I just don’t get it when people convert to Catholicism. I had a ministry friend who did it a few years back and it really freaked me out. Now I am a bit more understanding I suppose. Now Frank Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, has just announced becoming a convert, or perhaps a re-vert, since he was a Catholic as a child. I have begun to understand some of the reasons for becoming a Catholic – for instance it is easier to accept the selection of a canon of scripture on the basis of tradition if one recognizes tradition as a legitimate source of authority. So I am perhaps more Catholic-friendly now than I once was. (I no longer wonder about whether it is even Christian or not.) But I still have several knee-jerk reactions:
1. There are better reasons to think the unity of the church is spiritual rather than organizational.
2. If I was inclined to doubt point 1, I would be more inclined to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy than Roman Catholicism.
3. Despite the standard Catholic defenses of the doctrine, I cannot accept prayer to saints as anything less than idolatry.
4. If point 3 is true, it is even more true of Mary-veneration.
5. Roman Catholicism is not properly contextualized within it’s indigineous cultures. Thank God for Vatican II which allowed for the saying of mass in the vernacular. Pius XXIII seems to be pushing the tide back. His recent encyclical, for instance, encouraged the use of the latin mass and promoted Gregorian chant as the most appropriate music for worship. I see this as absolutely contrary to the catholic (small-c, as in universal) nature of the gospel. Pentecost, by its nature, should lead us to affirm diversity in language and culture.