Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Converts

Candy at KTH and the ladies at VTC like to publish the testimonies of converts to their brand of Christianity. Most people who convert do so because of marriage or friendships. A few do it for spiritual reasons.

Critically thinking for a moment...should we trust the testimony of a convert when it pertains to the faith they left behind? On the one hand, they do have the experience of at least being in the pew at the other church. They may have varying degrees of other experience with the corporate church. So they do have some credibility. On the other hand, they are not likely to defend the church they left -- why would they?--and their testimony is therefore biased and subjective. With little exception they will defend they new faith they have chosen.

We, of course having our own personal bias, agree with whoever converts to our way of thinking and disagree (and often try to discredit) those who convert to that with which we disagree.

Let's look at the convert issue from a different angle.

Many Christians (both RC & non-RC) convert to Judaism. To Islam. To Buddhism. To Hinduism. To Mormonism. They become atheists. Pagans. Wiccans. Jehovah Witnesses. The list goes on....

Is the testimony those converts give about Christianity wholly accurate? Totally objective? Or would you say it biased against Christians and they don't have a clue what they are talking about?!

Conclusion: The testimonies of converts should be taken with a BIG grain of salt. While they may have some experience (possibly exaggerated) they are by no way, shape or form an reliable, objective source.

3 comments:

Kelly said...

Most of the Catholic convert stories that I have read have centered around the beliefs of the Catholic Church. They tell how their beliefs evolved, and often explain certain Catholic beliefs. I haven't read any that said anything negative about their previous denomination.

The conversion stories that I have read on sites such as Candy's, center around how they came to find the Catholic Church was wrong, and explain how those beliefs are wrong. They often do not tell very much about their current denomination. It isn't really a conversion story, as it is a refutation story.

There are very possibly other conversion stories by former Catholics that are true conversion stories of how they came to fall in love with a different denomination, so to speak. I just haven't seen any of those, probably because their point isn't to try and convince people to renounce Catholicism.

I find linking to Catholic conversion stories useful, because they can explain the faith better to someone who isn't Catholic. As a lifelong Catholic, I find statues in the church perfectly natural. Someone who was raised protestant can probably explain better than I, because they understand the feelings against having statues there, just as an example.

As an interesting aside, I read a lot of Muslim conversion stories at one time for a class, and they were more similar to the Catholic model. They related what they found attractive about Islam, and didn't speak much about what they thought was wrong with Christianity, other than maybe a stray comment such as "I was always uncomfortable with the concept of the trinity."

Elena said...

Candy at KTH and the ladies at VTC like to publish the testimonies of converts to their brand of Christianity. Most people who convert do so because of marriage or friendships. A few do it for spiritual reasons

And a few do it because their faith is moved or changed by reason. Scott and Kimberly Hahn's conversion stories are what moved me from being on the cooler side of lukewarm to on fire for my Catholic faith. And the spark that did it was Scott's logic and reason in applying the scriptures to Catholicism.

Faithful Catholic said...

Sue Bee,

I've considered what you've written and I believe that, while your point is logical, it is not completely accurate, in that it is too general. I don't think it's accurate to say "Most people who convert do so because of marriage or friendships. A few do it for spiritual reasons." I watch many converts to Catholicism talk about their conversion stories on a show called "The Journey Home." Many of the people I've seen have talked about friends and family they've lost or alienated, at least for a time, upon their conversion. Most of these people were quite content with their former churches and/or doctrines until something (different in each case)compelled them to explore Catholicism. The difference I see between what you write and what I hear is that, rather than giving a biased picture of their former religion, they talk about finding the "fullness of Truth" in their Catholic faith. They don't disparage their former denominations. I would encourage you to watch once or twice. The show is on Monday nights @8pm on EWTN and aired again on Sat @11:30pm. You can also read many conversion stories at the website called Coming Home Network.

On the other hand, I have known personally many former Catholics who describe themselves in terms such as "recovering Catholics" and other very negative ways. Of the people I know who used to be Catholic, I can safely say that they are angry and bitter. They have been unable or unwilling to embrace some or many of the teachings of Catholicism. In most of these cases, the issues are that 1. missing Mass is a sin. 2. using any form of artificial birth control is a sin. 3. sex outside of marriage is a sin. 4. it is necessary to be a member of a parish before one's children receive the sacraments. From my perspective, these issues can be overcome by submitting to the will of God. Some of us have much difficulty with that issue. How much easier it would be to "belong" to a church that doesn't require your presence at worship services every week, does not tell you that artificial birth control is against God's intended purpose of sexual relations, does not tell you that it's wrong to live with your long time boyfriend/girlfriend or fiance(e) before marriage or that it is necessary for parents to establish a home parish for themselves and their families in order that they may fulfill their parental obligation to raise and educate their children in the faith.

Granted, there are a multitude of other reasons why people leave the Catholic Church. Problems with doctrine, problems with heirarchy, etc. Catholicism is not easy. There's much to learn. After all, there's no other Christian Church with as long a history. That doesn't mean one is required to learn the whole history of the Church or of it's doctrine. It's actually very simple but, to many it looks like a very narrow road, indeed.