Quality or Quantity?

Eric Sammons writes here about the phenomenon of a few Evangelicals becoming Catholics but a lot of Catholics becoming Evangelicals. Basically he’s saying that the Catholics are getting quality and the Evangelicals quantity. I daren’t comment lest I be branded one of the intellectual ‘egg heads’ who has become Catholic, (and therefore am part of the elite) but what do you think?

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Mmmmmm….. There certainly seems to be the generalised suggestion that clever people convert and discover the 'truth' of Catholicism through intellect and converts to the evangelical Churches are just having emotional flings. It's a bit blinkin judgmental if you ask me! Are these converts to Catholicism as abundant in love as they are in ze grey cells? Otherwise they are just spouting hollow sounds. Many friends of mine who left the faith were university educated Catholics, they did annoy me, as it seemed to me they deliberately avoided looking at the facts of our religion, also in my opinion they were seeking an evangelical experience that was available in the Catholic charismatic movement. The lesser learned were having much more of a genuine conversion to Christ experience (albeit perhaps not going to be a fulfilling lasting one)than the educated ones, who all seemed to want to hold influence and power in their new found faith. I suppose motives of the heart are mixed and intellect used inappropriately has it's shortcomings as much as ignorance. Nope, the test is love. Do they love the Lord their God more after they convert, whether to the Catholic or Evangelical faith ? What is the fruit of their conversion?Personally, I like to think of myself as an orthodox Catholic Evangelical with a fondness for praising the Lord outloud every now and again. I'm not terribly clever, God knows I wouldn't be able to work out theological stuff for myself, that's why I am a Catholic, I can blame the hierarchy if they mislead me, so what's to lose? Let them get the headaches worrying about what's what dogmatically Heb 13:17. I'm trying to learn to bake.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01198856128213307540 Elizabeth

    I watched an evangelical TV show for several years here in Canada and it did seem to me that the people who left the Catholic Church to become Evangelicals didn't understand the Catholic Faith and were somehow alienated from it. Whereas from watching "The Journey Home" it seems that most evangelicals who come into the Catholic Church come when they start asking questions about their evangelical beliefs, and get to know them better and find them lacking. One thing I have noticed also is that Evangelicals who become Catholic usually only have good words to say about their former Churches and communities whereas Catholics who leave are usually very negative about the Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18298703459376168561 just evelyn

    I agree with Elizabeth. In my experience, Evangelicals defect because they know their faith, and Catholics leave because they don't know theirs. I hate to sound judgmental, but this is my consistent observation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01194200955033642204 Dave

    I've never heard of anyone from Christendom or Thomas Aquinas Colleges ever leaving the Faith for Protestantism (a few have gone Rad Trad, but that's another story). And the only Franciscan U. alumna I've ever come across who left the Faith entirely had sexuality issues (which, again, is another story).It seems to me that a comprehensive Catholic education "takes" better…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    bro Daryl and I always thought youwere an egghead…is this in dispute or something… one misses out on exciting developments in world Catholicism over here…still the ordinariate sets sail…'should I stay or should I go?'-compris the Clashas ye wouldn't know…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05000893614655251587 Mark in Spokane

    I agree with Elizabeth. I think that a large number of the Catholics who become Protestant do so for a couple of reasons: 1) they weren't active churchgoers to begin with and then they encountered a vibrant presentation of the Gospel in a Protestant context and they converted; 2) they were active churchgoers but they converted for "lifestyle reasons" — they were divorced, remarried, married somebody who was a Protestant, etc. Most Evangelical churches don't have a problem with divorce and remarriage, for example. I think for a small subset for group #2, they convert to mainline Protestant churches for liberal reasons — pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-women's ordination. I have met a few of those folks, I must admit.

  • http://catholic4areason.wordpress.com/ catholic4areason

    My husband and I fall into Eric's analysis very well. We are both evangelical raised and educated with seven and half years of pastoring before converting. We deeply appreciate our evangelical/Mennonite upbringings. The Catholics we know who have left the Church fit his description of them pretty well too. We know some very nice ex-Catholics who admit they don't know the Catholic faith and sometimes talk to us about it. Perhaps, someday, they will return.I agree with Eric that I would rather see devout, believing people who are committed to their faith than pew-warmers who are clueless. However, I hope the pew-warmers will someday get it and become devout. The grace available through our Faith makes that more likely.As far as your being an egg-head, GUILTY on all counts!! Tracy in ND

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    just read william oddiecatholic herald of london todayas i have noted before and the good Padre knows this is the truth but in the spirit of catholic and Christ-like charity won't say it:the current anglicon 'churchmen' have squandered the CofE's money with their old boy mates' in the city and now every farthing they can screw out of the ordinariate they will to pay for their own poisinous ('sin' i spell it ) parasitic sinecurismthe romans need to jettison the old 'model' of we must have the historic churches- the Padre KNOWS what a fetish the brits have about their church bulidings, which is not surprising- but the rotten hierachy of these isles has every intention of holding them hostage as much as possiblegoogle st nicholas orthodox oxfordsmall, very warm(!) and inspiringdon't fight this battle on their terms Romehave a 'paradigm shift' on this onone of the most inspiring churches in oxford is the oratory… as a building not terribly amazing but the congregation is over 900 soulsst michael's at the north gate- going back to the saxons and largely 'a house of trade' for tourists- has a small elderly congregation which makes up the caretakers for the museum the church has becomesome dons at magdalen college, like kings in cambridge, want to turn the chapel into a swimming pool… in cambs it is a squash courtnah, the Padre can stear the roman prelates right on this onewill they listen or continue those much loved and ever so comfy 'wars of religion'…?i go to the oratory and st nicholas to pray… my 'pinch of incense' goes to the Triune Godnot MOLLOCHy'all pray for these isles… there is a chance… it can and may work if we make it workpreach it bro Padre we're with yah!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    You shouldn't shave your head if you don't want to be considered an egg-head! :)The article is spot-on. I've been discussing this issue with 'solid' Evangelicals for quite some time and who bemoan the state of Christianity in Evangelicalism.The 'Evangelical' groups these Catholics join are actually just as ignorant, but there's not even any doctrine, and Scripture means whatever you want it to mean.That is, these ex Catholics don't become any Evangelical, but a particular sort of Evangelical. They join those with a model of 'church' spawned in the late 70s early 80s known as the 'house-church movement', but has grown like wildfire into mega-churches.In essence, it's raw feeling that 'converts', which doesn't even go as deep as fideism, as it's intransitive. It has no object outside itself.Frequently, the so-called 'love' shown is conditional on compliance with the group, and any 'questioning' (thinking) leads to alienation, almost like a cult.A phrase I often hear from these Evangelicals is that 'their' church 'meets my need' (and they move on when it ceases to do so or they need a bigger fix). This 'new' Evangelicalism sells itself on its 'therapeutic' value, not truth. What Durkheim called, 'collective effervescence'.These Churches they join aren't what I'd call 'meat-and-potatoes' Evangelical churches, which are declining in numbers because they still preach the cross, but therapeutic communities for the broken, but despite all the talk of 'Jesus', they don't attend to meet him, but to get 'stroked'. To have an experience of 'Signs and wonders'.For those ex Catholics who bleat that they weren't being fed, what they mean is that the Mass didn't make them 'feel better'.Their criterion of the true and the good is sentiment. If it feels good, it's true or the right thing to do, just like the Mormon, 'Burning in the Bosom', and I reckon that's hedonism, not Christianity.It's interesting that the 'egg-heads' that are converting are also likely to come from 'meat-and-potatoes' or 'dour' Evangelicalism: Presbyterian and other confessional denominations, and not these 'house churches' which most of the ex Catholics are joining.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04843514873861242426 Howard

    If the claim is true, what should we make of it? I would be almost as distrustful of a Christianity that appealed only to the elites as I am of Scientology. But, thanks be to God, the majority of Catholics are not rich, powerful, or among the intellectual elite. For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble. But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen: and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    hey Howard'off-scouring' says St. Paulhooray… that would be us

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Commenter Paul, in one of his descriptions of evangelical Churches, used the term:'therapeutic communities for the broken,' Heaven forbid the Catholic Church should ever be accused of being therapeutic for broken souls ;)Tell me Paul, are you completely whole? How did you obtain completeness of being and be left with such an eye of critical scrutiny to judge the broken with? I hear no grattitude in your words for any kind of healing, be it spiritual or otherwise. Did God give you a life without breakages perhaps?If a broken person, let's say a drug addict or alcoholic for example, goes to one of these Churches with lapsed faith or no hope, and gets cleaned up and starts being a responsible member of his community and then goes out and helps other broken people do the same, don't you see that as a spiritual fruit? The local Christian Renewal Centre near me has many groups such as this, that turn people's lives around. One of the Minister's is an ex-addict himself, he's helped friends of mine who were not Catholic and those who were! They love Jesus and they don't care who knows it!If being a shiny egg head is the be all and end all, then these broken people don't stand a chance. Maybe that's why God called the evangelicals, in order to give them one? As for mocking signs and wonders and seekers of same, I would remind you of 1 Cor 14:1 "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy."God does not live solely in a building, a box, or in the works of G K Chesterton and the like…."Do I not fill Heaven and Earth?" Jer 23:24

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Hi shadowlands.I think either I pressed one of your 'hot buttons', which blinded you to what I was saying, or I was unclear, for which, I apologise, as I agree with what you say. :)My point was more to do with a tendency of many of these 'churches' to prey on vulnerability, and these individuals can end up seeking 'salvation' in the community itself, rather than God. The form, rather than the content.I am involved ecumenically, and I get a sort of 'red carpet' treatment from some, reserved specially for Catholics, that Protestants from their other denominations never get. For, to them, I'd be a real trophy!For example, one day I was hidden round the corner from one of them and heard him ridiculing the Catholic Church with one of his friends in very offensive ways. Yet, to my face, I'm his 'best mate', and 'we're all brothers in the Lord': because he currently thinks he can pluck me from the clutches of 'the whore of Babylon'. Little does he know… :)As Norman Geisler says in one of the threads off The Eric Sammon's post, here:http://tinyurl.com/4pp2as2"So, while we are losing a few intellectual egg-heads out the top of evangelicalism to Rome, we are gaining tens of thousands of converts out the bottom from Catholicism. The trade-off highly favors evangelicalism. So, invite a Catholic to your Bible study or church. There is a good possibility that they will get saved! They have a least been pre-evangelized by Roman Catholicism to believe in God, miracles, Christ, His death and resurrection."- Now, how cynical is that? And I've experienced that mentality a great deal, and it's the point I was making. It's the good old 'bait-and-switch' trick of which they're so fond. They sell the whole show on what's in it 'for you'. It's what some cult experts call, 'love-bombing'.These groups often collude with these issues, too, through creating a form of co-dependence, keeping the person reliant on them, which continues allowing them to feel benevolent and charitable towards the broken, whilst the broken feel grateful and indebted.The issues are very complex, but we can't always accept things on their face value. It could be spiritual fruit, or it could be one of any number of secondary neurotic manifestations.In the same way, I'm not 'mocking signs and wonders', but the obsession with them, considering those people, often damaged emotionally, who end up following the likes of Todd Bentley, Bill Johnson, Benny Hinn, etc..One has to ask why often the most vociferous and aggressive anti-Catholics are ex Catholics. Do they come to that conclusion themselves, or do you think they're indoctrinated/brainwashed? Do you think if those churches they join where they end up so bitter and twisted about Catholicism – even if they do end up apparently happy and off drugs – are really spirit-filled?Is the social utility and success of a group a sure sign of the Spirit?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @ shadowlands: "Are these converts to Catholicism as abundant in love as they are in ze grey cells? Otherwise they are just spouting hollow sounds."Considering what many Evangelicals go through when they swim the Tiber—and I've read and heard plenty of conversion stories—the process is hardly a dry flip of an intellectual switch. Not only is there often grief, but also the convert is shunned by their former congregations. One, David Currie, was told by a former seminary classmate, "If you're willing to go through what's about to happen to you for the sake of truth, then you care about the truth a lot more than I ever have." Quite a few have given up paying pastoral positions for not even a promise of work. And they all say the same thing: "I had to be in the Church Christ established." It's precisely because they love the Lord so much to begin with that they make themselves do something that can often be described without hyperbole as "traumatic".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Paul,I have replied to your comment but it hasn't shown up?Tony,I see you regard the giving up of finances as one of the main proofs of an authentic heart conversion. Perhaps it is, the love of money is the root of all evil after all, so any move away from financial security is a sign of fidelity to heaven's seeming way of poverty, at least whilst on earth.By the way, I see from your profile that you are a banker. About the only financially secure folks in the UK a c'est moment!What price would you pay to convert, if you had to?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @ shadowlands: I am not a banker, in the sense you apparently meant. I was until recently a telephone customer-service rep working in BofA's home loans division. (And thanks for reminding me to change my profile.) Much less financial security to begin with. Hopefully, if I had had to convert to Catholicism I would have had the courage and sufficient grace to do whatever was necessary. (Keeping in mind that frequent conversion of heart is also necessary ….)I hope you didn't zero in on the mention of money and completely miss the point of also incurring hostility from family and former friends?

  • http://squarepegs.wordpress.com/ squarepegs

    One problem I see with any sort of profiling is that we don’t want people moving in either direction for wrong motives. We don’t want to motivate Evangelicals through appeals to pride or elitism to become Catholic; nor do we want Catholics to become Evangelical out of false humility or mistaking feeling for spirituality. As an Evangelical considering Catholicism, I found it very off-putting to see Evangelical coverts to the Church described as the “brightest and best.” I saw this as manipulation, just as I did the false accusation from a Catholic that I was hesitating because I didn’t like the Church’s teaching on sexuality. Although I did convert, these sorts of things were stumbling blocks.I do note with alarm the people in my parish who don’t know and don’t care what the Church teaches, or openly reject that teaching. It mystifies me why some bishops seem OK with this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Hi, Shadowlands.I’m really sorry I can’t see your post either, and would like to have read your reply. I always struggle with where my boundaries are with Evangelicalism, and am always looking for ways that others deal with it.The principles I try to work by are two articles I read on Catholic Answers some time ago. One by Mark Brumley, the other by Fr Paul Scalia:Agreeing to Disagree http://tinyurl.com/38e9qnfThe Church Militant or Belligerent? http://tinyurl.com/5w4lh7aFor me, it’s a judgement of whether I can take things on face value or have to use discernment as to whether a game’s being played.As a father, our 8 year old son often tries to outwit me with tricks to get his own way, and if I was merely trusting and credulous, I would jeopardise his safety and development as a responsible person.I love him deeply, but sometimes it’s necessary to try to assess his motives, and I think the same’s necessary with my relationship with non-Catholics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Hi squarepegs. Good point.The biggest 'stumbling block' I've had to deal with, is that several of the Evangelicals I have started to nurture, who've show an interest in Catholicism, are validly Baptised, but are then discovered to be in 'irregular marriages'. (It seems almost as if there are more divorced and remarried Evangelical couples, than there are secular ones!)I find this galling, not because I think the church is in error 'in being so strict', but as there are Catholics in our parish who are in irregular marriages, but because they're cradle Catholics, and were mates with the previous heterodox priest 'who didn't have a problem with it' (nor much else besides), believe it doesn't matter, and receive communion as their 'right', and who, 'don’t know and don’t care what the Church teaches, or openly reject that teaching' – just as you said.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    PaulI cut and tried to paste my original comment and the laptop froze, so I lost it. It's a sign, I think.Basically, I believe ecumenism is a gift from God, it starts in the heart. How it pans out, eg; whether in conversions or otherwise is not my task, it is a work of God.I must try and be the best example of a follower of Christ, as I can be, on any given day. I am not into proselytising as I absolutely HATE it when I sense this is being done to me. Not to say other's aren't tasked with converting others to their religion, I just don't have that particular fire.My Catholicism, much like sobriety, should work by attraction to/of it's adherents, not force.Sorry my original comment was much more in-depth, but maybe full of faults aswell?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Hi Shadowlands.Yet again, I agree.There are many variants around of the method attributed to St Francis: 'preach the Gospel at all times, but only use words if necessary.'. But, from my experience, they're the ones that start the debate once they know you're Catholic. I rarely have them ask because they are genuinely interested and want to know, but because they want to catch me out.'So why do you call your priests father?', for example. But if you actually have a decent answer, particularly if it's Biblically convincing, they then shift topic to confession, purgatory, etc., because they're not interested in what we believe, but saving us from what they think we believe.In terms of Catholic anthropology, we are objectified. We are not persons to them, but trophies. But also, I often wonder how much they rely on conversions to validate or shore-up those beliefs of which they're doubtful. That is, 'it must be true if I can get others to accept it as such…'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @ Paul: I agree with you (and, by extension, with shadowlands)—best conversion tool is to live the faith authentically. Recently I've had very little opportunity to discuss these things with non-Catholics, because my life has mostly revolved around work, and discussing religion at the workplace anymore is like deliberately marching into a minefield.@ squarepegs: "I do note with alarm the people in my parish who don’t know and don’t care what the Church teaches, or openly reject that teaching. It mystifies me why some bishops seem OK with this."I don't know that any bishops ARE okay with it as such. It may be that your local ordinary is taking other approaches to it, or may regard your pastor as having front-line responsibility for the problem. Have you discussed this with your pastor?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 kentuckyliz

    My generation is a lost one because of awful burlap banner catechesis and Kum-ba-ya. (70s kid)The church could not compete with what the world was offering.I sincerely hope that the church at all levels including local starts believing and teaching and practicing what it really believes and teaches and practices.That is the ONLY answer.Not heterodox pablum.Thus saieth God: hot or cold, baby! I'll vomit you lukewarm out of my mouth!Speaking of which: B16 gave an address in December primarily targeted towards church administrators and professionals. He contrasted the administrative, bureaucratic, professional, privileged caste church and the devotional church of ordinary people who truly believe–the privileged caste tries to limit and squelch the devotional church, and loathes it with contempt, even while it makes its living off the sacrificial tithing of those converted hearts. [The parasite that hates its host! -- my words]B16 called on the privileged caste to convert!HALLELUJAH!!!I cheered. The man is a prophet speaking forth the word of the Lord!(I worked for a diocesan college for 4 years and saw the privileged caste at work–it's disgusting and it hurt my faith.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    I do not think this has anything to do with how intelligent someone is or is not. This is what quality vs. quantity is about. For the record I do think that those coming into the Church are of better stuff than those leaving the Church and becoming evangelical. But not because they are more intelligent. Catholics who leave the Church and become evangelicals never had a correct understanding of the faith and those misunderstandings, misconceptions, and baggage to with them. Those who come into the full communion of the Church have done so through an often painful process: a long drawn out battle and changing of mindset and difficulties from friends and families. On the whole those who enter the full communion of the Church do not do so because they got burned by an evangelical pastor or didn't like the politics of their church. They come through a sincere and long search for the truth, Who is Jesus Christ united to His Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    At first glance, it looks like we're indulging in braggadocio. But it's also a commentary on how Catholic religious formation started going downhill about 40-45 years ago. Anecdotal evidence suggests that things are turning around and that the problems are being corrected, but it'll still take a long time to undo the damage.


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