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Colossians and Me: 20 Passages that Rocked My World

I was convinced that I must leave Catholicism after studying the Book of Colossians over a weekend in December, 1991. Looking back today, I find twenty passages that led to this fateful decision.

1) Col 1:12-13. TIMING OF JUSTIFICATION. “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us…and transferred us.”

I became convinced I was not transferred as an infant through baptism, but rather as an adult through repentance and belief.

2) Col 1:15-17. THE PREEMINENCE OF JESUS. “For by Him all things were created…through Him and for Him…in Him all things hold together.”

Catholicism with all its “fullness” (e.g. sacramentals, Mary, saints, holy days…) was distracting me from the Prize, Jesus Christ.

3) Col 1:18. USURPED AUTHORITY. “He is the head of…the church.”

All power on earth belongs to Jesus, not the pope.

4) Col 1:20-22. COMPLETE ACCEPTANCE BASED ON TRUSTING JESUS. “having made peace…formerly alienated…now reconciled…”

I was accepted fully. Not based on my future merit.

5) Col 1:23. FAITH IN CHRIST AND HOPE OF THE GOSPEL. “if indeed you continue in the faith…not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”

Catholicism was moving me away from this hope and demanding that I trust and obey the Church’s traditions.

6) Col 1:26-28. PREEMINENCE OF THE GOSPEL. “preaching of the word of God… the mystery…has now been manifested…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Faith in Christ, not his mediated presence in a saint, Mary, priest, pope or sacrament.

7) Col 2:4-5. DANGER OF BEING POINTED AWAY FROM CHRIST. “true knowledge of God’s mystery, Christ Himself…Let no one delude you with persuasive argument.”

I recognized the danger of having my focus taken away from Jesus by the “extras” promoted by Catholicism (e.g. all the saints and their special days, relics, scapulars and other sacramentals).

8) Col 2:7. MOTIVE OF GRATITUDE. “overflowing with gratitude.”

In Catholicism I was taught obligation (e.g. Sunday, Holy Days). This engendered fear, not love.

9) Col 2:8. IMPORTANCE OF DISCERNMENT. “Let no one take you captive…”

Catholicism taught me to place my will and intellect in submission to the pope, the bishops, and their infallible teaching. I was going to be held accountable for what I believed. It seemed dangerous for me to submit without personal discernment.

10) Col 2:8. PREEMINENCE OF PHILOSOPHY AND ITS DANGER. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception…”

Entering the priesthood requires 120 credit hours (two full years) of philosophy. Catholic teaching, such as transubstantiation, is based on Aristotle’s philosophy.

11) Col 2:8. SUBMITTING TO TRADITION. “take you captive …according to the tradition of men.”

Catholicism taught me that God’s word included oral tradition, as determined by them. 2000 years of Church Tradition were held on par with Scripture as the Word of God.

12) Col 2:10. CHRIST IS THE HEAD, PART 2. “in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head…”

Second warning by Paul about who is in charge. Emphasis. “Listen up!” says Paul.

13) Col 2:19. HOLD FAST TO CHRIST, THE HEAD, PART 3. “not holding fast to the head.”

Third warning about headship. Paul is stressing over and over the danger of submitting to an improper authority.

14) Col 2:10. FULLNESS FOUND IN CHRIST, NOT THE CHURCH. “In Him you have been made complete…”

Catholicism boasted of being the only church where the fullness of salvation is found. No salvation apart from Her. This conflicted with my observation of many joyous and godly Protestants whom I had met.

15) Col 2:16. WHO IS MY JUDGE? “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food…”

As a Catholic I was judged based on whether or not I ate meat on Fridays. To do so was to disobey Church teaching and was a mortal sin which could result in damnation.

16) Col 2:18. VISIONS AND MYSTICISM. “taking his stand on visions.”

At the time of my conversion, visions of Mary at Medjugorge, Yugoslavia were all the rage. Much of Catholic folklore and teaching is based on such visions.

17) Col 2:19. VENERATION OF SAINTS AND ANGELS. “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by…the veneration of angels.”

I was attending daily mass at St. Gabriel Catholic Church! I was venerating even lesser beings, so-called saints as determined by the Church.

18) Col 2:20. SUBMITTING TO DECREES. “If you have died with Christ…why…do you submit to decrees…?”

Catholic teaching through various popes would issue decrees that must be followed. Holy Days that changed from decade to decade. Decrees of indulgences. Decrees of all sorts.

19) Col. 2:23. ASCETICISM IS OF NO VALUE. “why do you submit to…matters…of self-made religion and self-abasement…[which] are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

I considered all the vows and monks and monasteries and cloisters and nuns and celibacy.

20) Col 3:1. JESUS IS SEATED IN HEAVEN. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

If I was going to leave Catholicism, I needed to address the “elephant in the room.” Was Christ physically present when called down by the priest in the Eucharist? This was the final decision that I had to make, and which was the most important. I decided Jesus was seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

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