Thursday, May 24, 2007

Catholic Conversions

James Swan explains what Catholics really mean when they give the reasons why they became Catholic.

I will not interact with the whole essay here, but his basic point is that those who leave their Protestant communities, to enter the Catholic Church, do not spend enough (or any) time talking about a conversion to Christ. They focus on a conversion to "an infallible church," and their "conversion stories are about what they did...what...they achieved."

Giving Mr. Swan the benefit of the doubt I would say this is a case of a Calvinist talking about Catholics in decidely non-Catholic language. I mean what person who is becoming Catholic does not believe that the Church is the Body of Christ. Not in some invisible, we can not really know the Church, kind of way. In the way that Jesus confronts Saul about persecuting the Church. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" What person who believed this would possibly think that he is not being converted more towards his Lord by entering his Lord's Church?

Mr. Swan says that these stories "are about what wisdom and glory" the converts have achieved. Even if we grant that his observation is correct, it just means that the convert has not been converted enough. This person is not boasting about themselves because they are Catholic, but because they are not Catholic enough. However, having read a lot of these stories myself I do not think it is safe to assume Mr. Swan has gotten this correct. Let us look at his evidence.

Since there is only one story quoted, you would assume that it shows a clear example of Mr. Swan's thesis. Reading the example I am afraid I find the opposite - the convert clearly speaks of the gifts that he has been given, not what he has done for himself. Since the example quoted in no way (that I can see) supports his thesis, I am lost as to the reason why he uses it or why no other examples are given.

If Mr. Swan does not enjoy these stories he is certainly free not to read them. If he thinks Catholics are a bunch of glory seeking, self-lovers that do not realize what fools they are for receiving "the Lordship of an alleged infallible church magisterium as the ultimate rule over their lives," then he will be included in my prayers. He is, of course, free to think these things, but they really do not further his thesis in any fashion. In fact, they seem to be stated in the hopes that whoever reads them will just accept them blindly as truth and continue on to agree with his conclusion.

Mr. Swan spends a lot of time talking about what a true conversion to Christ entails. I applaud him for that and most of the things he says should be evident in anyone's life who claims Christ as Lord. It just is not plain to me (granted I am not the brightest bulb) why he is railing against something that all seems to be in his head.

Those who say Catholic conversions are about trusting a "human" institution show their lack of trust in Jesus when he says, "I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." and "...behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age." A Protestant who enters the Catholic Church already trusted his Lord. The new Catholic's gift of faith has only grown to trust that Jesus will always protect his Bride.

2 comment(s):

Timothy said...

Read the article and it sounds like so much sour grapes.

One of the American Church's favorite anti-Catholic's is on a another find fault with the Catholics rant.

While the author focuses on the conversion from one Christian denomination to Catholicism, the author excludes the fact that all of these same converts did in fact have a "born again" experience as part of their lifelong conversion story.

I love to read all the stories about how people have moved ever closer to Christ and the Eucharist. I like Kimberly Hahn's story better than Scott's.

Lee Cullom said...

What do we mean in the Catholic Church when we say "fullness" of the truth? Here is a perfect example. The Catholic virtue of Magnanimity says, "I do great things because God is great." While Egotism says, "I do great things because I am great." This is the most common blindness I see when people are reviewing Catholic thought. We do try to do GREAT things, with the grace of God. Yet another half-truth.

- Lee Cullom out. BTW - NICE BLOG! I didn't know you had a blog! That would probably require me to ask a question, but I likes to talk...

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