We have recently seen a number of people go from Protestantism to the Catholic Church. I have wanted to understand this change so took the opportunity to read this book.
Chris was baptized into the Catholic Church as an infant, raised by a Catholic mother and Protestant father. Just before his confirmation at age 14, he heard of the Willow Creek youth program and started attending there.
This experience altered his life trajectory, he writes. He wanted to understand the world and the Gospel and how they related to each other. He pursued sociology and Christian theology at Eastern. He went on a study program to Belize and that experience convinced him he needed to face the destructive elements and economy of the U.S. During the Iraq war he joined the peace movement of the Quakers.
During his senior year at Eastern he heard a Catholic priest from Camden and Chris was inspired to move there. He and his wife moved into an area that looked like a war zone and formed an intentional Christian community. He began to attend the local Catholic church.
That was the first part of the book, the action. He writes about his thoughts in the second part of the book, contemplation.
He struggled with the ideas of being nondenominational, tradition, and ritual. This section helped me understand how he made the transition from Protestant thinking to Catholic.
Here is one example of his thinking process in giving up sola scriptura:
He shares how he came to believe that the Bible is a Church product, “or more particularly, the product of certain churches.” (148) “The Jesus handed down to us is an interpreted Jesus. … The gospels give us a Jesus interpreted and filtered by several different writers and communities, all of whom served the liturgical and story-telling needs of the Church.” (148) He came to see that “a high view of the Bible implies a high view of the Church. This realization slowly dissolved my held belief in sola scriptura. … [W]e cannot believe in scripture alone; it is simply impossible to believe only in scripture. For scripture is tradition. It is one of the traditions of the Church.” (148)
He also writes of entering into the Church just as the pedophile scandal was being made public and how he worked through it. He writes about escaping the lure of consumer Christianity, about rituals becoming more meaningful, and much, much more.
Chris is not out to convince anyone to become Catholic. In fact, in his conclusion he says another person could write the same kind of book in traveling from Catholicism to Protestantism.
And this is not a theological argument. This is Chris' very personal account of his own journey. It may not explain why the next person made a similar journey. If you are at all interested in how the journey might take place, this is a good place to begin.
Chris Shaw is a husband, father, carpenter, potter, adjunct professor at Cabrini College, and founder of Camden House, an intentional community. He earned his double bachelor's degree in theology and sociology from Eastern University and his mater's degree in theology and religious studies from Villanova.
Ave Maria Press, 236 pages.