Evangelical Author Converts After Publishing Anti-Catholic Book

Another Evangelical Convert to the Catholic Church

January 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm
· Filed under Apologetics, Conversions, Reviews or Critiques, Steve’s Writings

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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.”

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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.

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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).

Finding Inspiration to Resolve

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Like many others around the world, I made several resolutions for this New Year. I resolved to do more in the name of Jesus: attend daily Mass, renew my devotion to Our Lady and the His Divine Mercy, to seek the intercession of saintly fathers (e.g., Saint Joseph), to evangelize by example (and words if necessary).

But I find it difficult to actually implement these actions. I tend to make plenty of excuses for not meeting being the Christian that Our Lord wants me to be. This, I am sure is displeasing to Christ but the tendency to continue on a path of depravity is lined with world pleasures. I can surf the net instead of going to Mass. I can watch TV instead of praying. I can write this post instead of working. You get the idea.

However, because God never ceases calling out towards us and our hearts, as Saint Augustine so rightly stated, “Are restless until they rest in [Him],” you can spot the Holy Spirit working in your life – if you open your heart and your eyes to the Lord. Today, I had such an experience.

While on my morning commute, I found myself groggy and filled with complacency, yet I found inspiration. Sitting across from me was an older man who, like me, was commuting to work. In his hand I spotted a Rosary. It was worn and broken. The remnants of this Rosary, which looked very similar to mine, was the Crucifix, the five beads leading to the Miraculous Medal and enough beads to pray at least one decade. The man; head bowed, fingers strumming the beads and lips moving; seemed to be praying.

As I looked on I felt a tug at my heart and in my mind I thought, “Why aren’t you praying the Rosary like you used to?” Whether it was me, Our Lady, or a prompting from the Holy Spirit, the answer to the question was clear for. I had no justification for not praying. I have an hour or so long commute and I used to find time to pray every morning but I ceased to do so. The result of this was a spiral towards apathy and darkness in my soul. Something that I did not being to take note of until just a couple of days ago.

Well, I hesitated a bit (using the possibility of not being able to complete the Rosary as an excuse), but again felt a question being asked of me, “Why are you hesitating?” I did not hesitate any longer and proceeded to pull out my Rosary and pray. My prayer was distracted and I longed to close my eyes but in doing so, finding myself drifting to sleep, so I kept them open. I did my best and prayed with my heart finding that I had plenty of time afterward to reflect on the Seven Habits of being a successful Christian.

Now that I have found a renewed zeal for my prayer life, I must act upon that and to the single most important thing I can do today (in the words of Father Al Lauer) – attend Mass.

A request to those who may read my posts, please pray for me. Pray that I have the zeal to live a more Christ-centered life; that I have the will to attend daily Mass and begin my day with prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Thank you all in advance and God bless.

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Today's Mass

Earlier this morning I blogged about how I found renewed inspiration concerning prayer and daily Mass. Well, I did not fail. And for my action of faith I was rewarded.

The celebrant of today’s Mass at St. Dominic Catholic Church in SW Washington, DC, gave a homily about how we seek Christ and where we find Him.

To make it brief, because my memory does not serve me as well as it used to, the priest started with Samuel and how he could not find the Lord when he was calling thinking that it was Eli instead. He went on to compare this with how Simon (Peter) and other could not Christ, Who was praying in the desert. The priest reminded us that our reaction to faith can be similar. We seek faith in God but look far from us when in fact He was always nearer than we expected.

Today’s readings were:
First: 1 Samuel 3:1-10,19-20
Resp: Psalm 40:2,5,7-10
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Facebook Unites a Former Guantanomo Bay Guard with Prisoner

While perusing my feed reader I came across this post, “Facebook Unites a Former Guantanomo Bay Guard with Prisoner” from the thenextweb.com commenting on a story featured in the New York Times by way of the BBC.

I have yet to read the original story but I have seen the video and it is amazing as thenextweb.com points out. Not only does this story show that the world is small and shrinking but that the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) is an essential gift of God’s grace to us. You may ask how I can see the Sacrament

Let us imagine that what Mr. Neely did against these men was a mortal sin, which would cause a spiritual divide between the guard and God thus removing him from the “state” of grace. (I do not know if what Mr. Neely did were indeed a sin, let alone a mortal sin, but I am taking liberty to make a point). The Church teaches because people can choose to lose their gift of salvation through grace by being apart from God because of sin, the former guard would be in grave danger condemning himself to hell. So what is this man to do?

According to the Catechism, “Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion (CCC 1422).” Because every sin, especially mortal sin, is an offense against God and His body – only He has the right and authority to forgive sins (Mt 9:2-8, Lk 5:20-24). However, Scripture shows that He passed this authority on the apostles (Jn 20:21-23) so that we may find a way to repent for our sins after we are baptized. Again, the Catechism (CCC 1425-1426) states:

“You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.” But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,” linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.” Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.

If Mr. Neely, the former Guantanamo Bay guard, was never see these men again or if they were to react in a hostile manner towards if he did see them and attempt to apologize, seeking forgiveness, how else would he ever be able to gain the certainty and satisfaction of forgiveness? He could turn to God directly, with perfect contrition, and ask for forgiveness. But that is not exactly how God wants us to do it.

Christ instituted this Sacrament because humans are both spiritual (immortal soul) and material (mortal body). That is why salvation is by grace evidenced through faith and works. We initiate penance just by going to Confession and humbling ourselves before another person. This is difficult but necessary. It demonstrates our desire to repent. And because priests hear confession in Persona Christi or in the person of Christ, he is able to administer the absolution. The power to forgive sins remains from Christ alone, not the priest, who is just the means of administering this forgiveness in our physical world.

The Sacrament of Penance also serves to life the burden of guilt from our hearts relieving us through our penitent acts. That in this way we know we have recompensed Our Lord for the offences we commit against Him.

God knows all that we have done and will do. He is outside of space and time. But He desires that we cooperate in our own salvation by walking the penitent path. What Mr. Neely did was, to me, a work of the Holy Spirit to “coincidentally” bring these three men together prompting a former prison guard to apologize for his actions. He did what the Church teaches: “Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction (CCC 1450).”

For more resources about Confession and the Forgiveness of Sins check out the following:

Finding Inspiration to Resolve

Like many others around the world, I made several resolutions for this New Year. I resolved to do more in the name of Jesus: attend daily Mass, renew my devotion to Our Lady and the His Divine Mercy, to seek the intercession of saintly fathers (e.g., Saint Joseph), to evangelize by example (and words if necessary).

But I find it difficult to actually implement these actions. I tend to make plenty of excuses for not meeting being the Christian that Our Lord wants me to be. This, I am sure is displeasing to Christ but the tendency to continue on a path of depravity is lined with world pleasures. I can surf the net instead of going to Mass. I can watch TV instead of praying. I can write this post instead of working. You get the idea.

However, because God never ceases calling out towards us and our hearts, as Saint Augustine so rightly stated, “Are restless until they rest in [Him],” you can spot the Holy Spirit working in your life – if you open your heart and your eyes to the Lord. Today, I had such an experience.

While on my morning commute, I found myself groggy and filled with complacency, yet I found inspiration. Sitting across from me was an older man who, like me, was commuting to work. In his hand I spotted a Rosary. It was worn and broken. The remnants of this Rosary, which looked very similar to mine, was the Crucifix, the five beads leading to the Miraculous Medal and enough beads to pray at least one decade. The man; head bowed, fingers strumming the beads and lips moving; seemed to be praying.

As I looked on I felt a tug at my heart and in my mind I thought, “Why aren’t you praying the Rosary like you used to?” Whether it was me, Our Lady, or a prompting from the Holy Spirit, the answer to the question was clear for. I had no justification for not praying. I have an hour or so long commute and I used to find time to pray every morning but I ceased to do so. The result of this was a spiral towards apathy and darkness in my soul. Something that I did not being to take note of until just a couple of days ago.

Well, I hesitated a bit (using the possibility of not being able to complete the Rosary as an excuse), but again felt a question being asked of me, “Why are you hesitating?” I did not hesitate any longer and proceeded to pull out my Rosary and pray. My prayer was distracted and I longed to close my eyes but in doing so, finding myself drifting to sleep, so I kept them open. I did my best and prayed with my heart finding that I had plenty of time afterward to reflect on the Seven Habits of being a successful Christian.

Now that I have found a renewed zeal for my prayer life, I must act upon that and to the single most important thing I can do today (in the words of Father Al Lauer) – attend Mass.

A request to those who may read my posts, please pray for me. Pray that I have the zeal to live a more Christ-centered life; that I have the will to attend daily Mass and begin my day with prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Thank you all in advance and God bless.

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