And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
As of July 16, 2012 I rejoined the Catholic Church after three+ years of exploring Apostolic Christianity (what I call, the Apostolic Reformation of the Church).I was still perturbed about the various Catholic problems, abuses, errors, attitudes, changes of opinion, but I saw the alternate path as leading nowhere. Ironically, one of the motivating factors that led me back to the Catholic Church was observing first-hand the contradiction of the Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide (faith only) in which a person can habitually commit mortal sins yet think their salvation is not at risk.
During those years away from the Catholic Church, I was not a Protestant nor a member of any Protestant denomination or non-denomination. I called myself an "Ecumenical" Christian.
Three months later, after studying Catholic documents (Canon Law, Catechisms, Papal Encyclicals, Councils, etc.) I quit being Catholic because of the many contradictions and errors.
I am a Spirit-filled, born-again, member of the mystical body of Christ — a Christian and member of the "one holy, catholic, and apostolic church".
I had trouble finding a church that emphasizes having a relationship with Jesus and Christian fellowship and that welcomes Catholics. (Liberal Christianity was never an option.) I often ended up attending the Catholic Church anyway.
I visited a United Church of Christ church. Very interesting. They were very welcoming and friendly. The public act of contrition was odd — no mention of sin at all but instead a plea to God to strengthen and encourage me if I was tired from the rigors of life. The homily was inspiring and encouraging but allegoricalin the interpretation and application of the scriptural passages — this seemed harmless enough. In general they all seemed to value affirming one another. I certainly could benefit from learning to do this habitually. In looking at their statement of faith they seem to believe in the Bible and in Jesus. They assume that the inclination of a homosexual is no fault of the person and is perhaps genetic. (How can it be genetic? if it were it would die out in one generation.) I agree that it is no fault of the person if their sexual identity was not formed properly in childhood or if they were born that way. But they assume that demanding celibacy for them is too much of a burden, but I wonder why they think that sexual practice is necessary for human fulfillment — aren't friendships enough? But they do believe that sex should only be practiced in the context of a long-term committed relationship. This was definitely a liberal Christian church.
I visited a home fellowship which has an emphasis on "apostolic" evangelistic outreaches in other countries as well as reaching out to local people. This is very commendable. It is a charismatic group — tongues, laying on of hands, believing for things, etc. I am not a charismatic but I am not opposed to it either. In general they are tolerant of my Catholicism but it is not a topic I can discuss which is typical of most fundamentalists — if I mention a Catholic topic they either argue with me or ignore me. I like their worship style — home grown contemporary Christian worship songs. They spend a lot of time talking about their various "apostolic" activities and I personally find this topic tiring. I would rather be involved in devotional and interactive discussions.
I visited several Episcopalian churches which I enjoyed very much. This was a watershed for me since I partook of the Eucharist in defiance of the commands of the Catholic Church for Catholics. In believing that the Eucharist is valid in Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches (and maybe others) I realized I needed to put my faith to the test. Sadly, it turned out that these churches all had liberal Christian leanings.
I went to a new non-denominational denomination. It was basically a rock concert followed by a self-help, motivational seminar. It was all quite noisy. They have home fellowships but I think those might be too controlled — they provide thick glossy printed materials for the leaders. I didn't feel that this church was about worshipping Christ even though the music portion is supposed to be just that. I suppose it could have be beneficial to learn what they are teaching, as long as I wore earplugs.
I visited several conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical churches having contemporary worship music and engaging sermons. But I always missed the Eucharist.
The early church practiced the Eucharist from the beginning. Finding a church which practices the Eucharist is not easy. The Lutheran denominations are either anti-Catholic or liberal-leaning. The Anglican/Episcopalian denominations have allowed "modern" mores to infiltrate (but so has the Catholic Church). The Orthodox Churches are too scarce and too ethnic.
I supposed I had to choose Catholic or Orthodox. I didn't base this on apostolic succession because ...
I based it on sociological continuity — just as the Jews of today have many differences from the Jews of Old Testament days they still have a continuity.
The pope is just another Catholic minister who happens to be the head of a church which has a high degree of historical continuity from the early church. The same can be said of Catholic bishops, priests and deacons. That being said, I love Pope Benedict XVI (and many other popes throughout history) and find great inspiration in their words and writings.
The only friendly Catholics where I live are the liberals. I'm not sure they are even Christians (or Catholics).
Protestant churches have historical continuity with the early church because they adhere to the early creeds and the Bible.
The "perfect" church would have the following ...