Conversion’s storm – Evangelical returns to the faith after not be able to explain why he wasn’t a Catholic
understanding of the Bible as God’s word.
But these evangelicals do so by using contemporary language and addressing contemporary concerns. This will help Catholics understand the reasoning behind the classical doctrines.
In terms of expository preaching, as well as teaching the laity, Protestant evangelicals are without peers in the Christian world.
For instance, it is not unusual for evangelical churches to host major conferences on theological issues in which leading scholars address lay audiences in order to equip them to share their faith with their neighbors, friends, etc. Works by evangelical philosophers and theologians such as [J.P.] Moreland, [Paul] Copan, and William Lane Craig, should be in the library of any serious Catholic who wants to be equipped to respond to contemporary challenges to the Christian faith.
National Catholic Register: Have you been surprised by the hostility of some of the reactions to your reversion?
Some of the hostility was not surprising, for some of it came from well-meaning Protestants who simply do not have a good grounding in Christian history or the Catholic Catechism. Many of these well-meaning folks, unfortunately, have sat under the teachings of less-than-careful Bible-church preachers and pastors who approach Catholicism with a cluster of flawed categories that make even a charitable reading of the Catechism almost impossible.
I actually think there are different circles of evangelicals that overlap each other. There are those who interact with Catholics, and those who don’t. I have been with the group that has interacted for quite a while because of my discipline of philosophy and because the cultural issues that I write on are the ones around which evangelicals and Catholics have been aligned.
I knew there were differences and that they were important ones, and that there would be those who would not be entirely happy with my becoming Catholic, but I didn’t think there would be those who thought I was becoming apostate as some of my commentators have indicated online.
The “First Things” evangelicals – those who interact with Catholics – don’t think that serious Catholics are not Christians. Even in their own denominations, there are those who are not serious believers. Because I ran in these overlapping circles, I underestimated people who didn’t do that. There are people who just attended ETS meetings and did their own education and teaching in evangelical schools. In a way, I underestimated that there was that much distance between evangelicals and Catholics in certain enclaves.
National Catholic Register: What led you back to the church?
There isn’t just one reason. One reason alone isn’t enough. That’s like someone asking, “Why do you love your wife?” There are 15 different reasons. It’s the whole package.
My nephew asking me to be his sponsor for his May 13 confirmation merely sped up what I had intended to do in November after my term as ETS president had ended.
I didn’t fully realize it until the beginning of 2007 that I had assimilated much of a Catholic understanding of faith and reason, the nature of the human person, as well as the progress of dogma.
Looking back, the beginning of my return to the church, though I didn’t realize it at the time, probably occurred at a conference on John Paul II and Philosophy at Boston College (B.C.) in February 2006.
Several months earlier I had published a small essay in the magazine Touchstone: “Vatican Bible School: What John Paul II Can Teach Evangelicals.” I incorporated portions of that essay in my B.C. paper in which I made a case for why anti-creedal Protestants hold to an incoherent point of view on faith, reason, and the nature of the Christian university.
The first question from the audience came from Laura Garcia, a B.C. philosophy professor, who is a Catholic and former evangelical Protestant.
She asked, “Why aren’t you a Catholic?”
The question took me by surprise.
I gave her an answer – if I remember correctly – that appealed to the doctrines of the Reformation as making all the difference to me. I also tried to account for the church’s continuity as being connected to the reformers and their progeny as well as their predecessors in the Catholic Church. In this way, I could defend the creeds as spirit-directed without conceding the present authority of Rome on these matters.
That episode at Boston College, nevertheless, got me thinking.
So, I read Truth and Tolerance by (Cardinal) Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and portions of his Introduction to Christianity. Out of curiosity, I picked up a book I saw while browsing the stacks at a local bookstore: David Currie, Born Fundamentalist, Born-Again Catholic.
I was not entirely convinced by all his ...
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Copyright © 2007 Circle Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Republished with permission by Catholic Online from the Aug. 26 - Sept. 1, 2007, National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com), a Catholic Online Preferred Publishing Partner.
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