Here is a letter I found from a confused Catholic. It is pretty lengthy but good. Please read. An Open Letter to Catholic Apologists From a Layperson Here I am a confused and disillusioned evangelical. What am I supposed to believe about the significance of baptism, or about predestination and election--which view is correct Arminianism, Calvinism, or something in between? And what about speaking in tongues? Have I not been baptized by the Holy Spirit because I don't speak in tongues like some people say? Everyone's reading the same Bible, but they're not all saying the same things. If only there were someone who could tell me exactly what to believe and end my confusion. Then along comes a Roman Catholic e-pologist who lays out the case for Catholicism, and it sounds great to me. He convinces me that all the Catholic beliefs that I thought were unbiblical really aren't. My whole problem was that I was trying to interpret the Bible without the infallible Catholic magisterium to tell me what it really means and without the knowledge of all those infallible traditions the Catholic church has been faithfully guarding all these centuries, and that's why I didn't know that Mary was born without sin, that she's the Queen of Heaven and the dispenser of all graces, and that Peter was the first pope. So I sign up for my nearest RCIA classes and eventually I'm confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church. When I'm not sure what God really wants from me, I can whip out my trusty Catholic catechism and find out everything I need to believe and do to remain a faithful Catholic. No more confusion. Just one big happy family, united in doctrine, one in faith! Great! Once I start attending Catholic Church, I'm a little disappointed to find that there aren't too many people there who are really faithful Catholics. The people I talk to seem indifferent to Catholic dogma, often openly disagreeing with some of the basic teachings. Although most of them call themselves faithful Catholics, it's obvious that they're really not because they disagree on the dogmatic teachings of the church, and as I learned from the Roman Catholic e-pologist I talked to, that's the criteria for determining who's a faithful Catholic and who isn't. So because my faith is of the utmost importance to me, I want to fellowship with other faithful Catholics who feel as strongly as I do about my faith. I decide to go online and join a discussion board to talk to other faithful Catholics about our mutual faith. There I meet a Catholic, though, who begins sharing with me about the problems with the post-Vatican II Catholic Church. He tells me that the Church has strayed from the original faith. I tell him that it does seem strange to me to hear that documents that seemed to make it clear that no one could be saved outside the Catholic Church don't really mean what they sound like they mean, but that we can't be going around interpreting church documents on our own any more than we can the Bible. If something has been infallibly defined, we must accept it by faith. He then goes on to tell me that that's true, but that many people are confused about the infallibility issue. He directs me to a website that gives a good argument for the idea that the problem these people have is that they don't understand the difference between the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium and the ordinary, "authentic," non-infallible Magisterium. I read in this article why Vatican II cannot validly overturn the history of the Church in this matter and why. Now I'm a little confused. Vatican II certainly does seem to contradict prior Catholic teaching, but how can I be sure? I know I'm supposed to obey the infallible decrees of councils, but how do I know for sure what constitutes an infallible decree? But before I have a chance to get too disturbed by this newfound information, along come other faithful Catholics who tell me that this person is a schismatic because he doesn't submit to the authority of the Church. I wonder to myself. One person says that the changes of Vatican II don't meet the criteria for infallibility, and that they contradict prior teaching, so as a faithful Catholic, I should reject them. Another person tells me that a faithful Catholic would never reject an infallible teaching from the church, and Vatican II meets the criteria for infallibility. And before long, I begin to feel those same old feelings of doubt and insecurity about what to believe. But I put those thoughts aside for the time being. I decide to educate myself more about my faith, so I pick up some books by Catholic scholars to see what else I can learn. I want to be sure that the authors I read are really faithful Catholics, so I look for books that bear the official seal of approval of the Church, the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. Imagine my shock when I find all kinds of divergent opinions in these books that stand in direct conflict with some of the defined dogmas I've been told I'm required to believe. Why are these scholars accepted by the Church and their books being officially approved by Catholic bishops? Why, instead, aren't they being disciplined or excommunicated? Why can they publicly teach heresy with an official seal of approval by bishops whose authority comes straight from Rome? This doesn't sound biblical to me, but I remember that I can't interpret the Bible if my interpretation leads me in a different direction from the Church--after all the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth, not the Bible--and the Church tells me that verse means that my interpretation of the Bible can never contradict the Church's. But still, this not only doesn't seem biblical, but it doesn't sound like the response from the early church to heretics, either. These early heretics were forced out of the church and roundly refuted by the church fathers--faithful Catholics if ever there were any, according to Catholics. But these scholars are teaching in Catholic universities and writing books with the approval of the Church. Huh? Even so, in my newfound zeal for the Roman Catholic Church, I can hardly wait to share the good news with my Jewish neighbor, and tell him about the true Church that I've come home to, and to tell him that Jesus is the Messiah. But then I hear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that Jews don't need to be evangelized because they already have their own covenant relationship with God. Of course, my first thought about that is that it seems very strange that Peter and Paul weren't aware of that, and that they wasted a lot of effort trying to evangelize the Jews. But then I remember that I'm not supposed to be interpreting the Bible for myself in these matters, so maybe I misunderstood all that stuff about sharing the gospel with Jews in the early church. Or maybe something has changed since then and although they were supposed to do that, we're not. Or maybe, oh never mind. I don't need to worry myself over these things anymore, because I have the Church to tell me what to do and what to believe, and these kinds of thoughts only lead to confusion and schism, so I try to ignore them. After all, I don't want to be accused of being my own pope. Still I'm curious about this, so I go online and ask other Catholics what they think. I find that many Catholics say that the American Bishops have no authority to make that decision, so they're free to disagree. Okay, I think, that settles it. I'll share the gospel with my Jewish neighbor. Just to ease my mind, I pull out my Catholic catechism again, so I can be reminded of all the unity I have with my Catholic brothers and sisters. But, much to my dismay, what do I find? According to the catechism, I'm supposed to faithfully obey my bishop. What now? Do I talk to my Jewish neighbor about his need to trust in Jesus Christ and the Church or not? Does my Jewish neighbor even need Jesus or not? Faithful Catholics are telling me that I should talk to him about Jesus, and yet according to the catechism, a faithful Catholic is to submit to the teachings of the local bishops who've told me that Jews don't need Jesus. I'm in such a tizzy over these things, I go back to the e-pologist who first told me about the truth of the Catholic Church and ask him what I'm to do? Again, he reassures me that the Catholic Church is completely unified, and anyone who disagrees with his beliefs is a schismatic and should be ignored. He reminds me again that all faithful Catholics agree on all defined dogmas (and those are the only things of real importance), because by definition, that's what makes them faithful Catholics. Then suddenly some old familiar feelings start to surface. I remember the time when my fundamentalist church where I first believed the gospel told me to stick with them for the true interpretation of the Bible. Whenever I went to someone there with a question, they'd tell me that faithful Christians are unified over doctrine, and those who teach other things are introducing strange doctrines that tickle men's ears. "Just ignore them, believe the Bible, and if you're confused about anything, ask us," they'd say. But yet, as I met more Christians not from my denomination, they had some cogent sounding arguments of their own about why their beliefs were the true biblical ones, and they told me that my denomination was teaching some false doctrines. So I wondered, how do I know if my denomination is teaching the truth, and not these other people? That's why I left evangelicalism for Rome; so I wouldn't have to experience that kind of confusion anymore. But now here I am, and what's changed? Catholic apologists tell me that all "faithful Catholics" are united over the "important issues"--defined dogma; traditionalist Catholics tell me that the modern Church is teaching heresy (not infallibly, of course), and that "faithful Catholics" must reject this modern teaching that opposes the true faith; Catholic scholars who teach in Catholic universities are publishing officially approved books, even saying things like Jesus wasn't even born of a virgin, and Rome doesn't object, leading me to believe that these scholars must be considered "faithful Catholics" by Rome or they'd be removed from their positions and disciplined and eventually excommunicated if they don't repent and recant; and my bishops are telling me not to evangelize my Jewish neighbor because he doesn't need Jesus, and although Rome hasn't confirmed this teaching, they have told me that "faithful Catholics" are to obey the bishops, even though the "faithful Catholic" who showed me the "true Church" says these bishops are wrong, that they have no authority to teach what they're teaching, and that they can be ignored by "faithful Catholics." These are just a few examples of the kinds of issues a thinking Catholic runs into. I could go on and on with many more, but these will suffice for now. Is there any Catholic apologist who can help me with this? I'd really like to be a "faithful" Catholic, but I'm afraid I don't know what that is anymore. What I find instead is that, for all their differences, Evangelicals seem to have more true biblical unity than Catholics. What I mean by that is they seem to embrace each other as brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of their differences. Could it be that it is really the Catholic system that is "unworkable," and that sola Scriptura really does promote biblical unity? "Ree"