Waking Up Catholic and No Labels Evangelicalism

I want to be more serious about my Catholic faith. Any book recommendations?

Waking up Catholic

Chad Torgerson’s new book, Waking Up Catholic, is a great place to start. A convert from evangelicalism, Chad’s book Waking Up Catholic is written with an eye towards those who are being introduced or reintroduced to the Catholic faith. Chad writes in a non-threatening, conversational tone and avoids unnecessary jargon without compromising catechesis. Similar to Matthew Kelley’s Rediscovering Catholicism, I’ve already recommended this book to one friend and plan on recommending it to both seekers and those who are Catholic but want to do more than attend weekly Mass occasionally and shrug when asked tough questions about Catholicism.

My two favorite parts of Waking Up Catholic are near the beginning and end of the book. Togerson discusses the importance of understanding the authority question–what gives the Church the right to tell me what to do?–which was so fundamental to my conversion from evangelicalism and a question many cradle Catholics don’t adequately articulate. Near the end, Torgerson also discusses the importance of Catholics sharing their faith with others in a non-intimidating section with questions like, “Who should evangelize?” “Why should we evangelize?” and “How should we evangelize?”

I’ll close with one of my favorite passages from the book, where Chad addresses the problem of “labels” during the period of his life when he was new to evangelical Protestantism, years before his conversion to Catholicism. This passage certainly does not encapsulate the book, but I like his way of articulating the problems with “post-denominational” evangelicalism.

Have you ever been in a relationship without a label on it? Until you can call each other boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, husband, or wife, it is not really official. Somehow, without a label, it is just not real to us. So as a new Christian, the first question people asked me was, “What denomination are you?” To which I replied, “None. I’m just Christian.” Just Christian? In my mind, I did not want to be bound by thought of some group of old men and women deciding what I should believe or not believe. Belief, for me, was a personal choice, and the Bible was a matter of personal interpretation. I didn’t need anyone to tell me anything different, and that was that.

Even though I tried to avoid it, labels still followed me. Explaining my theological beliefs to people over and over again grew tiresome. In time, I began to tell people that I was non-denominational, but in the truest sense of the word, of course. While most non-denominational Christians begin to fall into this blurry line between what is and isn’t a denomination (do 40,000 people at a single Church become a denomination?), my beliefs, from my perspective, were purer than that. There was not a church or denomination on this entire planet that I “followed.” I may have attended certain churches, but I never followed. Looking back, I was kidding myself. While I thought that I was a Christian rebel, I believed in the same mainstream Christian philosophies as everyone else.

Read more of Chad’s story by checking out his book here 


9 thoughts on “Waking Up Catholic and No Labels Evangelicalism

  1. “There was not a church or denomination on this entire planet that I “followed.” I may have attended certain churches, but I never followed.”
    That was me back in Bible college, but then I realized that we need structure and some kind of grounding. Otherwise we become some kind of Amoeba Christian, a shapeless blob forever subject to change according to every feeling and every whim…

  2. In many many cases Catholics must realize that anyone who chimes in to an article like this and begins raising the perennial issues- e.g.,papal primacy, Church authority, requesting Mary’s intercession, faith with “works,” purgatory – most probably is being given by God the gift of faith. In all love, kindness, and humility we must treat these persons as gifts to us from a loving God. If we attack them, ridicule them, or insult them, we can destroy rather than facilitate God’s gift of faith. Guy McClung

  3. I like the look of the book. I like that style. I’ve bought the Kindle version. Thanks, Anthony.

    A thought I had recently, about labels’, tickled me…
    Protestants don’t ever use ‘Protestant’ as a suffix (Hi, I’m a Baptist Protestant’, ‘Hi, I’m a Methodist Protestant’). But one thing I’ve noticed is the growing number of prefixes Catholics seem to be using now to distinguish themselves from the seething hordes of those ‘other’ Catholics (yes, you know, ‘THEM’ ones). Quite often in the Blogshere now one sees, ‘I’m an Evangelical Catholic’, ‘I’m an orthodox Catholic’, ‘I’m a faithful Catholic’, ‘I’m a Vatican II Catholic’, etc.. To my mind, each prefix undermines the meaning of the word, ‘Catholic’ it’s supposedly qualifying, doesn’t it? It’s almost an oxymoron. But, it follows that Protestants should therefore be proud of the suffix, ‘Protestant’, as it would reinforce their principle, wouldn’t it? 🙂

    On a more serious note, I’m not quite sure whether – ‘I want to be more serious about my Catholic faith. Any book recommendations?’ – is your question, or one posed to you.

    If it’s to you, my recommendation is actually an oldie (1963) and very different in style to Torgerson’s: Jean Daujat’s, The Faith Applied, republished by Scepter, 2010. Available for Kindle. I really hope this recommendation is a sound one for you if you buy it, and that you benefit from it as much as I did (and will continue to do so on re-reads).

    If it’s not, I would recommend it only to someone who’s a Catholic and who understands the basics, but wants to get very practical advice of ‘how to go deeper’ and really live it out, without the oppressive ‘methodological’ or ‘systematic’ approaches one often finds out there today. But I suppose you’d expect that from a very busy layman who was completely dedicated to the Church.

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