Once a person converts to follow Jesus, he or she confronts a number of options for living at a higher spiritual pitch. For Protestants the options run the gamut from the second helping of grace that comes with Holy Spirit baptism to the comprehensive alertness that w-w Protestants promote. Often overlooked in the devotional plans that take you from Christianity 1.0 to Genuine Christianity 2.0 is the contribution of converts to Roman Catholicism.
Mark Shea shows the way:
I was raised Nothing-in-Particular (with a cloudy pagan regard for “the spiritual” and a deep disdain of “organized religion”). Then, at the age of 20, I had a sort of classic “born again” experience after an encounter with the living God revealed in Jesus Christ. Looking around me, I found that the people who had introduced me to Jesus were the non-denominational Evangelicals and charismatics on my dorm floor at the University of Washington. Therefore, putting two and two together, I concluded that this was the Christian community God had given me and that it was my task to learn from them, love them, and receive the love of God through them.
So learn from them I did. I became a member of this community (which eventually coalesced into a small church in North Seattle) and I learned the basics of the Christian faith-trust, prayer, love, good works, fellowship, discipleship, Scripture study-in this place. I regard this time with them as my personal “Old Testament”: that period of preparation for the full reception of Christ which was to come when I became a Catholic.
I think the “Old Testament” metaphor for my time as an Evangelical is apt because I don’t believe for a moment that it was an accident God introduced me to his Son through Evangelicalism any more than I believe it an accident that the whole history of Israel was the preparation for the Advent of Christ. Again and again, I found that things in my own Evangelical background anticipated the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Christ who is fully revealed there just as the teaching of the Old Testament anticipated the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Christ. So I am deeply grateful for my time as an Evangelical and regard the good things God gave me through that Tradition as very properly Catholic.
No mention here of the sins involved in belonging to a church not in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome or the mortal sin of disobeying the magisterium. Shea was a Christian, had gone from darkness to light, and had found Christ among Protestants.
Why on earth would Rome have ever anathematized Protestants or their teaching?