Hello everyone! Jessica has been kind enough to allow me to post on this blog, which I am excited to do. I’ve been enjoying reading her posts, as well as others here on a regular basis.
That’s not just me being pleasant. The site has pulled me back to it a number of times and has given me a lot of food for thought.
I wanted to share a little bit about my own faith background in my first post here (and would love to read any of yours). I am a convert to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). My wife and I, along with our children, converted around the time Pope Francis became pope.
I grew up what you might call a Fundamentalist, though we never labeled ourselves anything. “Nondenominational” or “Baptist” might be a better description, actually. I don’t know for sure.
Whatever I was, though, I grew up in an environment that had no warm feelings for the RCC. A few misconceptions I had included the following.
1. The pope was probably the anti-Christ (or would be in league with him whenever he showed up).
2. Roman Catholics worshiped Mary. Worship of her echoes the worship of some goddess in ancient Egypt.
3. Everything written in Chick Tracts about Roman Catholics.
I ended up falling in love with and marrying a young woman who grew up Anglican, which is a bit ironic. I was as clueless about Anglicanism as I was about Roman Catholicism. I somehow missed the memo that, as she put it later, Anglicans are basically Roman Catholics, just without the pope.
When we got married, she followed me into the nondenominational, happy-clappy church I was a part of, trying to be the dutiful wife. But secretly, she missed the smells and bells of liturgical life.
The Eucharist also meant a great deal to her, which I did not understand at the time. After one of our church services, she was shocked and horrified when a friend of ours took some left over bread we had used for communion (which we considered entirely symbolic), and used it as a snack afterwards, dipping it and chewing right in front of her.
On another front, my sister and brother-in-law shocked us by leaving their nondenominational (gosh, that’s a long word) church to join the RCC. My brother-in-law had spent ten years flirting off and on with the idea of converting. Finally he did, and it was like a nuclear bomb went off in our extended family.
So many nights, all of us were up late debating Mary, the Eucharist, the pope, everything. I was not as vehement with him as others in our tribe, but I did take it upon myself to convince him he was wrong. Anybody who understood the Bible could not possibly become Roman Catholic, right?
Well, as I did my own research, visiting sites like Catholic Answers and especially delving into articles on Called to Communion, I found, to my surprise, that Roman Catholics actually do read the Bible – very much so. They had very good reasons not to believe in Sola Scriptura and to view the Gospel differently than I did.
What really threw me across the Tiber, though, was the idea that to remain a protestant, I had to believe that God abandoned his church for 1500 years until Martin Luther came along. The more I thought about this, the more it unsettled me.
Imagine the priests, theologians, and saints coming together for Ecumenical Councils through the ages, seeking to know the Holy Spirit’s mind on issues of Christology, the Bible, icons, and all sorts of other issues that were rending the church in two. The Apostle James says that if we ask for wisdom, the Holy Spirit will give it to us. Am I to believe these holy men, and by extension the church that relied on their teaching, were abandoned by God in their hour of direst need?
That was too much. It took an unbelievable amount of hubris on my part to think that fervent, praying Christians for the first millennia and a half got it wrong while we “modern” Christians for some reason managed to get it right.
It came down to Easter Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism in the end. I would go into what made us veer west, but I think I have gone on long enough for one post.
At any rate, that is my story. Again, thank you for allowing me to write here. I look forward to continuing to read what everyone else posts!