Friday, July 30, 2010

"Evangelicals ‘Crossing the Tiber’ to Catholicism: Under the radar of most observers a trend is emerging of evangelicals converting to Catholicism."

That's the title of a well-written piece authored by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald at Religion Dispatches.  Here is how it begins:
In the fall of 1999, I was a freshman at Gordon College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Massachusetts. There, fifteen years earlier, a professor named Thomas Howard resigned from the English department when he felt his beliefs were no longer in line with the college’s statement of faith. Despite all those intervening years, during my time at Gordon the specter of Thomas Howard loomed large on campus. The story of his resignation captured my imagination; it came about, ultimately, because he converted to Roman Catholicism.
Though his reasons for converting were unclear and perhaps unimaginable to me at the time (they are actually well-documented in his book Evangelical is Not Enough which, back then, I had not yet read), his reasons seemed less important than the knowledge that it could happen. I had never heard of such a thing.
I grew up outside of Boston in what could be described as an Irish-Catholic family, except for one minor detail: my parents had left the Church six years before I was born when they were swept up in the so-called “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s. So Catholicism was all around me, but it was not mine. I went to mass with my grandparents, grew up around the symbolism of rosary beads and Virgin Mary statues, attended a Catholic high school, and was present at baptisms, first communions, and confirmations for each of my Catholic family members and friends.
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DU said...

One thing that bothers me about these articles about Evangelicals converting to Catholicism (or ECRs as Scott McNight refers to us) is that the authors seem to see it as a fashion or trend. They remove themselves from the real issue by asking irrelevant questions perhaps attempting to appear objective and open minded blah, blah, blah. It is frustrating.

Would they ever be so brave as to ask a real question like, "Is what the Church claims true or not?" Have these people moved closer to Christ? If so, how, if the RCC is a false religion? Are there 66 or 73 book in the canon of scripture?

It seemed to me that my siblings and perhaps my parents used the Scott McNight article, or type of thinking that this article also demonstrates, to simply accept our conversion rather than wrestle with the truth. They concluded as McNight, that "nothing happens by joining the RCC."

My response is WHAT? EVERYTHING changes! My 6 children and my wife became Catholic 5 years ago and now we have 3 cradle Catholics. Nothing could possibly have changed my family more. Every second of my day is different.

How do we get people to ask real questions that actually have ramifications upon their life?

Josh McDowell wrote a book with a great title, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict". That's what I'm talking about and why hasn't Josh become Catholic? Has he stopped asking the questions that demand a verdict?

Would someone produce just one Bible somewhere to examine prior to 1500 that had 66 books ONLY? No one I ask makes the slightest attempt to even think about that question.

AH! The tyranny of relativism!

Charles Kinnaird said...

That's a great article by Fitzgerald. I am one who made that conversion from Evangelical to Roman Catholic. It started for me as a seminary student at a Southern Baptist Seminary. Church History really got me to thinking, then a course in Patristic Thelolgy "blew me out of the water!" That's how it began, but it took 20 years for me to complete the journey.

Neil Parille said...

My guess is that if you look at rank and file church members more convert from Catholicism to Evagelicalism and secularism. There are lots of Hispanic and Brazilian evangelical churches in my area.

Anonymous said...

Well worth watching is Father Mitch Pacwa's discussion with Dr. David Anders about Evangelicalism vs the Reformers, in particular John Calvin.!

One point that came through was a phenomenon (I am oversimplifying) such that Catholics leave as a result of lack of knowledge, whereas Evangelicals tend to become Catholics as a result of knowledge.