Evangelical Convert

Renée Lin

Renée Lin joined the Catholic Church in 2003 after a lifetime in Evangelical Protestant. Renée currently works in research at a medical practice in central Virginia.

“The Bible says it…. I believe it…. that settles it!”

If Thomas Road Baptist Church had an unofficial mantra back in the 1990s, that probably would have been it. Dr. Jerry Falwell was fond of saying that, and I enjoyed hearing it. I took the Bible seriously, very seriously, and if Scripture made a pronouncement on an issue, it seemed only reasonable to me to take those verses as literally as possible and to act upon them. If a Christian couldn’t base his life on the Word of God, then what else was there?

One Sunday morning when Dr. Falwell proclaimed that “everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture,” I took that seriously, too. Everything we believe and do…. Everything?

My mind began to wander as some obvious exceptions came to mind. Asking people to receive Jesus Christ into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior? I knew that Peter and Paul certainly had never read someone the “Four Spiritual Laws” and invited them to ask Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior. “Repent and be baptized” was actually the approach taken by the apostles.

There were other discrepancies. Altar calls – we had one every Sunday. I really couldn’t imagine a first-century altar call . Sunday school? Unheard of in Bible times as far as I knew.

Not that I felt that this was important. The practice of asking someone to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior was simply our way of helping the modern-day, semi-pagan, self-enthralled culture understand that one’s relationship with God must be personal – nothing wrong with that. Certainly I could find nothing sinister in the Baptist practices of altar calls or Sunday School. But I knew of at least one deeply held belief that I could not square with Scripture – the belief that children go to Heaven if they die below the age of reason. I could find no verse in Scripture that taught this doctrine, yet it was the conviction of every Christian I knew, and I believed it myself.

“Everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture….” What I came away with that day was a new-found understanding of our Evangelical outlook on our faith. We at Thomas Road were certain, despite the lack of any objective evidence, that our beliefs and practices all came straight from Scripture….

On the Richter scale of my soul, this incident was a mere 1.8. But there had been other, more impressive tremors in the past, most notably when I was teaching overseas. In the mid 1980s I taught English as a second language at a Christian college in Taiwan, and was an honorary member of the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship (honorary in that I had not been sent by a missionary organization, yet was employed at a Christian school). I loved my job, I loved my students, and I loved my fellow teachers. However, I was not interested in leading Bible studies as all my colleagues were doing, the reason being that I had no formal training in theology, and to me the Bible was not an easy book to understand. I knew that different Christians understood various passages to mean different things. I really didn’t want to take the responsibility of possibly teaching error to unsuspecting students.

A small group of students finally talked me into holding a weekly Bible study on the book of Acts. I figured I couldn’t stray too far from the orthodox path in a book which basically chronicles the beginnings of the Christian church. I was also encouraged by the fact that the school library boasted three or four massive theological commentaries. If I started to get in trouble, I reasoned, I could read what the experts had to say. I was determined not to lead the students astray.

And we were fine, as long as we stayed in the book of Acts. Unfortunately, we all enjoyed the Bible study so much that we decided to hold a second one. I chose the book of 2 Corinthians for that study, a personal favorite, beginning as it does with Paul’s poignant description of the comfort he received from “the God of all comfort.” Studying that first chapter of 2 Corinthians, we all became enthusiastic about learning more on the topic of suffering. We looked up other New Testament verses that deal with this subject. Eventually we came to Colossians 1:24:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. “

What???

I will never forget those faces staring at mine in perfect trust, waiting for me to elucidate that verse to them. I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions? That verse appeared to be contradicting what I understood of orthodox theology. I told the students that I would have to look into the subject, and that I would get back to them.

I spent a lot of time in the school library trying to better understand that verse. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Protestant theologians I was counting on to answer my question had questions themselves about this verse. No one gave me an answer. I knew and found reasonable that there are passages in Scripture that we don’t understand, but this verse seemed so straightforward. I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions – there don’t seem to be too many ways to understand that. The problem was that it contradicted our Protestant theology. As a Protestant, you simply can’t say that when you suffer, you fill up in your flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions. And yet, that’s what Paul said. I was baffled, and I eventually had to tell the students that I just couldn’t account for the theological implications of that verse. Another theological earthquake – 4.3 on my Richter scale.

I married while in Taiwan, and when my husband was accepted as a student at Liberty University, we moved to Virginia, joining Thomas Road Baptist Church. I had never been a Baptist before, having been raised Methodist, and then attending Pentecostal, non-denominational, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches over the years. But I liked the fact that Baptists were so bold about their faith, and I believed that all the Protestant denominations were merely different facets of the same beautiful gem of Christianity. When my husband and I had children, they were “dedicated to the Lord” at Thomas Road, and later attended the Christian school affiliated with the church.

It was in Lynchburg that I first encountered the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They came to our door telling us that we needed to reject conventional Christianity and embrace their belief system. Since I had previously read the Koran and the Book of Mormon in an effort to better understand and evangelize Muslims and Latter-Day Saints, I decided to engage the Witnesses. Two of them came to my house once a week for a year. They presented their beliefs to me, and I presented mine to them.

Understanding their belief that Jesus is not God, it seemed to me that if I could prove to these ladies from Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity, they would be forced to accept the truth of the Christian belief system. I bought The Doctrine of the Trinity by Dr. Harold Willmington, a Liberty professor who often spoke at Thomas Road. The book was full to bursting with verses proving that Almighty God was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I could not wait to present this information to the Witnesses.

To my surprise, the ladies sat patiently through my presentation as if biding their time. Then, it was their turn. The conversation went something like this:

JW #1: “Let’s read John 17:3, Renée. These are the words of Jesus: ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.’”

JW#2 (smiling): “The truth is right before your eyes. This is what the Bible teaches in a nutshell: There is only one true God. Jesus Christ is the one sent by the only true God – he himself is not God.”

Me (stammering): “I have never heard this verse explained that way before…..”

JW#2: “Well, let’s hurry on to John 8:17, where Jesus chides the Pharisees when they claim that he appears as his own witness and therefore his testimony is not valid. Jesus’ argument that his testimony is valid is based on the fact that there are two witnesses, ‘I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’”

Me (clueless): “So what?”

JW#2: “So once again we see that Jesus and his Father are separate – therefore, Jesus cannot be God.”

Me: “Well, yes, no one says that Jesus and the Father are one and the same… I mean, that they are the same Person… – we believe that they are two Persons but both God!

JW#1 (unperturbed): “Renée, can you explain John 20:17? Jesus is saying that he is returning ‘to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ How can Jesus talk about ‘his Father’ and ‘his God’ if he is God? And John 14: 1 – ‘Trust in God; trust also in me.’ That means Jehovah God and Jesus are two separate beings, right?”

Like rabbits out of a voluminous theological hat, the verses kept coming – 1 Timothy 5:21, 1 Timothy 2:5… verses that the Witnesses claim show that Jesus is not God. And 1 Timothy 1:17 topped it all off:

“Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

JW#1: “Renée, do you take that verse literally?”

Me: “Absolutely! How else could I take it?”

JW#1 (smiling broadly): “You’ve just proved that Jesus cannot be God! That verse tells us that God is eternal, immortal and invisible. Yet as we all know:

1. Jesus is not eternal – Proverbs 8:22 says concerning Jesus ‘Jehovah brought me forth as the first of his works!’ Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the ‘firstborn of all creation!’ In Hebrews 1:5 Jehovah God says to Jesus ‘Today I have become your Father!’ Revelation 3:14 calls Jesus ‘the beginning of the creation of God!’

2. Jesus is not immortal – We don’t have to list all the Bible verses that tell us that Jesus died! That means he was mortal!

3. Jesus is obviously not invisible – and yet the Bible tells us that no one can see God and live!

“So, Renée, according to I Timothy 1:17, which you say you agree with absolutely, there is only one God – and He is not Jesus!

Me (in desperation resorting to verse-slinging): “1 John 5:7!”

JW#1: “Mark 10:18!”

Me: “Titus 2:13!”

JW#2: “John 14:28!”

Me: “John 10:30!”

JW#1: “1 Corinthians 8:6!”

Me: “Matthew 28:19!!”

JW#2: “1 Corinthians 11:3!!”

Me: “John 5:18!!!”

Both JWs in chorus: “Philippians 2:5-11!!!”

Fortunately, by this point it was time for the ladies to leave. I don’t know if they learned anything from that encounter, but I certainly did: While the case for the doctrine of the Trinity can certainly be made from Scripture, it cannot be proven from Scripture. The verses the Witnesses showed me sounded like a reasonable alternative viewpoint. I was horrified. The doctrine of the Trinity is the core belief of Christianity – it tells us who God is. How could it not be self-evident from Scripture alone?

 

7.9 on my theological Richter scale….

I providentially found a book called Jehovah’s Witnesses on Trial – The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers by Robert U. Finnerty. I had never read anything penned by a Christian in the centuries between the writing of the book of Revelation and the 95 Theses, but Dr. Finnerty advocated using the writings of these “church fathers” to witness to the Witnesses. His reasoning was that:

“… the Bible, which can be a challenge to understand, is easily misinterpreted by those who rend its parts out of context to ‘prove’ their doctrinal presuppositions. This approach has been raised to a fine art by the followers of Charles Russell…. The church fathers… make it clear that the deity of Christ was at the heart of the Christian faith, and their writings are more difficult to twist in support of erroneous theological formulations.”

I scurried to the bookstore to buy a copy of the Apostolic Fathers, and scoured the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107 A.D.) to find references to the deity of Christ. To my delight there were plenty of them, and I shared them all with the ladies when they returned the following week. Their printed materials instructed them that when Ignatius said “yes,” what he actually meant was “no,” and vice versa. It was around this time that we decided to discontinue our weekly meetings. To tell the truth, I had other fish to fry. My husband had left, and though we did not divorce, I was raising our two children alone with no family in the area.

One day while substitute-teaching, a sixth grader asked me what Catholics believe. My mind was a startling blank. I mumbled something about Catholics believing a lot of things that aren’t in the Bible, and how we mustn’t do that – everything we believe and do must come straight from Scripture. She seemed satisfied, but I wasn’t. Had she asked me about Muslims or Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I could have given her an earful. But I had never looked into Catholic beliefs. It had simply never come up.

Determined to remedy my knowledge deficit, I bought a book called Catholicism and Fundamentalism by a lawyer named Karl Keating. The author was Catholic, and that suited me fine; I like to hear it “from the horse’s mouth.” When I began reading his chapter on “The Holy Eucharist,” I could see that Mr. Keating was going to base his argument on John 6. I decided to read my Bible first and Keating’s explanation of the text second. It seemed to me that he would have to distort the text of John 6 to fit Catholic preconceptions, so I stuck with Scripture. I picked up my NIV, found John 6, and began to read it… over and over. This was of course not the first time I had read John 6; as an Evangelical I had read through the New Testament several times, but I was not finding what I thought I would find there. Jesus states in John 6 quite clearly that He expects us to eat His body and drink His blood. I knew the standard Protestant treatment of these verses (I had believed it all my life), but as I read the text I could not for the life of me see how anyone can claim that these verses should properly be taken figuratively rather than literally. Why not take Jesus at His word? After all, Jesus’ words are quite clear:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.’

Protestants would have us believe that the “eating and drinking” in these verses means “believing in Jesus” or “feasting on the Word of God,” but at that moment that approach to John 6 struck me as ludicrously weak. It occurred to me that we Evangelicals might be doing exactly what we accused more liberal denominations of doing: reserving the right to take figuratively the parts of the Bible that we don’t believe….

This earthquake was off the scale. And returning to Keating’s book, I was in for an aftershock. Keating pointed out that the earliest Christians took John 6 literally, producing as proof a quote from Ignatius of Antioch, the same Ignatius I had begged the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept as a reliable witness to the beliefs of the first Christians. In this quote Ignatius is talking about the Docetist heresy, the folks who believed Jesus didn’t really die in the flesh on the cross. He writes:

“Now note well those who hold heretical opinions about the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us; note how contrary they are to the mind of God…. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they refuse to acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which the Father by his goodness raised up.”

That was all it took. I looked up from my reading and said to myself, “I have to start attending a church that takes John 6 literally.” The Bible says it - I believe it – that settles it.

Actually, it wasn’t as easy as that. It took months before I was brave enough to cross the threshold of a Catholic church, and months more before I got up the courage to enroll in RCIA. All the while I was studying, dissecting Catholic doctrine, comparing Protestant explanations of the “errors of Romanism” to the actual beliefs of the Catholic Church. I had done this before with Mormon beliefs and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, and I had found the Protestant apologetic materials to be reliable guides. However, this time a disturbing trend emerged. The Protestant argument against a particular Catholic teaching would seem rock-solid at first glance. But when I persevered in my investigation, the Catholic answer to the argument would make a great deal of sense, and many times the Protestant argument would fall apart completely. I began to see that our Protestant apologetics against Catholicism were based on a strategy of “downplaying, denigrating, distorting, and denying” key portions of the Catholic argument.

- We downplayed the importance of the writings of the early Christians. Since no Church Father agreed with us Baptists on the issues of justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, once-saved/always saved, baptism, the Eucharist, church governance, etc., we ignored their writings. We downplayed Protestant disunity, pretending that we agreed on “the essentials.” We downplayed the importance of the question of the origin of the canon of Scripture, a question that can only be answered by recognizing the authority of the Church which discerned the canon.

- We denigrated the holiness of Catholic saints. While rightly proclaiming the fact that all of history is “His-story,” we were willfully blind to the “His-toric” importance of the lives of John Paul II and Mother Teresa, just to mention two examples. Although I have known several godly Protestants (most especially when I was associated with the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship), I know of no 20th- century Protestant examples of the saints that the Catholic faith produces. We also denigrated Protestant converts to Catholicism, routinely implying that no one without an ulterior motive would leave the “truth” of Evangelicalism for the errors of Rome.

- We distorted Catholic beliefs when we presented them, so that they would be easier to refute. The classic examples, of course, are the Protestant arguments against “Mary worship,” or “works-righteousness.” By raging against two Catholic doctrines which do not actually exist, Protestant apologists are able to turn their readers against a hypothetical evil, rather than addressing and refuting actual Catholic teaching.

- We denied the development of doctrine, the key to understanding why the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved from Scripture and yet is the valid interpretation of the teaching of the Apostles. As a Protestant, I was relying on development of doctrine as the basis of my Trinitarian beliefs, and yet I ignorantly claimed that “the Bible alone” was the source of what I believed and practiced.

I sadly came to realize that these “four D’s” added up to a fifth – deceit. We were deceiving others in our arguments against the Church that Jesus established, and sadly, we had deceived ourselves as well.

Most Protestants investigating the Church never persevere past the initial Protestant apologetic arguments, taking them at face value and assuming that there is no Catholic answer to Protestant objections. Protestants claim the high ground by advertising their belief system as “faithful to Scripture” and condemning Catholic theology as “unbiblical.” Yet so very many Bible verses are “explained away” in the Protestant system rather than letting them say what they actually say, among them 1 Timothy 3:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16 (we grossly exaggerated the latter verse to support “Scripture alone,” and utterly ignored the former), John 17:20-21, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, Luke 11:2, John 6: 25-70, Luke 22: 19, 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29, James 2:24, Philippians 2: 12-13 (if I had a dime for every time we explained this passage away), Galatians 5:4-6, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 2: 8-10, Matthew 25:31-46, John 15:1-10, II Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 12:14, John 15: 1-5, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 5:13 (how we twisted that verse!), Revelation 2-3 (the NIV actually translates “works” as “deeds” here, in order to avoid the obvious implication of the necessity of works), Revelation 19:6-8, Romans 2: 12-16, Matthew 10:22, Hebrews 6:4-6, Colossians 1:24 (TRBC’s “Liberty Journal” published an article on suffering in response to a local tragedy, listing numerous New Testament verses with no mention made, of course, of Colossians 1:24 – it contradicts Protestant theology), Romans 11:22, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 13:17 (a nonsense verse in a Protestant context – we obeyed our leaders till we disagreed with them….), Matthew 16:13-19, II Kings 13:21, Acts 19:11-12 (I found this passage especially distasteful – it sounded so Catholic!), John 20:22-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 John 5:16-17, I Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy 1:13-14, John 3:5-8, John 3:22-23, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Titus 3:4-7, 1 Peter 3:21, Luke 1:46-49, Genesis 1:28, Psalm 127:3-5, Matthew 19: 6-9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:32, Proverbs 3:5-6 (leaning on one’s own understanding was the basis for the formation of the Protestant denominations), Nehemiah 8:7-8, Zechariah 14: 20-21, and Acts 8:30-31. The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!

I was reconciled to the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2003, bringing my two children into the Church with me. They chose to continue attending their Baptist school, although we discussed that it might be hard for them when they identified themselves as Catholics. And sometimes it has been hard. My daughter has recently written about the joys and sorrows of being Catholic at a Baptist school in a guest blog at Sententias.org. One episode she did not recount was the time her high school teacher stopped her in the hallway to ask, “Shoshana, do you believe everything the Bible says?”

“Of course!” she answered.

“Then you’re a bad Catholic!” was his arch reply.

Funny, that’s the very reason her mom became Catholic. The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!

 

You can learn more about Renée and her journey in the Catholic faith on her blog Forget the Roads.

If you have found this story helpful in your spiritual journey we hope you will consider sharing it. Have feedback or would like to share your story? Email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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26 comments

  • Comment Link Alex Wednesday, 15 August 2012 02:10 posted by Alex

    Welcome Home

  • Comment Link LM Wednesday, 15 August 2012 19:17 posted by LM

    Wow! What a great conversion story! I loved that it was your brain that helped lead you into the Catholic Church with the help of all your careful study. So much of your story reminds me of myself, especially the part about how you used to view converts to Catholicism as definitely having an ulterior motive. When I converted I used to get that so much from family and friends. After months and months of talking and arguing with one Protestant friend he concluded, "You're only joining the Church because it's pro-life". It was like a slap in the face. We had talked about so many important issues and it really hurt that he couldn't accept that I had valid theological reasons for joining. God bless you!

  • Comment Link Dan Wednesday, 15 August 2012 22:39 posted by Dan

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's especially helpful to us Cradle Catholics who take our gift of faith for granted. May our Lord bless you and your family abundantly.

    Dan

  • Comment Link Manny Thursday, 16 August 2012 03:02 posted by Manny

    What a wonderful story and so perfectly told. Every protestant should read this. Your heart radiates with honesty and truth. May God shine on you and your children. Welcome, welcome, welcome! You have brightened my evening.

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Thursday, 16 August 2012 22:59 posted by Renee Lin

    Thank you, Alex. It's good to be home!

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Thursday, 16 August 2012 23:06 posted by Renee Lin

    LM:

    It's only by the grace of God that anyone can come to the point of believing the seemingly outrageous claims of the Catholic Church, and only then can that person begin to suspect that it is Truth Himself that is calling us home....

    Pray! Pray! Pray!

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Thursday, 16 August 2012 23:10 posted by Renee Lin

    Dan:

    God bless all you cradle Catholics who have kept the light burning for us converts!

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Thursday, 16 August 2012 23:17 posted by Renee Lin

    And you have brightened my day, Manny! What a wonderful welcome!!

  • Comment Link LM Friday, 17 August 2012 15:19 posted by LM

    True, it is only by the grace of God that I found the Catholic Church, not by my own doing!
    You seem like such an intelligent woman. I printed off your conversion story and plan to re-read it and share it with friends!
    Thanks!

  • Comment Link pete Friday, 17 August 2012 16:34 posted by pete

    thanks for this wonderful story. i have never read of someone using scripture so completely to convert. the jehovah witness conversation thread is especially enlightening and edifying.
    as a cradle catholic, i am so deficient in scripture to support why i am catholic. thanks for this encouraging story.

  • Comment Link Joe Friday, 17 August 2012 22:30 posted by Joe

    Great to read a story that while critical of Protestantism does not have the 'critical spirit' so often evident in such conversion stories. Thank you.

  • Comment Link Robyn Saturday, 18 August 2012 21:15 posted by Robyn

    Terrific story, thank you for sharing it with us. As a cradle Catholic I was very ignorant of scripture, which is probably why I left the church years ago. Through protestants who introduced me to scripture I came back to the Church, and now my faith is stronger than ever because I can defend Cathilicism through scripture AND tradition.

  • Comment Link Jack Friday, 24 August 2012 11:48 posted by Jack

    Well done. Did your husband convert to?

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Saturday, 25 August 2012 16:52 posted by Renee Lin

    Jack,

    No, he has not, but he is much more kindly disposed to Catholicism now. Please pray for us.

  • Comment Link Teri Thursday, 06 September 2012 22:40 posted by Teri

    Wow! I am thunderstruck! I'm a person that was raised as a non-denominational charismatic. (My mom is still deeply embroiled in the Word Of Faith movement) I'm also pulling apart all of the Catholic doctrine. The first thing that was easily proven was how wrong Sola Scriptura was. When I looked into it... just a bit, it was easily thrown to the side.

    Your deep and thorough explanation of your studies is a true eye opener. I need to read this a few more times!

    Sadly, I'm not sure I could do much about converting, as my mother would go completely crazy if I told her, and she's already gravely ill. But I'll keep looking and reading.

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Friday, 07 September 2012 00:55 posted by Renee Lin

    Teri,

    I never have told my mom that we became Catholic, because she has dementia and dementia makes it very hard to deal with new ideas. However, she knows that we love Jesus, and that's enough.

    Please keep reading and praying about where God wants to lead you! Follow Him!

    You will always have my prayers!

  • Comment Link floro Monday, 17 September 2012 11:53 posted by floro

    Conversion stories such as this make us cradle Catholics value the more our Faith. thanks for the inspiration. Welcome home! may God bless us always!

  • Comment Link Erik James Monday, 08 October 2012 22:46 posted by Erik James

    Hello, this was a very enlightening story. Usually I find that the stories of many converts are due to the simple fact that they had not personally studied the word or have changed due to some questionable event or experience in their life. You seem to be different in that you have "done your homework". Bravo for putting God #1 in your life and in trying to find the truth! That said, I found your story particularly interesting because it sounds almost exactly like the path that I had found myself on. The difference is that I went the other way and left the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). It also took me over 25 years of thoughtful study and prayer but I officially left last year and I'm never going back.

    I hear you in regards to problems with certain Protestant churches, you will not see me defending them or the history of Christianity in general. However, I think we can all agree that the problem stems not from God being contradictory (the entire Bible in harmony with itself), rather, the problem with many people or parishes that proclaim to know the truth (Catholic or Protestant) is that they are all prone to "cherry picking". This distorts the true Word of God. We must all watch out for this. I always like to say that when you take certain text out of context, what you have left is pretext. This problem can especially be seen within the Christian and Gnostic cults that you had talked to on your journey. They can cherry pick all the verses they like and conjure up all sorts of deceits and lies about God but their arguments are always contradictory to some part of the Bible. I say again, God does not contradict Himself.

    Unfortunately, with all due respect, I find that this is a flaw of the RCC as well. I will only speak of one example within your testimony. This example will be in regards to your comments on the Eucharist. When using the verses you used for your argumentation, it is easy to come to the conclusion that you did. Anybody would conclude the same. However, I would ask you to first take a look at the many, many examples throughout the Old and New Testaments that compare the Word of God as being food for the Spirit. These verses are not separate.

    Additionally, John also compares the flesh of Jesus as the Word in John Chapter 1. When you read John chapter 6 again, try reading it by thinking of Jesus as the Word that became flesh. I believe you will start seeing the true meaning behind this passage you chose.

    I can go on... Please also take a look at Jesus' statements, such as "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed" (John 6:55). This may sound confusing to some and many may want to take it literally, but look at this statement in the context of what John wrote in the beginning of his gospel. It may prove fruitful.

    Also, Jesus tells the people in the passages you chose, that the manna that came from heaven was not of God but from Moses and those that had eaten of the manna are dead. Jesus is speaking of the importance of spiritual as opposed to physical food. The Israelites complained and sought for physical food and they got it, however they didn't care about spiritual food. Because of this, their lack of faith caused them to die without going into the promised land. This is one of many Old Testament pictures that can help us look at the Eucharist.

    I could go on but I will finish by saying that the end of Jesus' controversial conversation is probably the most important in that Jesus clears up in John 6:63 any doubt to what He is talking about. Disciples were leaving after Jesus had told them these things. He described Himself as the bread which came down from heaven and if you eat of Me you will have eternal life. However, many people were thinking that he was talking about the literal consummation of His actual flesh. Many could not handle this. On the other hand, the RCC church today embraces this thinking and believes that the Eucharist is transubstantiated into the actual body (flesh) of Christ. However, Jesus clears up these things by finally stating that "It is the Spirit who gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63 NKJV). It's the Word, it's the Word, it's the Word, it's the Word, it's the Word.

    This is just some of the examples about how we should view communion. I believe that many of the other reasons you used could be cleared up by looking at the whole Bible. However, this comment is way too long and I must digress. I believe a correspondence with you could be very interesting, since we both had similar experiences but we came from and chose the opposite path. Again, very interesting testimony and God Bless!

  • Comment Link Renee Lin Tuesday, 09 October 2012 22:57 posted by Renee Lin

    Erik,

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment so eloquently and so charitably! I agree with you completely that often conversions (either to or from Rome) are not well thought out, but are rather "due to the simple fact that they had not personally studied the word or have changed due to some questionable event or experience in their life." We will all be judged on our spiritual decisions - we need to study to show ourselves approved.

    That being said, I came to the conclusion that Scripture simply fit together better when interpreted the way the Church interprets it. History also comes to the aid of the Catholic - as a Protestant I basically relied on Protestant myths concerning the early Christians and their beliefs. They did not understand John 6 the way you have explained it above, and that for me was eye-opening. Christians from the first century onwards believed in the Real Presence. It was a lack of faith that informed the decision to adopt a "symbolic" understanding of Jesus' words in John 6.

    Never say never, Erik! Many of the stories here on Why I'm Catholic are told by reverts who also said they were never going back to the Church. You have left behind Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist, and He will not let you go that easily!

    God bless you. I will always pray for you! Please pray for me!

    Renée

  • Comment Link Erik James Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:08 posted by Erik James

    Hello Renee,
    Thanks for your reply! I will not argue any further in respect to your testimony. Thank you for not taking offense. God Bless.

  • Comment Link snooop1e Tuesday, 23 October 2012 03:57 posted by snooop1e

    For all those who have read Eriks comments I want to build on Renee's reply. She is absolutely correct. As a matter of fact very few Protestants realize that both Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in the real presence. That means for over 1500 years Christians believed in the real presence. A logical person has to ask why do Protestants no longer believe in the real presence? Lastly, is there any among who would say that JESUS flesh is of no avail? As Christians we believe quite the contrary, we believe that only one flesh is of avail and that is JESUS flesh. To suggest that Jesus taught that HIS flesh is of no avail is blasphemy. I will pray for your Erik, if you truly are searching for the fullness of the truth you will be back.....

  • Comment Link Marcus Wednesday, 24 October 2012 10:05 posted by Marcus

    Hi Erik,

    You said that verse 63 in John 6 negates the understanding that for Jesus, flesh meant flesh.

    If you look at that verse, Jesus said THE flesh profits nothing. But in the other 5 times that He mentioned flesh, He referred to MY (His) flesh.

    So verse 63 in no way negates what He has been hammering all along.

    In fact to argue in this manner is to make Jesus sound stupid. First He says eat my flesh (and quite adamant about it, reiterating it several times - 5 I think) then says but that is all pretty useless really.

    THE flesh in verse 63 refers to flesh in general, not His Flesh.

    And in fact you can find an allusion to the consecration in this verse. For at the consecration it is the Holy Spirit that changes that bread into Christ - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and so has given that Life to the what was once bread.

    Another point to bear in mind here is that when the Jews argued, Jesus changed his tone and made it even harder. From phagein (the normal way we eat) He used the word trogein which is more like "to gnaw" - the way animals eat. This is to emphasize that he meant exactly what He said.

    The apostles thought exactly the same as those who left. The difference being that they trust Jesus.

  • Comment Link Tim Cooper Friday, 26 October 2012 02:49 posted by Tim Cooper

    I loved your story. After 46 years of Protestantism I came to embrace the Catholic faith because of three reasons:

    1. Sola scriptura is a theological assumption that is not historical, not biblical and not logical. How can a fallible Church define an infallible canon?
    2. Why did Jesus give the apostles the authority to forgive sins?
    3. Why did Jesus give the keys to only one apostle? Later why he gave the authority to tend His sheep to the same apostle?

    The Eucharist and Confession have changed my life. I encourage all Catholics to attend weekday masses and praying before the Eucharist.

  • Comment Link tan Monday, 29 October 2012 07:01 posted by tan

    Hi, Erik James!

    It all boils down to who is the authority in interpreting the bible, who holds the key, the binding and unbinding. Some converts to Catholicism sees this as a problem in their Protestant/Evangelical tradition.

    Anyway, if your faith in the Eucharist is not yet laid by the Scripture, try discovering it from other source. You may want to read on "Eucharistic Miracles" in the internet.

  • Comment Link Mary Wednesday, 31 October 2012 19:30 posted by Mary

    Dear Renee,

    Welcome Home! Thank you for sharing your conversion story into the Catholic Church. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist is what I live for...what else is there?

    May God pour out His Blessings and peace to you and your family!

    Peace,

    Mary

  • Comment Link Renee Saturday, 03 November 2012 18:28 posted by Renee

    How beautiful, Mary! What else is there, indeed? You must be very dear to Him! Thank you for your kind wishes!

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