Oct 30, 2008

Beginning

I am a Catholic.


I spoke these words, out loud, to myself 5 days ago; and now I'm really beginning my journey. But as the song (and Roman philosopher Seneca) says - every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Though really I don't think or feel like anything is ending. Rather, I feel more like Jewel - the unicorn from The Last Battle.

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now... Come further up, come further in!


I hope and pray that this step in my faith draws me further up and further in to God, just as my past steps did ...

I grew up Evangelical, at Grace Fellowship (now Grace Church) and Woodlake Assembly of God Youth Group, until I was about 18 or 19, and then became a "ronin Christian" for about a year or two. After my wife and I married, my best friend invited us to go to Agora - an "Emerging" church. We loved it - the small personal environment, the open-ended discussions, and the emphasis on *living* the faith rather than just intellectually believing it. We've been going there now for about 2 or 3 years I suppose, and we're on the leadership team.

While my mind began to open up more at Agora, a converted Catholic co-worker of mine gave me a book, By What Authority, in which Mark Shea describes his intellectual conversion to Catholicism - fueled in large part by an investigation into Sola Scriptura. So I went on the same investigation and arrived at many of the same conclusions. I began to wonder about some other Catholic doctrines and teachings - some of which I'm still investigating and wondering about.

But quite recently, I had a few of personal experiences that pushed me to make more sure-footed steps towards the Church.

The first of which was a personalized intellectual challenge to Sola Scriptura, and resulting teachings. Tiffany and I got a visit from some very nice Jehova's Witnesses, Joe and Trisha. When they first came by, they left a pamphlet entitled, "What does the Bible really teach?" After thumbing thru most if it, I couldn't deny the scriptural evidence contained in the book, but I also couldn't deny the totally errant interpretations. The thought really struck me personally at that point - "So, *this* is what can happen when we establish our own traditions on our own authority of private interpretation of Scripture."

My next experience actually came soon after. Early on Tuesday morning, I dropped Tiffany off at the airport; she was going to visit her brother in Rhode Island for 5 days. After work that evening, I felt the impending loneliness of the next few days hit me, so I resolved to go check out Theology on Tap. I walked into McNellie's expecting to look for a table of 5 or 6 young adults who "looked Catholic." When I walked upstairs, I was overwhelmed and amazed. The entire upper floor was packed full. Now I go to McNellie's every Wednesday night when it is equally as full, but instead of feeling surrounded by strangers, I felt like I had walked into a room full of family members I had simply never met before. To top it all off, not 2 minutes into the door, I was approached by (unknown-to-me) family friend. "You're a Crouch, aren't you?" ... I was amazed at how personally it seemed that God was accepting me home - by name even!

Finally, the following weekend, I had picked up another book, Crossing the Tiber. In which I read this passage:

A spiritual transformation was taking place in my mind and heart and I knew it; a struggle between my Evangelical Protestant tradition and the ancient and universal tradition of the Church was raging in my soul. ... After a few moments' reflection and a deep sigh of relief I calmly declared, "I am a Catholic." My sense of joy and relief can never be described. The mental turmoil and searching were over. I was home.


But it didn't hit me until the following day, when I actually spoke out-loud, to myself, the same words - "I am a Catholic." I experienced the same joy and relief and knew that God was calling me to step closer to Him in His Church.

And that's where I am now - hoping and praying to draw ever-closer to God as I prepare myself to be accepted by His Church. Like I said, there are still, intellectually, some doctrinal challenges for me, but I think that none of them out-weigh the pulling force I'm feeling to the Church.

There's so much more to write, but I've already delayed this post by a couple extra days, so I need to close this one off. I'll be writing in the future about telling my family, and my first Mass.

7 comments:

Antonio said...

Wonderful post!
May God continue blessing you.
And keep posting!!!

Matt said...

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Seriously though, your 'conversion' experience is fascinating. I will be very interested to hear about your feelings towards other beliefs that may have been different in the past like your position on atonement, transubstantiation, purgatory, confession, praying to saints and others.

Thanks for including us in your journey!

Matt C said...

geez, not only am I not frist post, I'm not even the first matt...

jack and I were talking about you last night. keep us posted

Saint said...

I was elated to hear it when you first told me over IM. Of course, not just because I'm now not the only token Catholic among us! :P

Jeremy Fincher said...

This blog makes me really wish I'd blogged (or at least journaled) my own journey into Catholicism. Oh well -- I'll live vicariously through you :)

luke said...

By the way, Jeremy here is the guy who gave me "By What Authority" :)

Carlus Henry said...

Luke,

Loved your conversion story. I think that it is interesting that I too read both "By What Authority" and my autographed copy of "Crossing the Tiber" by Stephen Ray.

I had a chance to speak with Steve Ray at the Defending the Faith Conference in 2008. That is where my journey really took off.

If I can recommend another book. This is the one that was a pretty much clincher for me. It is called The Four Witnesses by Rod Bennet. Absolutely amazing. It is a great barrier of entry in order to study and learn more about the Early Church.

God bless you brother, and welcome to the best club on earth.