Skip to comments.From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home
Posted on 01/04/2011 4:22:02 AM PST by NYer
If you grew up Catholic, it may be difficult for you to relate to those who profess faith in Jesus but whose stomachs turn at the thought of being Catholic. It might seem odd that the Catholic theology youve grown up with is seen by others as an offense to God. I was one of the stomach turners. There are days that I wake up and I still cant believe Im Catholic.
I grew up in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, usually referred to as Foursquare. Foursquare is a Pentecostal denomination that began in the 1920s and is not rooted in the Reformation. In fact, we had already rejected many things the Reformers believed. While we did hold to sola scriptura and sola fide, we did not believe in "once saved always saved," and, as Pentecostals, we believed in miracles and the gifts of the Spirit, which many of the Reformers rejected. You could say we had already "reformed the reform."
Our denomination had a hierarchy of sorts, but each church was free to design its services and internal composition as it saw fit. We were more concerned that peoples lives were being changed by Jesus than with church structure. In some ways this is goodthere is little value in a well-oiled machine that doesnt change lives. We were much more experientially formed than theologically formed. We cared about theology, but the life-changing experience with Jesus was what really mattered.
I must say that, on the whole, if youre going to pick a Protestant denomination, Foursquare is a good place to be. It is firm in its moral teachings, and with its focus on living for Jesus, a person will inevitably grow closer and more like Jesus the longer he attends.
Whos Ever Heard of Catholic Radio?
In my early twenties, I discerned a call to enter into full-time ministry and became a Foursquare pastor. Through my years of ministry, my wife and I learned to hear the voice of God and were willing to do anything and go anywhere that God wanted us to go. This led us to plant a new Foursquare congregation in the university district of Seattle, Washington, in 1999. Foursquare doesnt fund you when you start a new congregation, so whatever you bring or raise from outside support is all you have. When I arrived with my wife and three girls, I had no income, three months worth of money in the bank, and great faith that we would reach the people of Seattle with the gospel of Jesus. We knew God would provide. Our desire was to seek first his kingdom and let him take care of the rest (cf. Matt. 6:33), and he always has.
During this time we ministered to teens, college students, young adults, and young married families. Each week we would head out to the strip by the college and pass out food and clothes to street kids and send groups of two around the block to start up conversations about the gospel. None of us were evangelists by nature; we simply knew that the only way the unsaved would find Jesus would be if we went to themwe couldnt expect them to just wander into our church.
It was during this time that the door first opened to the Catholic Church. I happened to turn on the radio and catch Catholic Answers Live on Sacred Heart Radio in Seattle. "Thats weird," I thought. "Whos ever heard of Catholic radio? And what do Catholics need with a radio station anyway?" I wasnt necessarily anti-Catholic, but I held the usual Reformation-inspired opinions of the Catholic Church and how blessed we were to be free from Romanism. As I listened to the show I was shocked to hear not only a clear presentation of Catholic teaching but also that Catholics still believed in transubstantiation, papal infallibility, and so on.
As the years went on in Seattle, I would occasionally tune back in to Catholic Answers Live and many other shows on Sacred Heart Radio, mainly for the purpose of understanding what Catholics teach so that I could have a reasoned defense to the contrary. The problem was that, time after time, the Catholic explanation of theology was every bit a biblical as my beliefs, albeit in a different way.
Now, because our denomination started in the 1920s, I was oblivious to Church history. For us the Reformation wasnt the good old days; Acts 2 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues are the good old days. There was virtually nothing done to fill in the gaps between the present and the first-century Church.
But the Catholics I listened to kept claiming that the earliest Christians were Catholic and that their writings from the first few centuries verify that claim. They would regularly present a point of theology that was rooted in Scripture and then support it with quotes from the "early Church Fathers." The speakers were clear that these writings are not inspired, nor are they on the same level as Scripture, but they do provide us with the historical context to know what the early Christians believed. More importantly, these early Christian writers claimed that these beliefs were handed down by the apostles, and some of them were even taught by the apostles.
At that time, Catholic Answers regularly threw out a challenge not to take their word for any of the positions of the Catholic Church but see for oneself if they are true. I decided to take them up on this challenge, figuring it would be easy. First of all, the Catholic Church sets an impossible standard for itself: infallibility in its dogmatic teachings on matters of faith and morals. All I had to do was prove one doctrine false and the entire system would cease to be without error. Secondly, I was sure that when I found the writings of these "early Church Fathers" and read them in context, they would set the story straight.
But there was a catch. Along with this challenge, there was a caution: Be carefulyou just might become Catholic. Yeah, right! Impossible.
My Ship Came In
I started with a slow and measured search into Catholic teaching and Church history. This all changed after a most unexpected event. I was invited to speak at a Foursquare high school camp in the summer of 2003. The man who owned the camp was a gracious servant of Jesus and was gifted with what our denomination calls "prophetic insight," meaning that God gave him insight into things of which he had no natural knowledge. I had never met him before, and as we got to know each other that week, he said he might have some insight from the Lord for me. These encounters usually yielded a general word of encouragement that could probably apply to anybody. Nonetheless, I met with him in his office to pray and see if God had any direction for me.
He began to pray and said he could see a picture in his mind. He saw me and my family standing on the ocean shore and in the water was a huge ship. He said on the side of the ship were the words "Queen Mary." (At this point in my study, I didnt know that this is a title for Mary; my interest was concentrated on the huge ship.) He looked straight at me and said, "Im not sure, but maybe youre supposed to have something to do with the Catholic Church."
I almost fell out of my chair. I told him about my unexpected encounter with Catholicismthe radio shows, the early Church Fathers, the challenge. I left the camp thinking that God might use me in some type of bridge ministry between Protestants and Catholics. Of course, I assumed it would be for bringing Catholics out of Catholicism and into the true unity and "fullness" of Protestantism. With my renewed focus, I returned home and aggressively pursued understanding Catholic theology, Church history, and how I could serve God in this capacity. "If Im going to reach Catholics," I thought, "Ill need to know what they believe and how they support those beliefs."
Hitting the Wall
As I examined each point of theology, I found that the Catholic Churchs teachings were the most biblical, the most historical, and the most reasonable. I was also surprised to find that Catholics also believed in miracles and the Pentecostal gifts I had grown up with (but with a more sound foundation). I thought, "Oh man! If this is true, I have to become Catholic."
The day finally came where I hit the wall and realized that the teachings of the Catholic Church are true. I realized that Jesus truly did establish a Church and didnt leave the gospel to survive in an "every man for himself" model. In the end, I found that I, like all Bible-based groups, could support my theology from Scripture, but I always had to ignore certain passages to make it fit, and I couldnt provide any support for its existence in the history of the Church. I found that Catholic theology makes sense of the whole of Scripture and that only Catholic theology is attested to from writings before the death of the apostle John to the present day.
I wasnt excited about this discovery, for it would cost me most of what I had invested over thirteen years of pastoral ministry. But my desire was to follow Christ, so I resigned my pastorate in August 2004. Once again my wife and I and three girls were without an income, with three months worth of money to live on and full of faith that God would provide. And he has.
Now that all of us have come home to the Church, we are constantly amazed at the grace that God provides for living a powerful, Spirit-filled life. When understood properly, Scripture, liturgy, prayer, and the sacraments are far more capable of shaping our Christian walk than any of the relaxed church structures in which I had grown up. I have found that the structure and liturgies that used to turn my stomach have become a greater source of joy than I could have ever imagined.
Drake and Crystal McCalister were both Pentecostal pastors in the Foursquare Gospel denomination for thirteen years from 1991-2004. After an unexpected encounter with the Catholic Church, Drake began to study the claims of the Church. After five years of study, prayer, prophetic surprises and more reluctance than you can imagine, Drake resigned his pastorate and brought his wonderful wife and three daughters home to the Catholic Church. The only job Drake could find after resigning from his Church was selling cars. He went from preaching Jesus on Sunday to selling cars on Monday. Drake is now pursuing his Masters in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and writes daily reflections on the readings for Mass for www.catholiccall.com.
Good morning ping!
What a great story! Thanks for posting it, it’s very encouraging this morning. ;-D
There are several teachings of the Catholic Church that are very biblical and the Catholic Church SEEMS to be closest to the earlier Churches. However, there are also several teachings that seem to run counter to Biblical ones. I was born Catholic and went to a Catholic Church in my youth. But I also went to a non-denominational Church in my late teens and early 20’s.
My experience is that it is 20% biblical and 80% ritual and I’ve attended several masses including sects such as St. Pious X, etc..
In fact, I know of few Catholics who read their bible let alone carry one to church.
Not bashing here, just a factual observation.
I agree, from a former Catholic.
Great story! I saw bits and pieces of the show last night, but hope to catch the whole thing later.
Wonderful, NYer. Thank you for posting. I’ll be trying to catch the replay when I get a chance. I love seeing this.
Respectfully, TSgt, we follow, and listen to, the Word of God. That includes the Holy Bible, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church. My Bible’s here at work with me, every day. And at both Novus Ordo and Tridentine Latin Masses, we have multiple readings from the Bible, and most prayers are directly of and from the Bible. Not attacking, just trying to enlighten, respectfully. Have a good morning, FRiend.
Probably the one that was not edited by the Reformers to reflect their personal tastes and the tastes of their paying clients.
There are some parts of Roman Catholic dogma, including the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome, which would keep me, in good conscience, from becoming a Roman Catholic. Frankly, in some respects I would be more at home in the Greek Orthodox Church. But I certainly consider Catholics to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of them may not feel the same about Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and I believe “their way or the highway” is a tenet Rome still teaches, but so be it. I would rather see us all united against the real enemy, in all his many faces and forms.
Mass is not meant to be a Bible study, and it's not a "sermon sandwich." Most healthy parishes have Bible studies going on, adult religious ed, etc. There are also some very fine audio Bible studies (college-level stuff) by Scott Hahn and others.
Mass is worship. If you're used to an evangelical service, it's no wonder it seems like "80% ritual". It's really "100% prayer". Good liturgy is supposed to be like a visit to heaven. You're there to pray, not so much to learn (in the sense of "acquire information").
In fact, I know of few Catholics who read their bible
Bible reading is strongly encouraged by the church. Maybe the Catholics you know simply aren't being obedient to the teachings of their faith. That's not really the Church's fault, is it?
let alone carry one to church
OTOH, there's not much reason to carry a Bible to Mass, since the readings are in the Missal, already excerpted so you don't have to flip pages to find them. (And yes, the chapter-and-verse citations are there, too, if you want to look up the context.)
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I have encountered many Catholics in my life. Most are family but I also have many friends that are Catholic. I know them and their lives intimately. From my life experience I can tell you unequivocally that most Catholics DO NOT read or study the bible.
I appreciate what you are saying with regard to worship however I maintain that it is 20% biblical and 80% ritual.
Just the other night my brother-in-law was telling me about how they knew when to stand or sit during Christmas mass based on the ringing of the bell, etc...
It’s simply not biblical.
Thank you! What an uplifiting witness.
Thank you! What an uplifiting witness.
How could being a certain religion make one’s stomach turn? I just don’t understand the apparent animosity that I see between people of different faiths.
In addition, these Orthodox can't free themselves from the past and blame others for the Rape of Constantinople , 4th Crusade, the Great Schism of 1054 or some other historical catastrophe as if the perpetrators are still living and need to be punished. Their minds are trained to blame others and they feel comfortable as perpetual victims.
Perhaps it is better to worship God as a protestant than to experience this type of siege mentality.
Unfortunately, it sounds like your brother-in-law should actually go to Mass sometime. The only time there is ringing of the bell during Mass is when everyone is supposed to be kneeling.
There is always just enough wrong in these little " I know a Catholic..." anecdotes to know when they're bogus.
The one strength that the Catholic side of the family has that is missing in the more experiential-focused Protestant communions is -- a focus on objective reality, and a conviction that the Christian faith applies to ALL of life, not just the "religious" part of life. The version of the dissertation I took before my committee had this conclusion:
Some protestants -- a faction that is, in God's great mercies inexorably losing its influence, its bearings, and its credibility (as well as its mind) -- has a brutally simple substitute for a world view. They simply write the whole world off, hysterically shriek that "All is lost! The End is upon us! Qui peut se sauvre!" We might call these the Prophecy pimps, the Rapturenauts, or, in one brother's elegant phrase, "Futurists who prefer Terror and Tarot rather than the Gospel to 'win souls'." It's the "sour grapes" approach. If you don't have a world view, just scream shrilly that the world that God so loved is not worth thinking about.
Sane, thoughtful, Christians find their way out of the hypnotic and addictive fun-house mirror world of experience-chasing, and start looking for other sane and thoughtful Christians to compare notes with. And frequently find such people on the wrong side of the Tiber.
I was raised Catholic, and still process reality on deeply-embedded Catholic firmware. I still yearn to see things "according to the whole," and instinctively feel that a big-picture explanation makes sense of the immediate issues.
Providentially, the Catholics are not the only game in town. Reformed theology also addresses all of life, and challenges us to bring all we have to the game. Including our minds. My life, family, and vocation were transformed when a guy I'd evangelized ten years earlier turned me on to "Calvinism on steroids." There is a God, and I'm not Him. Neither, for that matter, are my religious experiences.
I would direct you to any discussion of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church where you will see that statement is not correct. There are former Episcopalians on FR who have converted to Rome who do bash the church they left.
Updating this article based on last night's Journey Home program, I believe he now has his Masters, is teaching catechisis at Steubenville, and also heading up the RCIA program for the diocese. As converts who swam the Tiber to Rome from the ELCA 17 years ago, my wife and I try to catch Journey Home every week. Last night's program was wonderful.
well, you can ask/email him. But since he was a Pentecostal, he would most likely be using the NIV or the KJV, I guess
Mine was more like a small setting public humiliation, but I hear what you are saying. Even though it was a simple misunderstanding, it was a big deal when I was 9, but that was a long time ago. I wasn't a catholic, just visiting with a friend - so it was not like I am a "former" Catholic.
Actually, many groups do do that — however do note that the Catholic Church consider Orthodox in particular to be our sister Church, to be a True Church, part of the One Apostolic Catholic Church.
He goes all the time.
To my point, what is biblical about standing or sitting for a bell?
To my point, we don't stand or sit for a bell.
This may help:
“... Many of them may not feel the same about Orthodox and Protestant Christians..”
They are our brethren in Christ. I’m married to a Methodist btw for almost 50 years, who is more Catholic than I at this point and just about to jump the Tiber.
“I believe their way or the highway is a tenet Rome still teaches,...”
This is the Church. I would no more expect you to change your church’s belief for ours or the Orthodox to adapt to Calvin or some 4SquareGospel group.
“I would rather see us all united against the real enemy, in all his many faces and forms.”
Agreed. All Christians face the same persecutions. In the Muslim sphere, China, Africa and Europe, its face is legion. We will face it in America too soon.
I do believe that Catholics can be as David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’.
But in my everyday world there are many who use the word Catholic like they use gloves in winter. Protection against the harshness of the elements. As in ‘where do you go to church’, the response would be “I’m Catholic”, like end of story, end of questioning. Somehow they are protected for life because of it, and additionally they don’t have to have a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus, because the priest and “Mother Mary” take care of that on their behalf. I always feel like people use the Catholic church as a wall that protects them from the wrath of God. But there are protestants who do the same with TV evangelists.
Those who have been adopted into the family of God should know the Father intimately, speaking with Him daily on their own accord.
At the rapture, I believe the church we attended will be like the husk on a planted seed, it falls away so the life inside can be revealed.
good point, however, I will submit that this is against the ECUSA which truly has lost it’s right to be called a Church any more. It is a pinkos club. And many ECUSA folks who have joined the reformed, pentecostals etc. will agree with that statement.
Or whatever Saint it's appropriate to praise in these situations.
well, priests are humans after all, with human failings. However, the good thing is that the priest ain’t quite the point of a mass — Christ is. So if the priest is a jerk, we ignore him and focus on the REAL presence, Jesus Christ
How's it feel?
Was it you who posted the order of the Mass with its Scriptural citations? That was a very good explanation of the Bible basis of the Mass.
"If Im going to reach Catholics," I thought, "Ill need to know what they believe and how they support those beliefs."
Protestant apologists on this forum would do well to learn from this man. By and large, they DO NOT know what Catholics believe and teach, nor do they understand how Catholics support their beliefs. Consequently, most protestant apologetic on this forum is an utter waste of time. It is directed against strawmen, it is a supposed refutation of beliefs which Catholics do not hold.