Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Reason Why I Blog


This morning I got this e mail from an individual who has been visiting my blog and is considering coming into union with the Church. Please pray for "anon" that God will make a way for he and his wife to Cross the Tiber. Letters like this are why we Catholic bloggers keep plugging along.

Dr. Rentler!

I love your blog, "Crossed The Tiber". Thanks for being a faithful blogger! I am currently an evangelical Christian that has, for years, always felt a "spiritual" invitation to the Catholic Church. I've always been drawn to her thinkers, writers, theologians, monks, saints, etc... I've always written off these "tugs" as just an interest, mainly because of the perception that the Protestant Church has created of Catholics. I have always refused the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, but now, I inexplicably find myself being drawn to it.

Recently, particularly during the beginning of this Lenten season, the urge to explore Catholicism has increased immensely. I am researching the Reformation more than ever and currently, I don't understand how the "Protestants" pulled away from the Catholic Church in the severity that they did. I understand that the Renaissance "awakened" our individuality, but am having trouble reconciling a departure of the original church over issues that would've been worked out over time.

For the first time in my life, I almost feel outside the faith by not attending Mass. Could you please recommend some good books about "Crossing the Tiber?" Forgive me if you have recommended some on your blog in the past, but I recently just found it! Also, the wildcard in all of this is that my wife, though she is understanding of my draw to the Catholic Church, refuses to follow me to it! Any insight would be phenomenal!

Thanks for your time,
"Anon"

So I responded with this:

Dear "Anon:"
 Your letter was an answered prayer for me! You have helped confirm for
me that I should keep blogging. Sometimes, it seems like no one is out
there and I am making no impact then, I get a note from someone like
yourself. It sounds like you are experiencing what  20th century Catholic
convert Chesterton wrote about:

"It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men
cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they
cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The
moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when
that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the
tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair."


Yes it's a tremendous love affair and doesn't end with reception into
the Church. I truly feel much closer to the Lord since becoming
Catholic and I was a fairly serious evangelical before.

There are many excellent books on conversion some more theological
others more experiential.  The books I found helpful were  "Crossing
the Tiber" by Steve Ray. It was so influential for me, I named my blog
after it!  He wrote a letter to his baptist father explaining why he decided to convert and it turned into a book. It is an excellent resource to help anyone with an open mind to
understand the Catholic faith.

Scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home is another great book with his testimony
of conversion and great theological and apologetic explanations along the way.

The three book series "Surprised by Truth" edited by Patrick Madrid is
an amazing collection of short conversion stories by people of many
different faiths, evangelical, charismatic, reformed, pentecostal,
Anglican. Each story gives a different twist, but so many of the
stories resonated with me and further confirmed my decision to
convert.

Another excellent resource is Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic
by David Currie. If your funds are limited, I would start with this
book.

Finally regarding your wife, I was in a similar but opposite
situation. My wife wanted to convert 5 years before I did and I
opposed it vehemently;  "Christ can't possibly be the head of a church
of pedophiles" was what I actually said to her! Four years later I was
bawling my eyes out in confession then receiving Christ in the
Eucharist!   So don't give up hope but I would definitely recommend
not pressuring or cajoling her. My wife was amazing in never nagging,
or trying to get me to read stuff, instead she actually prayed that God would
move my heart to let her convert, because she never believed I would
convert. Yet 7 years later I am still blogging, facebooking and
singing about the Catholic Church.
You can read about it in my link to my conversion story on my blog on
the left hand side.

My wife  suggested a book called "When Only One Converts"  It gives
several stories and perspectives on Catholic conversion and the how
to's
and how not to's of dealing with it.

May I have permission to print your letter anonymously on my blog?
Then I can respond as I did here and perhaps encourage other seekers?
if not I understand.  BTW, are you a musician? I googled your name and
the only _____ I found is a musician in Nashville.

May God bless your journey. I will keep you and your wife in our
prayers. If she isn't opposed, yes, go to Mass, find some good
Catholics to chat with, and Lord willing when the time is right, He
will bring you in and then you can receive the Eucharist! You can
still go up the communion line for a blessing by the priest. Just fold
your arms across your chest when you reach him and he will pray a
blessing. It's not the same as receiving the actual body of the Lord, but there is grace involved there because of your honoring the Lord in the Eucharist as He is right in front of
you, and His grace is there!

Please let me know of any questions or issues along the way, I will
always be here to help if I can be of assistance or perhaps direct you
to a site or resource that can help,
In Christ
Russ Rentler

PS:  Search my blog for the key word Eucharist and you will find some
interesting articles.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless him. I will pray for him. Julie

March 03, 2012 9:41 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Nice and shorter than most is Mark Shea's "By What Authority?"

March 04, 2012 4:06 PM  
Blogger gutenberg'sbible said...

that's a great book, I read that as well, but forgot about it!

March 04, 2012 7:09 PM  
Blogger Dianna said...

So does this mean you are a born again Catholic? Why are not all Catholics born again? Why are there different sects inside the Catholic church? Are all of them recognized by the pope?

March 12, 2012 9:41 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dear Dianna:

The long story is that I would suggest you read my conversion story, here

The short story is yes, I am born again, but the biblical definition of that is that I have been baptized in Christ, which is what the term Born Again has meant for almost 1800 years. Before then, no one referred to someone as a "Born-again Christian". This term was used by fundamentalists to describe a personal spiritual re-awakening, but the New Testament as well as all the Christians for the most of Christendom referred to born again as being baptized. The concept of asking Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior making you "born again" is not biblical. Should we all ask Jesus to be our savior and invite Him into our hearts? Yes, absolutely, but that one affirmation doesn't guarantee that person a place in heaven. If he or she is born again through the waters of baptism which the bible says "saves you" and lives a life pleasing to the Lord, they will attain heaven.

I was Catholic kid in the 60's and early 70's who was baptized as a baby,but as an adolescent was in a a dark place spiritually, going to Mass but living like the devil.

I had a conversion at a bible study where I did surrender my life to Jesus. At the time that was called being born again, but it was really just a moment of surrender which the Lord honored. Sadly I left the Catholic Church because this group of Protestants were anti-Catholic and taught me many un true things about the Church, which I should have looked into for myself. Thanks be to God, I returned to the Catholic faith 7 years ago.

Are there born again Catholics? All Catholics are born again meaning they have been baptized. Are all baptized Catholics living faithfully for Christ? Sadly the answer is no, not all, and this can be found in any protestant church as well. When I was a protestant, there were many who would say they had been saved and "born again" on a Sunday, but lived a very different life the rest of the week. I as a physician had many of these folks as patients, and sadly, being "born again" did not keep them from worldly vices, nor make them any better at paying their bills for my services than the "non-born again" patients. as a matter of fact, many of them used their "born again" status with me to not pay their bills and be dishonest about certain things I won't go into here. So my personal experience tells me that calling yourself a "born again Christian" doesn't always translate into someone who is truly attempting to live for Christ on a consistent basis.

There are no sects in the Catholic Church, we are all in submission to the pope in Rome, meaning we trust that God leads and guides the Church through him. We don't worship the pope!!!
There are different rites within the Church, meaning some use a different liturgy, the byzantine rite, for instance, but we are all still Catholic. That is what it means to be catholic, universal, all as one, believing the same doctrines. Catholicism by definition IS THE CHURCH Jesus started, and there are no sects within it. Hope this helps.

March 12, 2012 10:24 PM  

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