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.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Response to My Return to Catholicism

This recent response to my conversion to Catholicism was thoughtful and fairly non- polemic. I interposed my comments in italics. The comments were used with permission from e mail and this does not represent an actual conversation which occurred in "real time."


I’ll admit, I usually see the reverse: former Catholics getting a zeal for God from being exposed to an evangelical church. Usually that’s because they never “felt” God before, found church boring/irrelevant, etc. Your situation, though not unique, you must admit is rare. (But not wrong in and of itself, either.)


No it actually isn't rare. There are many evangelical pastors and Christians converting to Catholicism in the US on a regular basis, so much so that a network/community of converts has formed to assist them in their conversion process as well as help financially as they all lose their livelihood as a result of their conversions. Also, conversion to Catholicism from other religions has been publicized in several famous stories. I have included a few on the following link.

Since I met you at “Faith Charismatic Church,” I’ve noticed something in you that I can only describe as an “unsettled soul.”

I agree, I don’t think I have ever been completely comfortable there and I guess it was obvious. I would hope though in the spirit of Christian collegiality that you wouldn't totally write me off as an” unsettled soul” and at least consider the following thoughts. Because often unsettled souls are unsettled for a reason!

I saw you leave and go to a main-line Protestant church after you left us, reasons for which were unclear, though I can assume it might have been to escape the “hoopla” you described. That’s fine, charismatic stuff isn’t for everyone, I know that. But when you reverted to Catholicism just a few years after that, my first reaction was, “What are you running from?” Now, obviously I don’t know you that well but I couldn’t help think that. You see, all Catholics I’ve known (my entire family) like the comfort of the Catholic Church because very little is asked of them (they think so, anyway). Go to Mass when you can, pray only when you need help… that’s their walk with God.

It is not uncommon to base one’s view of any religion in light of past personal experiences with that religion and in particular family situations. I too was extremely anti-Catholic based on what I had seen from nominal church goers and my own family upbringing. However, there are 2000 years of godly Catholic folk who have lived heroic lives for God and some of whom have changed the course of human history through their writings and lives sacrificed for the Gospel.

Having seen your zeal, though, I can see you’re not looking to be just a nominal Catholic.

I have been looking for truth and it has led to quite a surprise that has been there all the time!

However, I still can’t help but continue to think about my first thought. I guess what I’m trying to say to you – what I would say to anyone, really – is that you need to make sure you’re always running towards God, and not running away from something else.

I hope and pray that I am running towards God with all my might. I attend Mass daily, pray more than I ever have, and spend a lot of time reading Catholic theology, devotional literature, etc. The Scriptures have come alive for me in way that I believe is supernatural. God has drawn me closer to Him than I have ever been in many years. My marriage is better than it ever has been and God has given me victory over areas of sin in my life that I haven't had victory over in 35 years through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Now that being said I hope I don’t fall into boasting, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed...."

I say this because, in very short order, you have begun to believe some very hard-to-swallow doctrines that for 35 years you didn’t agree with.

It's not that I didn't agree with all of them. Quite frankly, as a young teenager, I didn’t give a lot of thought to them, much to my shame. My theological training was based on what I heard from very biased untrained "Bible experts” at 14 years of age. I studied in the school of Jack T. Chick, a well known ultra-fundamentalist who has now been shunned by the evangelical community for fabricating false and misleading material to malign the Catholic Church. My text book of theology was his cartoon tracts and the people teaching our Bible studies were ex-Catholics who had never lived out their Catholic faith (Just like me) Quite frankly, I didn't think much about doctrine because my spirituality was based on what felt good to me or “seemed” right. It wasn't about the pursuit of truth.

Now you’re shouting them (hard to swallow doctrines) from the rooftops! (that’s tongue in cheek, by the way.) I had an issue with your belief in purgatory now, especially since you said no doctrine from the Church would counter Scripture – but purgatory was a doctrine created to be used in the selling of indulgences! It wasn’t a long-standing belief then, it was a new one.

I am glad you mentioned Purgatory since it is fairly easy doctrine to prove historically as well as scripturally. Augustine from the fourth century wrote about it in his City of God. The catacombs of the believers from the 1st century made mention of them praying for the souls of those who had died. This was a practice that was very comfortable to the early predominantly Jewish Church since their scriptures talked about it. To be intellectually honest we have to at least acknowledge the fact that the early Christian Church prayed for "dead" people as well as believed in Purgatory (the early church fathers referred to it as Limbo). Check the original sources and decide for yourself. I have enclosed a fairly simplified look at the doctrine of purgatory with several scripture references. Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 is very difficult to understand without a belief in Purgatory. As a famous non-Catholic Christian once wrote:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.' CS LEWIS in Letters to Malcolm.

One of the key references was from the book of Maccabees that was in the original Canon of Scripture up until 1500's when Luther chose to take it out because it didn't support his doctrines. Incidentally, he wanted to remove the Book of James as well as Hebrews because he didn’t think they were inspired either.

You can’t look back now and say, “Well, they were right; they just did it the wrong way.” Because here’s the problem: anyone can read the Bible and find exactly what they are looking for.

Exactly my point too! That's why we need a Church to help us understand the Bible. There are currently over 33,000 protestant sects and denominations and about 100 or more a year currently being formed due to "private interpretation of Scripture." The pillar and foundation of truth is the Church, (1 Tim 3:15) not our personal interpretation of the Bible.

An atheist will read the OT and see an angry God who authorizes slaughter of women and children. A Mormon reads that one line about another flock, and the Book of Mormon is validated. Obviously, I’m not comparing Catholics to atheists and Mormons,

(I hope not, I don't think St. Augustine, St Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, and GK. Chesterton, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Mother Theresa, and John Paul 2 would fit there)

but I hope you see the analogy. I won’t lie that I have theological problems with the Catholic Church, but I in no way invalidate the core belief: Jesus is the Savior of the world, and it is through His shed blood that a believer in Him is free of sin.

But, it is only through the Catholic Church that you and I have come to know these wonderful truths! There were no portable Bibles around for 1500 years, so the Church empowered by the Holy Spirit had to be the source of Truth. Most of the world was not literate.

That is why I can call you a brother, even if we disagree on other issues. And as such, that means we can share in communion because of a shared core belief. I know many Catholics who claim they cannot share in communion with other Christians because they don’t share the belief of transubstantiation. I hope you are not now one of them. The enemy seeks to divide, why help him? Christians who share the core beliefs (Divinity of Jesus, His death and resurrection, etc.) should in no way have any reasons why they cannot commune with one another. And I will have words with anyone who says otherwise, because it is a lie from the enemy. If you want to believe Jesus is actually the Bread while I don’t, what’s the difference?

The difference is that not believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the” breaking of the bread” is in opposition to Scripture as well as 1500 years of church history. Jesus lost a lot of followers that day when he told them to eat his body and drink his blood. This Scripture alone, John Chapter 6, almost single-handedly made me convert once I put off my pre-conceived notions of what communion was. The early church (Catholic Church) has never held any belief other than that Christ truly gives us his body and blood whenever the Mass is celebrated.

He said to do this in memory of Him.

The language in the original texts here is anamnesis, which meant to the hearers "to make present" When they heard this they (early Christians) believed Christ was again being made present under the appearance of Bread and Wine. The problem here may be in our definition of the word "communion". I have communion with you in a fellowship sense but receiving the Eucharist as the Church believes is very different. When the Church broke bread and celebrated Communion, the teaching of the apostles was that Christ was being made physically present but appearing as bread and wine. Paul talks about this in Corinthians. If the Eucharist was symbolic, why then did Paul warn that people would die or get sick if they did not discern it appropriately? "....This cup we bless is it not the cup of the Blood of Christ?" For 1500 years, there was never a question of what Communion was and how it should be taken. The same church that gave us the Bible is the same church that has always believed and continues to believe that Communion is actually the Real Presence of Christ.

It’s the only fear I have for you guys. I don’t care that you’re Catholic now, you still believe in Jesus, that’s all that matters to me. But in the attempt to draw closer to God, don’t run the risk of alienating the rest of the Body – for we are all one Body. Share in the commonalities, don’t emphasize the differences.

It is not my goal to emphasize the differences or cause divisions, but hope to share information that I have discovered regarding the Church, that many Protestant Christians have not been informed of. In all the years of studying the Bible and pursuing God as a Protestant, I never looked into the actual historical record of how the early church practiced their faith. There is a large volume of writing from the first few centuries of the church with some of the authors being 2nd generation apostles ie. They were taught by John. All of these writings, though not considered inspired by the Canon of the Catholic Church are still very valuable as they provide a historical snapshot of how the Early Christians worshipped and believed. Once I started reading segments from these “Church Fathers,” I was convinced that the early church was distinctly Catholic in doctrine and practice.

PS: Don’t take my word for all of the above. If you want to pursue this further, watch The Journey Home on EWTN at 8 PM EST on Mondays. They have been interviewing Catholic converts (many Evangelical and Charismatic Pastors) for the past 9 years.


Anonymous julian malcolm said...

right on! welcome (back) to the Catholic Church.
i'm a recent convert myself, sounds like we had some similar experiences on the way home to Rome.
This is so exciting to see!!! Thanks be to God!

May 01, 2006 9:03 PM  
Blogger Dannyboy said...

From another revert:

Blessings and joy to you. Welcome home.

As regards memory, isn't the word "anamnesis" in Greek? Isn't "amnesis" forgetting?


May 02, 2006 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Bekah S. said...

If you want to believe Jesus is actually the Bread while I don’t, what’s the difference?
Of course there is no difference, if you believe that the bread is merely bread. Bread cannot be disrespected. But, if I believe that the bread IS the body of Christ, then that bread really can be disrespected by your belief that it is just bread. Which is exactly what 1 Cor 11 advises.

May 02, 2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Sorry about the "Amnesis" . You are right the word is anamnesis. I had a brief bout of "amnesia"

May 02, 2006 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

You quote our Protestant brother: "... I know many Catholics who claim they cannot share in communion with other Christians because they don’t share the belief of transubstantiation. I hope you are not now one of them."

Interestingly, the writer very nearly addresses his objection while posing it. Whenever we share anything, the something shared is (by necessity) the same thing. Those who "share" different things aren't sharing anything.

It's not that Catholics won't share Holy Communion with those who don't discern Christ's sacramental presence; it's simply not possible to do so--even when attempted.

May 03, 2006 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A partial list of converts to Catholicism who have been on the Journey Home EWTN's show about converts:

10/4/2004 Former Church of Christ Pastor w/ Bruce Sullivan/ 9/27/2004 Former Reformed minister & wife w/ Gerald & Jennifer Tritle / 9/20/2004 Former Pentecostal (Four Square) w/ Sr. Mary Rose Chinn / 9/13/2004 Former Presbyterian w/ Fr. Richard Barker / /9/6/2004 Convert from Judaism w/ Fr. Peter Sabbath / / 8/30/2004 Former priest, Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches w/ Michael Maturen / 8/23/2004 Role of St. Therese in "Therese" Former Evangelical Quaker w/ Lindsay Younce / 8/9/2004 Former Episcopalian w/ Karen Sadock / 8/3/2004 Former Atheist w/ Dr. Paul Thigpen / 7/26/2004 Former Baptist w/ Gary Hoge (his website) / 7/19/2004 Former Mormon w/ Deacon Steve Seever / 7/12/2004 Writer of the screenplay "Therese" w/ Patti Defilippis, Former Presbyterian (Movie Site) / 6/14/2004 Former Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist with Msgr. Stuart Swetland / 6/7/2004 Former Baptist with Stephen K. Ray (Website) / 5/24/2004 Former Lutheran with Carolyn Baber / 5/17/2004 Revert from the secular world with Fr. Terry Kraychuk (Canadian) / 5/10/2004 Former Jehovah's Witness with Dr. Jeffrey Schwehm / 5/3/2004 Former Episcopal priest with Ned South / 4/26/2004 Former Baptist minister with Dr. Deal Hudson, Editor of Crisis magazine / 4/19/2004 (Canadian) Former Anglican priest with Dr. Robert Stackpole / 4/12/2004 Nazarene Minister with Doug Gonzales / 4/5/2004 Former Presbyterian minister with Dr. Scott Hahn / 3/29/2004 Former atheist with Fr. Jay Scott Newman / 3/22/2004 Jewish convert with Deacon Michael Ross / 3/15/2004 (Canadian) Buddhist convert with Kim St. Maurice / 3/8/2004 Former Baptist minister with Jeffrey W. Bail / 3/1/2004 Former Lutheran minister with Noah Lett / 2/23/2004 Former Pentecostal minister with Dr. Robert Rice / 2/16/2004 Actor who plays G. K. Chesterton with JH England / 2/9/2004 Former Charismatic Episcopal priestwith Fr. Steven D. Anderson / 2/2/2004 Former Baptist with Dale Ahlquist /1/19/2004 Former Lutheran with Fr. Eric Nicolai / 1/12/04 Former Presbyterian with Avery Cardinal Dulles / 1/5/04 Open Line First Monday with Dr. Kenneth Howell / 12/22/03 Former Southern Baptist and Methodist ministers with Fr. Gray Bean & Gordon Sibley / 12/15/03 Former Anglican with Julie Waters / 12/8/03 Daughter of former Presbyterian minister with Stephanie Wood / 12/1/03 Former Lutheran with Tim Drake / 11/24/03 Former Anglican Priest with James Pinto / 11/10/03 Former Southern Baptist minister with Fr. Gray Bean / 11/3/03 Former Presbyterian with Mr. Jimmy Akin / 10/27/03 Former Dutch Reformed with Steven D. Greydanus / 10/20/03 Former Baptist with Petroc Wiley / 10/13/03 Former Atheist with Scott A. McDermott / 10/6/03 Open Line 1st Monday with Doug Keck / 9/29/03 Former Baptist with Pamela Hollins, MD / 9/22/03 The Journey Home from England with Antony Tyler / 9/15/03 Former Anglican with with Dr. Rob Rodgers / 9/8/03 Revert and Former Evangelical with Dr. Ray Guarendi / 8/25/03 Former cradle Methodist and Born Again Christian with Thomas A. Lisk / 8/18/03 Journey Home from England with Fr. Hugh Thwaites, S.J. / 8/4/03 Open Line with Mark Brumley / 7/28/03 Journey Home with Karen Koskoff / 7/21/03 Journey Home in England with Walter Hooper / 7/14/03 Criteria for Choosing a Church with Glen Allen / 7/7/03 Open Line with Steve Wood / 6/30/03 The Living Of Scripture with Nolan & Tracy Spenst former Mennonite Pastor / 6/23/03 The Oneness of God with Mark A. McNeil, Former Assemblies of God Pastor / 6/16/03 Journey Home pre-tape from England with William Oldie, Editor, Catholic Herald & Former Anglican clergyman / 6/9/03 Revert from Agnosticism with Anthony Rizzi / 6/2/03 Former Baptist with David B. Currie / 5/26/03 Former Lutheran minister w/ Fr. Richard John Neuhaus / 5/19/03 Journey Home in England with Fr. Ian Ker / 5/12/03 Who Said So? w/ Shawn Reeves/ 5/5/03 Open Line w/ Daniel Ali & Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ / 4/28/03 What it truly means to believe w/ Dr. Ross Porter / 4/14/03 The Power of Prayer w/ Paul Dupre / 4/7/03 Open Line Monday w/ Fr. James Garneau / 3/31/03 Centrality of God w/ Myron Moskowitz, Convert from Judaism /3/24/03 Holiness & the Sovereignty of God w/ Fr. William Thomas, Former Evangelical Reformed/ 3/17/03 Necessity of Conversion w/ James & Joanna Bogle / 3/10/03 Private Interpretation of Scripture w/ Pam Forrester, Former Evangelical Free / 3/3/03 Open Line Monday w/ Joseph Pearce, Former Anglican / 2/24/03 The Power of Prayer w/ Paul DuPre, Revert from Mormonism / 2/17/03 Former Buddhist Paul Williams (England) / 2/10/03 Knowing God with G. Gregory Hoza / 2/3/03 Open Line Monday with John Barger / 1/27/03 The Family of God w/ Fr. Mark Wood (former Southern Baptist) / 1/13/03 Mercy of the Real Presence w/ Carrie Allegretti / * 12/16/02 Verses I never Saw w/ Marcus Grodi - Host & Guest / 12/9/02 Minimalism: A Modern Theological Disease w/ David Mills (Former Episcopalian) / 12/2/02 Open Line Monday w/ Ken Hensley, (Former Baptist Minister) / 11/25/02 Former Southern Baptist w/ Lisa Militello / 11/18/02 The Path to Rome w/ Dwight Longnecker / 11/11/02 The Three C's: Conversion, Conscience and Compromise w/ Lord David Alton / 11/4/02 Former Baptist w/ Stephen Ray / 10/28/02 Rabbi Jesus: Messiah w/ Martin K. Barrack / 10/21/02 The Dark Ages w/ Rod Bennett / * 10/14/02 The Real Presence w/ Terry Meade / 10/7/02 Editor of "Lay Witness" w/ Leon J. Suprenant, Jr. / 9/30/02 The Sanctity of Marriage w/ Patricia Bainbridge / 9/23/02 What does it mean to be Catholic w/ Fr. Carleton P. Jones, OP / 9/16/02 Deep in History w/ Harry W. Crocker, III / 9/9/02 Visible Unity w/ Al Kresta / 8/26/02 Former UCC Minister w/ Larry Dimock / 8/19/02 Former Nominal Protestant w/ Dr. Paul Vitz / 8/12/02 In Remembrance of Me w/ Fr. Christopher G. Phillips / 8/5/02 Educational Researcher and Psycholgist w/ Dr. Richard Cross / 7/29/02 Knowing God through prayer w/ Fr. David Medow / 7/22/02 A Firm Foundation w/ Roy Maynard / 7/15/02 Former Lutheran w/ Timothy Drake / 7/8/02 Magisterial Authority w/ Fr. Rolf Tollefson / 7/1/02 July's Open Line First Monday with Shawn Dougherty / 6/24/02 Continuity & Unity with Mark Drogin / 6/17/02 Incarnational Church with Carl E. Olson / 6/10/02 What does it mean to believe? with Marty Franklin / 6/3/02 June's Open Line First Monday with Kimberly Hahn / 5/27/02 The Forgiveness of God with Daniel Ali / 5/20/02 Trust and Obey with Leland and Emily Ann McCullough / 5/13/02 Search for Intimacy with Jesus with Fr. Richard Delzingaro / 5/6/02 May's Open Line First Monday with Karl Keating / 4/22/02 Testing the Spirits of the 21st Century with Michelle Willis / 4/15/02 Channels of Mercy with Bill Rutland / 4/8/02 Former Charismatic Episcopal Minister with Michael Cumbie / 4/1/02 April's Open Line First Monday with Fr. Ray Ryland / 3/18/02 Former Baptist with Paul Jernberg / 3/11/02 Jewish Convert with Joni Seith / 2/18/02 Former Mormon with Dan Hadden / * 2/11/02 Dr. James White Sister's Conversion with Patty Bonds / 2/4/02 Open Line First Monday with Fr. Bryan Patterson / 1/28/02 Rapture Theology with Fr. Patrick Rohen / 1/14/02 Eternal Life with Sarang Honap / 1/7/02 Open Line First Monday with Dale Ahlquist / 12/31/01 The Rapture Trap with Paul Thigpen / * 12/17/01 To Know What You Believe and Why? with John Martignoni / 12/10/01 Too Many Voices with Dr. Paul Young / * 12/3/01 Open Line First Monday with Dr. Charles Spivak / 11/26/01 Mary, Queen of Peace with Dr. Chris Williams / 11/19/01 The Power of the Written Word with Joseph Pearce / 11/5/01 Open Line First Monday with Fr. Philip Anderson / 10/29/01 Christian Worldview with Cathy Duffy / * 10/22/01 Confusion to Clarity: Authentic Christian Tradition with Mark Gordon / 10/15/01 Active & Contemplative Life with Fr. Bryan Patterson / * 10/8/01 Origin of the Bible with Jim Anderson /

July 04, 2006 3:55 PM  

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