As a kid, I observed Abuelita reading her Bible. Each day she faithfully opened the Scriptures and struggled to pronounce the words aloud in Spanish. Even with only a third-grade education, daily Bible reading was a priority, and it soon became a priority for me, too. My abuelita was beautiful and simple; she had a childlike faith in Jesus that showed me what it meant to be salt and light to the world.
Abuelita was a devout Roman Catholic.
I ended up attending a conservative Baptist college, though I knew little about denominational distinctions. I assumed all Christian colleges were the same: utopias where everyone loved Jesus. Imagine my dismay when I heard professors and students alike assert that Catholics were going to hell.
I couldn’t understand how they could so casually damn abuelita and others who followed Jesus like her. I challenged one history professor, asking about all the professing Christians who were Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox prior to the Protestant Reformation: “Are you saying they all went to hell?” He replied that most of them probably did, but “God always has a remnant.” That’s a sobering sentiment worth pausing over.
Only a few years later, I witnessed a number of classmates from my Baptist alma mater “converting” to Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, or Eastern Orthodoxy. I know these people well enough to believe they were, and continue to be, committed followers of Jesus. Their journeys are similar to the twin brothers recently featured in The Wall Street Journal, who were raised Baptist but became Catholic and Anglican priests.
The twins’ story renewed a debate we’ve been having for nearly the entire history ...1
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