From Francis Beckwith’s Blog “Return to Rome.” Joshua Betancourt is the co-author of the book with Geisler, Is Rome the True Church?, which came out just last year! The book attempts to debunk the Catholic Church.
(I was interested to find out the book frequently quotes me and attempts to argue (poorly) against my book Upon this Rock!)
“Joshua Betancourt, welcome home! One of my Baylor philosophy PhD students brought to my attention today that Norman Geisler’s co-author of Is Rome the True Church? (Crossway Books, 2008), Joshua Betancourt, has converted to Catholicism! This has been confirmed by Doug Beaumont, a friend of Mr. Betancourt’s. Here’s what Doug writes on his blog (emphasis mine):
“I saw the website (www.catholicscomehome.org). This represents a fairly major move going on in this generation. There are books, TV shows, websites, etc. all focused on those who have left and returned to the RC church. There are also Protestants converting to Roman Catholicism.
“One chapter in the book Is Rome the True Church? is dedicated to why this is happening. Interestingly, the book’s co-author, a friend of mine named Joshua Betancourt, converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after the book was published! Nor is he the only one. I know several people, whose minds I highly respect, who have made the same decision (Francis Beckwith, J. Budziszewski, to name some famous recent converts). Of course, the opposite is happening too – lots of RC’s are converting to some form of Protestant-Evangelicalism.”
Yes, there are Catholics leaving for the Protestant churches, but as I state elsewhere there are notable Protestants converting to Catholicism, but no intellectuals or notable Catholics leaving for Protestantism. Even Protestants are willing to admit this: Evangelical writer Riddlebarger admits that “While evangelicalism is growing numerically, apparently there are not as many notable Roman Catholics becoming evangelicals as vice-versa” (Roman Catholicism, hostile to the Catholic Church, ed. John Armstrong [Chicago: Moody Press, 1994], 240). He fails to mention any actual “notable Catholics” leaving to become Evangelicals since I think he would be hard pressed to come up with a list. But a list of notable Protestants converting to Catholicism is as long as your arm. Many Evangelicals are alarmed.
I think the majority of Catholics leaving Rome for Evangelical groups is mainly due to the fact that it is more difficult being a Catholic in some ways. The moral standards are higher regarding divorce and remarriage, abortion, contraception, etc. Of course many Catholics remain and violate Catholic morality, but many choose a looser lifestyle and jump ship. In other words, many people leave the Catholic Church for reasons “below the belt” and then make up theological reasons for their departure such as “I don’t believe the Pope is biblical and now I believe in the Bible alone.” What this really means is “I want the freedom to decide for myself and I don’t want an organization telling me what to do. It is between me and God.”
Of course many others leave to find more entertainment, goods and services for their kids, or some preacher who teaches the Bible the way desired, or moral code that fits “me.” This is an American entertainment mentality — what can God do for me? I want to be fed? I want a church that has lots of good music, stuff for my kids, excitement, etc. The Catholic Church has never seen itself as an entertainment center. It is here to serve God. Mass is not about “me and my kids” having a good time on Sunday. it is about worshiping God in the way God prescribes.
Because I missed the bandwagon yesterday, I will post this today. Another prominent Evangelical Christian leaves his faith tradition for Rome – after coauthoring a recently released book arguing against the primacy of Rome no less! You know, maybe there is something to this whole “Rome is the One True Church” thing after all?
This type of conversion seems typical of God. He raises up the lowly and strengthens His call to those often seeking to debunk His Church. This was the case with Ronald Knox, G.K. Chesterton, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Francis Beckwith, Fr Dwight Longenecker, Tim Staples, Stephen Ray (the author the quoted posted), Marcus Grodi, Dr. Scott Hahn, the entire group of Traditional Anglicans and the list keeps growing.
And as Steve Ray points out in his post above, there are Catholics going the other way too but none of them are of any prominence. Why, Steve wonders? Look at what he says, “…it is more difficult being a Catholic in some ways. The moral standards are higher regarding divorce and remarriage, abortion, contraception, etc.”
Consider this, the amorous priest from Miami, he violated his vow, to God, of celibacy for reasons of the flesh. If his reasons were for faith, then he would have used the appropriate methods to leave request dismissal from the priesthood. It would have been less scandalous and kept him right with Our Lord. Steve says it right, “…many Catholics remain and violate Catholic morality, but many choose a looser lifestyle and jump ship. In other words, many people leave the Catholic Church for reasons ‘below the belt’ and then make up theological reasons for their departure such as ‘I don’t believe the Pope is biblical and now I believe in the Bible alone.’ What this really means is ‘I want the freedom to decide for myself and I don’t want an organization telling me what to do. It is between me and God.'”
Do what you wish. God does not limit the gift of free will because He does not take back His gifts (Satan has his angelic powers, pre-turning against God of course) or go back on His word. He asks little of us, saying, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” And that’s Biblical!
That is why I challenge anyone who is seeking the Fullness of Truth, to consider the Church. Do so with an open heart and you will find there is only one way, one truth and one life (John 14:6).