Just last month the blogs were buzzing with news about a well-known Evangelical theologian who came back to Catholicism for reasons that are as theological as they are personal. Francis Beckwith was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. In Christianity Today's on-line interview about his decision he said: "I'm still Evangelical; I'm just no longer a Protestant."
While such an event often makes hay for news outlets (both Christianity Today and The Catholic Register did feature interviews with Beckwith) there is, at the grassroots, a movement that is creating a quiet but gentle roar. There are a lot of Protestants (and Catholics) that are flocking back to the Church.
For years, Catholic apologists and Catholic evangelistic apostolates have labored ceaselessly to unscramble 490 years of misrepresentation by Protestants about what the Catholic Church really teaches. These souls have laid the groundwork for a major revival, and perhaps, just perhaps, the ground swell is beginning. Such stories come to me everyday.
Over the past years EWTN has aired many times the St. Joseph Communication programs on Alex Jones that I produced. In No Price Too High and Dinner with Alex Jones, the former Pentecostal minister tells the story of his conversion to Catholicism and how over 50 members of his former church followed him into Catholicism.
After one of our programs air on EWTN, viewers call or write and I have the chance to talk with people from all over the world. What's astonishing is the wide breath of people that are being drawn by the Holy Spirit into the Church. In one week I spoke with six Protestants from different parts of the country that were coming into the Church, although some hadn't told their closest friends yet. There was a Presbyterian elder in Utah, a Congregational pastor in Georgia, and a Baptist lady from Texas and others who remained anonymous.
At a recent conference I was told the story of an Evangelical community of 100 who were living in common, and through their regular Bible study were led to become Catholic.
Over the past week I had several e-mail exchanges with Michael King of the Red Letter Kids music team in Eastern Europe, who explained that their 3 families of 15 people, who traveled as an independent Evangelical missionary singing and humanitarian team, all came into the Church together in 2000. They are now using Dr. Ray's Why Be Catholic? DVD in an English club they run on Friday nights in Slovakia.
Closer to home I had a chance to talk to Glenn, who came into the Catholic Church 6 years ago and is now a coordinator for his parish's adult religious education class. He ordered a copy of What Catholics Really Believe and its study guide for use in RCIA. As we were talking I told him about the Common Ground project. (A project produced by Evangelicals with Fr. John Riccardo that teaches Evangelicals, honestly, about Catholicism and the truth about the Church.) Excitedly, Glenn told me his adult daughter would not talk to him about Catholicism. But when she saw the DVD production of Common Ground at her Evangelical church her perspective changed over night. Today she, her husband, and another couple who saw the project signed up for RCIA at their local Catholic parish.
A few days ago I received a call from Patricia Pope (in her 60s I would guess) who teaches catechism at a men's prison every Friday. I don't know what Patricia looks like but I imagine this little gray-haired lady teaching Sunday School with a class of over-sized, muscle-busting, hardened criminals. At the front of the class, Mrs. Pope stands unwavering with a bloodied ruler in her right hand, a Bible in her left, and the Catechism text displayed on an overhead. Look out, guys, judgment is coming sooner than you think!
Mrs. Pope showed Dr. Ray's DVD Why Be Catholic? to the men at the prison. She said:
That Dr. Ray … his style is really needed because the Evangelicals at the prison are always hassling the Catholics and the Catholics haven't known what to say in response. But Dr. Ray has a way of talking, and the men were rapt with attention.
I bet they were — or she rapped their knuckles. Pray for this Pope as "she" teaches Catholicism to those in prison. (St. Paul has to love this woman! God bless her!) By the way, "Pope" was the name of her Baptist husband, who, yes, converted to Catholicism before he died.
Finally, my wife took a call from a southern Baptist man who did not want to leave his name or order anything from us. He just wanted to ask "that psychologist" some questions. Pam asked if he wanted to ask her, since Dr. Ray was not available. So, he asked the normal Baptist-type questions about Mary, saints, annulments, etc… and thanked Pam very much for her time and answers. Then he asks: "By the way, did that psychologist ever become Catholic?" Pam said, "Oh, yes." Then he added:
That guy really is smart! I really like listening to him. I have a college degree and I was in the Navy, so I'm no dummy. He's really good. I even turned up the volume all the way, I liked it so much.
Something is happening. In the midst of a great deal of noise in our culture about immorality, and screwed up priorities. The volume of the Good News is being turned up…all the way. And people are listening.
We need to thank all those that are at the grassroots of this apologetic movement, their Guardian Angels, and the Holy Spirit, for what we are witnessing in our lifetime — a revival of the Catholic spirit in the world. Praise be to God!
Dr. Stan Williams is owner of SWC Films and Nineveh's Crossing, companies that are dedicated to producing and distributing informative and entertaining television programming, DVDs, books and other media about the Catholic faith, culture and history.