I love conversion stories. As a cradle Catholic who lapsed for a few years, I have my own story of coming to know Christ and his one true Church, but I am always fascinated by the journeys other people have taken to get to Catholicism. Some of my favorites are the stories that came with the greatest personal risk. Allen Hunt, author of Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church, made the riskiest leap I’ve seen so far. It’s stories like his that leave me convinced of the great blessing of my having been baptized into the Church as an infant and the incredible responsibility I have not to ever leave her.
Hunt describes the treasures of Catholicism through the framework of walking through a house, from dining room to front porch. (I know; I would enter from the porch, too, but I also ground all my Catholic apologetics in the Eucharist.) Each room reveals an aspect of Catholicism that belongs to this faith uniquely: the Eucharist, of course; but also redemptive suffering and the universal call to holiness, the communion of saints, mystery and mysticism, authority and social justice, and unity and universality. As a former Methodist, he approaches each of these pillars of Catholicism from his background as a Methodist pastor and guides us along his journey to the fullness of the truth.
I didn’t know much about the Methodist Church before I read this book. I know that it’s just one man’s perspective, so I can’t give it any more weight than I would just one man’s perspective on Catholicism, but I think I learned a lot. I see how valuable it is to at least know exactly what the Catholic Church teaches rather than knowing my pastor could reject whatever teachings he liked, waiting until a representative “gathering every four years to vote on whether abortion [will] be immoral for the next four years.” That’s ludicrous! In Catholicism, when spouses vow to remain true to one another “all the days” of their lives or “until death” do they part, we take that seriously. When my religious leaders pray Jesus’ words over bread and wine, I know what is taking place, and I know that I must not participate unworthily. I know God communicates through dreams and miracles, rare though they may be. I can believe in my church, and I have thousands of years of history behind me.
I recommend Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor to Methodist seekers, of course, but also to Catholics who are on the fence or well-entrenched. For Methodist seekers, Hunt’s journey shows the exact steps he took toward belief. It takes more than one captivating moment to leave a comfortable job guiding 5,000 believers every Sunday. For Catholics on the fence, this book shows not only what Catholicism has to offer but also what you’re getting into if you dive in. And for Catholics who are already on fire with love for the Church, Hunt enumerates the treasures we have and reminds us not to take them for granted. If his conclusions and support for the Catholic faith surprised you, there is so much more to learn. And if you, like me, found yourself enthusiastically agreeing with every point (despite reading in the public close quarters of an airplane), you will be so glad to meet your brother, the one who found his way home.
Up next: Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices, by Chris Brauns