Last month, on the night Catholics call Holy Saturday evening, Thomas Howard formally joined the Roman Catholic Church. A widely published evangelical author and professor of English at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, Howard grew up in a staunchly evangelical family. Of the six Howard children, one became a pastor and four others became missionaries.

Because it is rare for an evangelical of such stature to become a Catholic, CHRISTIANITY TODAY is publishing a three-part special report. In Part I, some of Howard’s friends, peers, and siblings respond to his conversion. In Part II, beginning on page 48, Howard explains his conversion in an interview with church historian John D. Woodbridge. In Part III, beginning on page 58, Woodbridge assesses Howard’s conversion in light of church history.

Two days after becoming a Catholic, Thomas Howard tendered his resignation from the faculty of Gordon College. The evangelical college did not ask for his resignation. However, it requires professors to sign a creedal statement that reflects Protestant Reformational doctrine.

“Many believe this statement is incongruous with traditional Catholic teaching,” said Judson Carlberg, Gordon’s dean of faculty. He emphasized that “everyone here [at Gordon College] greeted Tom’s announcement of his resignation with sadness.” Carlberg said an effort is under way to determine how Howard’s beliefs square with the college’s creedal statement. He did not rule out the possibility that Howard would someday return to teach at Gordon, perhaps as an adjunct professor.

Howard’s formal step into the Roman Catholic Church last month was the culmination of a spiritual pilgrimage lasting more ...

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