Staunch Evangelical Missionary Decides To Become Catholic


From the time I was a kid, I was taught that in the hierarchy of careers, foreign missionary service was right at the top of the list of things that please God. Marty and I discussed the possibility of his teaching in a school for missionary children. Since he already spoke Spanish, we knew it was likely we’d end up in Latin America or Spain. We prayed that God would use us as missionaries to bring Catholics to Christ. We wanted to bring them “true Christianity.” From the time we made that decision until our arrival in Guatemala, a little over eight years went by.

Shortly after we arrived in Guatemala my tidy paradigm of “true Christianity” began to disintegrate. For more than two years, I experienced a persistent nagging at the back of my consciousness regarding several theological issues. Getting to the mission field brought those problems to the fore.

Perhaps the most distasteful of the nagging issues was what I had come to see as the cultural hegemony inherent in Evangelicalism’s mission strategy. Evangelicals were (and are) importing wholesale a specifically American brand of piety, imposing the forms and symbols and jargon of “American Christianity” on the people in other countries. This religious colonialism bothered me a lot.

There was also the problem of illiteracy in Latin America. Since childhood I had been steeped in the mindset that the Bible is the literal touchstone of all things Christian. Consequently, I had a hard time integrating the Evangelical “read it for yourself” approach with a culture in which many people couldn’t read.

And finally, the Protestant notion of sola scriptura (the Bible alone) fell apart each time I tried to test it. I began to see that Evangelicalism’s insistence on going by the Bible alone led continually into division and problems. Worse yet, claiming to go by the Bible alone didn’t really provide any certitude of belief for believers.

Because of my upbringing and theological training, I didn’t realize at first that as soon as I allowed myself to question these three problem areas I was pointing myself in the direction of Rome. I thought I was just settling some troubling issues, but it was really at this point that my journey into the Catholic Church began.

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