From Protestantism to Catholicism: Six Journeys to Rome | 1 | 2
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 strong turning.
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 in.
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 tide.
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.
From Protestantism to Catholicism: Six Journeys to Rome | 1 | 2
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