Another Evangelical Convert to the Catholic Church

by Steve Ray on January 12, 2010

9781433502316mFrom Francis Beckwith’s Blog “Return to Rome.” Joshua Betancourt is the co-author of the book with Geisler, Is Rome the True Church?, which came out just last year! The book attempts to debunk the Catholic Church.

(I was interested to find out the book frequently quotes me and attempts to argue (poorly) against my book Upon this Rock!)

“Joshua Betancourt, welcome home! One of my Baylor philosophy PhD students brought to my attention today that Norman Geisler’s co-author of Is Rome the True Church? (Crossway Books, 2008), Joshua Betancourt, has converted to Catholicism! This has been confirmed by Doug Beaumont, a friend of Mr. Betancourt’s. Here’s what Doug writes on his blog (emphasis mine):

“I saw the website (www.catholicscomehome.org). This represents a fairly major move going on in this generation. There are books, TV shows, websites, etc. all focused on those who have left and returned to the RC church. There are also Protestants converting to Roman Catholicism.

“One chapter in the book Is Rome the True Church? is dedicated to why this is happening. Interestingly, the book’s co-author, a friend of mine named Joshua Betancourt, converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after the book was published! Nor is he the only one. I know several people, whose minds I highly respect, who have made the same decision (Francis Beckwith, J. Budziszewski, to name some famous recent converts). Of course, the opposite is happening too – lots of RC’s are converting to some form of Protestant-Evangelicalism.”

upon-this-rockYes, there are Catholics leaving for the Protestant churches, but as I state elsewhere there are notable Protestants converting to Catholicism, but no intellectuals or notable Catholics leaving for Protestantism. Even Protestants are willing to admit this: Evangelical writer Riddlebarger admits that “While evangelicalism is growing numerically, apparently there are not as many notable Roman Catholics becoming evangelicals as vice-versa” (Roman Catholicism, hostile to the Catholic Church, ed. John Armstrong [Chicago: Moody Press, 1994], 240). He fails to mention any actual “notable Catholics” leaving to become Evangelicals since I think he would be hard pressed to come up with a list. But a list of notable Protestants converting to Catholicism is as long as your arm. Many Evangelicals are alarmed.

I think the majority of Catholics leaving Rome for Evangelical groups is mainly due to the fact that it is more difficult being a Catholic in some ways. The moral standards are higher regarding divorce and remarriage, abortion, contraception, etc. Of course many Catholics remain and violate Catholic morality, but many choose a looser lifestyle and jump ship. In other words, many people leave the Catholic Church for reasons “below the belt” and then make up theological reasons for their departure such as “I don’t believe the Pope is biblical and now I believe in the Bible alone.” What this really means is “I want the freedom to decide for myself and I don’t want an organization telling me what to do. It is between me and God.”

Of course many others leave to find more entertainment, goods and services for their kids, or some preacher who teaches the Bible the way desired, or moral code that fits “me.”  This is an American entertainment mentality — what can God do for me? I want to be fed? I want a church that has lots of good music, stuff for my kids, excitement, etc. The Catholic Church has never seen itself as an entertainment center. It is here to serve God. Mass is not about “me and my kids” having a good time on Sunday. it is about worshiping God in the way God prescribes.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

russ rentler January 12, 2010 at 11:27 PM

“I think the majority of Catholics leaving Rome for Evangelical groups is mainly due to the fact that it is more difficult being a Catholic in some ways.”
Rightly said. My late Catholic mom told my brother and I when we became evangelicals and left the Faith as young teens that we were taking the easy way out because it was “hard to be Catholic.” She was right(at the time I didn’t agree, looking at loose living Catholics), but I never had any idea how much grace there was in the Sacraments to be Catholic if one takes advantage of them.

Pray for J. Bethancourt as he will catch much flak from his brethren who will now stink up the blogosphere with debates about whether he is saved or not . ugggh!

Pete January 13, 2010 at 6:22 AM

The reason so many Catholics convert to Evangelicalism can be summed up in 2 words: lousy catechesis.

If one believes the truth of the Holy Eucharist, one cannot leave it, even if the priest celebrates mass in a pink tutu and Sister Disenchantia does all the homilies on women’s rights. If one has been taught that the Eucharist is a communial meal and love fest, well they have the communal meal across the road at Mega Church World.

People who think and research gravitate to the true Church. Americans don’t, by and large, think.

Theresa January 13, 2010 at 3:47 PM

I agree with Pete. If all Catholics studied and lived out their faith — in other words, if we were the saints that we are all called to be — there would be very few serious Christians who are still “protesting,” and probably many fewer Muslims, agnostics, and atheists, too. Our culture, sadly, is so far gone that to turn it around may require martyrs in the mold of St. Stephen, who died praying for those who stoned him. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

Arie January 13, 2010 at 11:06 PM

Following Peter’s comment above, I agree Catholics not knowing what they believe one reason it is so easy for them to leave. One example: I know a young Nigerian doing graduate work in an American university who comes from a strong Catholic family. he has been here one year. He teaches CCD Sunday mornings at his local parish. He tells me compared to what he was taught growing up in the Catholic faith in his parish, it is “too easy” what Catholic middle schoolers in America are required to learn.

Coletta January 13, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Thank you Pete. I agree with you. I am a cradle Catholic who has “come home”, not that I pursued any other religion. I did not understand at all what was truly happening on the altar. I believe my apostacy was due to lousy catechesis. If you don’t really know, it’s easier to walk away when the going get’s tough.

Now I find myself wanting to run to the altar, my Amen is a joyous one and since returning, I have not missed Sunday mass.

I think it is interesting that no notable Catholics have left the church and that notable protestants journies are bringing them back to the fold. Welcome Home brother.

Barbara Edsall January 25, 2010 at 5:39 PM

I am not famous or notable in any way but I am a 27-year Protestant so joyful to be in the process of converting to Catholicism. My husband, still Protestant, watched me for years feeling that somehow, I felt that something was missing. While it’s complicated, basically what was missing was reverence for God. That was the beginning of my search. I have found it in the Catholic Church. All those years there was a treasure house close by that no one told me about. Now I am in it, though not yet a member. I knew immediately that if I wanted to get closer to Jesus, this was the way. As C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Great Divorce”–”I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.”I will probably write more once I have actually been received into the Church. I am so, so thankful for each and every person who comes home.

pz32Chloe February 12, 2010 at 11:52 PM

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Sue April 7, 2010 at 9:39 AM

I am struggling to stay in the catholic church. I am a Franciscan University of Steubenville graduate. I wasn’t a theology major, but did study under Scott Hahn. The reason for my consideration of leaving the church started with regular news research.. in which NOT ONE Catholic has been able to answer my questions. I would like to know why the church is so deeply involved with the luciferian United Nations and I know they are a state, so that’s not a good enough reason). Why does the church back the Rights of the Child Convention which erodes parents rights and hands it over to the state? Why does the Church want a new world order and new economic order run by the evil United Nations? Why did Pope Benedict 16 urge nation leaders to sign the Copenhagen treaty (fake global warming international binding treaty)? Why does the Pope support the fake green agenda? Why did a member of the observatory say that “aliens are our brothers and they may not have original sin”..boy that’s a slippery slope! Why does the catholic catechism say Mary is the “All Holy One” in capital letters (this is a name for God alone)? Why does the church say there is NO SALVATION for anyone who does not totally submit to the pope?

In a practical point, I have gone through a very rough sickness for a long time. I tried to get my child in the catholic school. Due to a handicap, I could not get him down the stairs. I asked if the teacher could meet me at the top to take him down (he was little then). They refused and said too bad. I tried another time to get him in the school, they refused to help me. I then went to the non-denominational school and they bent over backward to help me. Needless to say, that’s where my son went..

Why is it that the majority of Catholics voted for Obama? Where are the fruits? Most Catholics do not have a close relationship with the Lord. They go to church because their parents went to church and because the church says if you don’t go every Sunday you are going to hell. So, they “get their points in” by fulfilling their obligation. I can speak for myself on this one, before I had a relationship with the Lord.

I’ve studied both sides now. And I’m having a problem..a big problem with the Pope Paul 2 and Pope B16, asking for a “new world order”. I also have a HUGE problem with the interfaith prayer meeting for “peace” that PP2 had in 1986. He allowed Budda on the alter to be worshiped. He also allowed the Budda on the tabernacle. Shintoists, Hindus, North American which doctors, orthodox and Christians all prayed to their own gods for world peace. What is WRONG with this picture? This sounds very one-world-religion to me. As a believer, you should not be yoked with unbelievers in prayer! Again, no one has answered any of these questions. I am open to what the Lord wants me to do, and my husband and I pray for it always. But I will never be for a merged one world religion and a new world order that will be false peace and eventually the antichrist.

russ rentler June 12, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Sue:
I am sorry that the Catholic school was not accommodating for your handicapped child. I too get concerned when it “seems” that the Church wants to be “more green” etc. However, this very same Church brings us Jesus Christ through the hands of its priests. That alone will keep me here forever. Regardless of bad Catholics, bad bishops and even bad popes (There have only been less then 10) this is the Church Jesus started and said the gates of Hell will not prevail against. Other than the Orthodox Church, it is the only place on earth we have access to the bread of life.
If i were you I suggest reading the context and intention of the pope’s comments on a new world order. I do not believe they have the intent that you are alluding to.
God bless

Pete May 16, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Hello Sue, (I don’t agree with all of your assessments) at the same time I don’t see where you gave any reasons for leaving the Church but, I do see where you gave plenty of reasons for staying in the Church. Sure the Church has problems that’s why it needs people like you. (BTW, churches outside the Catholic church also have their particular set of issues.) Because of us, the Church is always in need of “reform”. Read Paul’s letters, there isn’t one ATTA’ BOY among them. Even St. Paul, right from the beginning was “reforming” the Church. At the same time the Church is Divine and can’t fall away from the truth. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. If this is not true then Jesus is a liar and if that’s the case then there is nowhere to turn to.

Janine July 13, 2012 at 11:43 PM

Actually, the marriage laws of the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) are much stricter that the Catholic canons governing matrimony. Remarriage after divorce is only allowed for adultery, (the innocent party may remmarry). This is because Jesus declared it thus, and he alone exercises authority over marriage. No church can grant “annulment”, but Christ, who is Lord of the Sabbath and of Marriage and of all things can allow for that which he see’s fit…and for the hurt party and victim of adultery, Jesus allows remarriage. It is very strict–but living a single life is not so bad. Lutherans have nuns too you know–but I am probably a little old! I love all Christians, and feel very close, indeed, to Roman Catholics! Our Lord is so very kind. God bless.

Mme Scherzo July 19, 2012 at 1:32 AM

Well, I’m 50, and my church hopping has run the gamut. As a kid I went to a very fundamentalist non-denominational church where the only people going to heaven was US, and Catholics, spawn of the devil that we were taught are hellbound.
I left a small semi-charismatic church because the communion that Sunday was accompanied by the recorded music of DC Talk singing Jesus Freak. I didn’t take communion, but left shortly afterwards, never to go back. I went back to a conservative Presbyterian church and never felt at home, though the worship service was respectful and worshipful and the sermons were good. I really felt like I was missing something, and it was reverence for the Church and the Savior who died for the sins of the world. It was, as Colson said, not having a magesterium. No real confession, no real self-examination. I respect the sincerity of the Evangelicals I grew up with, but I’m a ‘homeless Christian’. I know that converting to Catholicism is going to probably give my father a heart attack, after all he nourished me in his hatred of all things Catholic. My sins against the Church are many, and before I die, I’d like to repent and serve Her the best I can.

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