A Southern Baptist Seminarian Turns to Rome

This is a guest post by a friend of mine, Anthony, who recently emailed me to inform me of his decision to become Catholic.

My name is Anthony and I am becoming Catholic. Writing this sentence would have made me cry two months ago. As an aspiring evangelical missionary studying at a Southern Baptist seminary, I knew that most Catholics were not “believers,” true Christians, yet now . . . things are different. I begged God for six months to let me remain in evangelicalism. He didn’t. My hope is that this story will encourage fellow Catholics and lead many of my evangelical friends to, at the very least, have a more charitable view of the Roman Catholic Church.

The beginning

One year ago I came home to visit my family. My dad, a worship and preaching pastor from when I was in fourth grade on, had resigned his position a year prior and was finishing his Masters in Theological Studies. He had grown up in the Catholic Church and one of his graduate courses caused him to reexamine some of the teaching. I found a silly-looking book titled Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic on his desk. Maybe I picked it up because I had brought nothing else home to read, or maybe my curiosity was peaked after spending a summer as a missionary to Catholics in Poland. For whatever reason, reading the testimony was the start of my confusing and reluctant journey to Rome.

David Currie’s 1996 memoir of leaving behind his fundamentalist upbringing, Trinity Evangelical education and ministries was bothersome. Currie’s unapologetic defense of controversial doctrines like Mary and the Pope were most shocking, as I had never seriously considered that Catholics would have sensible, scriptural defenses to these beliefs.

As I grew in my evangelical faith at a midwestern liberal arts college and listened to over two hundred hours of evangelical sermons by popular Reformed preachers like Mark Driscoll and John Piper, my assumption was hardened that the Roman Catholic Church didn’t adhere to the Bible. When I asked one pastor friend of mine during my junior year why Catholics thought Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth when the Bible clearly said Jesus had “brothers,” he simply grimaced: “They don’t read the Bible.”

If Currie’s book bothered me, slipping nervously into Mass that weekend didn’t help the situation. I was shocked that the lyrics sung were derived directly from the Scriptures, a quality lacking in many Protestant songs. Three times as many Bible passages were read than was typical at my non-denominational and Baptist services I attended, and the priest spoke on the Great Commission and the need for evangelization. Many Catholics will not be able to appreciate my shock.

The fall

If I had further doubts after that weekend I don’t remember them. When I returned to my post-graduate job at school I continued memorizing Scripture, listening to online sermons, and praying with friends for the salvation of close friends and family, including Catholics. My evangelical assumption of salvation was that every person, whether it is subtle or dramatic, must have a “born-again” conversion experience in order to become a true believer and go to heaven. The experience does not take place in baptism, but in a mystical way that is different for each person. The assumption is what gave me no qualms about desiring to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” with Polish Catholic youth or agreeing with a respected evangelical leader who questioned whether Mother Teresa was truly a Christian. In fact, the common line I had heard from pastors and friends was that there are some believers in the Catholic Church, but not many. That is, some have managed to decisively put their faith in Jesus Christ and thereby become a true Christian, but not many. It is now surprising to me how disparaging I was towards Catholicism without remotely understanding it.

If reading David Currie’s book was the start of a journey, a phone call from my dad in late August quickened the pace. “You’re becoming Catholic? But, can’t you just be Lutheran or something? Do you still hold to our evangelical beliefs? ” The decision was annoying. Somehow my dad had managed to go astray from the gospel and now I needed to bring him back. Yet I couldn’t help but feel seeds of doubt beginning to grow as I processed the news over the next few days. My dad had always been a spiritual mentor of mine and didn’t make rash decisions. How could he have gone so wrong?

A month before the phone call my very kind and gracious Southern Baptist church asked me to be their youth and outreach pastor until I left for seminary in January. At some point during my employment I had stumbled onto a Christianity Today article that depicted an “evangelical identity crisis.” The author painted of picture of young evangelicals, growing up in a post-modern world and yearning to be firmly rooted in history, encouraged that others had stood strong for Christ in changing and troubled times. Yet in most evangelical churches much of the church calendar is not observed, the Apostles Creed is never mentioned, many of the songs are written after 1997, and if any anecdotal story is told about a hero from church history, it certainly occured after the Reformation. History is nowhere to be found. The articles depicted my experience perfectly.

For the first time, I panicked. I started looking at the Catechism, finding the most controversial doctrines and laughing at the silliness of the Catholic Church. Indulgences? Papal infallibility? Reassured. The mass was beautiful and the idea of a visible, unified Church sounded wonderful, but it was at the expense of the gospel! Obviously Satan would encourage a large organization that would lead many just short of heaven. I shook off most of the doubts and enjoyed the remainder of my time at university, having fun with the youth group and sharing my faith with the students. Any lingering doubts, my closest friends assured me, would be dealt with at seminary.

The seminary  

I had been looking forward to attending seminary for quite some time. In late 2009 I read a book called Don’t Waste Your Life and was inspired to become a missionary to areas of the world where people had never heard of Jesus. Books like Don’t Waste Your Life and Let the Nations Be Glad convinced me that these people were all going to Hell and that there was no time to waste. My trip to Central Asia was rerouted to Poland because of visa problems, but I still wanted to devote my life to training pastors in a country like India. Like many young evangelicals I had little denominational loyalty, but the Southern Baptists had a fantastic seminary and missions program. After delaying my entry into seminary for a year after graduation, I finally started classes in early January.

The troubles didn’t start until the second week. We were learning about spiritual disciplines like prayer and fasting and I was struck how often the professor would skip from St. Paul to Martin Luther or Jonathan Edwards when describing admirable lives of piety. Did nothing worthwhile happen in the first 1500 years? The skipping of history would continue in many other classes or assigned textbooks. Occasional references to St. Augustine did not obscure the fact that the majority of church history was ignored.

Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” video compounded my distress. This young man went to the church of a pastor I listened to online, and he was simply repeating in poetic form what I had already heard in many sermons: religion, man-made rituals, get in the way of seeing Jesus. I was deeply distressed by the video and its popularity. Even after receiving criticism from both Protestants and Catholics, Jefferson encouraged people to peel back “everything that’s been added” over the last 2,000 years and see the Jesus of the Bible. Here was the key point: church councils who defined the nature of Christ and set up a liturgical calendar celebrating the life of Christ just got in the way of seeing the true Jesus. Of course, who the “true Jesus” was depended on what evangelical mega-church pastor you downloaded.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed noted this “dangereous theological anarchy that is all too common among young evangelicals.” A Catholic blog noted that after all of the denomination splits in Protestantism, it was no wonder that many young evangelicals throw their hands up in frustration and call it all rubbish. The Catholic assertion hit home. Maybe this was why so many of my friends preferred to be called “Christ-followers” rather than “Christians.” They simply wanted to get away from the chaos of Protestant schisms and missed the beautiful unity of the Roman Catholic Church.

I called my dad crying on January 28th. I was going to become Catholic and hated the idea so much. I listed nearly a dozen reasons I felt I had no choice, including the Bethke video and Protestant beliefs that contradicted most of church history. He had never encouraged me to become Catholic—in fact quite the opposite—and told me to wait a few days until I was no longer emotional. I was probably just lonely and needed some community, he said. I agreed and the doubts started to go away the next day.

Ultimately it was questions about church history and the Bible that caused me to withdraw from the seminary three weeks later. As I read my Church History I textbooks and Martin Luther biography I was struck by how novel many of my Baptist beliefs were. Throughout the early church and even during the Reformation I learned that issues like baptism and communion were extremely important. Yet for me they had always been “open-handed” issues. After all, communion was simply eating bread and grape juice every now and then to remember Christ.  Strictly speaking, baptism was not necessary for salvation and was simply a symbol demonstrated after someone had gotten “saved.” Not only did these views contradict church history but, increasingly, they did not match with uncomfortable Bible passages I had always shrugged off (cf  John 6, Rom 6).

Further, the foundation of Protestantism that had been so precious to me, Sola Scriptura, the Bible alone as the sole source of authority, ceased to make sense. Where did the Bible come from? Why did the Reformers remove seven books from the Bible and threaten to remove more? Why didn’t the Bible itself claim to be “sufficient?” Why were there passages that indicated it was not sufficient? The Protestant answers that had sufficed for a year were no longer satisfying. Once this presupposition fell, dozens of others began to crumble.

Conclusion

The last two months have been a continuation of my journey. I have visited several priests and parishes in different states and read much of the U.S. Catechism. I am amazed at the rich history of the Catholic Church and its vast influence as the largest charity in the world and representative of over half the world’s Christians. I am not naïve. I am aware of the many “cradle Catholics” who do not know and even disregard their faith, the priest abuse scandals, and the Medici popes. The Catholic Church understands the importance of “catechizing” people and understands the destruction sin can cause. Poor behavior of Catholics does not negate the entire Catholic faith, just as one scandalous evangelical pastor does not negate the Bible.

I would like to conclude with a note to all evangelicals reading my story, especially my friends. Please understand that I still value my experiences in evangelicalism and that I still affirm much of what you practice. Catholics and Protestants can agree on many things. Contrary to what I was told as an evangelical, Catholics do not think Protestants are denied entrance in heaven. They are not assured of salvation, but neither are Catholics! You are still my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I hope my story encourages you to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.

Thank you for reading! There are, of course, many more reasons for my move to Catholicism, but I’ll let those reasons be explained by the authors below.

– Anthony

Books by evangelicals turned Catholic

Beckwith, Francis. Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.

Currie, David B. Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic

Hahn, Kimberly and Scott. Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism

Howard, Thomas. Evangelical is Not Enough  

Shea, Mark. By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition.

Rose, Devin. If Protestantism is True: The Reformation Meets Rome

Smith, Christian. How to Go From Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic    in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps.

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123 thoughts on “A Southern Baptist Seminarian Turns to Rome”

  1. I grew up Southern Baptist as well, and my conversion to the Catholic Church took a similar path. I, too, remember desperately trying to come up with a way not to be Catholic. In the end, logic, history, and Scripture — not to mention the Holy Spirit — painted me into a corner, and the only way out was through R.C.I.A.

    I applaud Steven’s willingness to share his story, and I want to welcome him home to the Church! In the 3-and-a-half years since my conversion, I have never, ever regretted it. And for the past year, I have been a seminarian for a Southern diocese studying for the priesthood.

    I would encourage Steven, after the canonical two-year waiting period, to consider the same.

  2. Welcome home, brother!! As a fellow convert from an Evangelical denomination, I feel the pain you went through. Know that the pearl of great price is worth it- receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, living a life of sacramental communion with Jesus, and being part of the ????????? (katholikos= universal!) Church is a journey you will never regret.
    St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

  3. It’s interesting to see that that silly video from a few months ago is having an impact. Excellent testimony and welcome home “Steven”.

  4. Welcome home. I was also received a few weeks ago from an evangelical background. Most of my reasons were similar to yours, the logical impossibility of sola scriptura being first among them.

  5. Like one of my friends, who became Catholic in a whirlwind due to family issues, Steven is moving far too fast, and he isn’t exercising critical thinking. As a result of making such large decisions so quickly, he may feel trapped later on into the decision he has now made.

    Evangelicalism is in a theological crisis; this is true. But if you think that becoming Catholic will magically make these problems go away, you are naive. Rome has plenty of problems of her own.

    Steven seems to have come from a Baptist background, so he may not have heard the phrase “the Holy Spirit witnesses with my spirit,” which was in common use among the charismatics I was privileged to grow up around. When we approach a church tradition and consider pledging our loyalty to it, we must carefully examine its practices to discern if what it is doing witnesses with the Holy Spirit and our spirit that these things are true and right.

    Within Catholicism, particularly on the cultural level, there are a number of disturbing spiritual practices related to the cultus of relics and of the saints. Are you comfortable with addressing Mary as Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix of the human race? Because soon this will be declared as a dogma of the Faith. When the faithful pray to consecrate their hearts to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, do you have any doubts? I find it hard to believe that, if you’ve been walking with the Lord as zealously as you have written, that you don’t feel at least a twinge of doubt about those things. That’s the Holy Spirit failing to witness with your spirit that you’re headed in the right direction.

    Are you doing this because you felt like your evangelical background was missing the beauty of the historic liturgy or historic orthodoxy? You are not alone. Many of us have felt the same. But there’s more to Catholicism than the beautiful liturgy: if you can’t accept everything you shouldn’t be Catholic. The Church presents an entire comprehensive system of belief that includes many semi-idolatrous practices, as well as a culture of penance and self-denial that can drive you to insanity for lack of assurance of God’s grace and love for you. Ask Martin Luther; the man was probably certifiably crazy, but there were reasons for that. Think about it.

    The Protestant Reformers, contrary to the caricature you have no doubt received from Catholic apologists, believed in the Catholic Church; they confessed it in the Apostle’s Creed. The point of the Reformation was to remove from the true Church medieval superstitions and corruptions of the original Apostolic deposit of faith.

    If our Roman friends wish to be truly Catholic, they would abandon these medieval errors and join the Protestants in affirming justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. But Rome, despite changing her tone since Vatican II to be more welcoming of Protestants, has reversed none of her anathemas and none of her dogmatic assertions made at Trent. Do you know this? Have you grasped the seriousness of this?

    What you found attractive in the liturgy was the pure GRACE of it. Jesus in the Eucharist, given for you. The Bible, God’s Word, spoken for you. These are things you don’t have to work for; they are God’s gifts to us. Do you know that Rome teaches the opposite of this truth concerning the Liturgy, that indeed the Mass is a Sacrifice that effectively remits and propitiates for sins, for both living and dead. The book of Hebrews is effectively nullified by the sophistry of Roman theology. Their doctrine destroys the essential power of God’s grace in the Mass. Read the Augsburg Confession.

    You think that auricular confession is a nifty idea? So do I. So did Martin Luther. Unlike Rome, however, which killed the grace of confession by adding legal requirements concerning the number of sins, remembrance of sins, etc., Luther taught, with the Scripture, “Who can know his errors?” It is enough to confess what you are led to confess and what you can remember. Christ’s sacrifice once and for all on the Cross is enough for you; there is no need to “make satisfaction” for your sins. You are free to serve Christ wholeheartedly, without guilt or shame.

    Consider what you are doing to your future ability to reach the nations for Jesus. Consider how important it is to get the Gospel right. Consider that traditions do exist which retain what is truly Catholic but who also unapologetically defend the Gospel of Grace.

    1. Ben,
      It would be charitable to take the time to learn what Catholics actually teach and believe before making assertions based on limited understanding.

    2. Hi Ben! As a Protestant who is leaning towards Catholicism, I appreciate your comment. I can tell you are coming from a position of concern for the well-being of Steven.

      However, I’m not really sure your comment addresses the misgivings of Steven in the first place. In the last paragraph before the Conclusion, Steven talks about how sola scriptura ceased to make sense. Even the phrase you quoted about the “Holy Spirit witnessing with my spirit” originates from Scripture – who decides what it means for the Holy Spirit to minister to me? Does it mean I’ll feel good about everything the Church teaches? Does it mean it will rest well on my logic? How can I understand even this simple phrase without guidance from someone with real authority?

      I’m in the same place – like Steven, sola scriptura does not make sense. I’ve heard it referred to as a failed hypothesis, and that’s exactly what it seems to be. Unless somebody can convince me that sola scriptura is a consistent, coherent, and correct view of authority, I can never turn back to protestantism of any kind.

      You also use the phrase “historic” orthodoxy. I would be interested to hear exactly what “historic orthodoxy” you refer to, because most of it I’ve come across in my readings have seemed to come directly from the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. If you can find Protestant teaching on the issues which divide the Protestants and Catholics, please send them my way. Seriously. I’m still in the midst of all this wading around in theology, history, etc.

      (ETA – Sorry Devin, this was meant to reply to Ben specifically. You can delete the other copy of this comment!)

      1. Elizabeth,

        I have no problem whatsoever acknowledging that historic orthodoxy and the historic Liturgy was developed and given to us by the Catholic Church. And I am very thankful.

        Common sense and a sense of history tell us that no institution, no church, can exist for a long period of time and not accumulate some errors of doctrine along the way. During the Middle Ages, long after the time of the Apostles, when men of wealth and influence had worked their way into the Church leading to scandal and corruption, the doctrines of purgatory, the cultus of saints and relics, the Treasury of Merits, notions of satisfaction for sin and so forth, became quite prevalent. These are not found in the Orthodox Church. They are a uniquely Roman innovation.

        In order for the faith to be truly Catholic it must be universally accepted by all. The particular Roman doctrines I have listed don’t meet that criteria; therefore they are not Catholic. Christians are free to reject them, but should hold to what has been universally believed everywhere by all.

        This requires the use of critical thinking rather than uncritical submissiveness to authority for authority’s sake.

        1. Ben, I’m not sure what your purpose is in commenting here other than to bash Catholicism. But Stephen has been expressing critical thinking. What you are guilty of, on the other hand, is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

          It’s precisely this single-minded focus on “inerrancy” that makes fundamentalist evangelical Christianity something that simply cannot pass muster once it is viewed with a critical lens. Sure, the Catholic church isn’t perfect, but there is a vast, rich history of Catholic theology and thought that transcends some of those issues, and Catholicism, unlike evangelicalism, is a bit more fluid in that members do not single-mindedly follow papal dictates blindly. In other words, within the church there are different movements, practices and room for questioning (despite what Rome says).

          I’m actually not Catholic – I’m Anglican, but the Catholic tradition most closely relates to my own and I turn to Catholic spiritual teachers for inspiration and guidance. I do see some value in evangelical approaches – I believe our youth respond better to rock bands than formal mass – but the Catholic church has much to offer.

          Your cynically trying to poke holes in the blog writer’s bubble is maybe well-intentioned, but it’s really more about your being threatened than you accepting that some people have different paths than your own.

        2. Hey Ben,
          I’m really sorry, but it seems that you think these doctrines just popped out of thin air in the Middle Ages. They didn’t. And the Orthodox do have the same beliefs regarding saints, icons, relics (Seventh Ecumenical Council, the historical witness of the catacombs), and many other issues. What primarily divides us is papal infallibility/papal supremacy and the Filioque. Purgatory and the Treasury of Merits aren’t innovations. They are further explanation of previous teachings of the Church. The Orthodox prefer to say it is simply a mystery and leave it at that.
          I don’t know what you mean with “notions of satisfaction for sin and so forth.” Are you referring to confession and penance, fasting, etc.? The Orthodox have that, too! Their fasting rules are more stringent than what Rome requires, which is to give up meat and only eat one meal with two collations on Ash Wednesday and Fridays in Lent. So hard.
          “In order for the faith to be truly Catholic it must be universally accepted by all.”
          This doesn’t make sense, either, because Protestants would have no reason to remain as such. They would have to recognize the universality of the dogmas of the Real Presence, the intercession of the saints, that Mary is exalted above all other angels and saints, that the Pope has a unique office (to what extent is under debate, though), that the holy images (icons) are lawful (even required in Orthodox churches), that the seven books or pieces of books dropped by Protestants are truly canonical and authoritative, and that the five “solas” are truly late Medieval/early Modern innovations.
          For both Catholics and the Orthodox, the Liturgy is everything. Everything flows from it because there we receive the Body and Blood (and Soul and Divinity) of our Lord and our God.
          That paragraph is also highly uncharitable because Rome only requires that they be affirmed as true, not actively promoted. Eastern Catholics do not speak of these teachings because they are not part of their various traditions, but they can’t deny them.
          Dogma and teaching are due submission of the intellect and will, but that does not mean it is uncritically (unless you mean that by “critically examining” something, you attack it, which would certainly be unacceptable). The Church encourages the faithful to know the Faith, not to challenge authority in rebellion because we neither see the long stretch of history nor necessarily understand all we are given.

        3. I will agree that the Roman Catholic Church has her issues. We’re all bungling fools after all. You’d think after 2000 years we’d’ve gotten the kinks out. Oh well.

          I do have to say, though, that some of your statements aren’t exactly what the Church has been teaching. For example, you say that the Catholic Church does not say,

          It is enough to confess what you are led to confess and what you can remember.

          , but that does not go along with Aquinas, who (effectively) argues that if you make an honest attempt to confess then the confession is valid. That is also the position held by the Baltimore Catechism. The only stipulation is that if a capital sin comes up in a later examination of conscience, that too should be confessed.

          I would also like to know where you have read that Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix are going to be made official doctrines of the Church. I have not heard this and the last time I did hear those titles it was in the context of, “a few years ago, some theologians were trying to make those official titles for Mary.” Wikipedia says that John Paul II had stopped even considering this over a decade ago. Can you provide me with a link or reference?

    3. “…Lord as zealously as you have written, that you don’t feel at least a twinge of doubt about those things. That’s the Holy Spirit failing to witness with your spirit that you’re headed in the right direction.”

      As a former zealous Pentecostal-charistmatic, I’m happy to inform you that your lack of “feeling” or “twinge of doubt” is not the Holy Spirit but a lack of familiarity or sensibility to things Catholic. The same reason a foreign food “grosses” you out.

      So, setting aside our Catholic or non-Catholic formed sensibilities, we should seek the truth. Our proclivity to “feel” is not the meter of truth.

      “Do you know that Rome teaches the opposite of this truth concerning the Liturgy, that indeed the Mass is a Sacrifice that effectively remits and propitiates for sins, for both living and dead. ”

      Did you know that Steven can google “Mass is a Sacrifice” and read Catholic sources to debunk the myth that somehow the Sacrifice of the Mass is incompatible with the grace found in Christ?

    4. Ben,
      I appreciate your genuine concern for Steven and his recognition of the Truth. We also seem to agree on the fact that the Word of God and the Eucharist are of necessity to growing in a deeper relationship with Christ. However, let me ask you this: if Christ stated, “I AM the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life” and He wants us to recognize Him, and He constantly reasserts in His Words how He desires to give ALL of Himself to us, would the Truth be found in a divisive Church, one that separates itself from the traditions of the early Church? Protestants were not reforming the Church, instead they created a NEW one. Luther could have nailed his 95 theses and left it at that trying to reform the members of the true Church from corruption. Where he made the mistake was by leaving the faith and starting his own, denying the Church’s beliefs. The Catholic Church is full of sinners, there is no doubt about that. But it was also the original source of Truth (aka Jesus), and solving misdemeanors among people is not achieved by rejecting the faith that since Jesus had defined truth for us.

    5. Ben, there are indeed as many if not more problems for RC as for Evangelicals in our post-modern world. In fact, most of the are shared between the two – no – among all professing followers of Christ. This worldview we Christians hold runs contrary to that of our world and the spirit of the age. It always has.

      I was raised Roman Catholic, Born again and converting to Pentecostal at 20, spent 5 years non-denominational, 2 years as a Presbyterian and now after bible college and seminary (where I too struggled with issues of authority, scripture and church history) I am Reformed Baptist.

      The reasons Steven left are common struggles for all people of the faith. I truly WISH the Roman Catholic Church was the answer. TRUST in God and a life of FAITH is what all his people are called to and that is just not an easy pill to swallow – but with God all things are possible!

      The RC does have a rich history and mostly good doctrine (the rest of us are indeed indebted to them) but their teaching on Mary, the Pope, celibacy for those called to gospel ministry and of course their foggy view of justification and Christ’s finished work (which many of us don’t fully grasp) is just more than someone informed by scripture and church history can swallow.

      God bless Steve. He may use him tremendously in that Church. I hope he does.

      1. Ben S., could you elaborate further on why you think our teaching on the Pope, Mary, celibacy (which is a doctrine, of course, and not a dogma) , and “justification/Christ’s finished work” are all in error? As a Catholic, I’d appreciate knowing what someone outside the faiths would say is our teaching on those issues, and why they’re wrong.

    6. Ben, I am not sure why you claim to know that Steven’s decision is being made hastily. In any case, to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, you ordinarily have to go through the RCIA program, which takes many months and helps to ensure that the decision to become Catholic is not made hastily.

      “Do you know that Rome teaches the opposite of this truth concerning the Liturgy, that indeed the Mass is a Sacrifice that effectively remits and propitiates for sins, for both living and dead.”
      Actually, it would be quite absurd not to believe that as Catholics, given that we believe that the Eucharist is LITERALLY the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mass has transformative power because it is the very same sacrifice of Calvary, made present to us today through the Sacrament that Christ instituted (Luke 22:19).

      “Unlike Rome, however, which killed the grace of confession by adding legal requirements concerning the number of sins, remembrance of sins, etc.,”
      It was Christ who gave His Church legal power regarding the forgiveness of sins. The Catholic Church simply does as our Lord has commanded.

      “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
      I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-9

      “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” John 20:22-23

  6. Thanks for sharing your interesting story. Is there any better way to start off the morning than reading an honest, hope-filled conversion story? May you enjoy Christ’s peace.

  7. Mr. Carmack says: Like one of my friends, who became Catholic in a whirlwind due to family issues, Steven is moving far too fast, and he isn’t exercising critical thinking.

    God uses lots of things to draw us to Him. Having a “reason” to accept Christ fully and all He taught doesn’t make it meaningless.

    When we approach a church tradition and consider pledging our loyalty to it, we must carefully examine its practices to discern if what it is doing witnesses with the Holy Spirit and our spirit that these things are true and right.

    The Mormons tell me the same thing, but they reach different results than you. How can we explain that?

    The point of the Reformation was to remove from the true Church medieval superstitions and corruptions of the original Apostolic deposit of faith.

    What’s the original Apostolic deposit of faith? What’s an accretion and what’s original? Says who?

    Lastly, as to the Mary-issues; we do what Christ did, we honor his Father and Mother. After all, her only role is to tell us, like servers at the wedding feast, to “Do whatever He tells you.”

    1. Words mean things. Scripture uses words. Scripture means things.

      If Scripture isn’t in some sense understandable by us, what was the point?

      This argument that Scripture is incapable of being understood by the ordinary man, apart from the teaching of the Church, is full of post-modern assumptions about truth. The argument appears conservative but in reality is just another form of post-modern squeamishness.

      Either words mean things or they don’t. If they do, Rome has some explaining to do. If they don’t, then we should all swim the Tiber.

      1. Ben, you should acknowledge the widely differing interpretations of the Bible. The problem with “sola scriptura” fundamentalists and literalists is that they presume their interpretation is the only one. The Catholic church (and Anglicans) at least have apostolic succession and tradition to back up some of their interpretations. To see how completely far afield one can get with Bible interpretation, check out “The Yoga of Jesus” by Yogananda. His interpretation is that Jesus taught what the ancient yogis taught. (FWIW, I actually agree more with Yogananda than I do with evangelicals.)

      2. Words mean things. Scripture uses words. Scripture means things.

        I agree completely with your list of attributes, but would add “Scripture has meant things” to that list. That’s what Catholics believe about Scripture: what its words mean now is what they meant then, not what first occurred to someone 1500 years later (or 1300 if you claim Wycliffe–sorry, I think we’re all attacking you from all sides since we don’t know what version of non-Catholicism you adhere to).

      3. “Words mean things. Scripture uses words. Scripture means things.”

        Ben, as a firm believer in the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, their inerrancy in the autographs and their infallibility in God’s Providence, I quite agree with what you intend, in these words. (Your theory of language is a bit sparse, but as aphorisms go, it packs a punch.)

        I like to try to agree swiftly and with integrity where I may. I would restate this by saying that God has spoken in Scripture, and intends each of us to read with understanding. That understanding involves understanding of language, understanding of history, understanding of times and places, and most importantly understanding of the right and power with which God authorizes these words as the unique written witness to His work in creating the world and calling His people to Him. Surely you don’t disagree with any of this? (You may be tempted to disagree because of what you fear I may say next, but shouldn’t you be concerned that to do so would be to “quench the Spirit”?)

        ***********
        “If Scripture isn’t in some sense understandable by us, what was the point?”

        Well, it certainly wouldn’t be worth having written revelation no one could read with understanding! (In fact, the Church distinguishes four basic “senses” in which we understand the Scriptures.) You’re quite right. Which is why the Church teaches us to read the Scriptures: The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” ( http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#133 ). If you examine points 109-114 of the Catechism, you’ll see further elucidation of just how right you are about Scripture, in the Church’s eyes (start at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#109 ).

        ***********
        “This argument that Scripture is incapable of being understood by the ordinary man, apart from the teaching of the Church, is full of post-modern assumptions about truth. The argument appears conservative but in reality is just another form of post-modern squeamishness.”

        Now, here you made me laugh and scratch my head. Somehow you’ve managed to conflate “post-modern” assumptions (that is, ones that come after the downfall of many of the secularisms that have misappropriated insights wrested from their home by the Reformation) with the teachings the Reformers set themselves over against. I mean, it seems pretty hard to have it both ways–and honestly, as someone who’s quite comfortable using Derrida to challenge certain metaphysical assumptions, I don’t see much resemblance between post-structuralist language philosophy (or “post-modern” denaturing of natural reason due to mechanistic philosophies of mind and the social order) and the teachings of the Church.

        I think you’re stumbling over the “apart” in your words “understood by the ordinary man, apart from the teaching of the Church.” Now, surely if you mean that an English-speaking “ordinary [person]” could pick up an English translation of the Bible and recognize its sentence patterns, follow the narratives, recognize the Epistles, and find the prophets confusing (don’t we all, a little?)–well, who could object to that?

        But surely you don’t believe that it would be wise for that “ordinary” English speaker to tell the Apostle Paul what he really meant, right? And you probably also don’t believe it would be wise for that “ordinary” English speaker to be obstinate in misreading a passage when he has been corrected by someone who has carefully and faithfully studied the Greek text, right? Furthermore, you would tell that “ordinary” English speaker not to be unsettled by the variety of English translations–I mean the good ones, like KJV/NKJV/KJ21/AV/NAS/ESV–that a typical American conservative evangelical will encounter (not to mention the NIV, RSV, NRSV, TEV, CEV). After all, inerrancy applies to the autographs, but “preservation” applies to the transmission history; and “preservation” includes the entire process of copying, transcribing, collecting, comparing, revising, etc. of the many examples of the text of Scripture that we know exist. Therefore, to take just one example, you may consider the comma Johanneum ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum ) part of the canonical text of Scripture, if you think that Erasmus’ decision or the choice of the Geneva Bible / King James Bible translators to include it was authoritative; or you may (as most conservative scholars do) regard it as an addition which does not belong in the Scriptures, though many an “ordinary” English reader in the past few centuries–and many an “ordinary” Latin reader in the few centuries before that!–would have seen it as part of the text. In any case, that is, you believe that the “ordinary” reader necessarily relies on many others in the course of understanding the text. Nor is this surprising: consider the lengths God went to in preparing to answer the Ethiopian eunuch’s question!
        Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
        And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

        ( http://www.esvbible.org/search/acts+8%3A26-40/ )

        You might find Spiritus Paraclitus an especially fitting read; it speaks specifically to the manner in which the Spirit speaks in Scripture. ( http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xv/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xv_enc_15091920_spiritus-paraclitus_en.html )

        ***********
        “Either words mean things or they don’t. If they do, Rome has some explaining to do. If they don’t, then we should all swim the Tiber.”

        They do. And we should. But until we have all swum Tiber or gone over Jordan, may the Father pour out His grace upon you richly through His Son by the working of His Holy Spirit, who speaks in Scripture, and who has been understood and obeyed in some part wherever believers in Christ are baptized in the Triune Name.

        The water’s fine, BTW. (I crossed in 2011.)

        Take care,
        PGE

      4. Words mean things, but the meaning changes over time. Language evolves over years and is based on human experience and context. This is why the Catholic Church asserts that, although Sacred Scripture is timeless, it needs to be correctly interpreted through a lens of context – what time the author lived, who the audience was, and their experiences of the day. A terrific example of words changing meaning is the word gay. Today, when we hear that word we automatically associate it with homosexual behaviors. Four hundred years ago, however, it meant someone who was happy. Don ye now our gay apparel has drastically changed meaning due to language evolving over time. This is why sola scriptura is so dangerous, as it can give completely false information to the one who reads it without proper background information.

  8. I really appreciate you sharing your story with us. I was an undergrad at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest (the site of the picture included in this post) when I decided to enter the Church. I largely stumbled onto Catholicism, having picked up J.B. Lightfoot’s “Apostolic Fathers” and moved from there. It wasn’t easy and I felt much the same way: “Isn’t there another way? Can’t I become Lutheran or Anglican or something?” Anything but unity with the Bishop of Rome and the Bishops in unity with him. I was received into the Church in 2007 and I’m quite happy and very sure I made the right decision. Thanks to God, my mother was received into the Church this Easter. Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 is being realized in each one of us.

  9. Dear “Steven”,

    Welcome home, bro! Being Catholic is great – lots o’ others don’t know what they’re missing. And seriously, if you wake up late some night wondering if you should be Catholic, just pray to Jesus (yes, that is allowed – nay, encouraged!) :-) I jest (to some extent) because you did make an important decision and I hope it’s a decision that God blesses, despite your and my own unworthiness to be part of any church (much less the Catholic one!) Try to learn as much about the Faith as you can, move in to your Parish (metaphorically speaking, of course!) and soak up the Godly grace. God drew you to where you’re at, he’ll use you throughout the rest of your life, and enjoy the Eucharist. God truly for us, here, now! Amazing stuff, huh? :-)

    Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

  10. Steven, your post is encouraging to me. I’m 68 and am about to celebrate our 4th anniversary of being received into the Church and grew up in the Southern Baptist church. The Truth of the Catholic Church is a historical fact. Cardinal Newman, himself a convert, remarked, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” Most Protestants don’t know a thing about the Catholic Church. My wife, who converted with me, recently said, “It’s a lot easier to be a Catholic than it is to think about being one.” Crossing the Tiber is tough work and I admire you for your courage.

  11. Welcome home “Steven!”
    You prove that Catholic conversion is not a spontaneous, non-rational decision, but one based on prayer, study and most importantly the grace of God. You will love being Catholic. I would love to see both you and your dad on Marcus Grodi’s Journey Home.
    God bless
    russ

  12. Steven,

    Congratulations, my wife and I converted last year after leaving the SBC after 20 years. Though I’m now looking into the Eastern Orthodox faiths, I love the Catholic church.

    My only word of advice is to take your time, don’t rush your conversion. There is 2000 years of history to dig through, and a mountain of doctrine, and dogma to boot. Ask questions, make sure you get a good sponsor and mentor who will explain everything in detail. That is my one big regret when we joined, our RCIA was only 9 months, with no real meat, and was far too short to answer all the questions I had. So even after joining and falling in love with the Church I continued to have questions and some concerns, but it’s all good.

    Blessings

    -Paul-

    1. Dear Paul: Did you know there is an Eastern branch to our Catholic faith? You might try attending an Eastern service. Byzantine, Syriac, Armenian. They are all rites under the Holy See, just like the Latin (aka Roman). Eastern services are very different from Western. They even make the sign of the cross different. But they are still part of the Catholic Church. Read the chapter on Prayer in the Catechism – it was written by a Byzantine.

      1. Thanks Max,

        I do know about them, in our area (Boise, Idaho), there are three options:

        1. Antiochian Orthodox
        2. Greek Orthodox
        3. Russian Orthodox

        If there was an eastern rites, I would be there in a heart beat! There was byzantine right Catholic, but the story I heard is that the Bishop passed away and it dissolved.

        I’m still in the process of looking, asking questions and figuring things out.

        Cheers

        -Paul-

  13. “Are you comfortable with addressing Mary as Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix of the human race? Because soon this will be declared as a dogma of the Faith. When the faithful pray to consecrate their hearts to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, do you have any doubts? I find it hard to believe that, if you’ve been walking with the Lord as zealously as you have written, that you don’t feel at least a twinge of doubt about those things. That’s the Holy Spirit failing to witness with your spirit that you’re headed in the right direction.” saith Ben.

    Non Catholic Christians are uncomfortable with Mary because they have attempted to craft a theology without her! For 1500 years Mary has had an important role in salvation history and as early as the 2nd century was referred to as “The New Eve” which was certainly a title of reverence and not disdain. Luther himself had a healthy respect and reverence for Mary that began to erode later in his life as his own theology morphed into something quite distinct from the faith that Christ left with the apostles.

    Early tombs of the Christians reveal Mary’s role early on. Mark Miravalle, PhD says: “A very significant fresco found in the catacombs of St. Agnes depicts Mary situated between St. Peter and St. Paul with her arms outstretched to both. This fresco reflects, in the language of Christian frescoes, the earliest symbol of Mary as “Mother of the Church.” Whenever St. Peter and St. Paul are shown together, it is symbolic of the one Church of Christ, a Church of authority and evangelization, a Church for both Jew and Gentile. Mary’s prominent position between Sts. Peter and Paul illustrates the recognition by the Apostolic Church of the maternal centrality of the Savior’s Mother in his young Church.”

    If Mary had no role in salvation history other than the protestant role as 9 month incubator for Jesus, than why did the early Christians closest to the disciples revere her in their art and writings, and “fly to her for intercession.” Why was Mary with the apostles in the upper room waiting for the spirit to fall? Why was she at the foot of the cross when everyone but Saint John was hiding? Why did Jesus give Mary to John?(because it represents the Lord giving his mom to the Church) and the Church has always interpreted it as such.

    Please don’t tell me these early Christians were deceived and it wasn’t until Martin Luther that the “true faith was discovered.” Any one who feels a “check in their spirit” regarding Mary as Co-Redemptrix needs to pray that God will give them the mind of the Church. Also, it would be important to learn exactly what the Church means by Co-redemptrix before “straw manning” the whole discussion.

    1. It’s also worth pointing out that not every Catholic is required to do Marian consecration – it is a spiritual path one can choose to be on, or not. For a good book on Marian consecration, read “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Michael Gaitley. I’ve learned a lot about the Marian theology in the book – and I’m not reading it with the intention of doing the Marian consecration at this time. But the book explains Mary’s role in easy-to-understand terms.

      1. You’ve acknowledged elsewhere that you’re not Catholic, but someone should point out that whatever “Marian consecration” may mean to you or others, believing that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, Ever-Virgin, was Immaculately Conceived and bore exactly one Son, Jesus, is not optional for Catholics. It’s a clearly defined part of the “this and all things the Catholic teaches” to which we say “credo.”

        (However, not every apparition of the Virgin which has been called “harmless” or “credible” is necessarily something we have to believe–certainly not on the level we believe Scripture or dogmatic definitions of doctrine.)

        Take care,
        PGE

    2. Being co-mediatrix or co-redemptrix doesn’t mean Mary is equal to Jesus. It means that she was free to reject bearing Jesus. Without her free co-operation, Jesus would not have been born.

      The Church likewise teaches that married couples are co-creators with God in making children. Are the parents God’s equals in the creative process? No. But without the co-operation of humans, there would be no more people.

  14. Christ is Risen!
    Thank you for putting this before others to read. The journey will be rich, rewarding, challenging and rejuvenating.
    You might want to check out an Eastern Catholic church in your neighbourhood, if you get a chance. Go to a vespers service, matins, then work your way to the Divine Liturgy. Becoming Catholic doesn’t mean your unique gifts are lost; the existence of over 20 distinct Catholic churches in union with the Bishop of Rome attests to the diversity and beauty of the ancient, true Faith.
    Welcome home!
    Fr. Jason

  15. I am curious why the consideration of Eastern Orthodoxy often does not come up in the narratives of evangelicals who convert to Catholicism. It seems to me that considering the claims of each of the three main branches of Christianity (Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy) should be necessary before switching from one to another. There is not only one church that claims to be the unified, historic, one true church; there are two, and they disagree on many things.

    1. My impression as a cradlecat is that Protestantism is a split from the West, not the East; therefore a Protestant will return to his natural home, the faith of the West.

      1. Thanks, Christian. But as I understand it, in turn the Eastern Orthodox church considers the Catholic West to have wrongly split off from the true historic church embodied in the faith of the East. Hence they call Catholics to return to the Orthodox fold. Therefore a Protestant desiring to be rightly in communion with the historic church has to decide which, if either, of these two churches’ competing claims is true.

        1. Actually, for both my wife and I, at different times and places (we both came into communion with the Church separately before we were married, though we already knew each other), the question of Eastern Orthodoxy was a live one. For me, it was especially interesting, as one of my closest friends is Anglo-Catholic, his brother-in-law Greek Orthodox, and I Catholic, all of us by conversion from Fundamentalist/conservative evangelical roots. So I actually did have those conversations as I approached the culmination of RCIA.

          It’s worth noting that, as of the Council of Florence in the 1430s (though that was a really messy time in Church history), the terms of union between the East and the West have been spelled out. What happened was that those terms were not approved in all of the various Orthodox churches; those that have acted upon them are, in fact, in union with Rome today. Hence there are various Eastern rites that do recognize the primacy of Rome and the legitimacy of the filioque clarification to the Nicene Creed. With those two matters dealt with, very little remains between the East and West.

          What to like about the East? Well, a Baptist like me found the idea that each See was an autonomous church, rather than a sub-unit of a monarchical hierarchy, attractive. Of course, once I understood the Catholic teaching, I could see how it would be necessary to define–more importantly, how God clearly had led the Church to define–a focal point for the unity “with our bishop, and all the bishops” that is essential for Christian communion.

          …also, a burgeoning Catholic like me was very attracted to the conservatism of the Eastern rites, which have in so many ways changed so little over the past many years. This attraction, however, gave way before twin realizations: first, that I could have that, if it were essential, by entering into an Eastern rite in union with Rome; second, that knowing it was possible, I no longer felt it was important enough to make that choice, because indeed the Roman mass was my “coming home” as a member of a Western, Latin-defined religious culture.

          Anyway, those were my experiences. What I would urge is that almost no East/West differences are bars to union except the specifics of the filioque–whether Rome has the authority to clarify the Creed. That is not a trivial question, but it is not a question that has not been, for many, asked and answered. And it is no bar to the very near union of East and West.

          Best,
          PGE

  16. It is possible for one to experience God’s grace at a Catholic Mass. It has happened to me. It has happened to many others as well.

    But the meat of the issue is what the Church officially teaches. I think Christians should care about their confessional identity; they should care whether or not the Church they belong to teaches in accordance with Scripture.

    While I’m sure that the theologians who propounded the Sacrifice of the Mass probably had good intentions, and probably strongly believed in God’s grace, the practical effect of such a teaching, I would argue, nullifies grace and turns the Mass into a work that we must perform to please God, rather than a service God does to us. That is what a sacrifice is.

  17. Mary as Co-Redemptrix is not that scary of a saying when it is properly understood. If any title should scare anyone it should be Mary as the “Mother of God” or the “Theotokos.” The title “Mother of God” is a much higher title than Co-Redemptrix, yet when one understands the simplicity of it, the title makes complete sense. Mary is the mother of Jesus, Jesus is God, therefore Mary is the mother of God. The title “Mother of God’ desires to teach us something about who Christ really is. The same is true with Co-Redemptrix. “Co” means “with” and so we see that Mary redeems with Christ. This should not scare us… this does not mean that Mary’s participation in the Redemption is equal with Christ, but only that she does participate with Christ in the Redemption. The very first way she participates is through her “fiat,” her “yes” to God. It was through her yes that God became flesh. If the Incarnation had no impact in bringing about our Redemption, then what would be the point? Of course the Incarnation had a role, and therefore Mary had a role to play in bringing about it. She said yes to God and through that yes the Word of God became man. What we also read is that suffering has redemptive power. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” (Colossians 1:24). St. Paul tells us that his sufferings impact the body of Christ, they impact the Church. When one suffers and offers their suffering with Christ on the Cross, that suffering has redemptive power through the power of the Cross. Christ “recycles” suffering, He turns something evil into something good. Just as His suffering was used for the salvation of others, so too, when we suffer, as the Body of Christ, the Church, we too can offer our suffering for the salvation of others as well. So all of us are called to become “co-redeemers” with Christ. Mary fulfills this perfectly. “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother. ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35). Simeon tells us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that through the suffering of Mary that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. She offers her suffering “with” Christ for the redemption of others. Mary as “Co-Redemptrix” reveals to us our calling to offer our sufferings “with” Christ for the salvation of others, but also shows us the unique role that Christ plays as the Redeemer of humanity and it is only in and through His life, death, and resurrection that our life or death has any value at all.

  18. Ben, people like you who are focused on the Bible being the sole authority for Christians always forget that, up until the invention of the Gutenberg press, most Christians could not read nor could they get their hands on a Bible.

    Prior to the printing revolution, all Christians had was showing up for mass and participating in the Eucharist. (The mass was even in Latin.) Now, you might question the need to do this today, but ironically, it is the liturgical churches (Catholic, Anglican) that actually read Scripture, whereas the evangelical ones sing some songs, and then the pastor picks out his favorite Bible passages to comment on in his very long sermon.

    The Episcopal Church actually has the most Bible readings in any service: One Old Testament, one new testament, a psalm, and a Gospel reading. I personally find it strange that evangelicals, who worship the Bible it seems, have so few actual Bible readings in their services.

    PS A common criticism evangelicals have of Catholics is the concept of “works.” No-one outside of evangelicals really uses that term in that way. I don’t think evangelicals really understand the difference between a church requiring people to show up for mass vs. the church’s actual teachings on salvation.

    1. “The Episcopal Church actually has the most Bible readings in any service: One Old Testament, one new testament, a psalm, and a Gospel reading.”

      ————————

      A Catholic Mass has the same number of formal readings, and if one goes to daily Mass for 3 years, one will hear almost the ENTIRE Bible!

      Also, the entire liturgy is filled with Scripture. This link– http://www.wctc.net/~mudndirt/Scripture%20in%20mass.htm — uses the out-dated translation from Latin, but it gets the point across. This site– http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/mass.htm –is also very good, and though it is somewhat lengthy, it has some fascinating information and I hope you will take the time to read it!

  19. “I think Christians should care about their confessional identity; they should care whether or not the Church they belong to teaches in accordance with Scripture.”

    This statement itself is not in accord with scripture. What you would have is for people to listen to yuor idea of what scripture is saying. But scripture itself nowhere tells its reader to look to it as the sole authority. In fact it points to tradition and MEN as the ones to look to as the authority. The apostles are the ones we are to follow. Paul, speaking to Timothy, tells us where the authority we are to follow is:

    2 Tim. 2:2
    And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

    You can not show us a table of contents for your bible.

    You can not show us where in your bible it says that it is the only authority.

    On the other hand, your bible DOES say that authority is passed down by the laying on of hands from the apostles, and that we should accept the oral tradition right along with the written scripture.

    So it seems to me that you would not just have us look at scripture, but youy would really have us just liten to what you think it is saying.

    As a former Pentecostal and then Reformed Cristian now become Catholic, I am done listening to the opinions of men like you so no thanks.

  20. Ben you said: “Common sense and a sense of history tell us that no institution, no church, can exist for a long period of time and not accumulate some errors of doctrine along the way.” Christ’s promises to His Church negate any possibility of that above statement. Jesus started a Church and promised that the gates of hell would not prevail over it. He gave this Church the Holy Spirit to lead it in all truth. He entrusted the earthly care of His Church to men, called popes, Peter being the first. He gave them the authority to bind and loosen, even things in heaven! Therefore, the Church cannot accumulate errors in doctrine, by definition, because Jesus promised to lead us in all truth. We can have bad popes, lousy errant theologians, but when it comes to faith and morals the Church has never taught falsely, because it can’t.
    Not to be difficult here Ben, but your comment “Common sense and a sense of history tell us that no institution, no church, can exist for a long period of time and not accumulate some errors of doctrine along the way,” describes Protestantism exactly. Within 100 years of the reformation there was a book published called 200 views of the Lord’s supper.” Which view was correct? Until the reformation there was one view of the Lord’s Supper, and only one priest, named Berangarus of Tours ever challenged it, in the 9th century and he was soundly rebuked and ended his life repenting of the error.
    But each year that we spin away from the reformers rebellion against the Church, more and more error and false doctrines accumulate until we have over 30,000 disparate denominations each claiming to have the handle on the truth based on their own personal interpretation of scripture, proving that the perpiscuity of scripture doesn’t exist and sola scriptura when implemented leads to the breakdown of orthodoxy.
    The Protestant churches have existed almost 500 years now, and according to the Error Accumulation theory, that would be an awful lot of error and more to come, and sadly we see it each and every day. When you have no authority but your own “spiritual intuition” , stuff happens.

  21. “While I’m sure that the theologians who propounded the Sacrifice of the Mass probably had good intentions, and probably strongly believed in God’s grace, the practical effect of such a teaching, I would argue, nullifies grace and turns the Mass into a work that we must perform to please God, rather than a service God does to us. That is what a sacrifice is.”
    Ben, please learn what the mass is about. Please get a catechism. I will send you one if money is a problem, but I would suggest that you research what Catholicism says about itself instead of reading caricatures of the Church shaped like straw men that have no resemblence to what the church teaches. Thank you,

    1. Actually, Ben, you can get the catechism online–just go to Google, and look it up, or go to the Vatican website–it’s free! And please do read up on the history of the Eucharist and what happens at Mass–it’s fine to disagree, but to misrepresent what others believe is not to argue in good faith.

  22. How sad that we can turn the conversion of an individual into a boxing match about the theology and beliefs of the Catholic faith, this is really neither the place nor the time to turn Steven’s story of heart wrenching conversion into a polemical debate on theology. One reason I left the evangelical circus was this constant ‘Battle’ mentality, where everyone who did not agree with my faith (whatever that is), is wrong and needs to be convinced of the ‘REAL’ truth.

    Devin maybe you can put up a post about all the things evangelicals hate about the Catholic Church and let the melee ensue! :)

    Again Steven, congratulations, you will find incredible depth in the Catholic faith.

    -Paul-

    1. Hi Paul,

      My internet was down for two days so I haven’t even gotten to read all the comments. Well, everyone work hard to keep it irenic!

      God bless,
      Devin

  23. Just a small issue for me: it’s really only Protestants who deny that Mary is all those things, not “non-Catholic Christians.” The other ancient Churches (the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Assyrian Church of the East), which Rome recognizes as maintaining apostolic succession, all agree with Rome on Mary.

  24. Mr. Steven,
    Welcome home. Protestants converting to Catholicism is of course fascinating to this cradle Catholic. Some of us easily take for granted what has been given to us by Christ and His Church. Converts dating back to Paul have always helped lead the way in evangelizing ourselves.

    Thank you for your astonishing story. If you haven’t already, you will soon find you among many Catholic converts as well as fellow Catholic brothers and sisters around the world.

  25. Welcome home brother. Be very mindful of the attacks that will happen. They have already started. I am not talking about silly combox comments either. The hatred of the church extends to the deepest depths of hell, and is manifested in the attitudes of many evangelicals towards the Mother of God. Yes, she is the Mother of God because Jesus is God and she is his Mother. Pretty simple. Sin came into the world through the disobedience of a woman, and Grace and Salvation (Jesus) came into the world through the obedience of a woman, and scripture says that in the end She will crush the head of Satan.

  26. “I think Christians should care about their confessional identity; they should care whether or not the Church they belong to teaches in accordance with Scripture.”
    Well, that depends what your definition of “in accordance with Scripture” is. The way I’ve mostly heard it used in Protestant circles is: “it may or may not be derived explicitly from Scripture (really saying: we don’t like it), therefore it’s bad.” Nevermind that there are scriptural corroborations of Catholic teaching (primacy of Peter, confession, fasting, etc.), but the Church does not require them because the Church existed and was teaching before the New Testament was written, much less compiled and canonized. Again, it is expected that there would be scriptural corroborations but not required because the New Testament is neither a comprehensive handbook on Church practices nor a textbook of systematic theology.
    Of course, when you throw out books or parts of books (seven) teaching things you don’t like, it’s a lot easier to say doctrines are “unscriptural.” Again, the other apostolic Churches have those books in their canons.
    As for the sacrifice of the Mass, simply because people (may or may not) have misunderstood it, doesn’t mean it is false. Again, this isn’t just a Roman thing, it’s Apostolic Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox also believe in the “spiritual and unbloody sacrifice” (from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).

  27. Maybe you can return to Poland, but with a different objective this time. It might help those who have left the Church to return.

  28. I too come from a Fundamental Baptist background (my particular community bemoaned that the SBC was “too liberal”). What got me to “Pope” was that virtually everything I had been told about the Church was not true, either by deception or ignorance (I pray it was the latter). I learned what the Church teaches from Catholics, rather than from former Catholics with an ax to grind or non-Catholics who cite Boettner and Hislop as sources. I came into the Church in 2008, and I don’t regret it for a second.

  29. Ben,you’re a hundred yards off shore and the sharks are circling.I pray earnetly that
    you’ll make the complete journey.Your intense desire for truth is so strong that it can only be the work of the Holy Spirit.May He guide you to the bark of Peter. Hang in there,and pray.God can’t help but asnwer your prayer.

  30. I was received into the Church in 2008 and am so grateful to God for His gift of faith.

    My upbringing was somewhat nominal Lutheran, and I spent some years in the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship non-denominational world after an evangelical conversion, but God laid all the right traps for me in the Church Fathers, Catechism, and Catholic friends who love Jesus.

    I hope all the other converts here know about Pope Benedict’s amazing initiative: Anglican Ordinariates, which are national dioceses created to preserve and share the liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral traditions that developed in England after the Reformation but are compatible with the Catholic faith.

    Anyone who is a convert Catholic (or is considering it) but feels a very strong bond with the cultural elements of their non-Catholic heritage should look into joining others to form an Ordinariate community: http://www.usordinariate.org

    Email me if you want more info! jackgrimes2 [at] yahoo.com

  31. Hi Ben,

    I’m also a convert from an evangelical denomination to the Roman Church. I’m now studying to be a priest; I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve come as far as I have purely through my relationship with Jesus Christ. I noticed a few comments you made, and I’d like to address them, if I may and you’re willing to listen.

    “Like one of my friends, who became Catholic in a whirlwind due to family issues, Steven is moving far too fast, and he isn’t exercising critical thinking.”

    I honestly don’t think so. It really sounds like he’s actually really thought this through, gotten over the emotional turbulence, and had to struggle with the idea of converting. Before I converted I thought that the Pope was Satan and Catholics worshiped Mary. It sounds like Steven has come from a similar background and he’s had to wrestle with these things, unlike so many that were born in the Church. Unless you’re a psychologist that can analyze people through blog posts, I’d be reluctant to make the claim you’re making here. :)

    “Evangelicalism is in a theological crisis; this is true.”

    What evangelicalism, at least from the perspective I had, really boils down to is Sola Scriptura. Once you realize that there’s no real intellectual or historical backing to this, and that it doesn’t even fulfill it’s own criteria (!!!) you’ll eventually come to the conclusion that we need an authority to interpret Scripture for us. Historically speaking, until the Protestant Rebellion of the 16th century, that authority has been the Church insofar as the declarations handed down through the Ecumenical Councils.

    “Rome has plenty of problems of her own.”

    Agreed! But unlike so many Protestant denominations, Rome has handed down a certain series of dogma that has never, ever, changed, and never will change, and never can change. Surely you must understand the attraction to this – dogma that must be believed, that has been handed down for centuries since Christ and directly from Christ.

    “Steven seems to have come from a Baptist background, so he may not have heard the phrase “the Holy Spirit witnesses with my spirit,” which was in common use among the charismatics I was privileged to grow up around.”

    You do know that the Roman Catholic Church has charismatics of their own, yes? And that this phrase is not uncommonly heard amongst them? :)

    “When we approach a church tradition and consider pledging our loyalty to it, we must carefully examine its practices to discern if what it is doing witnesses with the Holy Spirit and our spirit that these things are true and right.”

    Ah, but you’d be surprised at how many Traditions (not “traditions,” which can change) have been handed down directly from the Bible. And individual discernment really doesn’t mean anything because “nothing comes about from an individual interpretation.” Instead we must “hold fast to the Traditions that have been given” to us. The Bible affirms Tradition being handed down. It does not affirm that it is the only authority – it actually says the opposite.

    What’s particularly interesting about the Bible is that it actually didn’t come together as a coherent set of books until 80 years after the dogma of the Trinity was handed down to us by the Council Fathers at Nicaea. I take it you have no problems with the Trinity, which is a concept that was defined long before the Bible was created – so why the problems with the Church Councils?

    ” Are you comfortable with addressing Mary as Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix of the human race?”

    Sure, once I understood what those terms really mean. What they seem to mean just by reading them and what the Church is actually saying by using those terms are two entirely different things – thank God!

    “When the faithful pray to consecrate their hearts to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, do you have any doubts?”

    So…we shouldn’t be looking to Mary as an example?

    “That’s the Holy Spirit failing to witness with your spirit that you’re headed in the right direction.”

    I wasn’t aware that the Holy Spirit is capable of failing. 😉

    “But there’s more to Catholicism than the beautiful liturgy: if you can’t accept everything you shouldn’t be Catholic.”

    Agreed! And thank God that there’s so much more than that.

    “The Church presents an entire comprehensive system of belief that includes many semi-idolatrous practices”

    Do you have a citation for this claim? If I were dying in a hospital I’d hope that you’d pray for me. Asking a saint in heaven to pray for you during an ordeal is no different than this.

    “as well as a culture of penance and self-denial ”

    You mean the two things that Christ preached on? Where in the Gospel message does Christ ever say that we shouldn’t deny ourselves anything? And really, what is your source for even making this claim?

    “Ask Martin Luther; the man was probably certifiably crazy, but there were reasons for that.”

    Heh. A couple of things:

    1). He was crazy before he became a monk, if you look at the history behind this. Frightened by a thunderstorm, he swore to become a monk if God saved his life. He wasn’t killed by the thunderstorm so he became a monk. Not exactly the best way to discern the Spirit.

    2). So when you say that Luther was “certifiably crazy,” you’re saying that the entire “reformation” occurred at the hands of a lunatic? This has interesting implications for the veracity of your beliefs, some of which, by the way, come directly from Luther if I’m reading you right.

    “The Protestant Reformers, contrary to the caricature you have no doubt received from Catholic apologists, believed in the Catholic Church; they confessed it in the Apostle’s Creed.”

    Errr….No. Martin Luther claimed that the Pope was Satan; he claimed that the Mass in which Christ’s body and blood are made present for us was a “worse abomination than all of the whorehouses in the world,” that dogmas which had been handed down for over 1,000 years were false, and that Tradition was meaningless.

    The Apostles’ Creed that Protestants use is very careful to use the lower-case “c” for “catholic,” simply meaning “universal,” simply meaning the people that have been saved by God’s grace.

    “affirming justification by grace alone”

    We do affirm this.

    “through faith alone”

    We deny this because it’s not Biblical. The only place in which the Bible says “faith alone” has an inconvenient “not” in front of it in the book of James.

    Now, Luther did deliberately add “alone” in his translation of Romans 3:28, but that’s what happens when 1). Cognitive bias is allowed to be used in translation work, and 2). You have a single person translating a massive piece of work given by God.

    ” on account of Christ alone.”

    We affirm that only Christ’s merit, gained for us on the Cross, is the only thing that can save us.

    “But Rome, despite changing her tone since Vatican II to be more welcoming of Protestants, has reversed none of her anathemas and none of her dogmatic assertions made at Trent.”

    Probably because, since those dogmatic assertions made at Trent were not invented out of thin air and the Fathers at Trent were merely being consistent with all of Tradition, all of history, and all of God’s Word, and therefore, cannot be changed on a whim unlike most Protestant promulgations.

    Did you know that Trent cites the Bible more than any other document, and, indeed, more than any other Church council in all of history? The documents of Trent are written specifically for Protestants to read.

    “What you found attractive in the liturgy was the pure GRACE of it. Jesus in the Eucharist, given for you.”

    Yes indeed!

    “The Bible, God’s Word, spoken for you.”

    Yes!

    “These are things you don’t have to work for; they are God’s gifts to us.”

    True. The Liturgy is simply “Christ as and at the Head of the Church worshiping God the Father”.

    “that indeed the Mass is a Sacrifice that effectively remits and propitiates for sins, for both living and dead.”

    Thank God for that! What you have to understand about the Mass is that it is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. The Mass is a sacrifice. If you understand nothing more about the Mass, understand that it is a sacrifice and it is the same sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross for us. What else can propitiate for sins besides Christ’s sacrifice? Nothing can appease an angry God besides his own Son on the Cross for us sinners.

    “The book of Hebrews is effectively nullified by the sophistry of Roman theology.”

    You mean the part in the book of Hebrews where the author talks about how we have a High Priest in heaven that is constantly offering sacrifice for us?

    “Read the Augsburg Confession.”

    Been there, went to a Protestant college, majored in theology, done that.

    “You think that auricular confession is a nifty idea? So do I. So did Martin Luther. Unlike Rome, however, which killed the grace of confession by adding legal requirements concerning the number of sins, remembrance of sins, etc.”

    Could you be more specific here? People in the confessional are urged to confess their sins in kind and number. However, if you forget a sin and don’t confess it, it is still forgiven after the absolution.

    “It is enough to confess what you are led to confess and what you can remember.”

    We agree.

    “Christ’s sacrifice once and for all on the Cross is enough for you; there is no need to “make satisfaction” for your sins.”

    We agree except where Paul urges us to “work out salvation with fear and trembling.”

    “You are free to serve Christ wholeheartedly, without guilt or shame.”

    This is exactly WHY auricular confession was given to us by Christ. So we can do that.

    “Consider what you are doing to your future ability to reach the nations for Jesus.”

    A lot. The Catholic Church has many more missionaries than anyone else – entire monastic orders have been dedicated solely to mission, in fact.

    “Consider how important it is to get the Gospel right.”

    Especially John 6.

    “Consider that traditions do exist which retain what is truly Catholic but who also unapologetically defend the Gospel of Grace.”

    Augustine did pretty well at this – after all, he’s called the Doctor of Grace. It’s unfortunate that one has to deliberately misread him to come to the same conclusions about him that some “reformers” did.

    1. Thanks be to God for vocation to the priesthood! You will make a fine priest one day –

  32. It is a well known fact that protestant converts make the best Catholics! Thanks be to God for our protestant brothers and sisters that have come into full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ! We welcome all of you and are blessed by your faith and zeal. And to all of you that are still on the fence, just know that we miss you! Only God can convert souls, so our prayer is that many more of you will open your hearts and minds to the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith through His grace. I invite you to take a look at this website: catholicscomehome.org. for further discernment.

  33. welcome home Steven and may The Good God guide you to bring home those whom you’ll meet in the journey of your like – thank you for understanding Mary The most Blessed Mother of The Savior and Lord JESUS and Our Mother
    in JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH
    the lemus family

  34. yes – it is true! converts make the best Catholics and for this we are thankful – i have just posted a comment and i meant to write ‘to bring home those whom you’ll meet in the journey of your LIFE’
    dear Steven GOD bless you always along with those dear to your heart
    in JMJ
    <*} } } } the lemus family

  35. Welcome home, Steven! and thanks for sharing. I do hope you’ll continue to see your faith grow, now that you enjoy it “in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”

    Best,
    PGE

  36. Welcome home Brother!! I am a convert just like you, and went through the same issues when looking at the Church in the context of history. Everything as a Baptist seemed to lack the historical root of Catholicism, from the music to the services. Christ called me to be Catholic and I wasn’t ready but knew it was what He willed. I’ve never looked back and have only grown strong in my faith. Blessings to you on your journey!

  37. Steven,
    God bless you and welcome! You know that January 28th, the day you made the call to your dad, is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, I hope! : )

    My husband converted at 23 yr old from no Faith, and I am so very grateful he did, as we raise our family together.

  38. David Currie’s Born Fundamentalist, Born-Again Catholic was instrumental in moving me toward the Church, as well. I wasn’t a seminarian, but my father was a Baptist pastor and later my mom was ordained, as well. Welcome home. You will find that you have lost nothing in crossing the Tiber. Instead, you’ve gained the fullness of truth, a whole new family, and a new relationship with Jesus Christ!

  39. From a revert to a convert, that’ll teach ya to read that darned Catechism. Pesky logic and truth. Worse than a skeeter bite.

    Welcome home! We kept the pew warm for ya …

  40. Thank you for sharing your story, it brought tears to my eyes. I too, am a Baptist convert, and have now been Catholic for a little over a year. Thank you for following truth, regardless of where it leads. It can be difficult and painful, it was for us, but know that you are not alone. The graces and fullness of faith that are found in Catholicism will give you strength. Blessings to you.

  41. I’m a cradle Catholic-charismatic who had reservations about Mary and a few other teachings that I just soft-pedaled or avoided talking about until the Year of the Eucharist when God allowed me to discover the heart of the Church which is the Eucharist. Our faith is so rich and deep and diverse that each of us are on journeys where God unveils one aspect at a time to us to savor and ponder.

    Last year I felt inspired to do the Consecration to Jesus Christ Through Mary by Louis de Montfort. together with our parish. I had a real crisis of faith in the middle of the month-long process. Only after a hard hitting match with my pastor where I just threw every objection I had at him, and he easily hit them back with multiple answers for each one. until I was satisfied….was I able to step past the instinctive fear that I had and kneel in front of the Tabernacle and continue with the consecration that day. I had the fear that it was, as one commentor wrote, a lack of witness by the Holy Spirit. However it turned out to be something different…God asking me to take a step of faith that seemed a bit scary and uncertain.

    As my pastor pointed out to me, Satan did not want me to become one of Mary’s protected ones, because she is the one who will crush him (Genesis, Revelations). I had to step out in faith past my fears of idolatry, displacing Christ as the rightful center (or so I thought), etc. That step of faith, done with trepidation, has brought so much grace and transformation in my life. It has been a central agent in an interior ordering that I had longed for…I have confidence in my spiritual life now, and peace that I am where God wants me to be.

    I learned that Mary is powerful as well as tender. I was convinced beyond doubt of her special role and special ability to assist us in breaking through the most difficult areas in our lives. I had tried every spiritual approach I could think of for some intractable areas in my life, but only this consecration brought me to the victory Christ and I both wanted. I feel sure that He sent her to me because He knew how much I longed to be more pleasing to him, and that I needed Her.

    I am also convinced of her kindness, as several things happened during the consecration period that only I knew had lain unresolved and hidden in my heart. They were tender gifts that personalized my relationship with her. She suprised me with them in order to show me her friendship and maternal ways. My patron saint was also central to this whole process and I encourage you to develop a close friendship with yours.

    Remember, it is consecration TO JESUS CHRIST…..THROUGH MARY.

    Do not fear, she only wants us to be totally free of our wounds and our sins so we can be more intimately united with Christ, her son.

    I can relate to your sense of being dragged against your better instincts towards some of the more difficult teachings of the Church. God takes us where we do not want to go, in order to give us what we truly desire. In the end, apparently my instincts are not that reliable after all!

  42. Me, too! Not so much the tears, but part of the path. I just didn’t take the direct route, but traveled the way of the reformers (PCA), then the Anglicans, and now the Church! Welcome. I have no regrets.

  43. How interesting to see that the video bashing the idea of Church actually pushed Steven toward the Church. Elaine Pagels’ book on the gnostic gospels had a similar effect on me: a well-written work that required the reader to engage — and ultimately to reject entirely — the argument. In his case, he encountered the well-produced rap, took it seriously, and rejected the message entirely.

    How odd.

  44. Welcome. Your story sounds very familiar to mine. Fortunately you are making the change much earlier in life than I did. I converted to the Catholic Church just six years ago. Like you I came through an evangelical background, non-denominational at times, Southern Baptist for a while and even Assembly of God. I struggled with variety of beliefs within the protestant denominations. You never new what you were going to get when you went to a new church. I too was in Poland, as an expat, where I actually started studying the Catholic Church, went on-line to the Vatican and started reading the Cathechism. The skipping over of so much history became a glaring gap and was also key to my conversion.

    I do not regret my journey into the Catholic Church. My faith was rebuilt up and it has been a great blessing to me and my family. I am sure it will the same for you.

    God Bless!

  45. Welcome home! Your story reminds me of my friend, Leona Choy. From her blog :
    She served with her husband in mission, church, and educational work in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and the U.S. They co-founded AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, INC. a campus ministry among Chinese university students and scholars in North America. Leona traveled more than a dozen times to the People’s Republic of China as a guide and escort, for ministry with her husband among Christians in China, and as an English teaching consultant. She is president of WTRM-FM (Southern Light Gospel Music Network)in the Shenandoah Vally of Virginia. She is founder and editorial director of GOLDEN MORNING PUBLISHING. Leona wrote, edited, or collaborated over thirty books, many foreign language editions, and published scores of articles. Four adult sons, ten grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren keep her busy when she is not at her computer or traveling.

    http://leonachoy.blogspot.com/

    Her book “Journey into the Land of More” details her conversion into the Catholic faith.

  46. Welcome home! You have just made the most important and best decision in your life. As a convert to the Catholic Church, I am can empathize with your struggles. Keep reading and studying!

  47. Dear Steven,
    I came from an agnostic background and entered the Church 2 years ago. I encourage you to continue your prayer, service, and studies. I never thought I would become a Christian let alone Catholic. Now I can’t imagine my life any other way. I am grateful to God for His great mercy.
    Peace be with you,
    Alan R

  48. I, too, disregarded the Church for a few years in my 20’s but the Holy Spirit has worked wonders for me.
    Pray that the Paraclete will be on your life journey.

  49. Now be prepared to die to self and become a saint!

    May God’s graces continue to poor down upon you.

  50. It’s a beautiful testimony… I am glad you chose to be a Catholic. Will be sharing this link with my friends

  51. Dear Steven, I am a former Baptist, then Anglican, then finally Catholic. It’s so worth it!
    The church is so splendid, its teaching so glorious, and the Eucharist is…..words really do fail to describe. And remember your Evangelical roots are but a foretaste of the fullness of the faith. Your personal relationship with Jesus will explode into an intimate relationship with Jesus through Sacred ritual, prayer, and Eucharist. Oh, I’m so happy for you. God bless…….

  52. Steven, I am from a long line of Southern Baptist ministers. I received my BA in religion from a Baptist college and was headed to seminary when God had a different plan. My Methodist wife and I would end up serving for two years with the Southern Baptist Convention in Jerusalem where we were confronted with history and Catholic Palestinians. The witness of both would precipitate our own conversion some 33 years ago. We are so thankful! We both are long time theology teachers in the local Catholic high school. Welcome aboard!

  53. Welcome! Made my journey home (similar in some ways) 4 years ago and have not regretted it since.

  54. Good eyes over there, Steven. You saw your way through, with God’s help.

    And it caught my eye when you said you’d spent a summer in Poland. It is an interesting place. You went to evangelize and in return, you got evangelized, that first infinitesimal nudge that you hardly noticed.

    When you mentioned that 1500 years of air in your seminary books, it gave me a chuckle. That is exactly the kind of thing that many people behind the Iron Curtain had to fight against — that the communists tried to erase their history. If you read up on the history of Solidarity in Poland and Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, you will see a ton of historian types fighting for their own history. They used to write that one must live in the truth.

    Erasing history: you’ll see good examples in the photos of Lenin and Stalin. Their comrades in the initial photo eventually get airbrushed out for political reasons. Just google “stalin” and “airbrush” to see the sequence of photos.

    You described your seminary education in a similar way. I never thought of the Reformation in that way, as having attempted to erase 1500 years of Christian life, but I see now that it is appropriate.

    Welcome aboard, Steven. Now it gets REALLY interesting!

  55. Thank you for this story, Steven! I couldn’t help but notice that you called your dad about the decision to become Catholic on January 28th, which, on the current calendar, is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. I imagine that, for a conversion like yours, marked by being open to examination and trying to see what “the other side” actually believes, his prayerful intercession was not lacking!

  56. Wait, why isn’t he becoming Lutheran? That question was never settled in my mind. We’re historic, traditional, and catholic. Lutherans claim the same rich theological inheritance of the church fathers (33AD – 1517AD), while being able to look at them realistically as sinful men. Lutherans theology has a vigorous reliance on the gifts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as Jesus instituted them.

    I mean, it’s a good thing to notice that protestantism jettisoned the better part of their tradition to their detriment. But it’s not fundamentally better to pick the oldest, most “traditional” and “mystical” church you can find as a way to recover an inheritance. Not all of that inheritance is a good thing. Read the council of Trent. Read up on the Donation of Constantine. Read up on the “pornocracy” and the Great Schism and the investiture controversy with Gregory VII. The Roman church still claims these sinful men as fathers, and keeps the doctrines they made. That’s a history, but it doesn’t seem to me to be a realistic way of looking at it.

    1. Keaton, Luther split with the church, causing a schism and heresy. The Roman Catholic church remains the fullness of truth passed down from Jesus Christ. As Steven (and Paul) mentions in so many words, we have a heavenly gift passed on by earthen vessels. When something is holy, as is Jesus Christ’s bride, the Catholic church, there is no choice but for it to remain.

    2. You forgot to mention the Crusades and the Inquisition. Haven’t you heard about the Borgias? The reason it is the “Oldest” Church is because it is the church that Jesus instituted. It is the Church about whom he said; “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” I do not knock Lutherans, but if Christ’s wish that “all should be one” is to be realized in this world it will be by universal acknowledgment of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. There is no other.

    3. Keaton,

      You just gave reasons for the Catholic Church! The Church is Holy, but not all its members as they are human. Tragedies like the Great Schism are proof the Gates of Hell will not prevail against his one HOLY Catholic Church! You should read the book “Pope Fiction” by Patrick Madrid.

    4. Keaton said:
      “The Roman church still claims these sinful men as fathers, and keeps the doctrines they made.”

      I had your same concern at one time. But what I found upon investigation was that sinful men like the Borgia popes actually never defined doctrine. Catholics claim that doctrinre is defined under very specific circumstances. Things like the “pornocracy” dont change that. Just as Peter denying Christ doesnt change his position as Apostle. Christ promised to protect the Church, but it’s members will still have personal failings.
      My heritage is LCMS Lutheran. I have much love and respect for (real) Lutherans. The thing is, they no longer have the apostolic succession tracing back to the apostles. And if they did, they certainly don’t have the communion with Rome necessary for being within the Church. These blatent facts are what led me to Catholicism.

    5. But one thing that Luther (and Lutherans) seem to forget is that we are ALL sinners. One of Jesus’ chosen followers denied him 3 times and went on to lead the early Church, another betrayed him and committed suicide in infamy.

      With all those evil leaders, the fact that we’re still around after 2000 years is proof positive that Jesus is indeed with us. :)

  57. It’s a good story and a moving one. I would like to pass it along to some family members who are not Catholic, and a couple who used to be. Trouble is I don’t want to seem to be taking advantage of my position as elderly patriarch of our extended clan. This position has long troubled me . . . I would appreciate any comments.

    RJS

    1. JRS,
      I understand your position. It is important to remain in prayer about it and focus on God’s desires, not just yours. That said, it sounds like the Holy Spirit has been encouraging you in that direction. so when he opens the door be prepared to act and follow his lead. He needs a willing instrument.

      God bless!

  58. Dear Steven,

    God bless you!

    If you think your life has become blessed or that scales have fallen from your eyes since you’ve received faith in God’s Church, his Mystical Body, wait until God blesses you – if he hasn’t already – with the grace to have faith in a holy devotion to Mary – and particularly in this age, to Her Immaculate Heart.

    If the Church is the road to Heaven, Mary is the flightpath.

    Salve Maria!

  59. Jeff Cavins is another good read who was raised Catholic and became an Evangelical Pastor. His book “My Life on the Rock: A Rebel Returns to the Catholic Faith” is great for converts or cradle Catholics.

  60. Rjs,
    As the oldest son of a Conservative Baptist pastor and a 1975 convert who remains the sole Catholic in the wider family for who knows how many generations, I sympathize. I see my primary role in two ways: 1) intercessory prayer based on the holiest life I can live; 2) preparation so that my knowledge of the faith stands me in good stead when questions arise. The timing must be left to the Holy Spirit. May He work great things in your family!

  61. Welcome home Steven from a fellow convert and former career Protestant minister. God bless you and keep you.

    Devon, God bless you and thanks for sharing the story.

  62. “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” – Anglican theologian and historian Rev. J.H. Newman, later Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, in An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1845.

  63. May the Holy Spirit continue to enrich your faith, as you receive the Eucharist! I was a lifelong Southern Baptist, and learned to love Jesus in that tradition. It took much prodding from the Holy Spirit for me to come into the Barque of Peter (kicking and screaming). After a 10 year journey, I could not imaging my life without receiving the Body of Christ. How blessed we are that Christ humbles Himself to come to us in the Blessed Sacrament! Welcome home!

  64. To Steven, 1 John 2:19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” You never understood the truth, therefore you did not put your trust and faith in the one and true God. Just like Judas, he was one of 12, but never understood or accepted the truth for what ever reason. If you like most catholics has put your trust in the catholic religion you are still NOT saved. It is a shame how Satan has deceived you with the same old tactic that he used on Eve, mixing truth with lies. The one thing we can all rely on is that He will soon be coming and exposing all of those proclaiming a false gospel and dealing with them.

    1. Bonnie,
      We have put our trust in Christ’s promise to protect His Church built upon Peter and his confession of faith (Matt. 16:18). We also believe that the Church understood herself as having the authority to bind all the faithful and teach infallibly by the protection of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28). We believe that He gave us his Body and Blood, of which we truly eat and drink, so that we may have life everlasting with him (John 6:41-59). As for Blessed Cardinal Newman, he was indeed a sinful man, as are we all, but that does not negate the truth of his quote.

    2. Bonnie,
      I am taking some time to pray for you, right now. Since you believe that we Catholics have been deceived by Satan, and we Catholics believe that you Protestants are the ones who have been misled, we seem to be at an impasse, unless we can engage in honest and meaningful discussion instead of talking at each other. True and honest dialogue, from the heart, is willing to listen as well as to speak, and when speaking, will do so with gentleness and reverence. I pray that all of us in these comment boxes will do just that. May Jesus fill your heart with the Holy Spirit completely!

  65. Hi Steven,
    Thank you for this remarkable article. Everytime I read it, it fills me with joy or I realize I have seen something new inside of it. Mostly I just wanted to thank you. I apologize for all of the cradle Catholics who do not know and/or understand church teaching. I spent many years not knowing or understanding, and I find myself learning many new things each and every day. I find consolation in praying for the intersession of Our Lady, and just simply watching Jesus work in my life, for example through the Holy Eucharist. I think it’s more about wanting to understand. Empty me of myself, and fill me of You. Anyways, thank you again. :)
    Totus Tuus.
    Jesus, I trust in You!
    God Bless, Amanda.

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