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.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"Conversion Story" Chapter 2

I became very active in evangelical fellowships in high school and college particularly the more charismatic ones. These were groups of young people who truly loved God more than anything in their lives. These were times of warm fellowship and deep friendships some of which have remained up to the present. I still went to the local Catholic Church when I was home to obey my parents but I just tuned out the entire Mass, sat in the pew and stopped receiving the Eucharist. (Thank God I didn't since I would have been violating Paul's admonition to not receive the Body of Christ unworthily. ) At this time I met a Catholic religious brother who was really encouraging about my conversion but I never saw him again after he taught a few CCD classes to us in high school and we lost touch. I figured he was one of the few remaining Christians in the Catholic Church. Actually in all those years, I never met a devout Catholic who could give me a reasoned defense of his faith based on Scripture and good historical arguments. Perhaps they did try to convince me of my error but I usually beat them up so bad with their own Bible they were left slack-jawed and wondering what hit them. I would have dismissed anything they told me anyway since I believed they were following the "whore of Babylon."
Once, I got into a heated debate with the Catholic priest at the college I attended and argued with him about how the Eucharist was only symbolic and not to be taken literally. I'll never forget the day he stomped out of my dorm room and slammed the door telling me how ignorant I was! I thought, "Boy is he a jerk!" Now with the wisdom of age and grace of conversion, I realize how justified he was for becoming enraged at me. There was a lot at stake in this argument, not just a non-essential doctrine to use my own "personal interpretation" on. For this priest it was the "source and summit" of his faith and I was basically rejecting everything he held to, and worse yet, I used to play folk guitar for the Masses he said. You have to be in awe of my amazing arrogance at 17 years of age. I had now been reading the Bible exclusively for the past three years and receiving my teachings from a radio Bible teacher who has since gone off into major heresy. (He predicted the Lord would return in 1994, and has recently stated that "we live in the post-church age and you don't need to go to church anymore.") It was from this anti-Catholic radio bible preacher that I learned my initial theology . I spent hours every night reading the Scriptures and listening to "Open Forum," a call-in radio show hosted by this self-proclaimed Bible authority. But in all my 17 years , I never once read the Catechism of the Catholic Church or any devotional Catholic literature or considered reading the history behind Christianity. So, here I am with my "radio bible theology degree" and three years of born again experience arguing with a Catholic priest who had spent 8 years studying theology and was pursuing a Ph.D at the time. I was thinking how great it was that I had been given The Truth and this poor ignorant priest was wasting his time committing himself and his celibacy to a false religion. As far as I was concerned, this was all I had to know about Christian history: Jesus came to earth, started a church which immediately went south and the Holy Spirit went on sabbatical for 1500 years . So for 1500 years, maybe the "Real Christian Church" went into hiding while the false Catholic church flourished and spread. (Incidentally changing the course of history of the civilized world along the way.) The only problem with this was that if I really believed that the early church apostasized, then the Gates of Hell did indeed prevail against it and Jesus didn't know what He was talking about. Unless of course you continue to believe that the "invisible church" persisted in the background, kind of like a program that keeps running undetected in the background on your computer. The only problem with this theory is that the Church was meant to be a visible physical entity, set on a hill where it would be a light to the world, not hidden in the shadows waiting for a German Augustinian monk 1500 years later to unlock the Truth of the Bible for the world. The other problem that didn't bother me at the time was that there was no historical record of a "remnant hidden church." To be sure, there are records of short-lived heretical sects, cults and heterodox preachers, but no proof that any of them had any connection to the historical church that Christ started. There is a little book called the "Trail of Blood" that claims the Catholic Church has systematically persecuted and supressed the history of the "True Believers" ever since John the Baptist founded his church of true baptist believers. It is this book that has fueled some of the "remnant" theories.
More to come.....


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