What About Evangelical Catholics?-Part 3

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003
What reasons do Evangelicals give for converting to Roman Catholicism? The authors reveal the reasons given by Thomas Howard, Paul Vitz, Peter Kreeft and Scott Hahn.

What Reasons Do Evangelicals Give for Converting to Roman Catholicism?

There are many reasons why a given individual may convert to the Roman Catho­lic Church. Among these are frustration with the barrenness of secular philosophies and the desire for finding spiritual reality; an attraction to the formal, high style of worship offered in Catholicism, i.e., a response to the emotional content generated by Catholic liturgy and worship; exposure to liberal Protestantism and a resulting confusion over biblical authority/teaching—and the corollary belief that one must have an authoritarian head (Pope) or leader (Teaching Office) in order to properly interpret the Bible. (In other words, the need for an infallible external authority to counteract the alleged theological “uncertainty” of “sectarian” Protestantism.) Other reasons include the desire for Christian “unity” regardless of the cost doctrinally; the belief that Jesus Himself instituted the papal office under the headship of Peter— and that therefore the Catholic Church is the one true Church.

In fact, there are perhaps 100 different reasons why any given individual may join the Catholic Church. Today, no one can deny that among such individuals are some former Evangelical Christians. Given the kinds of things some Evangelicals get themselves into these days, this is not necessarily an unexpected turn of events.

Many interesting stories of conversions to Catholicism are illustrated in Spiritual Journeys: Toward the Fullness of Faith. In this book, twenty-seven people recount their personal pilgrimage to Catholicism. Our interest concerns three individuals in particular who are well-known in the Evangelical camp: Thomas Howard, Paul Vitz, and Peter Kreeft. Then we will examine the reasons given by Scott Hahn. Why did these men convert to Roman Catholicism? Let’s examine their responses.

Thomas Howard, author of Evangelical Is Not Enough, observes: “My recent conversion to Roman Catholicism has puzzled and troubled most of the Evangelicals who know me.”[1] Howard left Evangelicalism for several reasons. First, he believed in the authority of Church Tradition. He increasingly desired a central­ized teaching authority and was troubled by the lack of pastoral accountability which seemed evident in many Protestant churches. He also came to believe in the effi­cacy of the Catholic sacraments.[2] For example, he recalls the following:

…there are so many hundreds of very small Evangelical denominations and congregations. Some of the “cardinal” parishes in Evangelicalism are totally independent: the minister is accountable to no bishop or synod or superior of any description. This tendency began to trouble me, as the years went by…. if the Church is anything at all other than a mere clutter, it is apostolic. There has got to be a Magisterium [authoritative teaching office], and not just a clamor of voices. Christianity is not analogous to Islam—a religion of the Book alone…. [In the early Fathers] we find indeed one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, and not a clutter of privately launched enterprises, no matter how earnest or laudable those enterprises might be….
It is the old question of catholicity and apostolicity. What is the Church? Where is the Church? Also, it entails the question of teaching authority. All the heresiarchs [starters of heresy] believed in the inspiration of the Bible. But who has the warrant to teach the Scriptures? Anyone? Everyone? If we consult the early Church, we find that it was the bishops in council who said to the faithful, “This is the apostolic faith. That which you hear being taught over there is heresy.” Christ never doomed his Church to a perennial, ad hoc caucus of the whole, with all matters of morals and dogma forever on the table, forever up for grabs. But alas, this turns out to be the case where there is no Magisterium.
I eventually found myself crowded along to the place where I either had to say, “But none of this matters: all God wants is for us to be earnest and fervent,” or I had to say, “Hum. Independence won’t do. That is not the apostolic pattern.” Who am I to disassociate myself from this 2000-year-old train of apostles, fathers, bishops, martyrs, confessors, doctors, widows, virgins, and infants, who testify to what Christ’s Church is?[3]

In response to the above, we might ask the following questions. First, does the lack of pastoral accountability in some churches require the conclusion that Protes­tantism as a whole maintains no legitimate mechanisms of accountability? We don’t think so.

Second, we grant that no Christian would deny that if the Church should be any­thing, it should be apostolic. The apostles were inspired to record the very words of God Himself and the teachings they gave for Christian belief and action are our standard. But from this fact, does it necessary follow that the post-apostolic fathers got their doctrine right in all particulars—or that early and later Church Tradition has equal weight with Scripture? Christianity may not be entirely a religion of the Book—but it is primarily so. And it must be so; in earlier pages, we have already seen the tragedy of granting Church Tradition equal authority with Scripture.

Third, we don’t think that the phrase, “a clutter of privately launched enterprises,” does justice to the Protestant tradition, especially when it is implied that matters of morals and dogma are “forever on the table.” The thousands of Christian churches who accept the inerrancy of Scripture do, in fact, have an infallible authority for

determining correct doctrine—Scripture itself. This means that even though these churches reject the Catholic magisterium, their morals and doctrines are not “forever up for grabs.” Biblical doctrine and morality are clearly laid out in Scripture—and all genuine Christian churches that accept biblical authority have found general agree­ment on these issues without the assistance of the Catholic Church.

Fourth, do we have to present ourselves with a faulty dilemma which claims that either 1) we must entirely disregard apostolic and post-apostolic teaching or 2) we must convert to Roman Catholicism? Isn’t the wiser course to accept the Word of God alone as the authority, to grant that the early Church Fathers, being fallible men, wrote both truth and error, and to therefore evaluate their teachings and Church Tradition as a whole in light of God’s Word? Certainly, the apostles never taught the doctrines unique to Roman Catholic theology, whether or not some in the Church’s history have.

All in all, we don’t think that the specific reasons Thomas Howard gave for con­verting to Catholicism really justify his decision biblically, however sincere it may have been.

Former atheistic psychologist Paul C. Vitz became a Catholic because his allegiance to secularism had encountered an irresolvable “crisis of faith.” The truth of Vitz’s evaluation is something any fair-minded academic would have to concede today, given the influence of such liberal pastimes as multiculturalism (affirming all cultures but our own) “political correctness” (intimidation as “education”) and a virtual host of campus idiocies:

In particular, the university, the community of scholars, showed itself so without standards, so without the courage of convictions, as to be a kind of joke. The last vestiges of my respect for academia collapsed as I watched the university leadership cave in to various social and political pressures. By the end of the 60’s and the start of the 70’s my secular ideals were in shreds.
One of my concerns was my deepening disillusionment with the field of [experimental and cognitive] psychology itself.
Even more disturbing was my growing understanding of how other parts of psychology, for example, personality theory and counseling practice, had contributed to the secular madness of what was going on…. Modernism is in its essential nature subjective, arbitrary and nihilistic.[4]

But in addition, Dr. Vitz’s Episcopal Church was far too liberal—and apparently provided him with little or no spiritual sustenance whatever. We agree wholeheart­edly with his assessment of liberalism:

Meanwhile, as my understanding of Christian theology deepened, I quickly came into conflict with liberal Christian theology, most of which was Protestant in origin. It was obvious to me that liberal theology was at best a compromise with anti-Christian modernist thought, and at worst a thinly disguised denial of Christ…. Unfortunately, the Episcopal Church was dominated by liberal thought, indeed so dominated by it that many couldn’t even see it. As far as they were concerned, liberal theology was the only possible way of understanding things. It was then that I first experienced the rigid, narrow-minded character of liberal thought and of so many liberals. I still remember the remark made to me by a young Episcopal priest—his voice dripping with condescension—“You mean you believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ?”[5]

Vitz also encountered a series of dramatic visions and various aesthetic or psychological bonds to Catholicism itself. For example:

These dramatic, unexpected experiences were really something like visions,… Along with prayer, reading, and Catholic friends… especially many wonderful priests—these experiences solidified my commitment to the Catholic faith.[6]v


…one of the great liberations in becoming a Catholic was to be part of the universal character of the Church…. I sensed a new kinship with people in countries as diverse as Argentina, Poland, and Zanzibar…. I was linked to millions of people of all nations, races and cultures.[7]

While we can certainly sympathize with the frustration of Paul Vitz over secular­ism, the tragedy of his experience under liberal theology, and the dramatic nature of his personal visions, we would ask whether or not any of these things justify conver­sion to Catholicism—if indeed it is not a religion upholding biblical truth? If Scripture is the authoritative Word of God, and Roman Catholicism, overall, denies what Scripture teaches in key areas, then, as a whole, the Roman Catholic Church cannot be the one true Church. So we would hope that neither frustrating experiences in the past, nor dramatic encounters in the present, would cause us to neglect adherence to the truth of God’s Word. And finally, if by chance we have, in fact, failed to become a member of God’s true Church, then what is the value of our spiritual fellowship before God?

Peter Kreeft converted to Roman Catholicism because of his rather rigid Calvin­ist and anti-Catholic background—which allegedly contained many “sincere mis­takes” about Catholicism. In the end, this apparently rubbed him the wrong way. He also had several unanswered questions, as well as the need for visible objects (e.g., images) to love and worship God. “Why don’t Protestants pray to saints? Saints pray for one another here.” (But saints here pray for one another not to one another). “Was only Calvinism correct among all branches of Christendom? How could God leave the rest of the world in error?” “Since no good answer[s] seemed forthcoming, I then came to the explosive conclusion that the truth about God was more mysteri­ous—more wonderfully and uncomfortably mysterious—than anything any of us could fully comprehend.”[8]

Other reasons for conversion to Catholicism included “a strong intellectual and aesthetic love for things medieval” and the influence of reading the Catholic mystics. He found that the “richness and mystery of Catholicism fascinated me….”[9]

But the central reason for his conversion was the Church’s claim to be the only true Church:

There were many strands in the rope that hauled me aboard the ark, though this one—the Church’s claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christ—was the central and deciding one.[10]

But again, our only response can be, “If the Roman Catholic Church were indeed the one true Church, it could not possibly deny and oppose what the Bible plainly teaches in the area of salvation!”

All three of these men have had strong contacts with Evangelicalism, appreciate it greatly—and if they were personally associated with it before, still greatly miss aspects of it which they see as tremendous strengths.[11]

Regardless, let us take Peter Kreeft as an illustration of the important issues involved here and the possible mistakes an Evangelical Christian might make when evaluating the Catholic Church for possible membership. Again, he says that it was the Church’s claim to be the “one Church historically founded by Christ” that was the deciding factor in his decision to join the Roman Catholic Church:

…so the Catholic Church’s claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be. Just as Jesus stood out as the absolute exception to all other human teachers in claiming to be more than human and more than a teacher, so the Catholic Church stood out above all other denominations in claiming to be not merely a denomination, but the Body of Christ incarnate, infallible, one, and holy, presenting the really present Christ in her Eucharist. I could never rest in a comfortable, respectable ecumenical halfway house of measured admiration from a distance. I had to shout either “Crucify her!” or “Hosanna!” If I could not love and believe her, honesty forced me to despise and fight her.
But I could not despise her. The beauty and sanctity and wisdom of her, like that of Christ, prevented me from calling her liar or lunatic, just as it prevented me from calling Christ that. But simple logic offered the one and only one other option: this must be the Church my Lord provided for me—my Lord, for me. So she had better become my Church if He is my Lord.[12]

Although Kierkegaard “almost kept me Protestant,” he found himself “sur­rounded” by reasons to become a Catholic. But he was also aware of the scriptural dilemma he faced—and it is here that the issue really should have been resolved; why it wasn’t, is anyone’s guess:

But if Catholic dogma contradicted Scripture or itself at any point, I could not believe it. I explored all the cases of claimed contradiction and found each to be a Protestant misunderstanding. No matter how morally bad the Church had gotten in the Renaissance, it never taught heresy.[13]

Unfortunately, we emphatically disagree that no contradictions between Catholi­cism and itself exist or between Catholicism and Scripture. They are everywhere and can hardly be brushed aside as “Protestant misunderstandings”. And, unfortu­nately, the Catholic Church does teach heresy (Galatians 1:6-8). It is there in black and white, has been there for hundreds of years, and will not go away.

Nevertheless, Kreeft was also impressed by the argument that “the Church wrote the Bible” and therefore the Church allegedly has equality with or priority over the Bible:

I knew, from logic and common sense, that a cause can never be less than its effect. You can’t give what you don’t have. If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament. Protestantism logically entails Modernism. I had to be either a Catholic or a Modernist. That decided it; that was like saying I had to be either a patriot or a traitor.[14]

But this argument itself constitutes a logical fallacy. Why? First of all, it is more correct to say that specific individuals inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible— not that the Church wrote the Bible—as if to give the Church per se an infallible authority it has never had and can never demonstrate. If the New Testament is divinely inspired, word for word, there is no necessary reason for the Church to have divine infallibility or authority because God’s word, which gives us “everything per­taining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3ff.), is already present.

Second, to say one must either become a Catholic or a Modernist constitutes a limitation on choices that is simply unnecessary. Here is another example of faulty dilemma: certainly another choice would be to be a simple believer in the primary authority of the inerrant Word of God. This is hardly a “Modernist” position. Conser­vative Protestants cannot be Modernists in any sense of the term because their fidelity to “sola scriptura” prohibits this.

Regardless, after a time of prayer by himself for God’s guidance in his decision, he felt confirmed that he was to join the Catholic Church.[15]

We may note here that the number of individuals who have prayed about whether or not they should join the Catholic Church—and then found “divine confirmation” to do so—seems legion. But at this point, we are reminded of the Mormon evangelists prayer that potential Mormon converts pray to God concerning the “truth” of the Book of Mormon—with the assurance that the Holy Spirit will reveal this truth to them supernaturally.[16] Millions have found “confirmation.”

Perhaps we should remember that prayer can never confirm something God has already declared is false. Kreeft himself seems to have encountered a dilemma at this point:

One crucial issue remained to be resolved: Justification by Faith, the central bone of contention of the Reformation. Luther was obviously right here: the doctrine is clearly taught in Romans and Galatians. If the Catholic Church teaches “another gospel” of salvation by works, then it teaches fundamental heresy. I found here however another case of misunderstanding. I read in Aquinas’ Summa on grace and the decrees of the Council of Trent, and found them just as strong on grace as Luther or Calvin. I was overjoyed to find that the Catholic Church had read the Bible too![17]

But we just can’t agree that the Council of Trent was expressing biblical teaching on either grace or justification. Nor do we think the Catholic Church has really read the Bible—at least on its own terms. If it had, Luther would never have penned his commentary on Galatians and many other works in which he opposed the teaching of Rome on such issues. As we saw earlier, what Catholics and Protestants mean by the terms “grace,” ‘justification,” and “faith” are entirely different.

Kreeft goes on to discuss what was, apparently, a problem all along in his per­sonal views about the nature of justification, even calling it a “legal fiction”—perhaps revealing his pre-existing bias in favor of the views of Rome:

I was also dissatisfied with Luther’s teaching that justification was a legal fiction on God’s part rather than a real event in us; that God looks on the Christian and Christ, sees only Christ’s righteousness, and legally counts or imputes Christ’s righteousness as ours. I thought it had to be as Catholicism says, that God actually imparts Christ to us, in baptism and through faith….[18]

Of course, this is the key issue—the real nature of justification. If it is an imputed righteousness, then Kreeft and Catholicism are incorrect. (See chapters 2-3.)

But what is perhaps most relevant to us is Kreeft’s confession that Catholics really don’t understand the basic biblical gospel at all. Unfortunately, they don’t even understand the Catholic concept of grace. Instead they accept a “gospel” of salva­tion by works—which is really what the Catholic concept has been all along—de­spite the Church’s vociferously claimed allegiance to grace. Only this explains why Catholics so thoroughly believe in works salvation.

It would seem that this would place Kreeft—and other former Evangelicals like him—in something of a quandary. If the Catholic Church really is the one true Church that God has established, and if the Pope is the vicar of Christ on earth, then again, how did the basic gospel of salvation ever get so lost in the first place?

Consider the following crucial admission, one according to Kreeft’s own longstanding experience within the Catholic Church:

At Heaven’s gate our entrance ticket, according to Scripture and Church dogma, is not [solely] our good works or our sincerity, but our faith, which glues us to Jesus. He saves us; we do not save ourselves. But I find, incredibly, that 9 out of 10 Catholics do not know this, the absolutely central, core, essential dogma of Christianity. Protestants are right: most Catholics do, in fact, believe a whole other religion. Well over 90% of students I have polled who have 12 years of catechism classes, even Catholic high schools, say they expect to go to Heaven because they tried, or did their best, or had compassionate feelings to everyone, or were sincere. THEY HARDLY EVER MENTION JESUS. ASKED WHY THEY HOPE TO BE SAVED, THEY MENTION ALMOST EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE SAVIOR.[19]

And this is precisely our point—if the Catholic Church really were the one true Church, teaching the one true gospel, the above highly distressing situation could not possibly be the final result. We think the real explanation for this unfortunate situation is what we have argued all along—that the Catholic Church is not the one true Church and therefore does not teach the one true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone, but rather a false “gospel” of salvation by works. All its talk of grace is cheap.

Although Kreeft has been “happy as a Catholic for 26 years now” and says, “I am happy as a child to follow Christ’s vicar on earth everywhere he leads. What he loves, I love; what he leaves, I leave; where he leads, I follow,”[20] the central problem remains.

So, in light of all the above, what do former Evangelicals who are now Catholics do with their allegiance to biblical teaching? Even Kreeft admits that the “serious concern for truth” that he was raised with as a young Evangelical is something that “to this day I find sadly missing in many Catholic circles.”[21]

This is also the issue—the importance of “a serious concern for truth.” People may indeed convert to Catholicism for an almost endless number of reasons. But there is one reason that no one ever gives for joining the Catholic Church. And this is the heart of the matter. It takes us back to the nature of authority and its impor­tance for deciding the issue of religious truth. To our knowledge, no one has ever joined the Catholic Church who honestly accepted biblical inerrancy and has studied the Bible systematically and interpreted it in light of its own teachings consistently rather than Catholic Tradition. Again, no one has ever logically converted to Catholi­cism who has consistently maintained an allegiance to the Bible alone as their sole authority.

People have joined the Church either because they don’t understand the issues involved (they are either uninformed or confused), or because they are really not committed to biblical inerrancy and authority, or because they simply prefer what the Roman Church has to offer. Some will indeed claim that they “met Jesus and are propelled to the Roman Church in obedience to Him.”[22]

Perhaps they did meet Jesus—but they were certainly not propelled to join the Catholic Church out of obedience to Him. The reason is simple. In His own teach­ings He never taught Catholicism—in fact, He rejected most of the major doctrines of the Catholic Church. As the noted authority Dr. Walter Martin once commented, “The Lord Jesus Christ many times used language which the Roman Catholic Church has adopted. The interesting thing, however, is that Christ’s usage of the terms is frequently the direct opposite of what the Catholic Church claims for them,…”[23]

A final illustration should reveal the seriousness of this issue. Yet another story of conversion to Rome is found in the person of Scott Hahn, author of Rome, Sweet Home. In a lecture to a parish in Riverside, California (tape on file) he begins by claiming that few people really understand what the Roman Church actually teaches—they only know falsehoods that they have adopted from erroneous sources. Thus, Evangelicals “simply don’t understand” Roman Catholicism: “they [only] think they do.”

This, unfortunately, is the standard response of “Evangelical” Catholics—no one really understands Catholicism except a Roman Catholic.

Scott Hahn grew up in a nominal Protestant family with little if any Church atten­dance. Later in high school he claims he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior through the ministry of Young Life.

But as a result of his own spiritual journey; Hahn has today thoroughly rejected his Evangelical upbringing and does his best to confirm Roman Catholics in their own beliefs and even to convert Evangelicals to Roman Catholicism.

Hahn calls the standard Evangelical gospel view of salvation—accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior from sin—“inadequate from a Catholic perspective.” He told his Catholic listeners, “If you’re ever asked by a Protestant, ‘Are you born again?’, you should say, ‘Of course, I am. What do you mean by it?’ ‘Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?’ You should say, ‘Yes, of course I have…. But that’s not why I was born again. I was born again because I was baptized….’”

Hahn makes it clear that, for him, Evangelicals have only “partial truths and in­sights” and need Rome to correct their errors on salvation and other important matters.

How did Scott Hahn become a Catholic? In many cases like this we suspect that the real reasons are hidden and that the public telling may portray only a small part of the real story.

Regardless, Hahn did have a lot of Catholic friends. After he was saved he dated a Catholic girl “very seriously” in spite of his intense dislike for Catholicism. His best friends in high school were all Catholic—“the ones who drank the most and swore the most.”

Nevertheless, after graduation from high school he went to Gordon-Conwell Seminary where he received his M.Div. degree in 1982 and where he also refined his anti-Catholic views, at least initially, but this is also where he began his transfor­mation to Catholicism.

In his second year in seminary, his wife did a study on birth control for one of her own seminary classes. She concluded it was immoral, bringing her and eventually her husband to agreement with the Catholic Church on this topic.

At the same time a professor at Westminster Seminary, whom Hahn was thinking of studying with, was being booted out for rejecting the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Hahn landed smack in the middle of the debate and concluded that the professor, Shepherd, was correct and that therefore Luther was wrong and that salvation was by both faith and works. This began a very traumatic period of re­evaluation for him.

After graduation he took a job as a pastor and also teaching a seminary class at night. He began intensive studies into the issues separating Catholicism and Evan­gelicalism. In his studies of both Old and New Testaments he kept “seeing” that what Catholic scholars had already said was true. By now he had “given up on salvation by faith alone”—but he soon discovered that nowhere does the Bible teach “sola scriptura” either—so he threw that out also. (That Hahn could not even answer the question of a student—a former Catholic—“Where does the Bible teach Scripture alone is authoritative and not Church tradition?”—indicates there was a serious problem somewhere.)

Hahn claims to have called several of the “top [Evangelical] theologians in the country” and found that none of them had an answer in defense of sola scriptura either! Goodness, what have we Protestants been doing for 400 years, anyway?! Nevertheless, he concluded that the doctrine “wasn’t scriptural.”

All this had occurred by age 26 and now he was asked to become dean of the seminary where he was teaching. In good conscience, he had to decline because he realized he was now becoming a Catholic. He also stepped down from his pastorate and teaching job in a further attempt to resolve the issue.

He next read some 200 books by Roman Catholic scholars; he also sought help from Catholics. For example, first from a priest who apparently did nothing but use swear words and was anything but a Christian; second, from the Neuman Center staff who apparently told him he would be better staying within Protestantism at­tempting to influence them with Catholic ideas rather than converting to Roman Catholicism.

Hahn now enrolled in a doctoral program in Roman Catholic systematic theology. This apparently cemented his commitment to Roman Catholicism, and he officially converted.

Not surprisingly, Hahn eventually fell “head over heels in love with the Virgin Mary,” although this was the most difficult of Catholic doctrines for him to accept. He now prays the Rosary to Mary every day—and he is convinced that she supernatu­rally and regularly answers his prayer. Indeed, he argues that prayer to Mary is one of the most powerful tools and weapons a Christian can have. “The real, supernatu­ral proof of [the truth of Roman Catholicism] is Marian devotion.” He tells the parish that the Rosary will “supernaturalize” a Catholic’s faith.

At the end of his lecture he tells his Catholic audience, “Pray about what you can do to be a witness to the glory and the truth of the Catholic faith.”

To illustrate the impact of his many studies in Catholicism, he includes statements such as the following:

I had worked literally through I would guess a hundred different doctrines that the Catholic Church taught that the Protestant Church rejected and I came out Catholic on every one of them.

Given the fact that he had read some 200 books by Roman Catholic scholars, perhaps this is not surprising.

But the tragedy of Scott Hahn is not only with Scott Hahn; it is with the many other Evangelicals he has converted to Roman Catholicism. His tapes and books have been greatly used by “Evangelical” Catholics and other Roman Catholics in the attempt to convert Evangelicals to their faith. Even his own wife, who he describes as “the daughter of one of the most noted Evangelical leaders in America,” is “very, very close” to being converted to Catholicism. “On point after point without a single exception, she has come to see how biblical the Roman Catholic faith is on every­thing.”

In a letter to us, one Catholic spoke of the “wonderful and dramatic evidences” that Scott Hahn presented on this tape to confirm Roman Catholicism against Protestantism.

But the truth lies elsewhere—in fact, Mr. Hahn did not present a single convincing argument—not one—in defense of Roman faith.

His arguments are illustrated in his discussion with a Protestant friend about Mary. “If you can answer these two points about Mary, I’ll grant you the Protestant view.” Here were Mr. Hahn’s questions:

  1. Christ obeyed the law perfectly, right? (Friend answers, “Of course.”)
  2. The Ten Commandments sum up that law, right? (Friend answers, “Right.”)
  3. One commandment reads, “Honor your father and mother,” right? (Friend answers, “Right.”)
  4. When Christ fulfills the law He fulfills that commandment, right? (Friend answers, “Right.”)
  5. So Christ bestows honor and glory upon his mother, right? (Friend answers, “Right.”)

The above is the first point that Mr. Hahn makes. What is the second? “We imitate Christ.”

Scott Hahn then says, “The Catholic Church isn’t exalting Mary, Jesus Christ beat her to it.” To which the audience laughs. “We are just echoing and imitating our Lord.” His friend replies, “I never thought of that before.” Scott Hahn replies, “I didn’t either until I prayed about three or four hundred rosaries and it dawned upon me in my meditation that all we’re doing is what Christ is doing as a perfectly faithful, obedient, loving Son.”

That was the essence of his proof for Roman Catholic Mariology! But of course this isn’t the truth at all. Nowhere can Mr. Hahn or any Roman Catholic show that Jesus honored Mary in Scripture the way Catholic Church tradition venerates her. An examination of Chapter 10 on Mary will reveal this beyond doubt.

All that we have related here reveals that unless the Evangelical Church is pre­pared to accept more and more of its members converting to Roman Catholicism, perhaps it should begin now to alter its course.


  1. Thomas Howard, “From Evangelism to Rome” in Robert Baram, ed., Spiritual Journeys: Toward the Fullness of Faith (Boston, MA: Daughters of St. Paul, 1988), p. 159.
  2. Ibid., pp. 160-162.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Paul C. Vitz, “A Christian Odyssey” in Baram, ed., pp. 383-384, 387.
  5. Ibid., p. 389.
  6. Ibid., pp. 391-392.
  7. Ibid., p. 393.
  8. Peter Kreeft, “Hauled Aboard the Ark” in Baram, ed., pp. 167-169.
  9. Ibid., pp. 167, 170.
  10. Ibid., p. 173
  11. Baram ed., pp. 154-55, 163, 167, etc.
  12. Kreeft in Baram, ed., pp. 172-173.
  13. Ibid., p. 174.
  14. Ibid., p. 175.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Moroni 10:3-4, Book of Mormon.
  17. Kreeft in Baram, ed., p. 175.
  18. Ibid., p. 177.
  19. Ibid, p. 176, final emphasis added. Kreeft has not repudiated his prior statement; he has simply outlined the Catholic view that infused grace and faith may result in salvation, not that good works apart from grace/faith result in salvation. At galley stage we did find a statement by Kreeft that is orthodox; the publication date was too close to the current work to determine priority; however, we sincerely hope his views have changed.
  20. Ibid., pp. 177-178.
  21. Ibid., p. 167.
  22. Nancy M. Cross, “The Attraction of Evangelical Christians to Catholicism,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Dec. 1991, p. 53.
  23. Martin, pp. 9-10.


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