Thursday, October 25, 2018

Swimming from Rome

There's a cottage industry for evangelical converts to Catholicism. Some of they are able to parlay their conversion into a living, although others don't make the cut (e.g. Jason Stellman). There are books and websites that showcase converts to Catholicism. I don't know of anything comparable in the other direction. 

However, you can swim the Tiber in either direction. Off the top of my head, here are a few notable converts from Catholicism to evangelicalism:

Richard Bennett

Former Dominican priest. Now a Protestant apologist.

Robert Bowman

Countercult specialist. 

Chris Castaldo

Degrees from Moody, Gordon-Conwell. Doctorate from London School of Theology. Has an uncle who's a Catholic bishop.

Leonardo De Chirico

I assume he's ex-Catholic. Now a Protestant apologist, editor, and published author. Degrees in History (University of Bologna), Theology (ETCW, Bridgend, Wales) and Bioethics (University of Padova), and PhD from King’s College (London).

Kenneth J. Collins

Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies at Asbury Seminary. M.Div. Asbury Theological Seminary,Th.M. Princeton Seminary, M.Phil. Drew University, Ph.D. Drew University.

William Dembski

Double doctorate in philosophy, theology, and mathematics. Christian apologist. Sometime seminary prof. Intellectual leader of the Intelligent Design movement. 

Peter Escalante

Teaches at New St. Andrew's College. M.A. in philosophy from Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley

Robert Gagnon

Teaches at Houston Baptist U. Degrees from Harvard and Princeton. Evangelical point-man on LGBT issues. 

Andreas Köstenberger 

NT prof. at MBTS

Thomas Schreiner

Prolific NT prof. at SBTS.

It would be interesting to extend the list to other notables.


  1. One of the better known former Catholics (turned Protestant apologist) is William Webster.

  2. Mark Driscoll was Catholic growing up before becoming Evangelical.

    1. Driscoll has been pretty consistent over the last twenty years in saying that his Catholicism was so nominal he did not consider it to be indicative of being any kind of serious Christian, Catholic or Protestant. Now it's theoretically possible he's said and written that for rhetorical effect; and it's common enough for evangelicals in America to speak of their Catholic days as not really counting, but it's something to keep in mind--Driscoll isn't a case of someone who thought of themselves as a seriously observant Catholic who crossed the Tiber to Protestantism, at least based on Driscoll's own statements.

  3. Dr. K Scott Oliphint grew up Catholic as well.

  4. Excellent article by William Webster on his journey out of Romanism / Papalism

  5. J Luis Dizon is still Protestant? Thought he swam to Rome recently.

    1. I have it on good authority that that's not the case. Why not ask him directly if you have his contact info?

    2. Okay, he's made it official. He's now a revert to Rome.

  6. Seems like the intellectual firepower is on the Rome->Protestant side.

    1. It's my impression that the most brilliant converts to Catholicism don't write much in defense of Catholicism. That's still delegated to pop apologists. So while the Catholic side has great intellectual talent, much of that is incidental to Catholicism rather than being deployed to defend it.

    2. My impression is that the heavyweights are mostly liberal. The pop apologists are traditionalist.

  7. I don't understand how the supposedly intellectual converts to Roman Catholicism can believe in:
    Genuflecting before the bread and/or wine as literally believing it has become Christ.
    Sitting before the old leftover bread in the little Tabernacle in the RC church and thinking that is actually Jesus.
    Praying to Mary or any other dead saint before statues.
    Believing in the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope, etc.
    Believing all the RC priests have ex opere operato power to forgive sins and to "bring Christ down from heaven" (O'Brien, "The Faith of Millions", cited in James White's book, The Roman Catholic Controversy)
    Believing that water baptism to an infant washes away original sin.

    1. Pagans pray to statues of different gods while Catholics pray to statues of different saints. Just change the name on the statue from Juno to Mary! :-)

    2. What's convenient about most of these beliefs is that they aren't susceptible to any kind of empirical test. Things are posited that lie beyond the reach of the five senses, so they can't be falsified. So it's all in the mind. Projecting that onto statues, the communion elements, "holy water", &c.

    3. Sacramentalism is appealing to lots of folks because they think it's a shortcut to salvation and sanctification. Just pop a Jesus pill every Sunday at Mass ("the Host"), just have a priest pronounce words of absolution, just have some magic water renew you. It's vending machine piety.

    4. If it looks like bread, smells like bread and tastes like bread, then it must be bread. But no. You still have to believe it's (literally) Jesus' flesh.