Last weekend Jackie and I went to the Steubenville “Defending the Faith” conference with another couple from my home parish. We were both high school chaperones at a Steubenville high school conference last summer, and singing evangelical worship songs as the Eucharist processes through the gymnasium holds a special place in each of our hearts. It was a pleasure getting to hear Teresa Tomeo, Brandon Vogt, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, and many others teach. But do you know what my favorite part of the weekend was? Sunday morning, listening to Jason Stellman tell his conversion story (listen to other versions of his story here).
Interestingly enough, Jason Stellman began publicly exploring Catholicism about the same time I left seminary (and caused a stir in evangelical circles)for that reason I feel connected to his journey. Jason went from investigating another Presbyterian pastor for sounding suspiciously Catholic to becoming Catholic himself. He left his full-time pastor job to take this plunge and, sadly, his wife and family have thus far not followed suit.
The most striking part of Jason’s talk was when he related the story of his decision to try and read the New Testament through a Catholic lens, something I’ll call the Jason Stellman Test. This is difficult for any Protestant, including me–many of these verses and stories have been interpreted in one particular way since Vacation Bible School. But here was his striking conclusion: Although his theology as a Calvinist Protestant could explain away all of the troublesome verses, if the Gospel writers were truly of his same theology then they never would have said those things in the first place!
Think about it. What is Matthew 25 doing in the Bible if Jesus believed in “faith alone?” Why must you “do the will of my Father” to go to heaven? (Matthew 7:21). Why all the troublesome verses about baptism in Romans 6, 1 Peter 3? Why does no author ever say “faith alone” except to say that we’re not saved by faith alone? Again, I’m not arguing that Protestants have no answers to these problems because I know many of them. The question, though, is why were the troublesome verses written in the first place?
Let me know your thoughts and if you find the Jason Stellman Test credible.