Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The New Exodus - Protestants Crossing the Tiber

This is a very interesting article (hat tip Tiber Jumber) talking about the recent surge in Protestants converting to the Catholic Church.

It reminds me of a conversation my friend was telling me about recently. His brother is PCA and the two are engaged in a perpetual theological argument over email. When the fact of the tremendous growth in the Church due to conversion was brought up, his brother pointed out that many Catholics have converted to various Protestant faiths as well. I pointed out, 'yea but look at who converts from the Catholic Church - without any exception that I know of, those who left the Church are those who knew their faith the least'. Almost no-one leaves the Church for theological reasons but rather, for the living room liturgy the typical Protestant church. On the contrary, those converting to the Catholic Church (not all but a great many) are typically extremely knowledgeable about their former Protestant beliefs and are converting precisely because they realized that Protestant theology doesn't work (for examples, see my side bar - many if not most of those links are blogs of fellow converts from Protestantism and you'll find plenty more if you just look). From the article above:

It is most encouraging that Catholicism is getting the crème of the crop from other churches. Entry into the Church for these converts is usually made after a long, difficult journey to come to terms with something that they never thought possible.
The other interesting thing is the criticism and rebuke often felt by former Protestants. I was both amazed and disappointed at the hateful rhetoric hurled by respected Protestant scholars and theologians on Dr. Beckwith's recent conversion. The same could hardly be said for Catholics who leave the Church. Theirs is usually a very easy road.

My family was unusually supportive of my conversion from the beginning but I have a number of friends who were all but disowned and from what I read on convert blogs, their story isn't too abnormal.

A PCA minister emailed me quite some time ago.. he was toying with the idea of conversion but had some theological issues with the Church. We only had a brief dialogue then but I decided to dig up his email and give him a curiosity checkup. He emailed me back from Rome - literally! He had just converted.

I was having dinner with a friend of mine last weekend - a PCA elder and if you find anyone who knows Presbyterian doctrine or Calvinism or the Westminster Confession of Faith more than him, I'll give you a dollar. I told him about this incident with the other PCA minister and I said "No wonder the PCA is so small, they're all joining the Catholic Church!" He too, is considering conversion.

He made the remark that "I don't think its a big secret that the Catholic Church had some big problems in Luther's day... but the Catholic Church then - doctrinally was a far better Church than mainstream Protestantism today." I of course agreed. I have another good friend - an elder in the OPC. He is fond of quoting the founder of his denomination "We have more in common with the Catholic Church than with the mainstream liberal Protestant denominations".

Luther and Calvin must have seemed reasonable at the time - after all, they deceived no small number of the faithful...if I had been alive at the time, I'm sure I would have bought into it as well. But 500 years and 33,000 denominations later... it's no mystery why so many are returning to Rome.


Tiber Jumper said...

What's in the water down there?
In three years that I have been Catholic, I have yet to see one reversion/conversion in my immediate area, but have seen a lot of flared tempers and hurt feelings! But most of the folks I knew were ex Catholics who left the Church as you said, for non theological reasons.
I look forward to hearing more stories from these new converts!

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

What about your RCIA program? We have about 15 going through the one at our parish now I think.

Tiber Jumper said...

our RCIA has about 10 folks every year but very sadly the retention rate is less than 30%. I suspect many of the converts are doing it for marriage, rel;ationship reasons but I shouldn't say for sure.
We just got a new assoc. pastor who wants to revamp the RCIA who is intent on winning and keeping souls in the Church!!
The problem has been that we had no follow up, that is going to change. He is going to let several of us convert/reverts help teach and will give it a perspective different than what is offered from a cradle Catholic