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102 The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism: The Converts

Lenny’s note: Scott Butler grew up Catholic and left for Evangelical Christianity. He worked with Bart Breuer for awhile trying to get Catholic priests out of the Church.  Bart Breuer was a Catholic priest for 10 years and then left for the 7th Day Adventists and later became Baptist.  Bart was a very angry man because when he was in Rome some priests made fun of him. 

Scott Butler, while working with Bart Breuer, set out to convert Fr. Mitch Pacwa.  Pacwa turned the tables on him and Scott came back to the Church as a Catholic Evangelist.  I have talked with Scott a number of times on the phone and his specialty was helping Evangelical ordained ministers become Catholic.  He has helped over 500 Evangelical ordained ministers become Catholic. He did this by showing them that the Catholic Church was the Biblical Church started by Christ and the Apostles, and it was the Church of the early Church Fathers.  He wrote a book “Jesus, Peter & the Keys” (a Scriptural hand book on the Papacy). 

The ironical thing about Bart Breuer, for all his attempts to get Catholic priests out of the Church, did not succeed. In fact he indirectly helped more people become Catholic.  Bart bought a bunch of Karl Keating's books and sent them to his mailing list, so that his followers would know the Catholic apologetic s approach.  This way they could refute the the so called errors of Catholicism.  In doing so Bart Breuer unwittingly helped some of his followers become Catholic.   After reading Karl Keating’s book some of them became Catholic (not exactly what Breuer had intended). 

The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism by David J. Hartline It started with Scott Hahn and it is still going strong.  The number of prominent Protestant clergy and theologians coming to the Catholic Church has been nothing short of remarkable.  Priests like Father Dwight Longenecker and Father Alvin Kimel are new to the Church and they bring a lot of enthusiasm, scholarship and wit and humor with them.  Father Longenecker might be the only priest who is a graduate of the admittedly anti-Catholic institute of higher learning, Bob Jones University.  Deacon Alex Jones, a former pastor in a prominent African-American Pentacostalist Church in Detroit left behind a vibrant, growing congregation.  However, the pull of Catholicism's 2,000 year-old history and her ability to weather many storms was too much for Deacon Jones.  He now travels around the country telling his conversion story.  In addition, there have been prominent theologians and university scholars like Dr Francis Beckwith, who very recently was the head of the Evangelical Theological Society.  He came home to the Church in April.  The aftershocks from his reversion to Catholicism (he was born into the faith but later left the Church for Evangelicalism during his teenage years in the heyday of the "Jesus Movement,") still are being felt.  He followed Joshua Hochschild who surprised many in the theological world when he recently converted to Catholicism. 

In my book The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism, I note that while many in the media, even some Catholics, are focused on those who have left the Church, few have noticed the significance of so many prominent members of other faiths who have come home to Rome.  It should be noted that many who left the Catholic Faith, usually for a non-denominational mega church, often can't give a theological reason.  They can only say that they enjoy the liveliness and entertainment that a mega church often provides.  It is most encouraging that Catholicism is getting the crème of the crop from other churches.  Entry into the Church for these converts is usually made after a long, difficult journey to come to terms with something that they never thought possible.  For some, like Scott Hahn and Father Dwight Longenecker, the Faith they once mocked is the Faith they have changed their lives and alienated family and friends to join, a decision not taken lightly.  

Often, it is an attempt to better understand Catholicism in order to disprove it that leads to conversion, when they simply could not come up with anything to dispute the key tenets of Catholicism: Scripture and Tradition, the Sacraments, Apostolic Tradition and the role of Mary.  They found themselves falling into the trap that the eminent Pharisee Gamaliel warned about in Acts 5:33-39. They might be fighting against God. 

Many of the former converts, some of whom were admitted anti-Catholics, have now become prominent defenders of the faith.  Dr. Scott Hahn is a mainstay at Franciscan University and is often seen on EWTN.  As a matter of fact there are so many converts and reverts coming home to the Church that one of the most popular shows on EWTN is The Journey Home, hosted by Marcus Grodi.  Besides clergy and scholars there are hundreds of thousands who have entered the Church in recent years. This past Easter, it was announced that over 100,000 people came into the Church, just in the United States.  While bloggers and Catholic apologists Mark Shea and Jimmy Akin came into the Church some time ago, Aimee Milburn and Gerald Augustinus along with twin brothers David Bennett and Jonathan Bennett have chronicled their recent journeys into the Church via their blogs.  It is a truly remarkable story that often gets little media attention.  If the converts keep coming, the Tiber is going to get mighty crowded.  Indeed, the tide is turning!