Michael Gungor, lead singer of the popular Christian band Gungor, has a new post on his blog simply titled, “Catholicism.” He describes a recent moving experience of taking part in adoration after leading worship for a Catholic music festival. Though he considers himself an evangelical, or close to it, he said the experience made him long to be Catholic. Read the entire piece for fuller context. Here’s my letter to him.
My name is Anthony and last year I left an evangelical seminary to become Catholic. I appreciated your post because it sounds like you’re processing many of the things that evangelicals like me longed to have. We missed the ancient. We were living in a post-modern world where nothing was true and nothing was rooted in a country that started 200 or so years ago. We baptized in swimming pools and ate crackers and grape juice every now and then, but the word sacrament scared us. We knew Philippians really well, but we rarely learned Luther or Calvin, let alone St. Agnes. We met in bland sanctuaries or Boys and Girls Clubs. We were passionate, but irreverent. And we didn’t think too hard about where the Bible came from.
I left. Sola Scriptura didn’t make sense any more, I couldn’t take the disregard for history, and the more questions I had the fewer I could explain. (Christian Smith’s book explains this phenomenon quite well). If you consider making a similar move I want to warn you, the priest was right. Don’t change if you don’t buy into the whole system of apostolic succession. Don’t believe in the Eucharist but not in the Church’s authority to prohibit birth control. You’ll blend right into nominal Catholicism, but you’ll regret it. And don’t take for granted the zeal of your evangelical heritage. I miss it.
But this is where I belong. I’m home. I have a heritage, I have a history that makes sense, I have a Bible with an origin. And it’s a fulfillment of the beautiful truths I learned as an evangelical.
Last summer I wrote a blog post after attending adoration at a Steubenville youth conference. I thought you would appreciate the reflection, given your recent experience.
I went as a chaperone to a Steubenville youth conference a few weeks ago. I was very familiar and comfortable with the atmosphere as a former evangelical: 2,500 high school students doing the wave, hitting beachballs, and singing loudly to Chris Tomlin and Hillsong. As the evening progressed the songs became more reverent and the students more intent on connecting with God. This was fairly typical. At an evangelical conference the altar call would have come next.
Then something changed. 30 priests processed down the center of the gym with a monstrance, and we all went onto our knees on the hard varnished floor. The songs that I had memorized and even led church services with took on a new meaning. I was not abandoning my previous faith so much as I was seeing it deepened and fulfilled. It was so much richer–Christ was present in a special way in our midst. When I sang, “We fall down, we lay our crowns,” I didn’t have to use my imagination and picture Jesus in heaven (or think of the “falling down” part as metaphorical). He was right in front of me.
Thanks again for your post Michael. To God be the glory.