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Tuesday, June 21, 2005


David Deavel

I read the piece and found it quite good as well. I do think the claim that we need to hear from those who convert to Protestantism from Catholicism is a valid point, but only in the sense that we would find out just how bankrupt Catholic catechesis has been. As an adult convert to Catholicism from Protestantism I've never met someone going the other way who had had any good catechesis. In most cases their knowledge of Catholicism was still foggy at best, and quite often full of elementary errors at the fact level. It's the old saying about people who leave the Catholic Church who knew nothing before they left, but suddenly know everything about it afterward--and what they now know is false. It was interesting to read Noll and Nystrom's piece because it confirmed this without saying it. All the Protestant converts profiled had PhD's or were recognized leaders or writers.

One struggles with an example of a prominent Catholic going the other way. The conservative radio personality Hugh Hewitt converted at 35 or so but for the life of me I have no idea why. And he doesn't sound like he was that well catechized as a Catholic either, though he seems now to have a handle on some Catholic moral teaching relating to political issues. When I listen to him talk about religion on the radio he sounds genuine but also promotes Rick Warren and other evangelical fetishes of the month.

Whatever the case, it's an exciting time for the Catholic Church and for all Christians. I predict the conversions to the Catholic Church will only grow more numerous in the next few years in America.

Patrick Coulton

It is very interesting that the authors pose such a question.

For a Catholic who believes in the Real Presence and especially its relation to
the notion of the visible Body of Christ, conversion is diffficult
(like imagening living without food) though there are probably
many cases where leaving is accompanied by some scandal within the Church.

There can be no doubt that many more Catholics leave the Church for some sort
of Protestant religion than the reverse. What is rare (as far as I know) is
for a well known pious Catholic to convert to Protestantism
(especially if the Real Presence is denied in that dispensation).

Mainline Protestantism may be in trouble because the idea of
sola scriptura led to so many problems philosophically when
scripture was tested by historical criticism. Conservatives
in these Churches are sucessful to the extent that
they remain faithful to the original teachings of the reformers.

Evangelical Protestentism is much healthier, but probably as
diverse in teaching as it can be and will
probably continue to diverge as there is no obvious way to reign in
inovations in interpreting scripture.

Deacon John M. Bresnahan

I live near Gordon College- an Evangelical school. Recently they had Phillip Jenkins the author of "The New anti-Catholicism" as a campus headliner speaker for two days. I went both days--and in front of huge campus audiences which couldn't have included many Catholics at all--he was a more pro-Catholic speaker than you would find at the cess pit known as Boston College.

Carl Olson

Deacon John: I've said on occasion (and only half in jest) that two of the finest Catholic apologists in America today are Phillip Jenkins and Michael Medved — one an Episcopalian and the other a Jew. I have great admiration for both men. Dr. Jenkins is a fine intellectual, and a very productive one at that. He seems to have a new book every year.

Rich Leonardi

I found it curious that Dr. Noll references Catholic converts to evangelicalism. He cites Kreeft, Howard and others who've crossed the Tiber to Rome, yet I know of no Catholic intellectuals of their weight who've crossed in the other direction.

Rich Leonardi

Patrick Coulton: I just noticed you raised, more or less, the same issue I did. Add to my description "Catholic intellectuals of their weight and overall orthodoxy," i.e., Matthew Fox doesn't count.

Colm O'Higgins

In my experience, Catholics who convert or simply stop practicisng, do so because of woefully inadequate formation which of course varies in manifestation. Evangelical formation, on the otherhand, appears to produce many Christians deeply committed to their faith. Clearly here Noll & Nystrom's call for discussion is not only warranted, but desperately needed.

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