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Conversion Story - Rusty Tisdale (former Pentecostal)
Becoming Hinged ^ | August 2, 2007 | Rusty Tisdale

Posted on 08/12/2007 4:03:13 PM PDT by NYer

I was raised in the Oneness Pentecostal movement until I was twelve years old. My mother was more devout, and my dad had stopped attending church by the time I was around six or seven. The Oneness Pentecostals are a very, very strict sect of the Pentecostal churches. I remember when we had no television in the house, we couldn’t wear short-sleeved shirts, no make-up for the women, long hair for the women, and a myriad of other rules applicable to every facet of life. I was baptized in “Jesus’ name,” for the Oneness churches do not believe in the Trinity. I remember looking down on the poor Trinitarians. So deluded. So lost.

I spoke in tongues. I’ll never forget the night this happened. I so wanted it. Without it I was lost. With it I had power. A crowd of people, hands all over me, shouts of encouragement and pleading to God. And then these sounds came from me. Nothing like a language I’d ever heard. But those around me broke out in joyous celebration. I had been filled. I was around nine. My memory is hazy on a lot of things, but I do know that I struggled with doubt about what had happened. I was always questioning, but never disrespectfully. I truly wanted to know God and have all that He had for me.

When I was six, we got new neighbors. An Assembly of God pastor and his family moved next door. A kid my age! A kid my brother’s age! We were in heaven. But they were Trinitarians. I remember those days of adolescent theological discussions. “You believe in three Gods!” I would say. When I was around twelve, and the neighbor and I best friends, my mother had a falling out with the leadership at the Oneness church. We went to visit the Assembly of God church. It was a turning point.

I had never experienced the love of God. The Oneness church was all about ‘the letter’. Here was ‘the spirit’. We immediately fell in love with the people. Unfortunately this earned us the pity of our former church’s membership. Many never spoke to us again. Yet we had found ‘home’, and in many ways that church is still my home. I met my wife there, we were married there. I still attend with my wife on occasion.

I embraced the Trinitarian doctrine, as best as a twelve-year old can. I was re-baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I ‘truly’ was baptized in the Holy Ghost and ‘truly’ spoke in tongues - though, in truth, there was little difference in experience. The sounds were gibberish, and bore little resemblance to ‘language’ in my opinion. Over the next few years, I would struggle, as all teenagers do, with lukewarm religion - followed by periods of revival. These ‘high’ periods usually coincided with the annual Church youth camp. Oh, those were so fun. Free from the influences of the ‘the world’, hundreds of kids would gather to seek after God. If we found a girlfriend during the week, that was an added bonus.

When I was fifteen, it was at one of these camps that I entered my most fervent period. I ‘felt the call to preach’, though I kept it to myself. I was scared. When I got home, I would spend long periods of time praying in my closet - literally. I was taking God’s word seriously. I read the whole Bible through for the first time. I would wander the woods surrounding my house, praying, crying out to God, and preaching to the trees. Honestly. It was during this time that I sought God for a sign that my baptism in the Holy Ghost was not simply me producing gibberish. I wanted what came out of my lips to sound like something ‘real’. While in the woods one day, I found my new prayer language.

I began to have very intense, almost vision-like experiences. I even thought that one such vision came true. Our youth meetings had become bone dry. In prayer one day I ’saw’ the Spirit take control of the youth meeting. A message in tongues was given out. People were changed. It wasn’t long afterward that something very similar happened. I felt like God was using me. A few weeks after the fulfillment of my ‘vision’, I too gave a message out in tongues in our youth meeting. It was interpreted. I can’t even remember the ‘message’.

This period of intensity lasted for quite some time. But the fervor faded eventually. And I found myself struggling with myself. I couldn’t understand the ups and downs. I didn’t comprehend how I could be so duplicitous. So, I entered into more of the same. Hot. Then cold. Up. Then down. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. I either wanted off or I wanted it to level out. By the time I graduated high school, I was living a double life. The good church kid at church, the know-it-all blossoming delinquent outside its walls.

When I started college, God was on the periphery. However, once again, youth camp brought me to a ‘closer walk’. I resolved this time to announce to everyone that I was ‘called to preach.’ So, I did. That was the way it was in the churches I grew up in. My pastor offered to let me preach on a Wednesday night. I took my text from Isaiah. I’ll never forget how I took an hour’s worth of material, and in my nervousness, spewed it out in fifteen minutes. But it was over. And I had ‘done well’. More opportunities arose. So, I started helping out in Sunday School. In college I joined the BSU (the token Pentecostal), and soon was the director of evangelism on the Executive Council. I was actually preaching in more Baptist churches than Pentecostal.

It was in the BSU that I first experienced theological opposition to my Pentecostal belief system. Several of us would sit around and discuss any number of topics. But the ‘pet topic’ was, of course, the nature of salvation. Most of my Baptist friends believed in ‘Once Saved Always Saved,’ and the BSU chaplain was a staunch Calvinist. Many times I would walk away from these conversations with my faith deeply rocked. I began to spend more and more time studying my faith. However, at the same time, I began to slide ever closer to giving into certain sins that I had been battling. This combination led to some very sincere questions about my faith. I began to go to the computer lab and get on the Internet, reading articles from points of view that I had never encountered. It was like I was stepping onto a new planet.

I began reading polemic works against Christianity. Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason proved to be the key to unlocking all kinds of truly unoriginal thoughts, but ones that were new to me. During this time I was still living at home, still dating the same girl, still chaffing under the pressure of a faith with which I was once again struggling. It came to a head one night at church. I was in serious conflict. My pastor’s wife could ’sense’ it, I suppose. She came and urged me to come to the front for prayer. I did not want to disappoint, so I went. Prayers went up to heaven for me, and yet I felt nothing. I didn’t want to feel anything.

I walked away that night, convinced that all that I had experienced in my life concerning religion was false. It wasn’t long afterward that my girlfriend and I broke up over these issues. I moved out of my parents’ home and began to forge a life of my own. For a while everything was a new discovery. For the last years of college, I declared myself an atheist and rejected the whole idea of religion. I was pretty vocal about it, and found myself speaking in front of Intro to Religion classes - as an example of ‘an atheist’. I thought this new ‘freedom’ was . . . well, liberating. Yet, soon I began to dabble in drugs and alcohol, and I began battling episodes of depression. It wasn’t long before I realized that life away from God was not very satisfying. I was too proud, however, to make my way back.

After graduating college, I planned to attend law school. I had a dorm lined up, loans ready to go, and I was working for a local lawyer - getting my feet wet in the world of ‘law’. I had moved back home with my parents for the summer, before heading off to law school. It was during this time that I began to be around some of my former friends from church. The peace in their lives was very convincing. My former youth pastor (and a very close friend) told me that the youth camp I had attended while younger was happening in a couple of weeks. He invited me down. I shrugged it off and went about my way. However, I was flipping channels one day and came upon TBN, and saw Deion Sanders giving his testimony. Now, I’ve never been a fan of TBN, but his testimony struck me for some reason. I began weeping. It was Thursday afternoon, and I just ‘knew’ that I had to get to Youth Camp. That the depression, the pain, the emptiness would go away if I could just get there.

I hopped in my truck. With no air conditioning, a pack of cigarettes, and emotions running high, I drove the two hours to the Camp. I’ll never forget walking into the tabernacle that night. Everyone seemed to remember me. Everyone wanted to welcome me. The love I felt was amazing. I remember seeing my former girlfriend there. She was perfect. Everything was perfect. This would be it. The end of my doubts, my confusion. I would make a commitment here. Now. I sat among some old friends and the night service began. The choir sang a song titled, “Salt Pillar,” about the wife of Job, about the consequences of turning away from God, and the rewards awaiting those who kept on the journey. I ran to the altar. I only remember pouring my heart out to God, and truly feeling that He had poured His out to me.

After the service at the youth camp, I decided to stay the rest of the week. I immediately reconnected with my former girlfriend. In many ways it felt as if I had never left. I knew that things would have to change in my life, so on my return to the ‘real world’ I called my boss, the lawyer, and announced I couldn’t come back to work. I called the university law school and withdrew. I just knew that law school wasn’t in the ‘will of God’.

My friend, my former youth pastor, was working in IT and convinced his boss to give me a shot. It worked out, and I had my first post-college job. It wasn’t long until I asked my new-old-girlfriend to marry me. I had no doubts that she was the one. Some months into the marriage I convinced myself that being in the ministry was the only way to truly be in the will of God. I confided this to my pastor. Nothing happened at first, but soon I got a strange phone call from North Carolina. My friend, the youth pastor, had moved on to be an assistant pastor in Georgia. He had received a call from a pastor looking for a school teacher/youth pastor. He recommended me (I had my license to teach). The pastor called, and I immediately said we’d drive up, meet everyone, and consider. Ten hours away from home, we arrived to find what seemed to be a vibrant church and school. This was where God wanted us to be.

When we came back home and announced our decision to move, my parents took the news hard. My mom was very distraught and told us that the time frame would never work out. We had less than two weeks to sell everything we had, move and start classes. I told her that if it all worked out it had to be the will of God. Everything worked out. We made the first day of classes in a new city, a new state, and completely cut off from the lifelines we had grown accustomed to.

We stayed in Charlotte for almost two years. The church was very different than the Assembly of God church we knew so well. There was more focus on externals - how one dressed, for example. But we quickly found ourselves adjusting, making friends and settling in. The school, however, came to be somewhat of a proving ground. The students weren’t all from the church’s families. There were constant questions about religion and about the church’s stand on many issues. I tried to focus on the subjects I was teaching, but the questions began to grate at me.

One day the assistant pastor (the pastor’s son) asked me to read something called the Church Fathers to hunt for evidence that the early church preached a standard of holiness similar to our own. The Church Fathers? I was vaguely aware of them, but I had never read them. My world was about to change. I dutifully researched (being a history major had equipped me well) and I did find several passages that buttressed our ideas, but man oh man was I surprised at the depth found in the Church Fathers. Hierarchy, Eucharist, etc. It was simply confusing. So I walked away, but I walked away rocked.

I began to have those gnawing doubts again - that all I believed was resting on a flimsy foundation. An evangelist who specialized in campus preaching came to visit our church - a great guy, really, but his tactics were quite off-putting. I took my class to see him in action one day at the UNC-Charlotte campus. I even preached a little myself. College students who were peppering me with very hard questions surrounded me. I spouted out the answers I thought I knew, but deep within I remember thinking, “Do I even believe what I’m saying?”

I tried my best to shake the familiar specter of doubt. It was like I was a teenager once again - go down to the altar, pray, repent, weep before God, ask Him to take away these questions, to help me shake the Devil off my back . . . . Days of exhilaration where I would think things were going to work - then something would happen to make me question all over again. I should be honest here and say that I was wrestling with issues that I had had since childhood. I would walk, apprehensively, in what felt like ‘victory’ - only to fall all over myself in moments of insanity. Having been raised ‘holiness’, being unable to ‘keep the faith’ was devastating.

This inability for stability has been a theme in my life. It was no different during this period. I had thought that by ‘answering the call’ - by being ‘in the will of God’ - it would somehow be the magic ticket to spiritual freedom. It wasn’t. Many nights I would finish preaching, only to find myself in the deepest depths of despair I’d ever known. Surely this was simply the Devil attacking a faithful Christian . . . right? Surely, if I prayed more, if I sought God more - it would all be fixed. I would be fixed.

But I wasn’t fixed. And I was once again living a lie. I had serious doubts about my faith; I could no longer toe the line as a youth pastor and teacher. So, I tendered my resignation. We had just had our first child, my wife was unable to work due to complications - so I used money as an excuse. We loaded all we had into another U-haul and we moved to Georgia, where I had landed a job in the IT department of a small college. The new home was close to a church that had a close relationship with our home church; so many of the faces were familiar. They were so happy to see us in Georgia! They were excited to have another ‘minister’ and they had plans to put me to work. Me? I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to teach, I didn’t want to lead, I didn’t even want to sing in the choir (which has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of church for me). But I have this ridiculous fear of disappointing others. So . . . invariably I did do all of those things. Over the course of three years in Georgia, it was simply more of the same. Up, down, etc. etc.

Going into our third year, I had entered a phase where I was simply going to give up. I told my wife of my doubts, laying out my positions, but never really getting to the heart of why. She was the rock she is, and she simply took it all in and I’m sure began to intercede to God on my behalf. It was around this time that I happened upon a little website called TheologyWeb. It was a turning point in my life - truly. I was able to challenge myself, my doubts, my questions - to really begin to see that what I had considered my faith was shallow. I was out of my depth, and I resolved to change that. I began to read more and more, trying to self-educate myself into the fray. I soon saw that I truly was empty without God, and I could never resolve to live as if God didn’t exist. So, I recommitted myself to Him - but reservedly. I knew that I shouldn’t compartmentalize myself - I had to be honest with God, and honestly seek ‘the truth’.

A few months spent searching led me to a stronger faith than I had ever held. But many questions remained. I became interested in eschatology, and spent some time trying to figure out what I could believe on the subject. This led me (once again) to read more of the early church fathers. While reading the church fathers, my interest in other subjects was soon piqued - especially the Lord’s Supper. The one passage that really caught my eye was from Justin Martyr: “For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” I began to reflect on what *I* had been taught about the Eucharist, about the early church. It didn’t add up. The popular myths about the church from the Pentecostal perspective was that it soon corrupted, was partially restored by men such as Martin Luther, and finally re-emerged in the early 20th century with the Pentecostal movements of men like Parham, et. al.

I began to develop a different sense of church history, although it was far from possessing depth. Around this time I began to participate in the Pal Talk discussions of TheologyWeb. The topics I was newly interested in came up, but rarely. So I went looking for those who would discuss them. I visited the Catholic room on Pal Talk - they were friendly, gracious, but too . . . Catholic. I then wondered into an Orthodox room. Orthodox? Huh? I was blown away. The music, the theology - it was all so new. Since I had resolved myself to an amillennialist position eschatologically, it was comforting to see that one of the oldest bodies of believers in existence agreed with me. This allowed me to be a bit more accessible to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. I began to read everything I could get my hands on. Websites, books, pamphlets, whatever - I was becoming convinced that this was Truth. One book in particular ’sealed the deal’ for me - and it wasn’t even written by an Orthodox Christian. Evangelical is Not Enough, by Thomas Howard, was the proverbial nail in the coffin for the objections I had to sacramental Christianity.

Now, how was I, in a small town in Georgia, going to find a way into the Orthodox Church? There were no churches within a reasonable driving distance, and I hadn’t exactly shared my new found interest with my wife as of yet - so I sat on it for a while. I continued the study, the interaction over the web, and began to try to live as “Orthodox” a faith as I could. A few months into all of this, I received a job opportunity that would bring me home to Mississippi. I found a parish that would be almost two hours away from our new/old home, but I was determined to attend. I corresponded with the priest and with a parishioner I had met online. Everything seemed to be fitting into to place. I talked to my wife about Orthodoxy, however, and I hit a wall. I had had hopes of her ’seeing the truth’, but she wasn’t with me on this one. Not by a long shot. So, after the move, I waited a few months - hoping that she’d become interested. Nothing. Finally, I went on my own. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Not remotely. Yet, it spoke deeply to me. I wanted more.

I started attending the Orthodox Church more frequently. It was a great time of discovery. It wasn’t long until I made the decision to become a catechumen. My priest asked me if I might wait until my wife was ready to convert. I considered the possibility remote, so he agreed to allow me to enter the catechumenate. This was late 2004.

I looked forward to becoming an Orthodox Christian, and my efforts to lead an “orthodox” life were increased. It was not easy, as I felt that my wife was very uncomfortable with me doing such things as praying before an icon. My efforts to accommodate weren’t reciprocated, and soon the accommodating began to feel a lot like sneaking around. I began to build up a wall of resentment toward my wife, which truly hampered not only my move into Orthodoxy, but my marriage as well.

As the months wore on, I was fully expecting to become Orthodox during the upcoming Easter. As the day approached, and my priest was not mentioning it, I felt like I had to ask. “Probably later this year - the Fall maybe.” This ‘maybe’ hung over my head. Would I ever be Orthodox? I was truly longing to experience the Eucharist - to participate in this sacramental theology rather than simply study it.

During this time I was continuing my study of the Church. One of my friends on TheologyWeb began a move toward the Catholic Church, and I was frenetically trying to convince him to ‘try Orthodoxy’. I was frequently involved in polemics against Catholicism. But in attacking the Catholic Church, I came to see that all that had been presented to me in my childhood and all that I learned in coming to the Orthodox Church was not what it had seemed. My views were changing, and I was quickly leaning toward a more hopeful view of Roman Catholicism.

One major push in this direction was the blog Pontifications by an Episcopal priest searching for his place in the True Church. He honestly was trying to investigate the claims of both East and West. The discussions on this blog were very helpful in forcing me to think in new ways. Ultimately, Fr. Al found his place in the Catholic Church. I still remember the profound disappointment I felt. I could be more hopeful about Catholics, but there was no way I was going to become one.

Here I was . . . a few months away from becoming Orthodox, now experiencing a bit of confusion regarding Roman Catholicism. Quite honestly I was disillusioned by the cacophony of opinions among Orthodox Christians concerning a myriad of topics - most especially ‘the West’ in general and Rome more specifically.

It was also during this time that I fell into the deepest period of darkness I’d ever known. This wasn’t due to my theological confusion, but my spiritual weakness. I allowed an old enemy to win a major battle, and the fallout was devastating - so much so that the whole war seemed over. Depression wafted over me, and I half-heartedly tried to regain my footing. Then Katrina hit. It was the perfect excuse not to make the effort to drive two hours to the Orthodox parish, so I didn’t. Soon I wasn’t attending at all. Soon I gave up and built a wall of anger out of my failure and self-loathing.

This condition lasted for months. I remember thinking when the end of the year rolled past - “I should have been Orthodox by now.” Yet I wasn’t. Not even close. My marriage, my sanity, my future - they seemed to be in the perpetual proverbial balance. Then I took a business trip. On this trip I was able to spend some time alone and think. And finally to pray. On my way home, the floodgates opened as I was pouring my heart out to God. Somewhere between Atlanta, GA and Mississippi, I found solace in God’s grace.

So, I came back home a ‘new man’. I started attending church with my wife. I was still not the ‘old Rusty’, and others could tell I still had reservations about a lot of things. However, I kept my opinions to myself and I tried my best to live a life of dedication to God and family. Yet all that I had learned, all that I had come to understand about God, the Church, history - I couldn’t shove it in some bin and forget. So, I started showing up at the daily masses held at the local Catholic parish. It really felt wonderful. I attended these quietly, not making a big deal about it to my wife or anyone else. Finally I began RCIA and entered the process of becoming Catholic.

I am four months past Easter vigil. That is the day where I finally received the body and blood of my Lord in the Eucharist. That is the day where I entered communion with Thomas Kempis, John Paul the Great, Thomas Aquinas, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome of Palestine and Rome, and a great cloud of other witnesses to the glory of the Catholic faith.

Today I was at daily Mass and meant every word when I said, along with the congregation, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only speak the word and I shall be healed.”


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: conversion; convert; pentecostal

1 posted on 08/12/2007 4:03:16 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 08/12/2007 4:04:32 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
I remember when we had no television in the house, we couldn’t wear short-sleeved shirts, no make-up for the women, long hair for the women,

yep. things are so much better now that there are no rules for dress and manners are unkown. tattoos, piecings and skin shows for all.

And television! What a gift to the American family, and, ergo to the world!

3 posted on 08/12/2007 4:11:28 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (Hate me, I'm white.)
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Ping!


4 posted on 08/12/2007 4:11:47 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

It’s interesting what different experiences people have had. This gentleman was not just “Pentecostal” - even Catholics can be “Pentecostal,” in the general sense - but “Oneness Pentecostal,” rejecting the dogma of the Trinity. Very serious and meaningful theological issues in this conversion.


5 posted on 08/12/2007 4:13:20 PM PDT by Tax-chick (All the main characters die, and then the Prince of Norway delivers the Epilogue.)
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To: the_conscience

pingity ping


6 posted on 08/12/2007 4:26:40 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: NYer

Welcome to Rusty Tisdale! Wonderful story of conversion and thanks for posting it.


7 posted on 08/12/2007 6:37:03 PM PDT by vox_freedom
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To: NYer

I wonder if Rusty will stay a Catholic.


8 posted on 08/12/2007 7:53:28 PM PDT by starfish923 (Socrates: It's never right to do wrong.)
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To: NYer

From reading the Early Church Fathers to this>
**My views were changing, and I was quickly leaning toward a more hopeful view of Roman Catholicism.**

What a great journey he relates. God bless him!


9 posted on 08/12/2007 8:42:22 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness
Conversion Story - Matt Enloe (former Baptist) [prepare to be amazed!]
THE ORTHODOX REVIVAL IN RUSSIA

Conversion Story - David Finkelstein (former Jew)
Conversion Story - John Weidner (former Evangelical)
12 Reasons I Joined the Catholic Church
Conversion Story - Tom Hunt
The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism: The Converts

John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary
Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
From Calvinist to Catholic

A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]
From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church
Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7
Pastor and Flock Become Catholics

The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church
Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS
Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church
Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge

Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles
Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome
Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi

Why Converts Choose Catholicism
The Scott Hahn Conversion Story
FORMER PENTECOSTAL RELATES MIRACLE THAT OCCURRED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary

Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
From Calvinist to Catholic
A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]
From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church

Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7
Pastor and Flock Become Catholics
The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church
Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS
Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church

Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge
Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles
Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome

Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi
Why Converts Choose Catholicism
How I led Catholics Out of the Church [Steve Wood]
The Scott Hahn Conversion Story
FORMER PENTECOSTAL RELATES MIRACLE THAT OCCURRED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

Conversion Story - Rusty Tisdale (former Pentecostal)

10 posted on 08/12/2007 8:44:55 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: starfish923

“I wonder if Rusty will stay a Catholic.”

That is a very good question.

Reading his story, I felt sympathy for him, but also I felt uneasy about several features of his personality. He seems to have a tendency toward depression, and also always seeking answers that lead him off into new pastures.

Notice how he tends towards what AA terms the “geographic solution”, whenever his problems get overwhelming, he moves somewhere else. But then ... the problems start up again. Also, note that the Orthodox priest was unwilling to baptise him, but suggested that he wait. This proved a sound suggestion, as he soon gave up on the Orthodox Church, but I wonder what the Priest observed which led him to that conclusion.


11 posted on 08/13/2007 12:29:55 AM PDT by BlackVeil
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To: Mad Dawg

Oh man (sigh).

This poor chap moves from one works righteousness church to another continually seeking the right experience to validate his worthiness.

Prayerfully he one day rests in Christ’s perfect active and passive obedience and receives the peace that his labors cannot fulfill.


12 posted on 08/14/2007 9:19:42 PM PDT by the_conscience
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To: the_conscience
I like the phrase "active and passive obedience" -- all the more as I consider that at the root of "obedience" is "to listen intently".

In the interests of not just taking every dialectical fist to the chops and of saying that the question of works righteousness is not, IMHO, as either-or as some seem to think it is, I'd like to quote from a reading in the "Office of Readings" for today -- which is a big day for us Calflicks:

I repeat, it is owing to his favor that salvation is yours through faith. This is not your own doing, it is God's gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished, so let no one pride himself on it. We are truly his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.
Ephesians 2:8-10
Grace -- the gift that keeps on giving! Shaken down, pressed together, running over.
13 posted on 08/15/2007 4:39:14 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: NYer

An anti-Trinitarian? I’m glad the guy got saved!


14 posted on 08/15/2007 4:40:51 AM PDT by ovrtaxt (Sworn to oppose control freaks, foreign and domestic.)
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To: BlackVeil
Yeah. There are issues here, and since I suffer from depression I know the feeling of being a living butterfly stuck on a pin, and the eagerness to try ANYTHING, to clutch at straws (and to mangle metaphors), to find some place where one can rest comfortably.

So he has taken the bait. But it is still in question whether he will spit out the hook or whether our Lord will set it firmly and reel him in.

15 posted on 08/15/2007 4:47:54 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

“I like the phrase “active and passive obedience” — all the more as I consider that at the root of “obedience” is “to listen intently”.”

Dawg,
I’m happy you like the phrase yet I get the impression that we have different conceptions as to the significance of the phrase especially as it relates to Christ’s active obedience. No doubt we agree, along with most of Christendom, that Christ’s passive obedience was the propitiation for our disobedience.

If Christ’s passive obedience carried such a great cosmic significance would it not follow that his active obedience carries a similar cosmic significance? Surely his active obedience provides the supreme moral example and as such reveals the nature of God but what, if any, cosmic significance was effectuated by Christ fulfilling the law?

That answer can be found in the meta-narrative of Scripture. Paul’s reference to Christ as the 2nd Adam pulls us back to the garden narrative and helps us see what cosmic significance the 1st Adams probationary testing and subsequent failure resulted in. If the kin of the 1st Adam were accredited for the actions of the head of the family and become enemies with the Father would it not follow that the kin of the 2nd Adam, in like manner, be accredited for the actions of the head of the family? Yes, I believe that follows and is an essential element in the meta-narrative of Scripture. So Christ’s obedience not only satisfies the wrath of the Father because of our kinship with the 1st Adam , but is also accredited to his kin and we become friends with the Father because of the actions of the head of the family.

So then, let’s reexamine Rusty’s case. Since faith is what brings us into kinship with the 2nd Adam the question naturally arises as to how we can one be assured that ones faith truly puts us in the family. But let’s back up and consider how one can be assured that they are in the 1st Adam’s family. In Rusty’s case, as with most works-righteousness Christians, he would introspectively and internally examine his experiences as the basis for belief and furthermore make sure that those experiences are an adequate basis for his belief. So Rusty might examine his experiences as a human and examine the experiences of Adam and be assured that he is in fact a kin of Adam. For Rusty to be assured of faith he cannot simply receive and rest upon Christ but must be aware of what experiences result from faith and furthermore those experiences are adequate for a true faith. As we can see from the above, Rusty seems to be striving to find the experience that is adequate to justify his belief and give him assurance.

Let me propose, because the nature of faith is transcendent, that an externalist view of faith provides greater assurance. In this case the externalist would only need to understand the concepts of faith and that there are no factors that would undermine those concepts. For the externalist one understands the concepts of the Gospel through the call of the Spirit and election in Christ and as such receives and rests upon Christ. As long as their faith is of this type they can be assured it is a true faith not relying upon experience for assurance but rather experience bolsters faith as long as it does not undermine the concepts.


16 posted on 08/15/2007 11:51:17 PM PDT by the_conscience
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To: the_conscience
A massive 10-4 to the "Different conception" idea. But that's what makes discussion useful, right? If we started out agreeing, we'd be left with "How 'bout them Mets?" which is pleasant, but not necessarily profitable.

I THINK I'm with you right up to the paragraph beginning "So then, ..."

Since faith is what brings us into kinship with the 2nd Adam the question naturally arises as to how we can one be assured that ones faith truly puts us in the family.
Formally, I'll dispute the "naturally". (That's almost a joke, okay?)

What I mean is the question of "assurance" or even of "getting into heaven" or of "avoiding going to hell" has NOT been on my mind for, lo, these many decades. And, especially, I don't go to confession or rattle my bedes or pray before the Tabernacle or engage in all the other bizarre cultic calflick practices to "get into heaven" but because I'm in love. Excuse the sappiness, but I don't know how else to say it.

as with most works-righteousness Christians
You've done a survey? ;-)
But overall I agree. As long a one thinks one's relationship with Christ depends on one's deeds and experiences, one runs the risk of the kind of restless unease which in the past has prompted Rusty to pull up his stakes and sojourn in yet another congregation. ("That last act of charity was not really pure enough, that last ecstasy was not enough of a transport ...) Good Lord, deliver us from such assessments!

Now I get the impression that you'd think that Rusty was in the wrong place now, while I'd think he was in the right place, but for the wrong reason. What you and I can do together is hold Rusty up to the Lord and ask for healing and balm for his writhing and unquiet soul. And then let the chips fall where they may.

My own experience is that I do everything badly and for the wrong reason and I rarely have any kind of "experience" -- and as for tongues, maybe a little English -- Southern, Yankee, and England English? I'm working on Valley-speak, but it's SEW, like, y'know, banal, omyGAWD!

Um, uh, seriously, What can I say? A long time ago in another life I heard someone say,"The Lord has put away all your sins," and I realized those words were spoken to ME and about MY sins, and my life has been different for the subsequent 36 years. And "through many dangers, toils, and snares," ... well, here I am.

17 posted on 08/16/2007 3:47:19 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

“Now I get the impression that you’d think that Rusty was in the wrong place now, while I’d think he was in the right place, but for the wrong reason.”

The wrong reason is certainly correct but can we blame Rusty since the experience of time travel associated with the re-presentation is so highly acclaimed in that place. No, I don’t believe we can blame Rusty but the place is certainly accountable for feeding Rusty’s seemingly insatiable need for adequate experience.

So yes, the place is important. If the place has a misconception of revelation and uses experience as the ground of faith then the communicant will have a difficult time resting upon Christ, although not impossible,


18 posted on 08/16/2007 11:17:02 PM PDT by the_conscience
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To: the_conscience
... since the experience of time travel associated with the re-presentation is so highly acclaimed in that place.

I'm impressed that you get the "re-presentation" side of the sacrifice. And clearly we disagree about revelation. But I would disagree with the "experience" in what you say -- in the sense that I don't often have any sense of time travel, or of much else along those lines in the Mass. In my view "experiences" as such, are more in the "consolation" side of things, not to be expected but enjoyed when you get 'em.

This suggests to moi that I'm not understanding what you are saying about experience. I would have said that the whole "Charismatic" deal is experience-oriented. The Catholic deal is more in what my Zen buddies would call "practice", maybe 'askesis' would be a good word.

And of course I hasten add NOT askesis in order to be saved but to "live into" (and you may fer shur ask me what I mean by that, if anything, if it's not clear) being saved. That is, I don't "say my prayers" to impress God or get an entry on the good side of the ledger. I say them because doing so is one of the ways I can say,"I love you too," to God.

19 posted on 08/17/2007 2:50:39 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg
"This suggests to moi that I'm not understanding what you are saying about experience. I would have said that the whole "Charismatic" deal is experience-oriented. The Catholic deal is more in what my Zen buddies would call "practice", maybe 'askesis' would be a good word."

Dawg, I'm sure you'd agree that both are experiences. The Charismatic experience is generally euphoric in the sense of hyper-joy while the Romanist experience is euphoric in the sense of self-denial. The point is that if any subjective experience is the ground upon which your faith is based, instead of the historical facts of Christ's life and death, then that faith will be based upon the shifting sands of the latest experiences and like any addict the latest experience with the same church never quite measures up to the the first "high" so he goes looking for the new church (drug) by which he can experience a greater euphoria.

So we have on the one hand the Romanist congregation selling tradition as experience with its concomitant rituals while the core of the Borg is putridly rotten and its corporate self-defense mechanisms kicked in to protect the Borg with whatever Machiavellian means available and to hell with ethics.

On the other hand we have the broader Evangelical community with it's secular prosperity and therapeutic gospel selling the gospel of the American dream of spiritual entreprenuerialship and if you visualize the right experience it may lead to success and even perhaps a spot on TBN.

And when people finally overdose on "Christian experience" it sometimes leads to death of faith as this truly sad story indicates

20 posted on 08/19/2007 11:01:43 PM PDT by the_conscience
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To: the_conscience
Dawg, I'm sure you'd agree that both are experiences.

Actually I wouldn't. I mean, yeah, I'm awake and sense perception is happening, but I don't go to Mass for an experience(unless you count unspeakably banal hymnody as a kind of experience of "mortification" ...)
Humma, humma.
I hope we can work to dope out where the disagreement is. Also I'd balk at "based on". And I'd fall on the ground laughing at "euphoria". I don't go to Mass, fiddle with my rosary, "read" my office, or pester God all the live long day to "Feel" or experience something.

One of my own personal put-down phrases for a certain type of person is "consolation junky" (consolation being the calflick term of art for "warm, fuzzy" it having suffered the same debasement as "comfort" did in English speaking traditions). This is my term for people for whom the basis of their "religiosity" is experience, sensation, "feeling", blah blah, and much of whose discourse is about past experiences and their hopes for future experiences.

As far as the general principles go, I think I'm pretty much on board. The "news" that Jesus loves YOU, qua you, your own se'f, and "has put away all your sins", the "hearing" of that (as in, "Me? ME? You mean He loves ME? Woah!") is a critical "moment" in life in Christ.

I have nattered on and on elsewhere of a very funny and cute LOL (In this context meaning "little old lady") whom I really like who spent much of her life being a dutiful little Catholic girl, woman, wife, mother, widow -- and just a couple of years ago finally got it! She is now a little evangelical catholic dynamo!

Knowing her has confirmed in me my notion that the Holy Spirit may be active in one's life w/o one having a clue -- until one day when the whole weltanschauung is turned upside down.

I'm trying to run an inventory on the self here, and the most "experience-like" aspect of my personal religiosity (that I'm aware of - self-assessment is such an unreliable tool when a sinner is doing it) would be intellectual thrills and chills.

Try this as an inadequate analogy: Spiritual exercises or activities or whatever -- Mass, rosary, prayers, study -- these are in some respects like taking a pill and in some respects like exercising, in this way: Working with exercise equipment is so evidently futile, and deadly boring. "Okay, we are going to do three sets of 15 curls of 25 lb dumbbells." ("Oh Goody! Not."). OR, "You will now receive this injection or swallow this bolus." ("But, but, how does that little pill have anything whatsoever to do with my running a fever and producing industrial amounts of mucus?" "Trust me on this.")

But after a lot of pills or months of juggling dumbbells, maybe somebody says,"Hey? did you get a haircut or something?" Or (for the other side of the analogy) you realize that your taking a couple of gourmet beers and a bunch of high-class snack food to someone you hardly know but you know he likes beer (and so do you) AND he just broke his leg in three places qualifies as a "work of mercy".

And you're going, WOW! I didn't even plan on doing something good!

Or with the pills (I've had pneumonia twice, so I KNOW this sequence), you wake up drenched in sweat, cough up double industrial amounts of goo, and the next day you feel pretty darn good! THEN you realize, "wow! I guess the pills did some good!" And for the other side, you discover that your little, ahem, "disagreements" with the boss-lady are more productive of mutual understanding and less generally awful, and you finally say, "This is the Lord's doing - I sure couldn't have done it - and it is marvellous in our eyes!".

These are lousy analogies. My alleged point is that "experience" and "feeling" is really not a part of at least MY spearchool milieu/approach. I like to say "Service is the best metric," NOT in the sense that I think service buys me admission to the heavenly courts, but that if I am helping other people and especially if I am somehow part of their living into the Love which God's Son died for them to enjoy, then I guess my "spiritual life" (I don't like that phrase, but I hope you know what I mean) is ticking along okay.

I feel like I"m groping for common ground and a dialectical starting point here. I hope it's okay if I politely ignore all the Machiavelli stuff. Having been a clergy-dude myself, I've never had very high expectations of the clergy in any event.

21 posted on 08/20/2007 3:49:55 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg
Just to set the record straight I accept your testimony that you have good habits of faith and well-ordered subjective states (probably a result of a sound protestant background) but you seem to be missing the larger point that corporate culture can lead to an overemphasis on subjective states as a means to truth.

Euphoria as masochism is seen all around us in the forms of piercings and tattoos and other forms of self-mutilation so the Roman Catholic version is but a subset of the many forms available for people seeking euphoria thru self-mutilation.

If we can get by the anecdotal evidences and move onto the histiograph and sociology, and most importantly the doctrinal depravities that need reforming on a corporate level then perhaps we can find a dialectical starting point by which can mutually strive to bring the greatest glory to God instead of what brings the greatest glory to the corporation.

22 posted on 08/20/2007 9:25:18 PM PDT by the_conscience
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To: the_conscience
Actually, I suspect it's because I grew up in a crazy family that I developed a healthy suspicion of affect as a guide to anything valuable. And throughout my life, that suspicion has served me well. (Plenty of people who FEEL guilty aren't, and lots who are indeed guilty, don't feel guilty at all ...)The so-called "charismatic" movement (in whatever denomination) seemed to me to be accompanied by a truly astonishing lack of even the most elementary personal insight and consequent messed up interpersonal relationships.

And somehow, by the grace of God, Socrates became one of my early heroes. So "skepticism is my friend". I know Our Lord says, "Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed," and if there's no other way around it, I'm open to believing without seeing. But generally I'd prefer to take a look, thanks.

Now, here's an interesting (to moi) wonderment and spekkerlation. I think a lot of Protestants form their view of the RC Church from observing the pious practices of the laity. And since the RC Church, considered sociologically, is truly catholic (lower case 'c') in that its appeal reaches to many different sorts of folks, a lot of the fervent lay piety strikes one as very "affective" and even emotional. So that's the generalization that observers make. "Them thar cat'licks shore git worked up, don't they?"

So I think of my Oxford graduate godmother. (Mom was a Limey and an Oxford scholar, so her homies were ditto.) When I converted she remarked that all she knew about Catholics was that they seemed so ignorant and superstitious.

Of course, I'm thinking, uh John Newman? Oxford? Ignorant? or Tolkein? Hopkins?

And I would say that MY route to the whore of Babylon was influenced by Augustine, Dante, Aquinas, Dante, Eckhart, and did I say Dante? Well, and then there's Dante. And then some contemporary RCs who struck me as sane, learned, smart, and of great sanctity.

I still get the heebie-jeebies at some types of emotive piety, but my sort of sub-classification seems to be more or less Dominican which for me means a continuation of as much study as this dyslexic, aged sufferer of ADHD can do combined with prayer, community, and an awareness of a duty to an apostolate (which some have suggested I am fulfilling right here on FR!)

(Forgive my loquacity. I've got some bug or other and am distracting myself from my discomfort by burdening you with blather.)

I think Protestants think of the RC church as from top to bottom kind of snooping and watching and nipping things in the bud, as clerical 'fixers' note and then stamp out some movement among the laity. My experience is that the average cleric has enough on his plate and will put off dealing with a problem as much as possible. Our three Dominican Friars work their fannies off, and a lot of devotional stuff at our parish is started, promoted, and executed by laity. The rosaries, novenas, vigils, perpetual adorations, etc. are permitted and sometimes participated in by the friars, but they are the responsibility of the laity.

I remember during the Elian Gonzales mess someone saying if the Pope had wanted those sisters in Miami to keep Elian, they would have kept him - as though the pope had only to say Jump, and the sisters would say,"How high?" It's just not true. It's not that way at all. And people who think it is haven't taken seriously the problem of governing a world-wide body of maybe a billion souls. (My guess is you don't govern so much as hold on for dear life.)

So when it comes to Filipinos crucifying themselves on Good Friday, and web sites saying the God is gonna mash us like a bug if we don't declare Mary to be Co- whatever-it-is-were-supposed-to-declare her, if fault MUST be laid, I'd lay it more at the indolence, timorousness, or distractibility of the clergy than at their promoting unsound doctrine or practice.

The above is entirely anecdotal and of no argumentative value whatsoever. It is the sharing of an impression and the off-scourings of a fevered brain.

Of course, if I have to stipulate "doctrinal depravities" to participate, it ain't gonna happen. I don't see how we can have a real discussion without entertaining the possibility, however unlikely, that the other guy might have something of value to say. If I have to start with a sign saying "doctrinal depravity" hung around my neck, I will get all fractious and depressed. Similarly, "corporation" suggests "body", nd the "body" which I think the Catholic (as distinct from "Roman Catholic") Church is is that of Christ. So my attitude about glorification of the corporation may be different from yours..


Crusader Bumper Sticker

23 posted on 08/21/2007 5:26:32 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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