As a reverted Catholic and former Evangelical, I’ve often heard fellow believers site the theologians, pastors or speakers whom God has used to lead them to faith in Christ. Many of them would site sermons from Billy Graham, John Piper, Francis Chan, R.C. Sproul and many others. For this article, I’d like to give a shout out to the prominent voices whose works have helped me through my understanding of the Catholic faith.
Some of them might seem like household names in the Catholic community, but I think they are worth sharing for the sake of introducing them to my non-Catholic readers. I like to think of it as how rock and metal musicians often talk about the bands and artists who influenced their style of playing. There are so many amazing priests, theologians, lay-apologists and speakers that it’s difficult to list them all. But for the sake of brevity, I will list 7 of the ones who have had the most effect on me as a revert to the Catholic faith.
1 – Dr. Scott Hahn
Dr. Scott Hahn is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He is the author of several books such as The Lamb’s Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (an account of his conversion experience from Presbyterianism to Catholicism, co-authored by his wife Kimberly Hahn).
After joining a rosary group with a group of Catholic friends I reconnected with, one of them lent me a CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media featuring Scott Hahn discussing the biblical significance of Mary. Since Marian dogma was a topic I had struggled to understand since leaving Catholicism as a teenager, Scott Hahn’s use of typology and connecting the dots through parallels between the Old and New Testaments helped me lower my guard.
You can learn more about Dr. Scott Hahn and his works on his website.
2 – Dave Armstrong
While I had been following Patheos articles from several different faith channels, Dave Armstrong’s presence on social media had stood out to me the most. After reading several of his articles and several of his debates, I found that the arguments I’ve typically heard from Evangelicals against Catholicism were tackled head-on and broken down in an honest fashion. This led me to eventually read his books ‘A Biblical Defense of Catholicism’ as well as ‘100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura.’ I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dave Armstrong in person while he and his family were travelling through Edmonton on their way home from Alaska.
Dave Armstrong’s site ‘Biblical Evidence For Catholicism‘ can be found here on Patheos.
3 – Fr. Kristopher Schmidt
Fr. Kris presided at St. Joseph’s Basilica in downtown Edmonton, Alberta when I first started going to Mass again back in 2015. Meeting him through my rosary group friends has helped me initiate the process of coming back into full communion with the Church — which can be a tedious process for many. His love for hockey and our shared appreciation for rock and metal music makes him an approachable and relatable priest even for those who might be intimidated by the sight of the white collar.
Fr. Kristopher has a Facebook page called ‘A Beggar’s Heart‘ which follows the adventures of his priestly vocation.
4 – Brian Holdsworth
Brian is a Catholic convert who is widely known for his down-to-earth video essays that wrestle with moral, philosophical, spiritual and social issues in our current culture. He is also a graphic designer who does digital media work for several parishes and ministries.
I had the pleasant surprise of meeting Brian in person for the first time while trying out different parishes. Admittedly, I may or may not have fan-girled a little when I introduced myself. Brian, if you happen to be reading this, I apologize for the weird introduction!
5 – Bishop Robert Barron
Bishop Barron is an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of the Catholic ministry Word On Fire. He is currently one of the most renowned Catholic personalities on the internet, which earned him the informal title of “bishop of the internet.”
While familiarizing myself with Catholic online ministries, I stumbled across Word On Fire. I became more familiar with them after attending a brief seminar at my parish while watching the first DVD of the Catholicism series. I especially appreciated Bishop Barron’s way of provoking reflective thought in how we understand the world and how we view Scripture and history.
You can catch Bishop Robert Barron’s content on his Youtube channel as well as on WordOnFire.org.
6 – Jimmy Akin
Jimmy is a former Presbyterian who converted to Catholicism, and is an internationally renown apologist and speaker.
During my transition from Protestantism back to Catholicism, I immersed myself into listening to and watching short Q&A episodes on Catholic Answers. I have to say, I was immediately enamored by Jimmy Akin’s gentle demeanor and willingness to engage with difficult theological questions with humility and nuance. He also has an epic beard and an unparalleled taste in fashion — not that has anything to do with apologetics, but still.
7 – Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Fr. Longenecker was raised in an Evangelical home, became ordained as an Anglican minister and later converted to Catholicism — in which he was ordained as a priest under the Pastoral Provision for married convert clergy.
In the realm of the Patheos blogosphere, I was drawn to Fr. Dwight’s commentary on Progressive Christianity and the state of the Church in the modern era, which resonated with how I struggled to reconcile traditional Christianity with agnostic thought.
While Fr. Dwight may no longer be on Patheos, he continues to write on his blog Standing On My Head! on his main website as well as speaking at events.
For my Catholic readers, what prominent theologians, apologists, priests and speakers have been influential in YOUR walk of faith? Feel free to share them in the comments!