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Monday, May 14, 2007

From Calvinist to Catholic

Rodney Beason

I am a convert to the Catholic Faith from Calvinism. I loved Calvinism and owned a library full of Calvin, Luther, Warfield, Hodge, Murray, Owen, Machen, etc. as well as helped plant a local Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I knew Reformation Theology and how much hatred it generates for the Catholic Church. As a Calvinist, I could boast with the best of them. I even persecuted the Catholic Church and went after every one of them I found, beating them back with Scripture, upon Scripture, upon quotes of Luther, Calvin, etc. I found great pleasure in debating Catholics.

My one flaw was learning what the Early Church Fathers believed. A Catholic who had not fared well in a debate with me, mentioned I should read the Early Church Fathers to see just how Catholic they were. I honestly thought I would just gain more "ammo" to use in my battles.

I found Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp with my first visit to the University Library. I poured over them for months until finally I pounded the books on the table with my fists, tossed them from the fourth to the third level of the library and wept. It seemed these great martyrs for the Faith were Catholic. It had taken about 8 months of going over Clement, Augustine, Athanasius, etc. to see the Catholic Church was the Early Church. I kept coming back to Ignatius and Polycarp as I could not get them out of my mind.

Over the next two years, I read more and more on the Catholic Faith and became less and less convinced the Reformed Faith was correct. It became clear to me; it was nothing more than a novelty, spewing forth doctrines that had never been believed before. Christ promised the Holy Spirit to His Church and stated the gates of hell would not prevail against it. I thought that was a lie and for 1500 years, the Church had been without truth and the gates of hell had prevailed. It is very humbling to come to the conclusion you have been horribly wrong, even to the point of not trusting the words of our precious Lord and Saviour. Yet, I still was not ready to become a Catholic.

Then one day when I was reading the Scripture I read Paul talking about how he was the most religious Pharisee, the most upright, and you know my heart was pierced and I actually laughed about how I could claim I had been one of the best Calvinists around, but then it hit me. Was that even something to boast about? So I looked up one of the most wonderful examples of boasting the Lord mentioned. Luke 18:9-14 (Please read the Scripture as this is my paraphrase)

'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Calvinist and the other a sinner. The Calvinist (that would be I) stood and was praying thus to himself, God, I thank thee that I am not like other people, sinners, Catholics, heretics, or even like this sinner beside me. I planted your church in this god-forsaken part of the country, I read the Scriptures and Calvin and Luther twice a week, and the rest of the week I read nothing but reformers and your Scriptures. But the sinner standing a little off to the side, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, God, be merciful to me the sinner. I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

You know who the sinner was? I turned next to Luke 5:8 because I was then looking for others who admitted they were sinners for I knew I was once the boaster but now I was the sinner. "But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Peter then was able to go on and follow Jesus. Peter came home, this home became the Church, and he was the Rock it was built upon, and he was justified.

At that moment, it finally became clear I could not stay a Calvinist or stay in the OPC. I had plans to attend Westminster Seminary and those were discarded. I lost friends and was informed I must have never been a Christian in the first place.

As I became least, Christ became more. I decided the only place I could go was the home where the Apostle Peter went. I was accepted into the Catholic Church in Easter 2002. I have never been happier and I wish and pray this joy for all. I will never be the same after taking the Body and Blood of our Lord.

Rodney Beason


Proud Mom of Teen said...

Your story gave me chills...good chills.

I've been a Catholic all my life. I knew the basic church teachings because my Mom taught me, but one thing the Catholic church does not do well is teach about its faith. In CCD classes, kids learn about being good Christians and following God, but don't reallly get any history or discussion on teachings specific to our church.

Because of the many people who have misperceptions of the church, though, and the many who claim we're not Christians, I've done a lot of reading. I now know more about history and our beliefs (and the rational behind them) than I ever did before.

Though it's a little different than coming to Catholicism from a different faith, I felt the recognition of reading and thinking, this is right!

I have never been so certain of the church before, and I owe it to skeptics.

No matter what your reasoning for the start of your journey, you kept an open mind.

God bless you.

David said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Do you think that if any of the Catholics you debated could have stood toe to toe with you it would have had any effect? I find that so many protestants simply refuse to answer the tough questions. I can't find any that are willing to stick it out, they all run away or avoid me. I'm looking for a anyone thirsty for the truth, but they all crawl back into their relativism and refuse to examine reality. It makes me think that its a waste of time for me to engage the not yet Catholic. I've stopped commenting on Calvinist web sites. What do you think?

Mr Fergal O'Neill said...

You states that "A Catholic who had not fared well in a debate with me, mentioned I should read the Early Church Fathers to see just how Catholic they were."

Looks like the Catholic fared very well with you. You see the action of the Holy Spirit is not judged by eloquent words!!

Congratulations on your return home.

Genevieve said...

A beautiful story -thank you for sharing it!

HeLives06 said...

Bless you for sharing your story. I, too, was recently received into the Catholic Church, after having been raised Baptist. It is overwhelming that the Lord had mercy on me. May He have mercy upon us all. ~Peace

Anonymous said...

Awesome witness, thank you. Just fyi: the correct term is "pored" over a book not "poured."