Friday, 6 August 2010

Evangelicals ‘Crossing the Tiber’ to Catholicism

[...] Chris White, a 2009 King’s graduate, shares the concerns of Croslow and Dunn, while adding another of the main reasons why many evangelicals are converting to Catholicism: intellectual hunger.

White describes himself as a “victim of Church history classes that start in 1517,” the year Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses. That is, until he took a course entitled “Foundations of Judeo-Christian Thought” at TKC. It “raised certain questions within me,” he says of the course. White cites Boston College philosophy professor and TKC visiting faculty member Peter Kreeft’s Catholic Christianity as a factor in his conversion, but he also points to a number of other courses that he took at King’s that led him to the point of conversion. He says of the college’s curriculum that it is “not a ‘great books curriculum’ but it draws heavily on the liberal arts tradition.” He adds, “You can’t study the liberal arts without confronting the rich history of Catholicism.”

Indeed The King’s College is a microcosm of the larger community of young believers whose frustration with the lack of authority, structure, and intellectualism in many evangelical churches is leading them in great numbers to the Roman Catholic Church. This trend of “Crossing the Tiber” (a phrase that also served as the title of Stephen K. Ray’s 1997 book on the phenomenon), has been growing steadily for decades, but with the help of a solid foundation of literature, exemplar converts from previous generations, burgeoning traditional and new media outlets, and the coming of age of Millennial evangelicals, it is seeing its pace quicken dramatically.

Back in 1985, when many of the most recent converts were still singing Sunday School songs in evangelical churches, Thomas Howard wrote in the postscript to Evangelical is Not Enough that after completing the text in 1984, he formally converted to Catholicism at the Easter Vigil in 1985. Ultimately, Howard concluded that the question that matters most is “What is the Church?” His answer, like that of Hahn, Grodi and Talbot, and now of Croslow, Dunn, and White, is that the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church”—the historical, traditional Church—can only be the Roman Catholic Church. Read more

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