Skip to comments.John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Posted on 06/02/2007 12:50:30 PM PDT by Titanites
I was baptized on April 29, 1973, in East Paris Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My religious upbringing until college was completely CRC; my schooling through college was in Christian schools sponsored by the CRC. I cant say that I was aware of any Protestant denominations other than the CRC. The first time I heard the words of the "Hail Mary" was from the lips of my CRC minister during a high-school catechism class. My only other contact would have been the pictures of the seven Catholic sacraments in the family encyclopedia. In many ways this "cloistered" upbringing was a great blessing to me later on: I grew up free from any anti-Catholic prejudices, and so there was no anti-Catholic bigotry on my part that had to be overcome before my conversion.
When I was about twelve, my mother made me a brown, terrycloth bathrobe. My family had a tradition of going camping every year, and there were sand dunes behind the campground. I can remember vividly pacing up and down these sand dunes in my brown bathrobe, pretending to be a monk. I could have had no idea at that age what a monk was (perhaps I got the idea from television), but there I was, in my robe, walking in my "desert."
I went to a "Bible camp" for a number of years as a child. I remember one summer sitting around the campfire singing the simple song, "God is so good." And for some reason, I started crying. The simple words of that little song caused a disproportionate reaction in me. I was crying because God was good and I was not. But I was also crying because God is good, and the simple beauty of that thought overwhelmed me. I felt that God was really present to me at that moment.
There is only one other time I have felt that presence in any similar way. It must have been my junior year in high school. My brother and I went before the elders of our CRC church to make profession of faith (something like the sacrament of confession, although the CRC doesnt believe that the profession of faith is sacramental).
Profession of faith is a two-stage process: First, the elders of the church quiz you about what you believe and tell you if you "made it" or not; and then, on the next Sunday, you stand before the entire congregation and "profess your faith." After the quizzing, my brother and I had been sent out for the elders to deliberate, and then we were called back into the meeting room and told that our professions before the elders had been accepted.
One of the elders reminded the pastor that it was customary to sing in thanksgiving at this point the song "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow." As we started singing, I got to thinking how the faith I had just professed was the same as the faith of these fifty- and sixty-year-old men around me. Even more than that, I could see with the eye of my imagination all the saints of the ages past together with us, looking on that little room and praising God with us. And if I had felt the presence of God that time at camp, what I was feeling now was the presence of God through the communion of the saints.
Like all good CRC kids, after high school I went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (I think I may have applied to one or two other places, but only pro forma; Calvin was where I wanted to go.) Due to a couple things that had happened the summer before, I chose pre-seminary as my major and then changed it to classical languages and theology. My idea was to become not a pastor but a "pastor to pastors"a professor of Church history in a seminary.
During my first year at Calvin, my interest in monasticism resurfaced, mostly through the coming to Calvin of a couple of brothers from the Taizé community. This community is an ecumenical monastery in France (founded by a small group of men from the French Reformed tradition) whose primary work is prayer for reconciliation. When the two brothers came to Calvin, we had a chance to talk to them, and they also let a Taizé-style prayer service: very simple and beautiful, with scriptural refrains sung repeatedly.
The summer after my first year at Calvin, some friends of mine and I went to a larger meeting in Dayton, Ohio, and got to see the founder of Taizé, Brother Roger. I dont know if you can see holiness in someone, but if so, I saw it in the eyes of Brother Roger.
During that weekend, my friends and I were walking around Dayton, and I just happened to duck into a church for a while. It had to have been a Catholic church, but I dont think I realized it at the time. As anyone who knows me can verify, I have a weakness for church literature racks. In this church I saw a pile of little baggies on a table and took one; I dont remember if I opened it before or after I got out of the church. But inside were a small plastic rosary, a few pamphlets, and some other items. I put the whole thing in my pocket and thought nothing of it.
When I returned to Calvin in the fall, I began using the crucifix on that rosary during my devotions (which consisted of reading through the Psalms on a thirty-day cycle) as a way of centering my eyes and my thoughts on the God. Before I left Calvin, I was praying the rosaryI may be the only person who has prayed a rosary in the prayer rooms in Calvins chapelbut Im getting a bit ahead of myself.
During my first year or so at Calvin, I grew to be a good friend of the college chaplain. My sophomore year I think it was, Chaplain Cooper asked me to join a group he had formed that got together each week to read and discuss a section from the Institutes of John Calvin. With my own interest in theology, I ate up everything we were reading. This was at last something to really sink my intellectual teeth into.
The first semester of my junior year at Calvin, a couple of interesting things happened. One day coming home from my CRC church, I happened to catch the last part of the local televised Catholic Mass. More interesting to me than the Mass was the little ten-minute discussion show afterwards, where a priest and another fellow were discussing the Catholic teaching on Mary. I was kind of interested, so I wrote to the address given at the end of the program, and the priest-host of the show sent me a copy of the text they had been discussingchapter eight of Lumen Gentium, one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. It was interesting, but at the time it didnt make a big impression on me.
Another interesting thing that year was a class I was taking in the fall semester on early and medieval theology. In the course of one semester we were supposed to read two thousand pagesalthough I dont think even the professor did and cover fifteen hundred years of Christian history, from the apostolic Fathers to Erasmus. Two authors I read in that class really captured my imagination. I say now that Irenaeus of Lyons introduced me to the beauty of the Catholic faith, and Thomas Aquinas introduced me to its lucidity.
Also around that time I became a friend with a fellow in that class who had converted from the CRC to the Episcopal Church. I started going with him to the Wednesday night services at the local Episcopal parish, which introduced me to a liturgical form of worship. (Later, perhaps in the spring of my junior year, I even had the Episcopal priest bless the brown scapular that was also in the baggie from Dayton. He didnt know what a brown scapular was, but he blessed it anyway. I still wear the scapular, now properly blessed and imposed by a Catholic priest.)
The defining moment in my conversion came in January of my junior year, if I remember correctly. Around that time I was reading Peter Kreefts Fundamentals of the Faith, but that wasnt really what did it. The first major impetus in my decision for Catholicism came from a passage in John Calvin. The discussion group I mentioned had come to the section in the Institutes where Calvin gives a number of reasons why a group may break from the Church and go into schism. And as the discussion progressed that evening, a question occurred to me. I asked it: "Granted that these are the reasons Calvin gives for going into schism, what happens if, by the grace of God, the church you broke away from should repair the error that was the occasion for the schism? Do you have then an obligation to rejoin the church you broke away from?"
Silence. We talked about it for a bit, but we didnt come up with an answer. Chaplain Cooper didnt have an answer. And that did not satisfy me, not one bit.
It was at that moment that, looking back on it, I can say that I started taking John 17 seriously. Here we see our Lords dying wish to his Father, as it were, that his followers be one (17:21). This is not some hypothetical, invisible unity, but a unity so real that the only model for it our Lord uses is his own unity with the Father. And I began thinking to myself: If unity among his followers was the last wish of the one I call Savior and Lord, I had better do everything in my power to fulfill it.
So I began reading about Catholicism. I wrote to the priest-host of the show I mentioned and also to Peter Kreeftthe only graduate from Calvin that I knew of who had converted to Catholicism. Both gave me good lists of books that I began reading, and I found others on my own. Two of the most influential books I read were John Henry Cardinal Newmans Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and Francis de Saless Catholic Controversies. The first has a marvelous passage connecting all of Christian doctrine to the fundamental belief in the Incarnation; the second raised the all-important question, granting that the Church needed reform at the time of the Reformation, who gave the Reformers the authority to do what they did?
In all this study, I was finding that one of three things was true. (1) The Catholic Church teaches what I already believe, for example, the articles of the Apostles Creed. (2) The Catholic teaching was a logical extension of what I already believed. For example: Because of the communion of the saints, I can ask you or any other Christian here on earth to pray for me. Well then, why cant I ask for Mary or one of the other saints in heaven to pray for me? (3) There were a very limited number of instances where the Catholic Church taught differently than what I believed as a Reformed Protestant, and in each case the Catholic Church was right. For example, I came to reject Calvins teaching on double predestination.
By my senior year at Calvin I was more or less a Catholic in my convictions. I was simply waiting for the right time to convert. I chose to go to Notre Dame to do my graduate work because it is a Catholic school (and again, it was really my only choice). But for my first year there, I was still waiting. What really made me decide to take the plunge, so to speak, was a conversation I had with a Protestant friend in the spring of my first year in South Bend.
Because I usually wear my heart on my sleeve, this friend and I had gotten to talking about my journey toward Catholicism. I began explaining the Catholic position on the subject of the Eucharist to my friend, based on John 6. I talked about how the first part of the chapter demonstrates that Jesus can do miraculous things with bread (John 6:114). The second part (John 6:1521) shows us that Jesus can do miraculous things with his body. And then we get to the Bread of Life discourse, which concludes with the promise of the Eucharist.
At some point in the conversation, it was like my mouth went on autopilot. Outside, I was still talking; but inside, I was thinking to myself, "You know, I really believe this stuff." I realized that Catholicism was no longer for me a clever intellectual system; I had received the gift of supernatural faith. And so I decided then and there that I would enter the Catholic Church the next school year (for reasons I wont go into, I had already decided to go through an RCIA program when the time came, so I had to wait for the next "rotation"). On Holy Thursday, March 27, 1997, I became a member of the Catholic Church and received my first Holy Communion, and two days later during the Easter Vigil was confirmed Catholic, taking Irenaeus as my confirmation patron.
It was only looking back on everything a few years later that I noticed how Mary had been with me throughout the whole process, leading me in her own subtle, humble way to deeper intimacy with her Son. She had been named in the Hail Mary that my Protestant pastor had spoken those many years ago. It was her rosary that I discovered in Dayton. It was Lumen Gentium, chapter eightsome of the most beautiful words the Church has ever spoken about our Ladythat put me in contact with a Catholic priest for the first time. And it was at the University of Notre Dame, our Ladys university, that I was received into the Catholic Church.
Of course, my journey with God continues to be written, and I still struggle to know and do Gods will. But I cannot imagine my life without being a Catholic. John 17:21 still haunts me, and I still wish for everyone to experience the fullness of the Christian faith, the fullness I now possess. With the words of Paul, I conclude, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Phil. 3:12).
Most unusual faith journey. I thought it might be because Calvin lays out in the most lucid way possible the case for Protestantism. In order to answer him, one must have a very good grasp of Catholic theology.
John Calvin made me Catholic, John Calvin made me Mormon, John Calvin made me a Campbelite, John Calvin made me atheist, John Calvin made me Wiccan, John Calvin made me an evolutionist.Balderdash! Why it flies in the face of predestination!
And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" -- Isaiah 44:18-20
"They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" -- Isaiah 44:18-20
God willing, the Holy Spirit will return him from where he began.
This "article" was probably written yesterday. Tomorrow we'll see another thread:
Followed by the sequel:
My brother and I went before the elders of our CRC church to make profession of faith (something like the sacrament of confession, although the CRC doesn't believe that the profession of faith is sacramental)...
Obviously this guy knows next to nothing about his former Protestant faith since a "profession of faith" is nothing "like the sacrament of confession."
This sounds more like a confirmation class which most 12-year-old Protestants understand correctly.
I knew I'd find a few glorification references to Mary somewhere in here.
Praise Mary. Glory to Mary. HaleluMary.
lol. That’ll be next
The way Mary gets around I think she may be in danger of being labeled a yenta
Or omniscient and omnipresent....:>)
What is double predestination? Seems like an odd phrase.
It’s any wonder deism came after the “Reformation.” It’s the next logical step, given the theology. If those in Heaven aren’t more like Him, then God must be pretty remote, and if He’s pretty remote, then He’s a Prime Observor, who doesn’t mettle in our lives.
It means that God specifically scheduled some people for heaven and specifically scheduled some people for hell.
Single predestination says that God specifically scheduled some people for heaven. The remainder were on their own.
Joshua 24:15 - "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Is there some new meaning for the word "choose"?
Christ made me an adopted child of the Father and wrapped me in His righteousness
Well if God ordained the elect to eternal life then He also elected those He did not choose for judgment by His inaction.
So whether it was a direct ordination or a passive one the result is the same.
Because I believe God is the 1st cause of every event I happen to be a double predestinarian . There are no accidents or unintended consequences with God
That makes no sense. It your statement is true, then God caused Adam and Eve to sin.
Do you think He was surprised by their sin?
He gave them the ability to sin and then He put the snake in the garden and the trees in the garden .
Did God cause Adam and Eve to sin?
Here is where I would like to post a graphic similar to those planes in WWII where they had the enemy with a cross through it, on the exterior of the fuselage. Keep ticking them off, Titanites!
One more for your list.
Was he surprised?
That is a beautiful icon. Is there a story behind this one?
God’s omniscience before the world was created.
1. He knew what He was going to do prior to that (or)
2. He knew what everyone else was going to do.
Then He created that which He knew would turn out a particular way.
Can His knowledge of that have been wrong? If so, then He is not omniscient. Could He not have known? If so, He is not omniscient.
I asked him if God’s cause Adam and Eve to sin.
I think ears_to_hear has a real problem on his hands for which there is no explanation; at least not a reasonable one.
I don’t think God was surprised they sinned. Disappointed, but not surprised.
So, do you agree with this double predestination thing?
Do I agree with double predestination?
In the sense that He is absolutely omniscient, then the act of creation meant that everything would work out a certain way.
Does God know whether John Q. Smith will become a Christian? Yes, He does, is my answer. If He doesn’t know, then He is not omniscient.
Do you think God knows if John Q Smith will become a Christian?
In the sense that God created Adam & Eve knowing they would fall, then God’s plan BEFORE it was enacted called for them to sin. However, God Himself did not commit their sin nor encourage them to sin.
God could have created a different reality in which they did not sin. (If Tyre and Sidon had seen the miracles you have seen, then they would have long hence repented in sackcloth and ashes. Jesus could address other realities that could have been...but weren’t... because God chose a different reality to actually create.)
ears_to_hear seems to say that God caused Adam and Eve to sin. I don’t believe that for a minute. I have no doubt God knew they would sin at some point.
I don’t want to put words in e_t_h’s mouth, but I think the point is that God’s plan called for their sin definitely to happen. God, however, never committed nor condoned the sin at any point. The creatures were free not to sin, but did so anyway.
That struck me as an odd comparison upon reading it. I'm not familiar with CRC practices but if his profession was anything like a Catholic confession I thought he was going to confess his sins before the entire congregation. Wow! That would have reaffirmed my opinion on how hard core and rigorous my Calvinist brothers are, but only shows that this guy is either ignorant about both churches or made a big boo boo in recollecting his story. Don't people realize that Freepers read and analyze this kind of stuff? I demand better.
Maybe this is the part that he was comparing to confession.
Maybe it was this kind of occurrence that inspired Marx's "opiate of the masses" axiom. :o)
what, the anxiety?
From the contents of his web page, he could just have easily said "Tinkerbell made me a faerie", or "William Gibson made me a writer."
In addition to *trying* to have a real life, I usually have a good handful of stories that I'm either brainstorming about, writing, editing, or agonizingly waiting as an editor looks them over. If you're interested in the sort of stories I write, or want to know the status of things, this would be the place.
-- "Green Magic" -- This short scene was one of three winners in The Harrow's Animanga contest, and appeared in Vol. 9, no. 10. (You may need to be logged in to read.)
-- "The Blue Flower" -- A young freedom fighter in the future is told that a flower can bring hope to a repressed world. But was he told the truth? This work received Honorable Mention in The Sword Review's 2006 Fiction Contest.
-- Two drabbles (100 word stories) of mine aappear in The Drabbler #8, published by Sam's Dot Publishing. The theme of the issue is "Alien Pet Care".
-- "Outwitted" -- When her fiance's transformation spell ggooes horribly wrong, is a young sorceress's magic enough to save him? Now available at Quantum Kiss.
-- "Command Performance" -- A western SF sttory, this piece appears in Science Fiction Trails, an anthology edited by David B. Riley and published by Pirate Dog Press.
-- "Irula's Apprentice" -- Set in a fantasyy world of my own design where the sole sentient species is a race of anthropomorphic lions, "Irula's Apprentice" tells the story of a young shamaness who has to chose between love and duty. Accepted by Renard's Menagerie.
-- "Kogane-dono" -- A modern horror story, where the horror may or may not be merely psychological. It is about rose gardens and Japanese beetles. Really! Accepted for an anthology being edited by Mark Deniz and Sharyn Lilley.
Works under Consideration:
-- "Inflation" -- A *very* short flash piecce (200 words or so) about rising prices and the Underworld.
-- "Butterfly Dreams" -- Virtual Reality annd revenge.
-- "Digitus Dei" -- A boy whose single mothher sends all their money to a televangelist works a rather biblical revenge on her.
-- "ReNew" -- A new medical treatment to coombat aging has unexpected results. Under the title "Rebirth" this story was awarded an Honorable Mention in Alien Skin Magazine's "Science Fiction Good Writing" contest.
-- "Big Bad" -- Has a black Thing really taaken over the body of Jean's grandmother? Or is it all in her head?
-- "Ghost in My Mind" -- A harpist tries too contact the soul of her husband on All Souls' Night.
-- "Brian's Quest" -- A mother starts to woorry that her teenaged son is spending too much time playing Role-Playing games.
Works I'm Editing before sending out again:
-- "Stannard Rock" -- Set in Lake Superior,, what Thing makes its home in the reef under Stannard Rock Lighthouse?
-- "The Necromancers of Parnasus IV" -- A mmobster in the future visits rather unusual aliens with the ability to reconstruct the dead in order to talk to the wife he murdered.
-- "Crapgod" -- A sewer worker falls througghh a broken sewer pipe to find himself paralyzed in a chapel made from human bones.
-- "Galateus Unbound" -- My efforts to re-ttell the myth of Pygmalion, but with the sexes switched.
-- "Whalerider" -- A shipwrecked Portuguesee sailor is saved by a group of people who use whales and dolphins as living vessels.
-- "The Canni-Ball" -- "People... People whhoo eat people... Are the luckiest people in the world..."
-- "Silver Lining" -- Can Megan Petrov survviive a new treatment for her lycanthropy while finding a way to pay a mob boss back fifty thousand dollars? This had been submitted for "The Clinic" storyline of Quill-Pen.net Press's Magazine of Unbelievable Stories. I'm going to try to retool it for submission elsewhere.
Things in various states of completion that I hope to submit someday:
-- Lion of the Veldt -- A working tiittle for my novel-in-progress set in the same universe as "Irula's Apprentice". In a world where males are forbidden to use magic, what place is there for a young lionman who discovers he has unusual abilities? And what relationship does his abilities have to the ancient evil rising once again?
-- "Et in Arcadia Ego" -- A young man encouunters Death playing pachinko in an arcade.
-- "Dole in Astolat" -- My attempt to re-teell the story of Elaine and Lancelot in a SF (space opera) setting.
-- "Doug's Last Halloween" -- When a town cceelebrates Halloween the weekend before instead of on October 31st, it's up to the children of the town to save their community when the baddies come prowling for real.
-- "Jelaan's Choice" -- A young lionman choooses to take on a radical disguise in order to find his twin who has been taken by slavers.
(last update 04-06-2007)
Once again, a Catholic convert’s story is not a screed against Protestantism but a description of his faith journey.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:
Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.
**a class I was taking in the fall semester on early and medieval theology. **
Many forget that the Early Fathers were part of the first church. Some were part of the writing of the Bible that happened from years 60 on. And it sounds like this person found that out in his early and medieval theology class.
So what, exactly, is this profession of faith. Because we (as adults) do pronounce that with the Sacrament of Baptism. For infants, it is pronounced by the parents and godparents.
An aspiring fantasy writer? He definitely belongs in the Catholic camp. Creativity, imagination, beauty, literature, mystery. I would think he'd feel much more comfortable as a Catholic. Sometimes we are just wired for one thing or another.
All right, I say “enough, already” with all the internicene opuses. I think it should be like leaving FR. If you wanna leave, just shut up and leave. A letter of resignation is not necessary. Just leave your decoder ring at the door.
But since many seem to want to keep “score,” I suggest we institute a “One Card” system, whereby when you convert, you swipe out on your way out, and swipe in at your next stop. A centrally maintained database can anonymously track migration, and weigh each for factors such as education, rank, tenure and hereticism (acknowledging of course that anyone who leaves a faith must have been “heretical” to that faith all along).
How about it guys? Do I get the contract?
How can God be "disappointed" if, in fact, he knew exactly what they would do and exactly when they would do it?
God caused Adam and Eve. He placed them in the garden knowing they would sin. He allowed the serpent to tempt Eve, knowing that Eve would succumb to the temptation. He made Eve as a helpmate for Adam, knowing full well that she would convince him to eat of the forbidden fruit. God knew from the beginning that he would have to send his Son to be crucified to atone for that sin.
There is nothing that happens that is not ordained by God. God knew that Jesus would have to die on the cross if he placed Adam and Eve in the garden. He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden. Therefore since God put everything in motion and knew exactly what would happen, how can you claim that God is not a cause? He is the first cause of all things. His plan includes both mercy and judgment.
So was God ignorant of the consequences of placing Adam & Eve in the Garden? Or was it all part of his plan?
Calvin made someone Catholic? That's more logical than you'd think - as Calvin represents perhaps the most illogical of the "way out there" protestant "theologies."
Tell me, Dr Eckleberg, why would anyone need to go to church, atone for their sins or accept Christ if this "predestination" garbage were actually valid?
If God causes EVERTHING as ears_to_hear claims, how can God readonably hold a man accountable for uis sins if God is the author of those sins.
If that is the case, Flip Wilson was wrong. The Devil didn’t make him do it; God did.
Doesn’t it make more sense to simply say that God knew in advance what men would do and designed His plan of Salvation taking that knowledge into account?
Are you ever tempted to sin and then make a decision whether to sin or not?
That is the illogical nature of Calvinism, right there. They can’t answer that question. They’ll attempt to dodge it or, more likely, attack other faiths in a weak attempt to defend their own.
I’ve been wrong. Calvinism is not cultish. Rather, it’s lazy and somewhat clueless.