Skip to comments.From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church)
Posted on 05/25/2007 12:48:02 PM PDT by NYer
If you grew up Catholic, it may be difficult for you to relate to those who profess faith in Jesus but whose stomachs turn at the thought of being Catholic. It might seem odd that the Catholic theology youve grown up with is seen by others as an offense to God. I was one of the stomach turners. There are days that I wake up and I still cant believe Im Catholic.
I grew up in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, usually referred to as Foursquare. Foursquare is a Pentecostal denomination that began in the 1920s and is not rooted in the Reformation. In fact, we had already rejected many things the Reformers believed. While we did hold to sola scriptura and sola fide, we did not believe in "once saved always saved," and, as Pentecostals, we believed in miracles and the gifts of the Spirit, which many of the Reformers rejected. You could say we had already "reformed the reform."
Our denomination had a hierarchy of sorts, but each church was free to design its services and internal composition as it saw fit. We were more concerned that peoples lives were being changed by Jesus than with church structure. In some ways this is goodthere is little value in a well-oiled machine that doesnt change lives. We were much more experientially formed than theologically formed. We cared about theology, but the life-changing experience with Jesus was what really mattered.
I must say that, on the whole, if youre going to pick a Protestant denomination, Foursquare is a good place to be. It is firm in its moral teachings, and with its focus on living for Jesus, a person will inevitably grow closer and more like Jesus the longer he attends.
Whos Ever Heard of Catholic Radio?
In my early twenties, I discerned a call to enter into full-time ministry and became a Foursquare pastor. Through my years of ministry, my wife and I learned to hear the voice of God and were willing to do anything and go anywhere that God wanted us to go. This led us to plant a new Foursquare congregation in the university district of Seattle, Washington, in 1999. Foursquare doesnt fund you when you start a new congregation, so whatever you bring or raise from outside support is all you have. When I arrived with my wife and three girls, I had no income, three months worth of money in the bank, and great faith that we would reach the people of Seattle with the gospel of Jesus. We knew God would provide. Our desire was to seek first his kingdom and let him take care of the rest (cf. Matt. 6:33), and he always has.
During this time we ministered to teens, college students, young adults, and young married families. Each week we would head out to the strip by the college and pass out food and clothes to street kids and send groups of two around the block to start up conversations about the gospel. None of us were evangelists by nature; we simply knew that the only way the unsaved would find Jesus would be if we went to themwe couldnt expect them to just wander into our church.
It was during this time that the door first opened to the Catholic Church. I happened to turn on the radio and catch Catholic Answers Live on Sacred Heart Radio in Seattle. "Thats weird," I thought. "Whos ever heard of Catholic radio? And what do Catholics need with a radio station anyway?" I wasnt necessarily anti-Catholic, but I held the usual Reformation-inspired opinions of the Catholic Church and how blessed we were to be free from Romanism. As I listened to the show I was shocked to hear not only a clear presentation of Catholic teaching but also that Catholics still believed in transubstantiation, papal infallibility, and so on.
As the years went on in Seattle, I would occasionally tune back in to Catholic Answers Live and many other shows on Sacred Heart Radio, mainly for the purpose of understanding what Catholics teach so that I could have a reasoned defense to the contrary. The problem was that, time after time, the Catholic explanation of theology was every bit a biblical as my beliefs, albeit in a different way.
Now, because our denomination started in the 1920s, I was oblivious to Church history. For us the Reformation wasnt the good old days; Acts 2 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues are the good old days. There was virtually nothing done to fill in the gaps between the present and the first-century Church.
But the Catholics I listened to kept claiming that the earliest Christians were Catholic and that their writings from the first few centuries verify that claim. They would regularly present a point of theology that was rooted in Scripture and then support it with quotes from the "early Church Fathers." The speakers were clear that these writings are not inspired, nor are they on the same level as Scripture, but they do provide us with the historical context to know what the early Christians believed. More importantly, these early Christian writers claimed that these beliefs were handed down by the apostles, and some of them were even taught by the apostles.
At that time, Catholic Answers regularly threw out a challenge not to take their word for any of the positions of the Catholic Church but see for oneself if they are true. I decided to take them up on this challenge, figuring it would be easy. First of all, the Catholic Church sets an impossible standard for itself: infallibility in its dogmatic teachings on matters of faith and morals. All I had to do was prove one doctrine false and the entire system would cease to be without error. Secondly, I was sure that when I found the writings of these "early Church Fathers" and read them in context, they would set the story straight.
But there was a catch. Along with this challenge, there was a caution: Be carefulyou just might become Catholic. Yeah, right! Impossible.
My Ship Came In
I started with a slow and measured search into Catholic teaching and Church history. This all changed after a most unexpected event. I was invited to speak at a Foursquare high school camp in the summer of 2003. The man who owned the camp was a gracious servant of Jesus and was gifted with what our denomination calls "prophetic insight," meaning that God gave him insight into things of which he had no natural knowledge. I had never met him before, and as we got to know each other that week, he said he might have some insight from the Lord for me. These encounters usually yielded a general word of encouragement that could probably apply to anybody. Nonetheless, I met with him in his office to pray and see if God had any direction for me.
He began to pray and said he could see a picture in his mind. He saw me and my family standing on the ocean shore and in the water was a huge ship. He said on the side of the ship were the words "Queen Mary." (At this point in my study, I didnt know that this is a title for Mary; my interest was concentrated on the huge ship.) He looked straight at me and said, "Im not sure, but maybe youre supposed to have something to do with the Catholic Church."
I almost fell out of my chair. I told him about my unexpected encounter with Catholicismthe radio shows, the early Church Fathers, the challenge. I left the camp thinking that God might use me in some type of bridge ministry between Protestants and Catholics. Of course, I assumed it would be for bringing Catholics out of Catholicism and into the true unity and "fullness" of Protestantism. With my renewed focus, I returned home and aggressively pursued understanding Catholic theology, Church history, and how I could serve God in this capacity. "If Im going to reach Catholics," I thought, "Ill need to know what they believe and how they support those beliefs."
Hitting the Wall
As I examined each point of theology, I found that the Catholic Churchs teachings were the most biblical, the most historical, and the most reasonable. I was also surprised to find that Catholics also believed in miracles and the Pentecostal gifts I had grown up with (but with a more sound foundation). I thought, "Oh man! If this is true, I have to become Catholic."
The day finally came where I hit the wall and realized that the teachings of the Catholic Church are true. I realized that Jesus truly did establish a Church and didnt leave the gospel to survive in an "every man for himself" model. In the end, I found that I, like all Bible-based groups, could support my theology from Scripture, but I always had to ignore certain passages to make it fit, and I couldnt provide any support for its existence in the history of the Church. I found that Catholic theology makes sense of the whole of Scripture and that only Catholic theology is attested to from writings before the death of the apostle John to the present day.
I wasnt excited about this discovery, for it would cost me most of what I had invested over thirteen years of pastoral ministry. But my desire was to follow Christ, so I resigned my pastorate in August 2004. Once again my wife and I and three girls were without an income, with three months worth of money to live on and full of faith that God would provide. And he has.
Now that all of us have come home to the Church, we are constantly amazed at the grace that God provides for living a powerful, Spirit-filled life. When understood properly, Scripture, liturgy, prayer, and the sacraments are far more capable of shaping our Christian walk than any of the relaxed church structures in which I had grown up. I have found that the structure and liturgies that used to turn my stomach have become a greater source of joy than I could have ever imagined.
He has appeared as a guest on EWTN’s The Journey Home.
Delusion ALERT! Emotionalism never makes up for solid Biblical teaching.
This fella either flunked out on discernment or it wasn't God Who led him to the Catholic church...
But he already had the basics down...He knew he was counting on his own righteousness to get to heaven instead of Jesus'...
Oh, you guys don’t even know. You’re attributing bad motives to another, and that’s inherently sinful.
Some folks think Christian love means lying in wait to pounce with false witness. You can tell by the smell of hate when they are present.
Foursquare was Aimee Semple McPherson’s church, wasn’t it?
Why don't you read the article? Better yet, do what he did and read the Church Fathers and find out what the Church really teaches, not what you think it does.
Could you elaborate on your assertions, please?
I left Catholicism behind me almost 40 years ago and I’m never going back. Not ever.
More fully, “Attributing bad motives to others when I could not certain of their motives” is a sin. People only do that out of envy and pride.
Interesting, you have just done what you accuse me of doing. You, according to you, have just sinned...you have accused me of bad motives, including "envy and pride."
I was simply saying that there are many reasons for being a Protestant, and not a Roman Catholic. I find it very strange that a Pastor who is supposedly trained in the Bible and Protestant theology would make the kind of statements he made. That is my opinion as a pastor-teacher who has been teaching the bible for almost 30 years. To say that I have sinned, and that my motives can be attributed to envy and pride, is to make yourself guilty of what you accuse me of. I am evaluating his position and statements as a Bible teacher...what are you doing?
Uh, where EXACTLY did the author show any “emotionalism” as opposed to “solid Biblical teaching”?
Oh, give me a break. You asked for an explanation of my statement, and then you apply it to me? I was responding to your statement that his article was a "delusion," and my point was "how the heck do you know?"
“I was simply saying that there are many reasons for being a Protestant, and not a Roman Catholic.”
Really... and I have flying pigs for sale, cheap.
You said “Delusional.”
You made a judgment about not only his mental status which is something I won’t do without having someone in front of me, you also implied his decision was based on emotion and not reason.
That’s a lot of presumption. Thank goodness you didn’t have the temerity and hubris to judge the state of his soul.
A very unusual and interesting account!
Post Tenebras Lux.
Congratulations. As God wills. 8~)
LOLOL. From the very first sentence...
"If you grew up Catholic, it may be difficult for you to relate to those who profess faith in Jesus but whose stomachs turn at the thought of being Catholic..."
Very "solid" and unemotional. LOL.
He’s stating a fact, not emotion.
Ask the Rev. Paisley in Northern Ireland.
“LOLOL. From the very first sentence...”
No, there is nothing in the first sentence about his actual conversion. He was remembering his thoughts years ago about what he would have thought about a conversion at that time. I asked something different. I asked: Uh, where EXACTLY did the author show any emotionalism as opposed to solid Biblical teaching? And that question was in regard to this statement: “Delusion ALERT! Emotionalism never makes up for solid Biblical teaching.”
“Very “solid” and unemotional. LOL.”
If you are admitting that Protestant views of Catholicism are emotional in the extreme, I would agree. But that isn’t what I asked for, nor is it what LiteKeeper asserted.
Also, a stomach turning isn’t even necessarily a sign of “emotionalism”. People often experience such things, for instance, when they see a dead body. I would hardly call that emotionalism.
I see no “emotionalism” in the article. I certainly see no emotionalism being put in place of “solid Biblical teaching” either. I think LiteKeeper will be as unsuccessful as you have been.
No matter how well constructed a polemic is, if it is faulty from its premise, it is wrong.
I say, does the good Reverend still refer to Catholics as devils and sons of whores?
I’d say his words are quite emotional. I’d much prefer someone referring to his physical state, even vomiting for that matter, than name calling.
How wonderful that another pastor has come home to the fullness that our Lord intended for everyone!
Citing Ian Paisley’s bizarre website for “balance” is somewhere is just silly. Little about Paisley is balanced.
Some of his claimed college degrees appear to be bogus.
And back in the late 1960s, Paisley said, after inciting Protestants to burn out Catholics: “Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners.”
He’s a nut.
‘’We remained concerned with Dr. Paisley’s record of violent rhetoric and inflammatory actions,’’ the spokesman said. (so he was denied an entry visa into the USA = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B02EEDA1239F933A15750C0A965948260
At least now he is (somewhat) trying to make some conciliatory moves. He must be dying and preparing for his judgment day.
Emotionalism? Go ahead! Take the same challenge.
All I had to do was prove one doctrine false and the entire system would cease to be without error.
Or are you afraid of discovering the Truth?
Hey .... if you disagree with him then take the same challenge.
All I had to do was prove one doctrine false and the entire system would cease to be without error.
That should be fairly simple, right? What do you have to lose?
**He said on the side of the ship were the words “Queen Mary.” (At this point in my study, I didn’t know that this is a title for Mary;**
Our Lady brought him home to Rome!
But we have two different starting points. I am a firm and convinced believer in sola scriptura, most Roman Catholics are not. We could butt heads all night, and all we would gain from it would be higher blood pressure.
So thanks for the challenge, but no thanks. Nothing will be gained by it.
Well, thank you for that announcement. You no doubt have your reasons for stating this on a thread about a former Protestant who has done extensive research to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. Perhaps you would care to share them with us; otherwise, you might be interested in this site.
Did you grow up Catholic?
Based on the Solo Scriptura approach by many non Catholic denominations, the average person reads/hears 2 verses from scripture per week.
Compare that the 1 Catholic Mass each weekday contains 2 verses and Sunday’s Mass has 3 it makes the parishioner reading/hearing 15 verses and instruction.
I’m only going by the facts. Whether any of it all sinks in or has an effect is not part of the equation, just that most non Catholics do not know that or never attended a Catholic Mass.
It is amazing the amount of non Catholics who get their education from those fallen away Catholics who never contributed to the Church but only say, “I never got anything from the Church.” All take and no give.
As she always does. Our Blessed Mother leads all of God's children to her Son.
What could be simpler! Find one Catholic dogma and prove it wrong. And, like a deck of cards, the entire Church collapses. Surely, after 30 years of preaching on the Bible, you can find error in one Catholic dogma.
The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. As Pope John Paul II often reminded us: "Be not afraid!"
Shhhhhhh! Don't let the cat out of fhe bag just yet ;-)
You are probably still a Catholic. (You have FReepmail.)
More than just 15 verses. Fifteen readings. Many verses in each reading.
Plus a daily dose of the Psalms!
And other prayers that any Catholic might choose to say or read or spontaneously compose.
Let alone any Bible reading that a Catholic might read. This week I have read from 7 books about the Holy Spirit,
The doctrines regarding Mary (veneration, co-redemptrix, mediatrix), sola scriptura vs tradition, sola fide, eucharist vs communion, the apocrypha, penance, purgatory, confession, celibacy (ignores the fact that Peter was married), sacraments as a means of grace, prayers to the saints, sainthood, papal infallibility, authority of the Councils (especially Trent, and the Vatican Councils)...on all of these we differ greatly. Many volumes have been used up debating these issues.
We simply disagree...and so be it.
Okay, so we disagree. So why come into the thread and say that the convert dumped solid Biblical teaching for emotionalism when no such thing is apparent in the article?
There is also the Psalm between the first two readings.
Oh and usually the opening prayer is from the bible, word for word.
What he said.
Haven’t you learned yet that you NEVER say ‘never’ where the Lord’s concerned? hahah, sets you right up for His good plans.
I did, before posting my suggestion that you take the 'challenge'. So let's begin with 'dogma'. What is Catholic dogma?
In Catholic teaching, a doctrine infallibly taught by the Pope.
The truth must come from Christ’s public revelation through either of two sources:
» Sacred Scripture» Sacred Tradition
The revelation can be:
» Explicit, such as Christ’s incarnate life, death and resurrection.
» Implicit, such as the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.
A Catholic dogma may be presented to the faithful in either of two ways.
» Solemnly, in an ex cathedra announcement, such as the definition of the Immaculate Conception.
» Ordinarily, in the perennial exercise of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the constant teaching on the malice of taking innocent human life.
A dogma is a smaller subset of Catholic teaching than a doctrine. All dogmas are doctrines, but only some doctrines are dogmas.
CCC 88 “The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.”
CCC 89 “There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.”
The acceptance of Catholic dogma is necessary for salvation of the faithful.
From the Greek and Latin dogma, declaration or decree.
The doctrines regarding Mary
Well, the Catholic doctrines surrounding Mary are an issue for you. Let's take a closer look.
The belief that Mary's body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII declared this belief Catholic dogma in 1950. The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15.
The Church teaches that the Immaculate Virgin, by a special privilege, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory at the end of her earthly life
The dogma of the Assumption affirms that Mary's body was glorified after her death. In fact, while for other human beings the resurrection of the body will take place at the end of the world, for Mary the glorification of her body was anticipated by a special privilege.
On 1 November 1950, in defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pius XII avoided using the term "resurrection" and did not take a position on the question of the Blessed Virgin's death as a truth of faith. The Bull Munificentissimus Deus limits itself to affirming the elevation of Mary's body to heavenly glory, declaring this truth a "divinely revealed dogma".
Belief in the glorious destiny of the body and soul of the Lord's Mother after her death spread very rapidly from East to West, and has been widespread since the 14th century. In our century, on the eve of the definition of the dogma it was a truth almost universally accepted and professed by the Christian community in every corner of the world.
3. Therefore in May 1946, with the Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, Pius XII called for a broad consultation, inquiring among the Bishops and, through them, among the clergy and the People of God as to the possibility and opportuneness of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith. The result was extremely positive: only six answers out of 1,181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth.
Citing this fact, the Bull Munificentissimus Deus states: "From the universal agreement of the Church's ordinary Magisterium we have a certain and firm proof demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven ... is a truth revealed by God and therefore should be firmly and faithfully believed by all the children of the Church" (Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus: AAS 42 , 757).
The definition of the dogma, in conformity with the universal faith of the People of God, definitively excludes every doubt and calls for the express assent of all Christians.
After stressing the Church's actual belief in the Assumption, the Bull recalls the scriptural basis for this truth.
Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary's Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin's perfect union with Jesus' destiny. This union, which is manifested, from the time of the Saviour's miraculous conception, in the Mother's participation in her Son's mission and especially in her association with his redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to require a continuation after death. Perfectly united with the life and saving work of Jesus, Mary shares his heavenly destiny in body and soul.
Assumption is fruit of Mary's sharing in the Cross
4. The Bull Munificentissimus Deus cited above refers to the participation of the woman of the Proto-gospel in the struggle against the serpent, recognizing Mary as the New Eve, and presents the Assumption as a consequence of Mary's union with Christ's saving work. In this regard it says: "Consequently, just as the glorious Resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body" (Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus: AAS 42 , 768).
The Assumption is therefore the culmination of the struggle which involved Mary's generous love in the redemption of humanity and is the fruit of her unique sharing in the victory of the Cross.
Please! Go ahead and pose a challenge to this Catholic dogma. Have the bones of the Virgin Mary ever been found? Surely even the earliest christians would have gone to great lengths to preserve her grave ... but where is it? And what about God who asked this young virgin to be His mother? Where do you disagree with this particular dogma? And, what is your evidence?
If the first premise is rejected, then obviously, I can't accept the rest of what you have said. You assume a lot with the first statement, and since it is based on tradition, and not on Scripture, the rest is a non sequitor
Is the identity of the texts that, collectively, add up to the body of writings we call Scripture based on tradition, or on Scripture?
In other words, what passage of Scripture tells us the content, or even the names, of the books that make up what is called 'Scripture'?
All I had to do was prove one doctrine false and the entire system would cease to be without error.
Every time I see a bathtub planted in some Catholic's front yard with a statue of a woman standing inside of it, I'm reminded that there's another person who throws his religion in God's face...
“Every time I see a bathtub planted in some Catholic’s front yard with a statue of a woman standing inside of it, I’m reminded that there’s another person who throws his religion in God’s face...”
~and you have no idea what that sentence says about your belief system?
More’s the pity.
I know exactly what it says about my belief system...And God's...He says do not put statues of things inside bath tubs in your front yard...
Ã can’t say that I’m surprised to see a Foursquarer try Catholicism next; Pentecostals have a long tradition of looking for the next new thing under the sun when their latest preoccupation loses its fascination.
As for Catholicism itself, I myself was one until they started taking up collections to build mosques.
WOW!! Pretty cowardly!!! Take NYer up on her challenge....you seem so sure...it would be very interesting to other Freepers.....Please go ahead and find one false doctrine.