs, homosexuality is ‘healed’. They claim exorcisms of all sorts: the spirit of almost anything that troubles you can be ‘cast out.’ Why I once knew of a charismatic who used to cast out the ‘demon’ of thumbsuckng from young children. The list or miracles goes on. I remember the Toronto blessing when people miraculously were filled with the Holy Spirit and got down on all fours and barked like dogs, mooed like cows and did all sorts of amazing things–all through the wonderful power of the Holy Spirit! Why there are even charismatics in the American south who take the New Testament at face value and drink poison and handle rattlesnakes and are not harmed. (well some are, but that’s proof that they were sinners and didn’t have enough faith…)
Now, I for one, don’t like to be skeptical of anything. If someone claims exorcisms and healings and raising from the dead, I really don’t think it is kind to ask the obvious questions like, “Gosh, does that mean they don’t have undertakers in that town anymore?” or “I guess with all the healings the doctors and hospitals have gone out of business.” or “My word, what sort of implications are there for the pension business now that people aren’t dying anymore?” No indeed, I’m a positive sort of fellow and want to praise God for the miracles that undoubtedly do occur within charismatic Protestantism.
So let us be positive about the miracles within charismatic Protestantism, but what I find curious is that our particular friend abandoned Catholicism for want of miracles. What! one jumps overboard from the barque of Peter because there aren’t enough miracles? Why the Catholics have a list of miracles to make any Charismatic green with envy. The Catholics have miracles most charismatics wouldn’t even dream of.
Let’s start with the saints: first of all, for the saint to be declared a saint they need to have performed a couple of miracles not just from the evangelistic revival tent, but from heaven. Now that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment I’d say! Then there are the lives of the saints themselves. There are those who have had visions and locutions from heaven, saints who have stigmata, saints who have levitated, saints who have existed for decades on nothing but the Eucharistic host, saints with healing gifts, saints who could ‘read souls’, saints who could bi-locate, saints who have received miraculous stigmata. Then there are the saints whose bodies were incorrupt after death, those whose corrupt bodies exuded supernatural light and a fragrance of roses, and those who have exuded a holy fragrant oil that healed people.
The list goes on! We have to include miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, the sun spinning at Fatima, visions of Jesus and messages from heaven. Then there are bleeding statues, weeping statues, Eucharistic hosts that bleed and faithful souls who are healed at all these wonderful shrines and places of miraculous pilgrimage.
That someone might leave the Catholic Church for a humdinger of a Bible study, or for a hefty sermon, or for some spirit lifting praise and worship music, or warm Christian fellowship, or for a more relaxed moral code which allows them to be divorced and remarried without any sort of discipline, or for a church of their own choosing and their own making, or for the assurance that they are going straight to heaven without having to suffer either in this life or in the life hereafter–well all that is pretty attractive and I can see why someone would scoot out of the Catholic Church for all that.
But to leave because the Catholic Church doesn’t have enough miracles?