“I was raised Evangelical and just recently started looking, with an open mind, into the Catholic Church. You guys have been instrumental in my leaning more and more towards coming home to the Catholic Church.”
Fifty years ago the Jehovah's Witnesses numbered fewer than 100,000. Now there are several million of them around the world. They don’t have churches; they have "Kingdom Halls" instead. Their congregations are uniformly small, usually numbering less than two hundred. Most Witnesses used to be Catholics or Protestants. Let’s look a little at their history, because that will help us understand their unique doctrines.
Some religious organizations (Seventh-day Adventists, Seventh-Day Baptists, and certain others) claim that Christians must not worship on Sunday but on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. They claim that, at some unnamed time after the apostolic age, the Church "changed" the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.
You surely have been through it. There is a knock at the door. Outside is a man or woman with a big smile, an open Bible, and a bunch of questions designed to attack the Catholic faith. Or you are accosted on the street by someone who asks, "Have you been saved?" Or, outside church after Mass, you find people passing out leaflets opposing Catholic beliefs and arguing with any who object.
At times Fundamentalists talk as if they thought no case could be made for the Catholic faith. That’s understandable. After all, if you’re a Fundamentalist instead of a Catholic, it is because you do not believe that Catholicism is true. You reject it because you think it is false. But make sure what you’re rejecting is Catholicism, not merely a caricature of it. If you think Catholics worship Mary, pray to statues, and claim the pope is equal to God, then you aren’t rejecting Catholicism, but someone’s misrepresentation of it. You deserve to have the facts before you make up your mind.
Fundamentalism is a relatively new brand of Protestantism started in America that has attracted a tremendous following, including many fallen away Catholics. How did this popular movement originate? The history of Fundamentalism may be viewed as having three main phases. The first lasted a generation, from the 1890s to the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. In this period, Fundamentalism emerged as a reaction to liberalizing trends in American Protestantism; it broke off, but never completely, from Evangelicalism, of which it may be considered one wing.
Around 926 b.c., the kingdom of Israel split in two. Up to that point, all twelve tribes of Israel (plus the priestly tribe of Levi) had been united under the monarchies of Saul, David, and Solomon. But when Solomon’s son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, the ten Northern tribes rebelled and seceded from the union. This left only two tribes—Judah and Benjamin (plus much of Levi)—under the control of the king in Jerusalem.
"The civil authority has been, ever from the days of Herod, the enemy of Christ. The question, now pending, is whether the Church shall admit to ministry those only who, according to the dictation of the civil power, are fit for the office."
~ Bishop Hogan of Kansas City MO, excerpted from an address to parishoners after his arrest under the provisions of the Missouri Test Oath (which was subsequently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court by just one vote)