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Finally Catholic! My Conversion to the Catholic Church
Ancient and Future Catholics ^ | David Bennett

Posted on 04/28/2008 7:33:29 PM PDT by annalex

Finally Catholic! My Conversion to the Catholic Church

Article and Photos by David Bennett

It was a bright late-spring day, and my brother Jonathan and I were running outside at a Southern Ohio state park. We had been kept in by the spring rain, and now that May was in full-swing, we could run on mostly solid ground. I remember exactly where we were: the clearing to the plain, where the forest ends temporarily, and the sunlight shines through, beaming onto the colorful brush. We often stop there to get our breath, since it is about the middle of the three mile or so run. Usually we discuss theology or life while we run, and this time was no exception. This day I told him that I was seriously considering becoming Catholic. I had finally tired of fighting for an Anglican church that didn't - and never did - exist, growing wearier and more confused by the day. I needed a real spiritual home, a Catholic home, where I could grow, rather than fight. I had just plain had enough. Jonathan was pretty shocked, which was surprising, because being twins, we were often on the same page.

He probably thought one of my initial reasons was silly, but nonetheless, he admitted it was true. We had gone to an "All-County Choir Festival," about a month earlier where choirs from area churches came to showcase their talent. The Catholic and Episcopal churches are across the street from each other, so they decided to pair up for the evening of singing. Having once attended that particular Episcopal church, I knew who in the mixed choir were Episcopalian (plus their robes told who was who). I noticed that of the 40 or so people in the choir, only about 8 were Episcopalian. They were all over 50, whereas the Catholic choir had people of all ages. It was telling to me. Immediately I began to think "boy the Catholic Church is universal." Now, don't get me wrong, I did not make that appraisal simply on account of this one anecdotal case, but it certainly served as an illustration to what I had been thinking for quite awhile, but had not been expressing.

Jonathan was initially bothered. I guess he thought that my statement was a whim or thinking out loud. He soon realized I was serious, much more serious than when I said in January 2004 at the local American Anglican Council meeting that in a year I would probably be Orthodox or Catholic. Of course, about a week later he had a copy of a book about former Protestant Catholic converts, so obviously he agreed with me, although perhaps it took some meditation. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. I should likely start at the beginning.

I grew up evangelical Christian, the son of a Methodist pastor and schoolteacher mother. I was raised to value my faith, and I do not ever remember a time I was not Christian. I was baptized as a baby, and grew up with Bible stories, prayers, and lots of love. I remember accepting Jesus "into my heart" when I was around four. My parents were the best examples I had of Christlike behavior. However, even since I was a child I was always drawn to the more liturgical elements of Christianity. Advent and Christmas were my favorite times of the year, and I always found these more solemn seasons meaningful and rewarding. My faith was simple, but a big part of my life.

As a teen, I became a fundamentalist Christian. I was pretty dangerous: an 8th grader who had just been "saved." Even though I had been Christian my whole life, and was baptized as a baby, I still felt a lot of pressure from the youth group to "get saved." As a recently-saved adolescent I knew just about everything there was to know about the faith, or so I thought, and it upset me that nobody else was ever as "on fire" as I was. I feel sorry for the poor Jehovah's Witness girls I used to bug constantly. Holly and Amber were far more charitable in our discussions than I was, yet they were the brainwashed ones, so I often opined. My parents even had to tell me to cool-it a little, since I was behaving embarrassingly I am sure, especially toward anybody who disagreed with me, or who wasn't as excited to be Christian as I was (which was just about everybody).

Clearing to the Plain, photographed by David Bennett

One day I met Jessica C. standing on the basketball court in our little town. I thought she was pretty and we struck up a conversation, which was entirely her doing, since I was relatively clueless, even at 14. I was there hanging out, and I was surprised I met up with a girl, since it wasn't really on my mind. Before I knew it, we were hanging out more and more, taking walks, and even going places together. Jessica was not much of a Christian even though her grandpa was a United Methodist minister. All I could talk about was my faith. She humored me for awhile, but eventually became kind of sick of my always bringing everything back to my faith. I kind of got sick of myself at this point. She wanted to kiss me one night, and on account of a mix of cluelessness and moral puritanism, I pretended to not know what she was getting at. Eventually she started seeing me as more of a friend, although I had feelings for her. Soon we stopped seeing each other, and I was upset when I found out she cussed and hung out with "the wrong crowd." Nonetheless, the whole experience did serve to break me of my fundamentalism. I kind of liked the attention from girls, and since I couldn't reconcile having a relationship (even harmless) with a female and my strong faith, I chose women. I stopped reading my Bible regularly, and would only pray to cover myself, praying every night that God would forgive me my sins, "past, present, and future," a formula I had developed just in case. Talk about minimalism!

I started weight-lifting, getting in shape, taking vitamins, and was going to play football in the autumn. I was slowly abandoning any faith I had. Youth group became a burden. I started listening to oldies, and I wanted to leave youth group to go home and listen to Bob Dylan instead of Christian singer Carman. Even though my friends at this time weren't really Christian, I still held onto a basically Christian moral outlook. I wasn't very wild or rebellious. I just didn't want to be involved in the Christianity I knew, which I thought was hyper-emotional, hypocritical, and pretty boring. Plus, I wanted to "do my own thing," and that meant dating girls who I liked, who happened to not be Christian.

I pretty much had this agnostic outlook until the summer of 1998, when I turned twenty. In the meantime, from 1996 through spring of 1998 I had gone to College and pretty much began to forge my "own way," majoring in Psychology, and practically making a religion of that. I had dated quite a few women in there, none of them Christian. My friends weren't Christian, and the things we did were not always Christian either. By the summer of 1998 when I was working as an intern at a drug and alcohol treatment facility I was at a personal low. I was depressed and felt very unfulfilled. All the fun, all the education, and all the coping mechanisms did little for me. On the way home from a trip to town one day, I was complaining about my life as usual, and my dad said maybe I should consider Jesus again. That got me pretty upset and I didn't talk to him that night, mainly because of his strict tone. However, it did make me think. Maybe I did need Jesus. That night I decided that I would give following Jesus a try again. What could it hurt? I couldn't get any lower, and praying for the first time in years was like getting reacquainted with an old friend.

Stained Glass Window, photographed by David Bennett

The next morning I woke up with more peace than I had in a long time. The general lassitude I had felt for the last few months began to abate. Dad apologized for the night before, and I did too. I was ready to give Christianity a try again, albeit on different terms. I wasn't going to rush back into the fundamentalism of my younger days. I had learned too much along the way for that. I did get back to reading the Bible and praying regularly. Strangely, this evangelical guy was not praying extemporaneously, but writing out form prayers, psalms, confessions, and more. I bought various prayer books and lit plenty of candles. It just seemed right and natural as a mood for prayer. I started collecting Bibles again, and for some reason K-Mart had a copy of the New American Bible, a Catholic translation. Just to be complete, I picked one up, and became fascinated with what I saw. The New Jerusalem Bible soon followed. Around that time, my brother and I had a strange urge, one that had come out of nowhere, to attend Midnight Mass. I am sure my dad and mom were highly perplexed by two Methodist guys heading out to midnight Catholic mass like it was a revered family tradition. While we were somewhat confused, and squeezed into the pews, I remember feeling connected to something larger than myself, something almost mystical, although I never seriously considered becoming Catholic at that point.

Upon returning to college, I immediately jumped into evangelical groups, mainly because that is all I knew. I started going to Campus Crusade and Navigators meetings, and attended a "contemporary" United Methodist Church. Initially I liked them, and the people were great, but after awhile I began to see some weaknesses. It seemed like every meeting was centered around getting new people into the fold. While new people would come in, old people would leave. There was high turnover rate in these groups outside a core few. In addition, I was getting tired of the contemporary worship and the emphasis on individual "quiet times." The leaders of the Navigators became concerned with my lack of daily quiet times, as if Jesus had said "unless ye have quiet times ye cannot see the kingdom of heaven." I was also tiring of what I perceived as self-help Christianity, where the Christian faith was designed to relieve every earthly problem, rendering one blissfully happy-go-lucky. These campus groups also took a weird view on relationships, almost Gnostic in tone, when they criticized any physical contact in relationships before marriage, including holding hands. Furthermore I saw some inconsistent theology out of the leaders, and when a prominent leader in one of these groups told hundreds of students that John 1:1-18 ("The Word was God," etc) referred to the Bible, I nearly lost it. Hadn't he read down to verse 14? In general, I was seeing some of the same excesses I saw when I essentially left the Christian faith in 1994. A change was coming though...

1999 saw me taking two important classes: Early Christianity and Old Testament. Both of these classes challenged my thinking, and gave me ways to put my objections to contemporary evangelicalism into words. The Early Christianity course, taught by an Orthodox Christian, showed me a Church that had weekly Eucharist, liturgical services, an episcopal structure, among other foreign elements. The Old Testament class looked at the Bible critically and challenged me to actually read what the Bible was saying, instead of assuming I knew. I had to face the fact that the Bible was not the inerrant-to-the-letter handbook I had once assumed, and I found this out, well, by actually reading it. I was intrigued primarily by the Early Christian writers at this point. I bought a set of the earliest Church Fathers (AD 100-330), followed by the later ones (AD 330-800). I began reading them faithfully (while continuing to read the Bible). I just could not square what I was doing with what they were saying. Being a historian, I could not dismiss what they were saying, because they did live immediately after the apostles. One of the major issues I had to face was my view of salvation, which did not jive with the Church Fathers. The early Church Fathers darn-near unanimously read "you must be born again" in John 3:3 to mean "you must receive the sacrament of baptism within the Church" yet I was raised to believe you were born again when you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. The Eucharist, the Episcopacy, and worship were other important areas where what I believed and did hardly resembled what the Church Fathers believed and did.

I slowly began to become more Catholic, changing my prayer life and gradually shifting my beliefs. My prayer life became enriched as I began facing East when praying, and I plastered icons and photos of them on my walls. Needless to say, the evangelical spirituality of the Navigators and Campus Crusade lost its appeal. I tried to share what I learned with everyone, but usually it was met with blank stares, a lack of interest, or even mild condemnation. For example, at one Bible study, I brought up the early Church and the martyrs, and what powerful witnesses they were to the faith. Immediately another student pulled the conversation back to how the passage (in Philippians I believe) related to his recent quiet time. I began to wonder where I could go now. I really had no spiritual home. I could either be a kind of Catholic exile in a Protestant church, or go it alone, neither good Catholic options. Then my brother discovered the Episcopal church one Ash Wednesday.

The Methodist churches locally didn't have Ash Wednesday services, so he called around, and the Episcopal church had one, and since it was about a block away, he went (I was studying that night). He came back saying "this is it! This is what we have been looking for!" It was just like our private prayer services (which now had become very form-based, modeled after the Book of Common Prayer and other prayer books). I visited the Sunday after, and loved the service, feeling right at home.

We were both confirmed in the Episcopal church by April, as the priest was more than willing to get us in quickly since the parish had few students. Our confirmation was a surprise to our family and friends, all of whom did not know the full extent of either of our struggle with historical Christianity. Sometimes mild fights would erupt in the house about church issues, but gradually things cooled off. I used to joke that some college students sneak out to use drugs; my brother and I sneaked out to go attend Vespers. I continued studying the early Church and attending Episcopal services. I was very uncomfortable with some of the liberal elements of Episcopalianism I encountered, but I put on the rose-colored glasses and continued on.

Holy Family Statue, photographed by David Bennett

After graduating from college, I went to Emory University for my Master's Degree. When I arrived, my brother and I attended an Anglo-Catholic Anglican church in Atlanta that was known around town as pretty conservative. I was also studying a wider period of Church History, which now included the Middle Ages. I used to think the Medieval church became corrupt and had little to offer in the way of spirituality or theology. Thanks to my Anglo-Catholic parish and some great professors, I discovered the riches of the Medieval Church. I also discovered the rosary, confession, and other prayers and sacraments I was unfamiliar with. While this was happening, I began to encounter the liberalism of the wider Episcopal church, and the Anglican religion I knew in my mind did not come close to matching up with the Anglican church I encountered in reality. The Episcopal seminarians at Emory accepted almost every progressive secular idea that came around. Atlanta Episcopalianism was a hotbed for gay activism. However, I really tried hard to learn a thing or two from people I disagreed with, and always treated those with whom I disagreed charitably, but I was still one of the most conservative Episcopalians at the school.

In 2002 I began to feel a call to something more spiritually. Was it the ordained ministry? I seemed to think it was at the time, but now I have my doubts. I began to engage in conversations with my former priest in Ohio about exploring the process there. I graduated from Emory in May 2002 and began the "discernment process" for the priesthood in Ohio that summer. I felt uncomfortable with a lot of the process. The questions seemed to focus more on personality or vague spirituality rather than whether or not I was willing to serve in a priestly capacity for the Church of Jesus Christ. Nobody ever asked me if I even believed in Jesus. Perhaps some of the clergy on the committee may not have been able to answer "yes" to that question, so they didn't bother to ask. I reluctantly proceeded, but a comment by a priest that I "shouldn't reveal too much" about myself because that's not how the system works, should have set me straight about as to what I was entering, but it didn't.

At this point I was dating a Baptist girl, who reluctantly accepted my possible future as an Episcopal priest. We just didn't talk about our faith, which was difficult, because my faith had been the most important part of my life since I returned to the Christian faith. I proceeded with Diocesan requirements, spending a lot of my own money on flaky psychological evaluations, like drawing pictures of myself and my future. The Psychologist asked why I drew my future family and I without faces, asking what I thought it meant, suggesting maybe it had something to do with lack of commitment or something. I replied, "because I can't draw faces." That was the truth. I still can't draw faces. I think I paid 300 dollars for that piece of news. Anyway, by 2003 I had jumped through the Diocesan hoops and was scheduled to go to seminary, which I did in the Fall of 2003. However, in July something unexpected happened: Gene Robinson, a gay man in a non-celibate homosexual relationship, was elected the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. While I had no problem with a gay "orientation," and had (and have) gay friends, I knew that it was the universal testimony of the ancient Church, East and West, that practicing gay men are not to be ordained to the priesthood or the episcopacy. I was upset at the news, partially because New Hampshire was being activistic at the expense of the future of the denomination, but I was going to "wait-and-see" as to the response from the Episcopal church. When I arrived at our seminary retreat, immediately after Robinson was elected, almost everybody spoke positively of the news, except my brother and I and a handful of others. One future priest responded to my objection with, "well you know that our Suffragan Bishop would marry gay people today if he were allowed," implying that we had better get used to it. Had I been feeling sarcastic, perhaps I would have asked "if our Suffragan bishop jumped off a bridge..." but I held my tongue. Another future priest at the retreat angrily dismissed certain Episcopalians who were "radically pro-life." I began to doubt my calling at this point, but I decided I would see it through.

I enjoyed my time at seminary to a great degree. I met some great friends I still see regularly, whose insights and friendships I value highly. However, as time marched on, Gene Robinson's election was affirmed by the Episcopal Church and he was consecrated against the wishes of the wider Anglican communion, despite some strong objections by worldwide Anglican leaders. I published commentary on these objections here: Editor David Bennett Responds to the Anglican Primates Statement. I finally broke down and joined the conservative American Anglican Council. I did this secretly, because had word gotten to the diocese it wouldn't have gone over very well. Reactions at this "high-church" seminary were almost universally supportive of the consecration. For the record, "high church" in this instance, as is often the case anymore, refers more to embracing medieval aesthetics than holding the theology or ethics of the Church in high regard. I asked the professor in charge of assigning seminarians to parishes to consider an orthodox assignment for me. I guess what is "orthodox" has changed over the years, because I was assigned to a church whose clergy were active members of the local pro-abortion "Clergy for Choice" chapter, not to mention supporters of Gene Robinson's consecration. I dreaded traveling there, simply because I felt so out-of-place. I also had to play almost every role in the parish, because even though the parish could hold 400 or more people a service, the attendance was about 70 at this service. Nobody wanted to get involved it seemed. As an Episcopalian, I was becoming accustomed to empty parishes. The rector later described this parish as a "thriving downtown parish." I guess the meaning of "thriving" has also changed.

I decided I could not return to seminary for the winter quarter, and I let the diocese know that I could not be ordained into the Episcopal church in good conscience knowing that it had consecrated Gene Robinson as bishop against the wishes of the wider Anglican Communion, acting in a congregationalist fashion. Gene Robinson's consecration, I told my bishop, was also contrary to the teachings of Scripture and Catholic Tradition, East and West. Here is a copy of my resignation letter to the bishop. I was still holding out hope for a place in Anglicanism, so I joined the conservative Anglican Communion Network, and inquired about their ordination process. I also met up with a priest friend of mine, and he offered to help my brother and I out with getting the ordination process started. We began attending his church and things were working out relatively well, although the parish was tiny, declining, and gray, and had no Anglo-Catholic identity whatsoever. It was during this time also that I was reading The Pontificator, an Anglican at this time, regularly. As of this update (5-19-2005) he has renounced his Anglican orders and is soon to become Catholic.

Eventually, the diocese found out that we were officially affiliating the Anglican Communion Network as a parish, which the diocese rightly perceived as a threat against its authority. Some members of the parish began plotting against my priest friend, and the diocese began pressing harder. Also at this point, financial aid for any future ministerial endeavors was looking to be non-existent, and my brother and I decided firmly that if God was calling us to be Anglican priests, then the money would have to come and back it up. No money was ever promised.

Jesus Statue, photographed by David Bennett

I was despairing. I began to question women's ordination, which I accepted while in graduate school, because I began to see that the arguments in favor of women's ordination were the same arguments used to justify all sorts of other innovations. I could hardly consider myself "catholic" and be in a Church that so clearly contradicted Catholic and Orthodox Teaching on the sacrament of holy orders. I also began to see that the Anglican church was not Catholic. Who told me this? Scores of Anglicans themselves! Worldwide most Anglicans are firmly committed reformed Protestants, who perhaps tolerate the views of Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, but when push comes to shove, have no real love of Anglo-Catholicism. I soon realized that the majestic Catholic Anglican church I loved never even existed, and never will. It existed only on paper, and in the minds of those few fellow Anglicans who happened to agree with me as to the definition of Anglicanism. Perhaps this is the beauty, or absurdity, of Anglicanism, that both John Spong and Peter Akinola can both think they represent "true Anglicanism." I also looked into the Charismatic Episcopal Church. While it is beyond the scope of this essay to get into the exact details, I decided not to join the Charismatic Episcopal Church because it had the same problem as the Anglican Church: what it was and what it stood for depended on whom you asked.

Now we arrive to the day we were running outside. A few days after this incident, as I have stated, my brother bought a book on Catholic converts. I began to look into the Catholic Church as well, seriously considering the idea. My relationship with my long-term Baptist girlfriend had been deteriorating for awhile, and around this time we broke up, part of it because of religious differences. We just could not sustain our relationship, because it was not based on faith. How I, a future Anglican priest and proud Anglo-Catholic, could sustain a relationship for three years without putting faith at the center of it still mystifies me. At any rate, this break-up left me free to consider the Catholic Church even more fully. My brother and I now began praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament at a local Catholic parish. I bought quite a few books on the topic, including Catholicism for Dummies, The Christian Faith: In the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, and I read the Catechism (which I had owned since 1999) all the way through. I began using the Catholic version of the Liturgy of the Hours instead of the Book of Common Prayer at this point as well, and exploring Catholic custom and spirituality.

By June, my local Episcopal parish was in turmoil, and the priest resigned and was going to start an Anglican Mission in America parish. While I supported him as a friend, I could not become AMIA, nor could I remain Episcopalian. The AMIA is clearly a part of the "Protestant" wing of Anglicanism. After deciding this, I scheduled a meeting with a Catholic priest, and was going to visit a Catholic Mass soon. Jonathan was visiting Australia at this point, and was anxiously awaiting the results of my meeting. The meeting went very well, and Fr. Black was willing to welcome Jonathan and me into the Catholic Church rather soon, seeing as how we were practically Catholic in our beliefs and practices as Anglo-Catholic Anglicans. He also gave us copies of Handbook for Today's Catholics.

When Jonathan returned to the states we had another meeting with Fr. Black, and set the date for confirmation at August 14th, which was the vigil of the Assumption of Mary. It is quite an interesting time to be confirmed, seeing as how the Assumption of Mary was one of the more difficult doctrines for me to accept coming from a Protestant background. By this time, after much study and prayer, I had fully submitted to the Teachings of the Catholic Church, and there was no going back. We had to tell mom, dad, and grandma, the prospect of which made submitting to the Magisterium seem rather easy. Their reactions were very mild. They were somewhat surprised, but not hostile, and very encouraging, although they probably still don't understand fully why a 26-year old would choose to become Catholic.

The day my brother and I were confirmed was amazing. My relationship with the Risen Lord had deepened further than I could ever had imagined. We began the day with confession, which took about 30 minutes each. It was quite scary to recount all of my sins since birth, and to tell them to a priest, but when it was over, it was quite liberating. I even joked, "can we do this again, father?" First communion was very powerful as well. I took the name "Hilary" at confirmation, after St. Hilary of Poitiers, one of the Church Fathers I had read back in 1999. I finally felt at home and at peace. I was glad to leave the wars of Anglicanism, and the emphasis on individualism and private judgment that led to them, behind. Even though I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong, I have never been much of a fighter. I had become sick and tired of always getting outraged at the most recent headline about the Anglican Church. I had grown weary of being embarrassed of my own denomination. Most of all though, I was glad to be in the arms of the Holy Catholic Church, where my relationship with the Lord could reach its fullest potential. After all, I had always gone to the Catholic Church for guidance anyway. It sounds strange, but since 1999, whenever I wanted a real answer to any moral or theological question, I went to a Catholic (or often Orthodox) source instead of those from my own denomination. That should have been telling I guess, but we humans can be slow learners. So after 6 years of being so close, finally I am Catholic! While I admit that there will be ups-and-downs as a Catholic, I know I have found my true spiritual home.

Added 4-3-2006: As I reflect back on my becoming Catholic, I think I need to clarify that I never have doubted the goodness of my past Christian experiences. I don't view myself as going from evil to good. I have no need to "renounce" my Protestant past. I believe that I have gone from something great to something even greater. I haven't "converted" in the sense that I came to believe in Jesus for the first time. I came to know Jesus as a Protestant, and I am getting to know him better as a Catholic. I have gone from having a deep, although minimalist, relationship with Christ to an even deeper, but more full, relationship with Him. I value my Protestant past, and while I have found my spiritual home, I have many kind words for those who have nurtured me in a Protestant setting. After all, it was my Protestant upbringing that helped lead me where I am today. However, I still have to say it is wonderful to be in the Holy Catholic Church!

Questions, Objections, and Answers

1. Why Didn't You Join an Orthodox Church?

I seriously considered going Orthodox (and to some degree, an Eastern Catholic Church) in the beginning of my doubts about Anglicanism. I have always admired the Eastern Churches, and I have embraced a lot of Eastern spirituality (and I still have great respect for my Eastern brothers and sisters). However, I am Western. No matter how hard I try, I am just not Eastern. While I love the East, I mostly lean toward a "Western" understanding of things. Plus, there is no Orthodox church within reasonable driving distance, and the one that is the closest (an hour away), is primarily a Greek social club (Catholic parishes can be this way too). Plus, in joining the Catholic Church, I joined a Church that has Eastern and Western jurisdictions and rites, and the Catholic Church accepts the Eastern Orthodox as pretty much fully, valid Catholic Christians. In my search for a truly universal Church, this was a very positive factor. However, I must say, I still respect those who choose to convert into Orthodox Churches, and I still have great respect for and often learn from Orthodox Christians.

2. Why Didn't You Stay and Reform Anglicanism?
I considered this option for the longest time. However, as time went on I had to face four real issues:
A. Could the Anglican Communion be reformed?
B. Did the Anglican Communion want to be reformed?

C. Was the Anglican Communion worth reforming?
D. What is Anglicanism again??

A. I gradually came to realize that the Anglican communion could not be reformed the way I wanted, at least not easily. Had I lived before women's ordination or the other innovations of the 1960s and 70s, I would have been very optimistic about the future of Anglicanism. I was an Anglo-Catholic Anglican, and worldwide this once-vibrant movement was shrinking or becoming increasingly just liberal dress-up. Anglo-Catholicism's time had passed, and with the evangelical wing of the Anglican Communion growing the most rapidly, I could see the writing on the wall. The Anglican cat is really out of the bag, and I believe that it would be nearly impossible for the Anglican church to return to what it once was (see D. below).

B. Most Anglicans seemed quite happy just being broad church moderates or liberals. Most weren't bothered by the events that greatly bothered me. Even conservative Episcopalians I met seemed content to brush off anything the national church did, no matter how crazy. I finally realized I wanted to turn Anglicanism into Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, something most Anglicans clearly did not want. So, why change an unwilling denomination, when I could actually become Catholic?

C. In answer to number three, I decided the Anglican Communion is not worth the effort. Please don't take this the wrong way; I recognize that there are those who feel called to fight for the future of Anglicanism, or just quietly serve God in the ways they can as Anglicans, and I am not questioning these callings in the least. However, for me, it just wasn't worth it. What was I fighting for? The English state church? A declining American denomination? A spin-off of the Protestant Reformation? Did we really need another reformation in a reformation denomination? How many reformations does England need in 500 years? The Anglican communion just did not have the history or the numbers for me to justify staying and fighting. I was not going to dedicate my life to fighting for what I was beginning to see as just another Reformation denomination. Plus, I was sick of always fighting, and losing.

D. Nobody knows what Anglicans believe. Nobody can tell you because there is no way to even know, because the Anglican communion tolerates a wide range of conflicting beliefs. The problem is that Anglicanism started as the English state church, and the main concern at the time was national unity, not unity of belief. Thus Christians with all sorts of divergent positions were made Anglicans. Over time at least three church parties have developed, all which accept many doctrines that the other parties reject. Thus they hold mutually exclusive positions. The problem is compounded by the fact that Anglicanism has no real authority structure to handle discipline, so a bishop like John Spong, who is atheist, can remain a bishop for 20 years and nothing can be done about it. So what Anglicanism is depends on whom you ask. For some it is a sort of unitarianism with liturgy, for others it is a reformed church that is evangelical, and for others it is none other than the English branch of the Catholic church. Some Anglicans accept no ecumenical councils as authoritative, some accept four, and others seven. Some believe that all 21 Catholic ecumenical councils are authoritative! Some Anglicans believe the Eucharist is a mere memorial meal, others believe in transubstantiation. Most probably don't care. I finally had to take off my rose-colored glasses and see that the Anglicanism I loved and defended never even existed. I wish it did...I kind of liked it!

3. Are You Still Evangelical?

Yes and No. I am not Evangelical in the sense of belonging to a denomination influenced by 18th century pietism and revivalism. Thus, I am not Evangelical in the technical sense of the term. I am evangelical in the general sense, in that I strongly believe in God's transforming power through Jesus, and I believe we are to share this message to the world. In other words, I believe that we must have a personal (and communal) relationship with Jesus. Thus I do consider myself an evangelical Catholic.

4. Will You Rewrite Your Story to Emphasize Theology and History a Little More?
Maybe. I know that this story is more of a personal account of my religious history than a "I became Catholic for reason X, Y, and Z." I have tried to update it to show a little more of the historical and biblical reasons I became Catholic, but I still want a more personal account available, since I think a lot of people relate to this type of story.

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TOPICS: Catholic; Ecumenism

1 posted on 04/28/2008 7:33:29 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Always Right; Antoninus; ArrogantBustard; CTK YKC; dan1123; DogwoodSouth; FourtySeven; HarleyD; ...
50 Days of Easter 2008 Celebration ping, dedicated to converts to the Catholic faith. If you want to be on the list but are not on it already, or if you are on it but do not want to be, let me know either publicly or privately.

Happy Easter. Christ is risen!


Previously posted conversion stories:

Anti-Catholicism, Hypocrisy and Double Standards
Hauled Aboard the Ark
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part II: Doubts
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part III: Tradition and Church
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part IV: Crucifix and Altar
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part V: The Catholics and the Pope
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part VI: The Biblical Reality
His Open Arms Welcomed Me
Catholic Conversion Stories & Resources
My Personal Conversion Story
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
Catholics Come Home
My Journey of Faith
"What is Truth?" An Examination of Sola Scriptura
"Have you not read?" The Authority behind Biblical Interpretation
The Crisis of Authority in the Reformation
Our Journey Home
Our Lady’s Gentle Call to Peace
A story of conversion at the Lamb of God Shrine
Who is Mary of Nazareth?
Mary and the Problem of Christian Unity
Why I'm Catholic
A Convert's Response to Friends
My Story
Courage to Be Catholic

Also see:
Sheep That Go Astray
Pope Benedict Goes to Washington Ecumenical Meeting at St. Joseph's Church, New York
Orthodox and Catholic Churches are allies, (Orthodox) Bishop Hilarion says

2 posted on 04/28/2008 7:34:21 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: annalex

Thank you for posting this, Mr. Bennett.

3 posted on 04/28/2008 7:43:58 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: annalex

thank you... i will read later... i am interested in this... i was Catholic, and became a Protestant in my early adult life—over 20 years ago... my life revolves around my faith... it just seems that the more i study church history, the more i am looking for something more “liturgical.” something is missing for me in the “corporate-like” churches i’ve been in... Jesus isn’t missing or anything like that... i can very well stay where i am... i’m just craving something... we are also studying Latin and Greek, so this might have something to do with how i see things...

4 posted on 04/28/2008 7:52:43 PM PDT by latina4dubya
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To: annalex


5 posted on 04/28/2008 8:34:15 PM PDT by Freee-dame
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To: annalex

Bookmarking! Thx for posting!

6 posted on 04/28/2008 10:29:01 PM PDT by VRWCer (Barack Hussein Obama - The scrofulous Pied Piper of stupid people.)
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To: annalex
I started listening to oldies,

This is where it always starts .... First they listen to oldies. Then they become aware of history.

Next thing you know, they're kidding the Pope's toe.

Don't let this happen to your children. Raise them on a diet of Heavy Metal and Acid Rock. Problem solved.

7 posted on 04/29/2008 4:09:42 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: annalex

Welcome home, David Bennett!

8 posted on 04/29/2008 5:04:39 AM PDT by fetal heart beats by 21st day (Defending human life is not a federalist issue. It is the business of all of humanity.)
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To: annalex

What we need here is more RC threads.

9 posted on 04/29/2008 5:22:39 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (WELL I SPEAK LOUD, AND I CARRY A BIGGER STICK, AND I USE IT TOO!)
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To: latina4dubya; annalex
i was Catholic, and became a Protestant in my early adult life

Check out this web site - simply fabulous!

Catholics Come Home

10 posted on 04/29/2008 5:54:53 AM PDT by NYer (Jesus whom I know as my Redeemer cannot be less than God. - St. Athanasius)
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To: latina4dubya
i am looking for something more “liturgical.”

Whether one is looking for something liturgical, biblical, or historical, the answer is the Catholic Church.

Protestant faith is an easy substitute for authentic Christianity for the modern man. Serious people should come back to the root.

11 posted on 04/29/2008 3:09:28 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: fetal heart beats by 21st day; Freee-dame; Ken522

Welcome home, Mr. Bennett, indeed. But I am not him.

12 posted on 04/29/2008 3:11:19 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: DungeonMaster


13 posted on 04/29/2008 3:11:49 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: DungeonMaster


14 posted on 04/29/2008 3:12:18 PM PDT by Petronski (When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth, voting for Hillary.)
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