From Protestantism to Catholicism: Six Journeys to Rome | IgnatiusInsight.com
From Protestantism to Catholicism: Six Journeys to Rome | IgnatiusInsight.com
On Being Branded an Expatriate | Thomas Howard | Chapter One of
Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome
To move from one
religious neighborhood to another is to lay oneself open to all sorts of
speculations from the bystanders. "He was swept away emotionally" this
if one has made one's move in the flush of ardor that suffuses various
revivalist options, say; or "He was looking for a dignity and sublimity in
worship that seemed missing in his erstwhile world"--this if one goes from
a rustic conventicle to one of the liturgical churches, most especially the
Anglicanism that is so often borne to us on the thin notes echoing amongst the
arches of the chapel at King's College, Cambridge; or "He was the type who
needed authority"--this if one becomes a Catholic.
There is often a great deal of truth in these remarks. Indeed, one may have
been swept away, or may have yearned for sublimity, or may have looked
earnestly for authority. But to point that out is to leave unasked, much less
unanswered, the question as to whether the move was ill conceived, or was at
bottom made in obedience to light having been cast on one's itinerary. It is
impossible, of course, to settle that question simply on the apparent merits of
the case itself. The bystanders, most of them, will judge the matter according
to views that they already hold, and go on about their business. A few may be
bemused enough to undertake some scrutiny of their own notions.
At the age of fifty I was received into the Roman Catholic Church. The move
occurred at the hither end of an itinerary that had begun for me in the trusty
Protestant Fundamentalism of the 1930s and 1940s and had taken me thence
through Anglicanism and eventually to the threshold of the "one, holy,
catholic, and apostolic Church". Such a sequence is far from being
unprecedented: Cardinal Manning and Cardinal Newman, in the nineteenth century,
followed not altogether dissimilar routes, as did Monsignor Ronald Knox in the
twentieth century. To adduce these worthies is to place one-self in company so
august that any analogy between one's own pilgrimage and theirs seems
grotesque. I would venture only the point that dwarfs can follow in the
footsteps of giants, albeit laboriously.
More about Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome
Read an interview with Dr. Howard about his
journey to the Catholic Church.
Dr. Thomas Howard was raised in a prominent Evangelical home
(his sister is well-known author and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot),
became Episcopalian in his mid-twenties, then entered the Catholic Church in
1985, at the age of fifty.
He is an acclaimed writer and scholar, noted for his studies of
Inklings C.S. Lewis (
Narnia & Beyond: A Guide to the Fiction of C.S. Lewis) and Charles Williams (The Novels of Charles Williams),
as well as books including Christ the Tiger,
Chance or the Dance?, Hallowed be This House,
Evangelical is Not Enough,
If Your Mind Wanders at Mass,
On Being Catholic,
The Secret of New York Revealed, and ,
Descending: A Journey Into T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and
The Night Is Far Spent, an anthology of assorted essays and talks. Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author page here.
The Bible in Protestantism and Catholicism | Louis Bouyer, C.O. |
From The Word, Church, and Sacraments
The Bible is the starting point of Protestantism, for the simple reason that
Luther's religious insight came to him on reading the Epistle to the Romans.
Justification by faith, the basic doctrine of Protestantism, before it was
erected into a system of thought, was first an overwhelming religious
conviction that grew in Luther's soul by devout reading of the Bible. As it was
at this stage, no Catholic theologian can deny its basic truth. Luther, sorely
troubled about his own salvation, relying, as he had done, solely on his own efforts,
his good will, his works and merits, and in despair of ever attaining it,
realized in a sudden illumination while reading the Word of God that our salvation
is not our own work but God's, the gift of his grace in Christ delivered up to
the Cross for us; so that, as Saint Paul says in the Epistle to the
Philippians, while we must work out our salvation in fear and trembling, we
must also find peace in the certainty that it is God who creates in us both
the will and the deed. Thus what we can and must do to be saved is simply a
consequence of salvation inasmuch as it is intrinsically pure grace, a pure
gift of God; by faith, by faith alone, we must receive it from him as such, as
Saint Thomas Aquinas had already emphasized; for in this matter everything
comes from God, even the willing and doing of man, who has been regenerated by
Catholic theologians may, and should, question the way Luther himself and
subsequent Protestant theologians came to systematize this doctrine, which they
did for a controversial end and with a therefore one-sided emphasis. But at the
outset Luther's religious insight was undoubtedly a recognition, not just of
one scriptural truth among others, but of the most fundamental truth of the
Christian revelation, namely, that it is not we who loved God first, but he who
loved us, who loved us when we were far from worthy of love, who sought us out
and saved us when we had deserted him. Luther, indeed, gained a wholly new
insight into the biblical teaching of the divine initiative--our God, the God of
the Bible, is not just passive, letting man come to him; but he is the God who,
of his own accord, has spoken to us, called to us, intervened in our life; not
only has he made himself accessible to us, but in his Son made man, his living
Word made flesh, he came down to our level.
So it is not enough to say that Protestantism is the religion of the Bible, in
the sense that it is the religion of a book that holds all truth. It is the
religion of the Bible, because it reads the Bible in the light of a living,
central intuition of its content. Only in its degenerate forms, which do not
express its real essence, is Protestantism reduced to the religion of a dead
letter. Living Protestantism takes its life from its understanding of the
Bible, not only by holding to it in a material sense, but by understanding the Bible
in the light of the Spirit who gave it. Only when we acknowledge this can we
understand all that the Bible means to Protestants, how it is and always will
be for them a living source of genuine spirituality. In this light alone can we
properly appreciate the efforts made by Protestants for the actual physical
diffusion of the Bible.
More about The Word, Church, and Sacraments
Rev. Louis Bouyer (1913-2004) was a member of the French Oratory and one
of the most respected and versatile Catholic scholars and theologians of
the twentieth century.
A friend of Hans Urs von Balthasar,
Joseph Ratzinger, and J.R.R.
Tolkien, and a co-founder of the international review Communio,
Bouyer was a former Lutheran minister who entered the Catholic Church in
1939. He became a leading figure in the Catholic biblical and liturgical
movements of the twentieth century, was on influence on the Second Vatican
Council, and became well known for his excellent books on history of Christian
spirituality. In addition to his many writings, Bouyer lectured widely across
Europe and America.
in the Church (with an epilogue by Balthasar and an essay by C.S.
Lewis), was one of the first three books published by Ignatius Press, in
1979. Other Ignatius Press books by Bouyer include The
Word, Church, and Sacraments in Protestantism and Catholicism, Women
Mystics, and the introduction to John
Henry Newman: Prayers, Verses, Devotions (Bouyer wrote a biography
of Newman). Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author page.
From "Homecoming," Chapter One of No Price Too High:
A Pentecostal Preacher Becomes Catholic | Alex Jones, as told to Diane Hanson
This was it.
Finally, after three years of agonizing personal pain, I was holding the Real
Thing right there in my hands. This was my Lord and my God.
I had first found him as a Pentecostal in 1958, at the age of sixteen, through
a most powerful spiritual experience. Pentecostals and charismatics call it the
"baptism in the Holy Spirit". In that amazing encounter, the resurrected
Christ tenderly held me in his hands. Now, more than forty years later, I was
gently holding him in mine.
And so there on my knees, I slowly and carefully brought the Bread of Life to
my mouth, the True Manna, the Flesh of Christ, who so willingly gave his Flesh
for the life of the world. As I took him into myself, I was overcome with both
awe and joy.
My First Holy Communion--I will never forget that--that feeling that I had
finally come the closest I could ever get to Christ in this life. Even to this
very day, when the Body of our Lord is placed in my hand, I look at him with wonderment
and awe, that he would actually give himself to me-offer himself to me as food.
What incomprehensible humility!
Receiving Communion is no longer just a part of worship for me; now I see that
this is my God who humbles himself to meet me in love and forgiveness. The
Victim of Calvary; who takes away the sins of the world, actually offers himself
as food and drink to me--a sinner--that I might eat and be nourished with life
I get very emotional every time I think about it. It is the realization of the
spiritual impact-that this is not just common bread and common wine-this is the
Flesh of our Lord and the Blood of our Lord. For this alone I was willing to
walk away from everything I had worked for and held dear. I walked away from
friends, family, ministry, leadership, livelihood--everything!
I had to do it. There was nothing else for me to do. How could I deny what I
had come to know to be true? How could I look into the face of Truth and say,
"That's nice history, but it will cause me problems"?
So I said Yes to God, and that Yes has cost me dearly.
You see, until 1998, I had never even entertained what would then have been the
utterly ridiculous idea of becoming Catholic! I was happy as a Pentecostal
Evangelical pastor and wanted nothing more than to finish my tenure as a pastor,
pass on my work to a qualified minister, and retire to teaching or some other
I had grown up with the understanding that Catholics were the most wicked
people on the face of the earth. They were not even Christians. The Catholic
Church was the great whore of Babylon, as revealed in Revelation 17. And the
pope--with his tiara surrounded with Latin words that, when put into their
numeric values, came out to 666--was the absolute beast.
While my views moderated considerably over the years, my entrance into the
Catholic Church was still nothing short of a miraculous event--from my
unquenchable desire for knowledge and truth to the people God placed along the pathway
of my journey.
More about No Price Too High
Read "My Name Is Alex Jones" Steve Ray's foreword to
No Price Too High.
Alex Jones grew up as a devout Pentecostal, became a devoted Pentecostal minister, and later converted to the Catholic Church.
Jones was the senior minister of two churches in the city of Detroit: Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ (1975-1982), the
second oldest Pentecostal church in Michigan, and Maranatha Christian Church (1982-2000), an Evangelical/Charismatic church.
Married with three grown sons and ten grandchildren, Jones is a graduate of Wayne State University (1965) with a B.A. in Art Education.
He taught in the Detroit school system for 27 years. Today he is a Catholic deacon who speaks at many conferences each year around the country.
Our Conversion | Stephen K. Ray | From Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical
Protestants Discover the Historic Church
Janet and I, along with our four children, have converted to the Roman Catholic
Church, which claims to be the fullness of the "one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic Church". How could we have done such a thing? This book is an attempt to give a brief and reasoned
defense--an explanation of our decision. It is brief and inadequate, but it is
better than silence, and better than the short snips of discussion that arise
in casual conversation.
Scientists tell us that no two snowflakes are alike, which is a peculiar thing
to say, since no one can examine each and every one. Stars number in the
billions, each different and unique. Conversions are just as dissimilar, being
reached from many roads and paths, for many reasons and impulses. They are just
as dissimilar as snowflakes, but they can be more closely analyzed. The word conversion comes from two Latin words: vertere, meaning to turn, and con, a prefix of emphasis; therefore, an emphatic or
Our conversion was a turning from one thing to something different--though not
so different as some would think. As the story develops, we will explain a few
of the reasons why we left our Protestant heritage. A strong turning was
required, and though such a turning would have seemed impossible only a short
time before, our research and study of the primitive Church were compelling,
and, as Chesterton said of the Catholic faith,
"He has come too near to the truth, and has forgotten that truth is a magnet,
with the powers of attraction and repulsion .... The moment men cease to pull
against it [the Catholic Church] they feel a tug towards it. The moment they
cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment
they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection
has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing
grandeur of a great love affair .... When he has entered the Church, he finds
that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside."
We had opposed this Catholic Church, in no uncertain terms. So our conversion
was no insignificant event. The "something" we had once militantly
resisted, the Catholic Church, was found to be glorious, beautiful, and
splendid--like a massive creature, too grand and colossal to comprehend fully,
yet modest and personal enough to put affectionately in your pocket. It was a
fullness. Why the term fullness?
Because the Catholic Church encompasses so much more than we had ever known in
our Protestant past--the fullness of the faith carefully preserved and nurtured
through endless centuries. We are not going from Christian to Catholic, as
though we're leaving the "Christian" part behind. We are developing
and experiencing the Christian faith more fully by becoming Catholic
Christians. Catholicism is ancient, yet forever young; it is constant and firm,
yet forever lively and robust; it is old, yet always new and vital. It is
simple enough for a mouse to wade in, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim
More about Crossing the Tiber
Read "Filming God's Footprints", an Interview with Steve Ray.
Stephen K. Ray was raised in a devout, loving Baptist family. His father was
a deacon and Bible teacher and Stephen was very involved in the Baptist
Church as a teacher of Biblical studies and lectured on a wide range of
topics. Steve and his wife Janet entered the Catholic Church in 1994. In
addition to running a family business, Steve spends time researching, writing,
and teaching about the Catholic Faith. He is the author of Crossing
the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church, Upon
This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early
Church, and St.
John's Gospel: A Bible Study and Commentary. He is currently producing
a 10-video series for Ignatius Press called The
Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation From Abraham to Augustine,
filmed on location in the Holy Land. His website is www.catholic-convert.com.
Preface to Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic | David B. Currie
By its very nature, this is a personal story. I started writing it with no
intention of letting strangers read it. Its original purpose was to explain my
spiritual pilgrimage to my children. I knew that, as they matured, they would
be approached by evangelicals attempting to persuade them to leave the Catholic
Church. While I was writing, I decided to share my story with a few evangelical
friends as well. I hoped to answer some of their questions. Before I started to
circulate it to non-Catholics, however, I had four Catholic friends read it
over to check it for any inadvertent heresy. After all, I am a new Catholic.
One of those friends is a priest. He suggested that this story might be helpful
to others looking for a deeper relationship with Christ. There are already many
explanations of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that Catholics can
understand. There are very few treatments of Catholicism written in language
that fundamentalists and evangelicals can appreciate. I am by nature a rather
private person, so I hesitated. I was finally convinced by a few paragraphs on
generosity in Furrow, by Josemaría Escrivá: "Self-giving is the first step
along the road of... union with God .... If you make an effort, with the grace
of God that is enough. Put your own interests to one side, you will serve
others for God .... The more generous you are for God, the happier you will
be." I felt that perhaps I needed to be generous enough with my privacy to
share my experiences with whomever they might help. It is in that spirit that I
have agreed to "bare my soul".
This story was not intended to embarrass anyone or to anger anyone. It merely
relates the reasons for my family's pilgrimage from fundamentalist
Christianity to the ancient Church that Christ founded, the Catholic Church. To
paraphrase the Apostle Paul: when I started this journey through life I was a fundamentalist
of fundamentalists (cf. Phil 3:4-6). This story should be read in order.
Although the first three sections are not the longest, they are the most
important. Later sections will not make sense without the background supplied in
the first three sections. I have written about all the issues as I worked
through them in my pilgrimage.
The reason behind my writing should not be forgotten. My intention was to
explain my decision to people who had shared my former religious milieu:
fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Because of this, I decided to use the New
International Version of the Bible. Some of my friends still prefer the King
James Version, but most now accept the NIV. I do not think any of the points
discussed are substantially changed by using a different translation.
Paraphrases, however, can be misleading.
I have generally used evangelical ways of speaking because it was for
fundamentalists and evangelicals that my explanations were intended. Catholics
may find one of these ways of speaking annoying. I have not used the title
"saint". For example, Catholics would generally speak of "Saint
Paul". Evangelicals generally call the Apostle Paul merely
"Paul". That may sound much too familiar and disrespectful to many Catholics.
For better or worse, I have decided to use evangelical ways of speaking.
Perhaps the most important reason I consented to publish this personal account
has to do with my own indebtedness to certain other authors. I have read the life
stories of Christians my whole life. It was the truth I encountered in their
stories that stuck with me over the years. Eventually, the truth all accumulated
in my head, fell into place, and made sense. If my experiences help even one
other Christian on the pilgrimage of life, then it is enough.
There are those who say that people do not care about the truth anymore. I
don't believe it. Religious commitment of any sort is too much work if one does
not believe it truly answers life's deepest longings. Our relationship with God
is rooted in the way things really are, or it is nonsense. Granted that all of
us merely "know in part" (I Cor 13:12), but people change religious
affiliations because they are convinced that the change brings them closer to
God and his truth. Most people do not change merely because of warm fuzzy
feelings. A loving social group can make the transition easier, but it is not
the primary cause behind the transition itself.
The combination of truth and commitment, over time, is practically impossible
to resist. That is the appeal of the martyrs. They had the truth and were
committed enough to die for it. The truth, firmly believed, can "set your
soul on fire". If nothing else, people will come out of curiosity to watch
you "burn". This is the story of my inner burning for a closer
relationship with Christ-and of where the Truth led me.
More about Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic
David Currie was raised in a devout Christian family whose father was a fundamentalist preacher and both parents teachers
at Moody Bible Institute. Currie's whole upbringing was immersed in the life of fundamentalist Protestantism--theology professors, seminary
presidents and founders of evangelical mission agencies were frequent guests at his family dinner table. Currie received a degree from
Trinity International University and studied in the Masters of Divinity program.
Foreword to Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
by Scott and Kimberly Hahn | Peter Kreeft
One of the beautiful and bright-shining stars in the firmament of hope for our
desperate days is this couple, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, and this story of their
life and their conversion. It is one of increasingly many such stories that
seem to be springing up today throughout the Church in America like crocuses
poking up through the spring snows.
All conversion stories are different-like snowflakes, like fingerprints. But
all are dramatic. The only story even more dramatic than conversion to Christ's
Church is the initial conversion to Christ himself. But these two
dramas--becoming a Christian and becoming a Catholic--are two steps in the same
process and in the same direction, like being born and growing up. This book is
an excellent illustration of that truth.
Because of the intrinsic drama of its subject--man's quest for his Creator and
his for him--all conversion stories are
worth listening to. But not all arrest you and sweep you along like a powerful
river as this one does. I can think of four reasons for the
un-put-down-able-ness of this book.
First, the authors are simply very bright, clear-thinking and irrefutably
reasonable. I would hate to be an anti-Catholic in debate against these two!
Second, they are passionately in love with Truth and with honesty. They are
incapable of fudging anything except fudge.
Third, they write with clarity and simplicity and charity and grace and wit and
enthusiasm and joy. Fourth, they are winsome and wonderful people who share
themselves as well as the treasure they have found. When you meet them in the
pages of this book, you will meet that indefinable but clearly identifiable
quality of trustability. The
Hebrews called it emeth. When you
touch them, you know you touch truth.
There are also religious reasons for this book's power. One is its evident love
of Christ. It's as simple as that. Another is its love and knowledge of
Scripture. I know no Catholics in the world who know and use their Bible better.
A third is their Christlike combination of traditional biblical and Catholic
orthodoxy with modern personalism and sensitivity--in other words, love of
truth and of people, both the subject and the student. This double love is the
primary secret of great teachers. Finally, there is their theological focus on
the family, both biological and spiritual (the Church as family). This doctrine,
like each item of the Church's wisdom, gets defined and appreciated most
clearly when threatened by heresies that deny it. Today this fundamental
foundation of all human and divine society is under attack and seems to be
dying before our eyes. Here are two warriors in the army of Saint Michael the
Archangel as he counterattacks old Screwtape's latest invasion. The tide of battle
is turning, and the Church's sea of wisdom is readying itself to flood and wash
our land of its defilement. Scott and Kimberly are two early waves of that cleansing
There are no tapes more in demand and more extensively and enthusiastically
shared among American Catholics today than the Hahn tapes. Now we have the full
version of their story. It will be met with spiritual mouths as open as those
of young robins.
More about Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
Dr. Scott Hahn, Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of The
St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is one of the world's most
successful Catholic authors and teachers. He earned his Ph.D. in Systematic
Theology from Marquette University, writing his dissertation on "Kinship
by Covenant: A Biblical Theological Analysis of Covenant Types and Texts
in the Old and New Testaments." His scholarly writing has appeared
in Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly,
and Currents in Biblical Research.
Dr. Hahn is the general editor of the Ignatius Study Bible and
is author or editor of more than twenty books, including the best-selling
Rome Sweet Home, co-authored with his wife, Kimberly. He has
more than one million books and tapes in print worldwide.
Dr. Hahn holds the Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation
at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and is Professor of
Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
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