Steve Ray is a Catholic convert from Protestantism. He is a famous apologist and a writer of many books including “Upon this Rock” and “The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters”. On June 6, 2020, he talked with Empower Philippines about his conversion. You may watch the video in Facebook here.
Here are 9 things I learned from him about his conversion to Catholicism:
- On Bible Alone and on being Born Again. If we were 33 years old and we were there when Jesus died and rose again, we would never have read about the term “born again” because the Gospel of John was written only 77 years later. How then would we have known how to get saved and be born again if we didn’t have the book?
- On “Bible” or “Tradition”. The Catholic Church added the Bible to the Church. When Jesus ascended to heaven he never asked his followers to read his book because there was no book. Instead, Jesus left a Church The Bible is a product of the Sacred Tradition of that Church.
- The brightest Protestants become Catholics. The best and the brightest of the Protestants are becoming Catholics. It’s the Catholics who don’t know their faith, the ignorant Catholics, who are leaving the Catholic Church because of moral or sexual issues. Many of them, the least trained, the most uneducated Catholics, are leaving to become Protestants because they’re easily enticed away. How can they leave the Church before they know? How can they leave before really studying everything about the Catholic Church?
- Catholics are born again the Bible way! Steve tells a story of a conversation he had with a Baptist pastor. Pastor: Are you born again? Steve: Yes, I am born again the Bible way! Pastor: What do you mean? Steve: First tell me what you mean by born again, and I’ll tell you what I meant. Pastor: You become born again when you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior and asking him to come in to your heart. Steve: These verses are not in the Bible. It is a Baptist tradition and not a Bible teaching. Being born again means to be born of water and spirit (which refers to Baptism).
- On being born of water and spirit. Every time the God creates, water and spirit are involved. The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2). God sent forth a dove (Spirit) from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground (Genesis 8:8, Peter 3:20-21). In the Exodus event, the spirit of God as fire-cloud protected the Israelites who were crossing the waters of the red sea (1 Cor 10:1-4, Isaiah 63:10-14). Jesus is the fulfillment of all this because when he himself got baptized in the river, the Spirit of God descended over him. This new creation through baptism is what Jesus meant about being born again. In fact, after he spoke to Nichodemus (John 3:3), Jesus and his disciples went down to the Jordan river to baptize. Jesus saved us by the washing of regeneration and and renewal in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). Something that Prophet Ezekiel already foretold (Ezekiel 36:25-17).
- “Born Again” used by Catholics before the Bible. The word “born again” is always understood and used by Catholics referring to baptism even before the first Bible was compiled (around 380 A.D.) St. Irenaeus in 180 AD, who received the teachings of St. Polycarp, who received the teachings of St. John the Apostles, who received the teachings of Jesus, wrote: “He came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” (Against Heresies Book II, Chapter 22)
- On Faith Alone. Protestants usually use Acts 16:31 to support their teaching that believing in the Lord is enough to be saved. But the Bible never says believing “is enough“. In the contrary, it is by works that a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:24). Believing could only be enough in emergency situations. For example, a dying non-Christian who has one minute to live, it is enough to profess that he believes in Jesus and he will be saved. But in normal situations when we have years to live, we have to believe and follow Christ’s teachings.
- Not Believing means Disobeying. The opposite of belief is not disbelief but disobedience. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” (John 3:36)
- On Infant Baptism. Baptism is “circumcision without human hands” for Christians. (Colosians 2:11-12) If Jesus and John the Baptist were circumcised on the eighth day, then why should we condemn infant baptism? It was the faith of Jesus’s and John’s parents that brought them in to the covenant people of God.