Catholics have been happy with me for three years — for two reasons: I have embraced Mary in a Protestant sort of way but even more because I wrote an article a few years back that detailed why it is that Evangelicals become Catholics. Now a different issue altogether: The numbers reveal an alarming trend that Catholics are in flight (according to Catholic authorities) to Pentecostalism and to Evangelicalism.
As many of you know, I have an interest in conversion and have published a book about conversion called Turning to Jesus. After that book I wrote an article on why evangelicals become Roman Catholic and then why Jews convert to Christianity. Those two pieces were published in JETS and the first (From Wheaton to Rome) can be accessed through my sidebar. I don’t know if the second one is available online.
Two points: If you have a story of converting from Catholicism to evangelicalism (of whatever sort), and want to tell your story, I’m looking for stories for my own research. Please e-mail me. Second, does this article by Mendoza make sense to you? Does it square with your experience? I’m keen on having Catholics weigh in — as long as you don’t fire up to hot — and I’m keen on having former Catholics weigh in — as long as you don’t get too fired up.
This winter and spring I hope to write two more pieces — one on why people lose their faith and then one on why Catholics become evangelical. I will then combine these four studies — with a suitable introduction and conclusion — into a book.
In the Homiletical and Pastoral Review, RC Gerald J. Mendoza writes an article “Why Do Catholics Become Evangelicals?” I’m naturally fascinated by his study, partly because I’m curious to see if my conclusions are the same. Alas, his approach is what Catholics can do to preserve their own and not much on why Catholics convert. He places the blame on the Catholic churches.
Here are some numbers, rather alarming: 30-35% of evangelicals (incl Pentecostals) are former Catholics. 100,000 Catholics convert to evangelicalism per year — I think that is a global number. I was once told that Willow Creek baptizes 700 former Catholics per year.
Mendoza places the blame here:
1. Lack of active participation: 25% practice their faith.
2. Lack of scriptural and theological sophistication.
3. Lack of appropriate and effective Catholic catechesis.
4. Anemic parishes and preaching.
1. Counter with its own evangelistic project.
2. A movement to bring home lapsed Catholics.
3. Local office and department for adult education and catechesis.