Evangelical Seminary Students Confront Church History

I found this 2010 article while I was in seminary. It was bothersome. The students sounded a lot like me. And they became Catholic.

Croslow’s belief that the Catholic Church most accurately reflects the intentions of the early church fathers is echoed throughout the movement as other evangelicals seek a church whose roots run deeper than the Reformation. Further, due to the number of non-denominational churches that have proliferated since the Jesus Movement, many evangelicals’ knowledge of their history runs only as far back as the 1970s. These are the young believers who are attracted to a Church that sees itself as the direct descendent of the religion founded by Saint Peter and the apostles. . .

When he asked his parents why their church didn’t have a benediction or a call to worship, they answered as many evangelicals would, saying that they don’t like “these ritualistic or religious kinds of things.” Eventually, after attending mass at St. Francis of Assisi in midtown Manhattan, Dunn became interested in learning more about Catholicism. . .

In much the same way that many evangelical churches have discarded Church history, so the liturgical structure of worship was left by the wayside as these churches made claims to the “freedom” that comes from forsaking the bounds of the Catholic Church and even mainline Protestant denominations. But for many young evangelicals and former evangelicals like Dunn, this move to be free of liturgical strictures came at the expense of religious practices that have been a part of Christianity for two millennia, and to these believers, the loss is too great. This is precisely why many evangelical churches have, as Dunn witnessed, made an effort to reintroduce those once forsaken elements into worship services.

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4 thoughts on “Evangelical Seminary Students Confront Church History

  1. “This trend of “Crossing the Tiber”… has been growing steadily for decades, but with the help of a solid foundation of literature, exemplar converts from previous generations, burgeoning traditional and new media outlets, and the coming of age of Millennial evangelicals, it is seeing its pace quicken dramatically.”

    We’re a trend! 🙂 Great article. Thanks for the link!

  2. Thanks for the post! I’m not Catholic but I would certainly agree that many Protestants have lost out on some rich traditions. However, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that the only alternative to Protestanism–historically speaking–is Catholicism. I’m curious how you view the other branches that developed independent of Rome, namely the Persian (sometimes called Nestorian) churches, Coptic churches and (much later) Celctic churches?

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Cody,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll answer directly later this weekend with more detailed answer, but I would say you’re right that there are more Christian traditions with rich traditions, like Eastern Orthodox. Journeys of Faith is a book that came out in March chronicling young evangelicals moving towards RC, EO, and Anglicanism.

      One thing to keep in mind is that many ancient churches have died out, or maintained a strictly national identity. Some may be a different rite but are still in communion with the Catholic Church, and some are in disarray because you still have the authority question of who makes the final call on doctrine when you throw out the magisterium. More later!

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