Traveling With the Apostolic Fathers | An Interview with Steve Ray | March 8, 2008 | IgnatiusInsight.com
Traveling With the Apostolic Fathers | An Interview with Steve Ray | March 8, 2008 | Carl E. Olson
Author and apologist Steve Ray, along with his wife Janet, entered the Catholic Church in 1994,
a journey from the Baptist tradition to Catholicism described in Ray's first book, Crossing
the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. Since then he has been busy with writing more books, giving numerous
talks, and producing an award-winning video series for Ignatius Press called "The
Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation From Abraham to Augustine".
Ray's other books are
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. Steve recently finished producing the seventh video in the Footprints of God series,
titled Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith, now available from Ignatius Press.
Carl E. Olson, editor of Ignatius Insight, recently caught up to Steve (who was between trips abroad) and talked to him about the new DVD and
the unique challenges and adventures that accompany his work.
Ignatius Insight: As you detail in Crossing the Tiber and in some of your talks, your conversionto the Catholic Church was
greatly influenced and guided by many of the Apostolic Fathers. What was it
like for you to work on this video and to walkin the footsteps of some of
those great Catholic men?
Steve Ray: I am fond of saying that the Apostolic Fathers made
me do it, that is, made me become Catholic. I was raised to believe that the
early Church was basically Protestant in its theology and only became corrupted
by Catholic ideas much later in time. Catholicism, I once thought, corrupted
true biblical Christianity and it wasn't until Martin Luther appeared on the
scene that real Christianity was brought back to the surface.
How wrong I was! As we read the writings
of the first Christians—those we call the Apostolic Fathers because they
were in the Apostolic Age and many of them knew the apostles personally—I
found out that I had been misled in my earlier years. These early Christians
were very Catholic in their theology, liturgy, and traditions.
When my wife Janet and I were thrilled
beyond words for the opportunity to write and produce the DVD entitled Apostolic
Fathers: Handing on the Faith. We
had read and studied these men intently and felt like we were personal friends.
We felt as though we knew them. So when we began to scout the locations where
they lived and served the Lord it was both an honor and excitement that I can't
We prayed for their intercession
frequently: "St. Ignatius, we are telling your profound story. Most people
don't know who you are or how you handed on the tradition that Peter and Paul
and John gave to you in person! We ask for your intercession to help us do a
good job telling your story to inspire Catholics and to call Protestants home
to the Church. St. Ignatius, pray for us!"
In this very fast-paced adventure we
open up a black hole that very few Christians have ever looked into. We take
them back to the obscure past to introduce them to Ignatius of Antioch, Clement
of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, Irenaeus of Lyons and Justin Martyr.
Ignatius Insight: From start
tofinish—beginning with the pre-production and ending with the
final DVD—howlong did it take to create the Apostolic Fathers video? How many people worked with you in
Steve Ray: The whole project from conception to shipping was
about eighteen months. First, Janet and I always write up an outline of the
story: what we want to say, where we need to film, how we want to present the
story, and the main outline for the script.
Second, we jump on a plane
and visit the key sites so we can research, get the lay of the land, and make
all our contacts and work on all the permits—you know, all the logistics.
On these scouting trips we put ourselves in the shoes of the subjects, in this
case the Apostolic Fathers. We want to "feel" and experience their lives on
Third, we begin writing the script. I
invited four or five guys to our home who know something of the topic and we
hid away in my house with some good food, wine, and fellowship and we
brainstormed. We discussed the lives of these Apostolic Fathers, what was key
to their stories, how we wanted to portray them, and what props and adventures
to include. We have both kids and adults in mind as we think of our audience.
Fourth, we make the travel arrangement
for our six-person filming crew. This is always a huge challenge.
Fifth, we fly with our crew and 1,000
pounds of equipment to all the sites where we will be filming. Beside Janet and
I there are four guys on the crew. Joe Reynolds is owner of Skyline Productions
and he is the videographer and post-production editor. We have a great time
working together. Over the seven DVDs we've finished so far we've learned to
work together like a well-oiled machine. We can almost read each other's minds.
They know my vision and have been good at helping bring it to life.
We usually spend two or three weeks
overseas working twelve-hour days, seven days a week. It is exhilarating and
exhausting. But we all love it—every minute of it. The stories and
miracles and adventures could fill a huge book.
Sixth, we come home and start the
post-production. Locked away in Joe's edit bay, Janet and I work with Joe to
put all the many pieces of the video puzzle together: art, music, footage,
b-roll, maps, titles, etc. We create a set to film the Behind the Scene
segments and shoot all the in-studio shots.
After that I write the Study Guide for
each episode, get all the closed captioning and other technical aspects
completed, along with advertising copy and then . . .
. . . bingo! It is in the Ignatius Press
warehouse and shipping to thousands of anxiously awaiting people.
Ignatius Insight: You spent time
filming in several different countries, including Turkey, France, Israel,
and Italy. Any adventures? What sort of challenges do you face in filming
various historical sites?
Steve Ray: Adventures? Are you kidding? I still have wounds to
prove how many adventures I've had. I had to tumble down a hill for one scene
and there were thorns and thistles at the bottom. After ten takes I was pretty
bloodied up and I still have a thorn in my finger eight months later. Just
getting 1,000 pounds of equipment and six crew members flown, bused, and moved
around is an immense challenge in itself. And you never know what you are going
to eat, how long the day will last, who will get injured next, what the weather
will be like, if the police will cooperate, and so forth. It is an adventure
We had permits denied for months and
then—when by faith we arrive at the site to film knowing we might even
get in trouble—we've received a call saying, "Your permit is authorized!"
We all stood in shock and knew we had just witnessed a miracle. We have put
much of this excitement in the Behind the Scenes segments on the DVD.
Ignatius Insight: What did you learn
or appreciate better about the ApostolicFathers by making this video?
What are some things you think viewers might learn or appreciate?
Steve Ray: I begin the movie driving a heavy bulldozer through
a bunch of bushes. I show how hard it is to blaze a new trail or plow a new
road. The Apostolic Fathers did just that—they shed their blood, gave
their lives and suffered every horrendous indignity to get Christianity off the
ground, so to speak. Bishops today travel a well-worn path. But it was these
Apostolic Fathers who set out through the underbrush for the first time.
We were also impressed over and over
again with how Catholic these first Christians really were. The Real Presence
of the Eucharist, regenerative baptism, the priesthood, the chair of Peter, all
of these things were there long before the books of the New Testament were
collected into one tome.
Also, we continually marveled that we
were walking in the footprints of those who knew and were trained by the
Apostles themselves. We kept thinking: why do so many Christians today give so
much weight to current denominational leaders or Bible teachers with thousands
of competing theologies when they could go back and read the writings and
follow the tradition of the very first Christians? Again, it was these brave
and apostolic men that led the way for us to discover the Catholic Church.
Ignatius Insight: What is the next
video in the series? Are you working on it now? Do you have any other projects
in the works?
Steve Ray: Our next DVD will be Abraham: Father of Faith
& Works, which we hope to start
on within the next year. It will take us to Iraq, since Abraham's life started
in Ur of the Chaldees, which is just south of modern day Baghdad. We will also
have to visit Haran in Turkey, but most of the movie will be shot in the Israel,
mainly in the Palestinian West Bank. I want to portray Abraham as the father of
faith, but we also recall that James said that "Abraham was justified when he
offered up his son Isaac," and that "we are saved by works and not by faith
We are also now leading five or six
pilgrimages a year to all the biblical lands so others can experience the real
thing along with the DVD presentations.
Ignatius Insight: This coming
November you will joining Mark Brumley, Roy Schoeman, and Fr. Charles Connor in
a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land, marking the 30th anniversary of
Ignatius Press. Tell us a little bit about that pilgrimage and what
people who join you can expect.
Steve Ray: We are very excited about this pilgrimage. Having
worked with Ignatius Press for eight years on the first seven DVDs I will now
get to show them where it all took place. Most of the Ignatius Press staff will
be joining us and most of them have never been to the Holy Land. Janet and I love showing the Holy Land to first-timers since we can
again see it for the first time through their eyes. We watch people cry, stand
in shock, and fall on their knees. It is a wonderful thing.
It will be great to have Roy Schoeman, a
Jewish convert and author of Salvation Is From
the Jews, along to share his unique perspective on the land
of Israel. Mark Brumley is an outstanding theologian and apologist and it will
be great to hear his thoughts and meditations along the way. And of course, you
can't put me in Israel with my favorite hat in front of a group of eager
pilgrims without me turning into my real self—Jerusalem Jones!
For those interested in joining us, they can learn more on the Ignatius Press website for the
pilgrimage. Or they can call Suzanne at Corporate Travel at 1-800-727-999, ext. 121 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Footprints of God is an award-winning 10-volume video resource that covers the key people, places and teachings of Scripture, bringing them together in the
rich tradition of the Catholic church. This series will be enjoyed by Catholics and all Christians, as well as those who want to understand what
Christians believe, and why. Each DVD in the series comes with a study guide and the movies are organized so they
can be viewed all at once or in "chapters" for study. Currently, six of the ten DVDs are available, with four more to be produced:
Moses: Signs, Sacraments and Salvation
David & Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom
Mary: the Mother of God
Peter: Keeper of the Keys
Paul: Contending for the Faith
Jesus: the Word Became Flesh
Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith
Work on the next DVD, the Abraham: Father of Faith & Works is in progress
and will be ready for release in 2009/10. The other two DVDs are Doctors of the Church: Defining the
Faith, and Elijah & Elisha: Conscience of the Kingdom.
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