On the spot conversion?


#1

This question is probably for a priest, but I wanna know what y’all think. :smiley:

Being a protestant, we often use a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus to signify becomming a Christian. This is followed by a Baptism, joining a church, …etc.

My question is this: if I join the Catholic Church, can I still tell people that they can begin their life as a Christian with a similar prayer, or gesture to define the moment of your choice to choose Christ? :confused:

I hope this makes sense!

I love the RCC, but can’t bring myself to join! :o

se~orcampana :smiley:


#2

The moment you accept God’s grace and decide to live your life according to his will, i.e. desire to seek baptism, etc. you become a Christian. If you were to die before you could obtain said baptism, you would still be able to go to heaven because you are baptised by desire. St. Dismas, the good thief who died on a cross next to Christ, had baptism by desire because he would have sought it if he had the opportunity, which is why Jesus told him this day he would be with Him in paradise.
People who aren’t born into Christianity do become official Christians when they hear and accept the truth and begin to live their lives accordingly. :thumbsup:


#3

Thank you Dafalax :slight_smile:

I appreciate your insight. It’s a big help :thumbsup:


#4

See if this helps:

Ideally, children of Catholic parents are raised in the faith- their love of Jesus doesn’t just go on like a lightbulb one day, but rather they are introduced to Him in a deeper and deeper fashion by their parents throughout their lives. Confirmation, perhaps, in the US Latin rite, may be considered a formal declaration, as it’s done (where I grew up) in the late teenage years (16-17). It’s normal in a spiritual life to have ups and downs, and for one to rededicate themselves to Christ after falling- most Catholics would do this through reconcilliation, or personal prayer.

I don’t see a problem, when one learns of Christ, to say a prayer which states they are going to do their best to serve him, dedicate their life to him, offer up their sufferings for him, etc. We do need to remember that that isn’t all their is to it, however, there is also the whole “If you love me you will obey my commandments” part, which does include Baptism, recieving the sacrements, and joing the Church which is the Body of Christ.

Does that help at all?


#5

What seems to be preventing you from looking into becoming a part of Christ’s Church? Are there certain issues or fear? Have you visited a Catholic parish or attended a Catholic Mass? Just curious.

As for your original question, yes, we’re always called to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ - any encouragement to accept Christ into their hearts is always a great first step to make.


#6

[quote=se~orcampana]This question is probably for a priest, but I wanna know what y’all think. :smiley:

Being a protestant, we often use a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus to signify becomming a Christian. This is followed by a Baptism, joining a church, …etc.

[/quote]

Notice that in general, your procedure requires conscious cooperation. Am I correct in saying that you would not consider baptism critical for salvation because it might be considered “works”? And that it is only a sign of pre-existing faith?

Based on my previous observation, the answer is “no” to the underlined portion. In general, our Christian life begins at the moment of baptism, even if we are only an infant. The reason is because in the RCC baptism is a sacrament that does not require “conscious cooperation” in order to be effective. It is the action of God on our soul through the Church.

I would say yes to this part.

It is certainly valuable and important to consecrate oneself to Christ as such. But it is something we must consciously renew every day.

I have tried to make sense of it, distinguishing between the RCC understanding (as I understand it), and your understanding.

The reason you can’t bring yourself to join is perhaps that you see no need to join? After all, if you believe you have salvation in Christ already, why get involved in the RCC which has so many problems and wayward people.

But consider this: do you value the virtue of obedience? In your current situation, who on earth are you obeying in the name of God? Or is there no one?

Just a thought.

hurst


#7

On the surface, you’ve hit on something that I see as a weakness in the Catholic Church’s teaching. We as Catholics have to admit the “marketing advantage” of protestants who can tell people that they’ve become Christian right on the spot, without months of RCIA. Dafalax reached out to you, but he was correct only in special cases, like the thief on the cross. In the ordinary case, one becomes a Christian at baptism, not before.

Yet, many protestants will testify that their lives changed immediately upon “accepting Christ” in a way similar to what you describe, orcampa. So, how can we justify the Catholic Church’s teaching with the experience of these people?

Actually, the Church does recognize the term metanoia, which is Greek for changing one’s mind. The term refers to repentance. I wish that the Church stressed metanoia more than it does, both for the unbaptized and the baptized.

On the other hand, the type of lifetime-guaranteed salvation offered by many protestants is not authentic Christianity. As someone here wrote, our committment must be renewed each day. So, as much as I personally admire the concept of “act now to be saved,” a better way to reach out to non-Christians is to say, “act now to begin to be saved.”


#8

In order to will for repentance, one would need to accept the Catholic faith as the one true Church.

Such a thing takes time.

Therefore, in normal circumstances there is no such thing as an “on the spot” conversion. However, there are certain circumstances when God speaks to an individual (St Paul) and the conversion is instant so to speak.\

It’s interesting that you are researching the Catholic faith.

We had another poster (Paris Blues) start posting about a year ago i think. She was protestant too, she was confirmed Catholic 20th Nov!! Maybe on your journey you will find something you werent expecting :).

In Christ.

Andre.


#9

[quote=se~orcampana]This question is probably for a priest, but I wanna know what y’all think. :smiley:

Being a protestant, we often use a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus to signify becomming a Christian. This is followed by a Baptism, joining a church, …etc.

My question is this: if I join the Catholic Church, can I still tell people that they can begin their life as a Christian with a similar prayer, or gesture to define the moment of your choice to choose Christ? :confused:

I hope this makes sense!

I love the RCC, but can’t bring myself to join! :o

se~orcampana :smiley:
[/quote]

Yes you can. In Catholicism there is an original justification of a person that is in Baptism. This defines the beginning of their Christian life. Then they have further justification that is achieved through prayer and imitation of Christ. In Catholicism Baptism includes a rite where the person says several vows when they reject satan and his works and accept God and His will. This is a somewhat similar idea to what you are saying.


#10

This is a risky approach - actions speak louder than words.

Ahhh - a perfect example. You do not love the Church - you simply think that you do. Love conquers fear. If you loved the Church you would become part of it immediately, recognizing what it is. But you don’t - you simply love the idea of loving it and love something else moreso, but are afraid to admit it - even to yourself. That is why “saying a prayer” to institute your entrance into His Body is not the USUAL means of accomplishing that union. It’s not biblical, it’s not historical, and it lacks obedience to the clear commands of God: repent and BE BAPTIZED.
What it the thing you love so much and fear to lose so that you can’t unite yourself to the Mystical Body of Christ(His Church)?

Phil


#11

[quote=Philthy]This is a risky approach - actions speak louder than words.

Ahhh - a perfect example. You do not love the Church - you simply think that you do. Love conquers fear. If you loved the Church you would become part of it immediately, recognizing what it is. But you don’t - you simply love the idea of loving it and love something else moreso, but are afraid to admit it - even to yourself. That is why “saying a prayer” to institute your entrance into His Body is not the USUAL means of accomplishing that union. It’s not biblical, it’s not historical, and it lacks obedience to the clear commands of God: repent and BE BAPTIZED.
What it the thing you love so much and fear to lose so that you can’t unite yourself to the Mystical Body of Christ(His Church)?

Phil
[/quote]

An additional thought here for se~orcampana: The Church is a family. Yes, we commit ourselves to Christ, we seek him and unite ourselves to him through the sacraments, in our pondering of the Word, and through prayer. But we are to be joined with him in a covenant bond through his family: the Church.

As a convert myself, I am painfully aware of the “can’t bring myself to join” phenomenon. I am ashamed of how long it took me to yield. All I can say is that if I had it to do over again, I would not have asked Jesus to wait. Ask Our Lord to give you the heart to love him fully in the fellowship of his Church and on *his *terms. He will not disappoint.

The day I finally stepped into that confessional and made my life confession was the sweetest of my life.

Prayer ascending for you.


#12

[quote=se~orcampana]This question is probably for a priest, but I wanna know what y’all think. :smiley:

Being a protestant, we often use a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus to signify becomming a Christian. This is followed by a Baptism, joining a church, …etc.

My question is this: if I join the Catholic Church, can I still tell people that they can begin their life as a Christian with a similar prayer, or gesture to define the moment of your choice to choose Christ? :confused:

I hope this makes sense!

I love the RCC, but can’t bring myself to join! :o

se~orcampana :smiley:
[/quote]

what you are describing we would call “initial conversion”, that movement of the Holy Spirit which guides the individual to seek Christ, to desire deeper knowledge and experience of Him–what you might call a personal relationship with him, and which we also call “sanctifying grace”. We say initial conversion because we believe that pursuit of the Christian life requires ongoing conversion and answering the universal call to holiness.

this movement would gradually lead the person to inquire, to associate with Christians and learn about their worship and way of life, to hear the Word of God in scripture, and to emulate Christians.

If this individual desires to learn more about the Catholic Church, he would go through a period of inquiry–asking questions, getting answers about Catholic worship, practice and doctrine and the Church itself.

Once this person becomes convinced that the Catholic church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ through which we on earth receive the graces of his salvific action on our behalf, he would proceed to journey through a period called the Catechumenate, for at least a year, where he studies the doctrine, learns the practice, and most of all is immersed in the message of the Gospel.
this period is punctuated by certain preparatory rites intended to purify him of sinful habits and inclinations and to integrate him into the life of the Christian community. After the Rite of Election and period of Purification and Enlightenment (during Lent) he will be received into the Catholic Church at Easter through the Rites of Christian Initiation for adults, culminating in Baptism, Confirmation and reception of the Eucharist.

He will continue for about a year to meet with the pastoral team who guided his journey to learn more about the “mysteries” and to receive support in the trials common to new Christians. During this period of “mystagogy” he will learn how to deal with the reality that even though Baptism has removed the original sin inherited from our common ancestors, Adam and Eve, and all actual sin, he still has to struggle with ongoing temptations, and being human will likely sin again. He will be taught about Jesus’ great mercy in giving us the sacrament of penance and reconciliation wherein Christ forgives and heals us and restores us to communion with our brethren. he will be taught about the working of grace which Jesus bestows throught the sacramental economy, all flowing from His ultimate gift in the Eucharist. He will join the full public worship of the Church in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wherein we participate in Christ’s one saving action and resurrection.


#13

I am converting but I have always wondered how one evangilizes to the unsaved. Let’s say that I have an atheist friend who I have spent much time talking to God about. ONe night he says that he wishes to become a Christian. Of course I encourage him to take RCIA classes but can I encourage him to ask Jesus into his heart, at all? WHen can he call himself a Christian?

I am coming from an fundamentalist belief, so sometimes little things like this confuse me.


#14

you evangelize the unchurched by continual living out the Gospel message in your words and actions, and proclaiming the truth of the Gospel message any time you get an opening to do so, especially when asked a direct question. Evangelization is initial proclamation of the Gospel. While the person is deciding whether to respond to this message, he will be judging us by our fruits, so we need to be good role models. When he is ready to learn more about the Church and has moved beyond the Q&A you can help him with, then is time to refer him to your parish for Inquiry, which will be followed by RCIA if and when he is ready. This moves on the Holy Spirit’s timeclock, not ours.


#15

[quote=deb1]I am converting but I have always wondered how one evangilizes to the unsaved. Let’s say that I have an atheist friend who I have spent much time talking to God about. ONe night he says that he wishes to become a Christian. Of course I encourage him to take RCIA classes but can I encourage him to ask Jesus into his heart, at all? WHen can he call himself a Christian?

I am coming from an fundamentalist belief, so sometimes little things like this confuse me.
[/quote]

Others may argue this, but I think there can be a powerful, initial pledge to follow Christ, and from that moment a person can call themselves a Christian.

The Biblical pattern for initiation is REPENTENCE followed by BAPTISM. Both are required (of those who have the faculties necessary for repentence – which excludes children and adults with mental illness) for full initiation.

I think the “conversion prayer” that many general Christians use is the initial act of repentence – acknowledging one’s sinfulness and need for Christ, then the internal pledge to follow Him. That is only possible by God’s Grace which is offered to all, and is the moment where faith is born, I believe. The repentence must persist always, however, and is not to be misunderstood as a one-time event.

True initiation into the Body of Christ, adoption by God, and conversion are not complete until baptism, nor is Original Sin wiped away until then. If a person is properly instructed of the need for baptism, there would be no question they would receive the sacrament as soon as possible. During the period of waiting and preparation, should they perish, it is possible that they would experience a baptism of desire if their heart was truly turned toward God.

That’s about it, as far as I understand. We should certainly be calling people to repentence and commitment to God while teaching them about the beauty of the Church they are about to join through Baptism.

Peace,
javelin


#16

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