The Scott Hahn Conversion Story

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Following is the transcript of a talk given by Scott Hahn outlining his journey of faith.

…It is so good to be with you this morning. It’s always a delightful surprise. I never cease to be amazed at the opportunity I have to share why I became a Roman Catholic and how the Lord worked in my wife’s life and our family as well.

That always reminds me of one of my favorite stories. There was a young man who wanted in the worst way to ask out a beautiful young lady. It took him weeks to get up enough courage, and when he finally asked her out she said, “Yes.” He was shocked and delighted. That Saturday morning arrived, and he got ready in so many ways: showered for a long time, tried to figure out what to wear, then he decided to give her a big surprise. He went down to the drug store. He walked up to the druggist behind the counter and announced, “I would like to buy a one pound box of chocolate, a two pound box and a three pound box.” And the druggist bent down, got them and put them on the counter and said, “Do you mind if I ask you why you are buying three different size boxes?” “No I don’t mind.” And he proceeded to explain. He said, “Tonight’s the night, special date, beautiful young lady, and if before the date is through she lets me hold her hand, she gets the one pound box. And if at the movie when I slyly slip my arm around her and she lets it remain there, she gets the two pound box. And if as we are exchanging goodnights she lets me give her a kiss, she gets the three pound box. The druggist said, “Sly old guy, you have a good time.”

He was off and he was so nervous he showed up at this young lady’s house a half hour early. She came to the door and said, “We’re just sitting down to dinner.” He said, “Can I join you?” “Sure, I guess.” And he sat down. Then he said, “Can I say grace?” And they said, “Sure.” He proceeded to pray for a minute, for three minutes, five minutes. Finally after ten minutes, the man said, “Amen.” He kind of looked around, a little awkward, and they proceeded to eat what was by then a cold and stale dinner. On the way out the door she whispered, “You never told me you were so religious.” He whispered back, “You never told me your dad was the druggist.”

Life is filled with unexpected surprises, and it’s a delight and a surprise for me to share how I came to see the Roman Catholic Church to be the family of God that He wants all of His children to share in. Fulton Sheen once said, and I paraphrase, that there are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, although there might be millions of people who hate what they mistakenly believe the Catholic Church to be and to teach. And thankfully I discovered I fell into the second category. Because for years I opposed the Catholic Church, and I worked hard to get Catholics to leave the Church. But I came to see through a lot of study and considerable prayer that the Roman Catholic Church is based in Scripture.

Teenage Conversion To Jesus

That’s what I’d like to share with you this morning. It begins with a conversion experience that I had in high school. I didn’t grow up in a strong Christian family. We didn’t go to church very often, and so I wasn’t very religious. What the Lord used in my life was an organization called Young Life, an outreach to unchurched high school kids, and a man named Jack in particular who befriended me and also shared with me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It made a profound difference in my life.

Early in my high school years I made a commitment and I asked Jesus Christ into my heart; I asked Him to be my savior and Lord. I gave Him my sins and I received the gift of forgiveness and salvation. It made a world of difference for me. It cost me a lot of my friends, but the Lord in a sense more than made up for that by giving me real friends, friends in Christ.

Jack, who taught me to love the Lord, also taught me to read the Bible and not just to read it but to study it, and not just to study it, but to soak in it to read it and to re-read it from beginning to end. By the time I was finishing high school, I had gone through the Bible two or three times in its entirety. And I had fallen in love with Sacred Scripture. As a result of that I’d become convinced of a couple things.

First, in addition to reading the Bible, Jack had shared with me from his own personal library the writings of Martin Luther, the writings of John Calvin, and I became a convinced Protestant Christian, not just a bible Christian, but somebody who was convinced that up until the 1500’s the Gospel had almost been lost amidst all the medieval superstition and all the pagan practices that the Catholic Church had adopted. And so this first conviction was to help my Catholic friends to see the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, to show them the Bible, and to show them that in the Bible, you just accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and that’s all it takes. None of this claptrap: Not Mary, not the saints, not purgatory, not devotions, just asking Jesus to be Savior and Lord.

Around that time I was dating a girl who was Catholic, and we were becoming more serious. But I knew there was no future in our relationship if she remained Catholic. So I gave to her a very large volume, a book by Loraine Boettner entitled Roman Catholicism. It’s known as the bible of Anti-Catholicism. It’s four hundred and fifty plus pages filled with all kinds of distortions and lies about the Catholic Church. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I shared it in good faith with her. She read it from cover to cover. She wrote me that summer and said, “Thanks for the book; I’ll never go back to Mass again.” And I say that with a certain shame and sorrow, but I say that to illustrate the sincerity that many Bible Christians have when it comes to opposing the Catholic Church. I figured that if the wafer they’re worshipping up on that altar is not God, then they’re idolaters, they’re pagans, they are to be pitied and opposed. If the Pope in Rome is not the infallible vicar of Christ who can bind hundreds of millions of Catholics in their beliefs and practices, then he’s a tyrant. He’s a spiritual dictator pure and simple. And because I didn’t think he was the infallible vicar, I thought it was very reasonable for me to help Catholics to see the same thing in order to get them to leave the Church.

The only Catholic in my family on both sides was my beloved grandmother. She was very quiet, very humble, very holy, I have to admit. And she was also a devout Catholic. When she passed away, I was given her religious belongings by my parents. I went through her prayer book and her missal, and then I found her rosary beads. All of this stuff just made me sick inside. I knew my grandmother had a real faith in Jesus, but I wondered what would all of this mean. So I tore apart her rosary beads, and I threw them in this waste can. I thought of these beads almost like chains that at last she was broken free from. That was the second aspect of my own outlook: that these people might have some faith but it was just surrounded by lies, and so they needed loving Bible Christians to get them out.

Well, after graduating from high school, I decided not only to pursue the ministry but to study theology as well. The decision came as a result of the senior research paper that I wrote my final year in high school. I wrote a paper entitled Sola Fide. That’s a Latin phrase which means Faith Alone or By Faith Alone. It’s actually the phrase that Martin Luther used to launch the Protestant Reformation. He said that we are justified, we are made right with God by faith alone, not by any works that we might do. And for him, that was the article on which the church stands or falls, as he put it. And because of that, the Catholic Church fell and the Protestant Church rose. I wrote that research paper fully convinced after much study that, if you get it wrong on this point, you get it wrong on everything else. If you say faith plus anything, you have polluted the simple truth of the Gospel. And so I went into college with this strong conviction.

College Years

My four years of college were spent triple majoring in Philosophy, Theology in Scripture and Economics. But they were also spent doing ministry in Young Life. I wanted to in effect repay God out of gratitude for how He had used Young Life in my life to introduce me to Christ. So for those four years I devoted myself to reaching unchurched kids who didn’t know about Christ, and I confess that this category included Catholic kids in the high school where I worked because I looked at these poor benighted souls who really didn’t know Jesus Christ. I discovered after several Bible studies that not only did these kids not know Jesus Christ, but practically every Catholic high school kid I met didn’t even know what the Catholic Church taught. If one or two of them knew what the Church taught, they didn’t know why. They didn’t have any reasons to back up their beliefs as Catholics. So getting them to see from the Bible, the Gospel as I understood it from Martin Luther, from an anti-Catholic perspective, was like picking off ducks in a barrel. They weren’t ready, they were unequipped, they were defenseless.

I don’t know exactly what has happened in the last fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years, but I look back on those kids and wonder if they weren’t guinea pigs in some sort of catechetical experiment, that people thought we could bypass instructing them in the doctrines they need to believe and in the reasons for those doctrines. But there they were. I saw many of them leave the Church and I opposed them in a certain sense out of a sincere good faith, but also I opposed them because I myself was uninformed.

My third year of ministry in Young Life I asked a young lady, the most beautiful girl on campus, if she would join me in working together to reach these unchurched kids. Kimberly said, “Yes.” We worked together for two years and had a blast. Sometimes we’d fight like brother and sister in discussing various ways and means to reach these kids. But we really grew to respect one another so that at the end of these four years of college, I posed the question. And I think the dumbest thing she ever said, but the greatest thing she ever said was “Yes.” We got married right out of college. Both of us had so much of the same vision. We wanted to do ministry together, we wanted to share the good news of Christ, we wanted to open up the Bible and make it come alive for people.

Seminary Years

We were off to seminary a week or two after our wedding. What a great experience it was studying theology together for a Master’s Degree. I took a three-year degree at Gordon-Conwell seminary in Boston; she took a two-year degree. Both of us ended up with our Master’s Degrees. After three years I graduated at the top of my class. I say that not out of any pride, but to illustrate how I pursued my studies with a sort of vengeance. People who knew me at seminary, knew me to be rather intense. I would spend just about every waking hour reading and studying Scripture or books about Scripture that would make more sense out of the Bible. If I wasn’t reading and studying, I was out looking around at used book stores finding resources. Kimberly and I had a great three-year experience. But a couple of things happened along the way that I need to relate because in retrospect I see them as landmark experiences.

The first thing was a course that Kimberly took her first year, a class that I had taken the year before entitled Christian Ethics. Dr. Davis had all the students break up into small groups so that each small group could tackle one topic. There was a small group on abortion, a small group on nuclear war, a small group on capital punishment. One dinner she announced that she was in a small group devoted to studying contraception. I remember thinking at the time, “Why contraception?”

The year before when I took the class, nobody signed up for that small group and I told her. She said, “Well, three others have signed up for it and we had our first meeting today. So and so appointed himself to be chair of the committee, and he announced the results of our study even before it began. He said, ‘Well, we all know as Protestants, as Bible Christians, that contraception is fine, I mean so long as we don’t use contraceptives that are abortafacients like the I.U.D. and so on.’ He announced further that really the only people who call themselves Christians who oppose artificial birth control are the Catholics, and he said, ‘The reason they do, of course, is because they are run by a celibate Pope and lead by celibate priests who don’t have to raise the kids but want Catholic parents to raise lots so they can have lots of priests and nuns to draw from, you know.'”

Well, that kind of argumentation did not really impress Kimberly. She said, “Are you sure those are the best arguments they would offer?” And I guess he must have mocked or said, “Well, do you want to look into it yourself?” You don’t say that kind of thing to Kimberly. She said, “Yes,” and she took an interest in researching this on her own. A week went by and Terry stopped me in the halls. He said, “You ought to talk to your wife; she’s unearthed some interesting information about contraception.” Interesting information about contraception? What is interesting about contraception? Well, you know he said, “She’s your wife; you ought to find out.” “Yeah, all right; I will, Terry.”

So that night at dinner I asked her, “What is Terry talking about?” And she said, “I’ve discovered that up until 1930, every single Protestant denomination without exception opposed contraception on Biblical grounds.” Then I said, “Oh come on, maybe it just took us a few centuries to work out the last vestiges of residual Romanism, I don’t know.” And she said, “Well, I’m going to look into it.”

Then another week later, Terry stopped me and said,”Her arguments make sense.” I said, “Arguments against contraception from Scripture?” He said, “You ought to talk to her.” “All right, I’ll talk to her.” You know, given the subject matter, I thought I better.

So I raised the issue and she handed me a book. It was entitled Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant by John Kippley. It just recently was reissued, entitled Sex and the Marriage Covenant. You can get it from Couple to Couple League in Cincinnati. I began to read through the book with great interest because in my own personal study, going through the Bible several times, I had come upon this strong conviction that if you want to know God, you have to understand the covenant, because the covenant was the central idea in all of Scripture. So when I picked up this book I was interested to see the word ‘covenant’ in the title, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant. I opened it up and I began reading it, and I said, “Wait a second, Kimberly, this guy is a Catholic. You expect me to read a Catholic?” And the thought occurred to me instantly at that moment, What is a Catholic doing putting ‘covenant’ into his book title? Since when do Catholics hijack my favorite concept?

Well, I began to read the book. I went through two or three chapters and he was beginning to make sense, so I promptly threw the book across my desk. I didn’t frankly want him to make any sense. But I picked it up again and read through some more. His arguments made a lot of sense. From the Bible, from the covenant, he showed that the marital act is not just a physical act; it’s a spiritual act that God has designed by which the marital covenant is renewed. And in all covenants you have an opportunity to renew the covenant, and the act of covenant renewal is an act or a moment of grace. When you renew a covenant, God releases grace, and grace is life, grace is power, grace is God’s own love. Kippley shows how in a marital covenant, God has designed the marital act to show the life-giving power of love. That in the marital covenant the two become one, and God has designed it so that when the two become one, they become so one that nine months later you might just have to give it a name. And that child who is conceived, embodies the oneness that God has made the two through the marital act. This is all the way that God has designed the marital covenant. God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness,” and God, who is three in one, made man, male and female, and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” The two shall become one and when the two become one, the one they become is a third child, and then they become three in one. It just began to make a lot of sense, and he went through other arguments as well. By the time I finished the book, I was convinced.

It bothered me just a little that the Roman Catholic Church was the only denomination, the only Church tradition on earth that upheld this age-old Christian teaching rooted in Scripture, because in 1930 the Anglican Church broke from this tradition and began to allow contraception, and shortly thereafter every single mainline denomination on earth practically caved in to the mounting pressure of the sexual revolution. By the 1960’s and 70’s, my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, not only endorsed contraception, but abortion on demand and federal funding for abortion, and that appalled me. And I began to wonder if there wasn’t a connection between giving in a little here and then all of a sudden watching the floodgates open later. I thought “No, no, you know the Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years; they’re bound to get something right.” We have a saying in our family that even a blind hog finds an acorn, and so it was, I thought. That was my second year.

During my third and final year at seminary, something happened that represented a crisis for me. I was studying covenant and I heard of another theologian studying covenant, a man by the name of Professor Shepherd in Philadelphia teaching at Westminster Seminary. I heard about Shepherd because he was being accused of heresy. People were suggesting that his heresy grew out of his understanding of the covenant. So I got some documents that he had written, some articles, and I read through them. I discovered that Professor Shepherd had come across the same conclusions that my research had led me to.

In the Protestant world the idea of covenant is understood practically as synonymous with or interchangeable with contract. When you have a covenant with God, it’s the same as having a contract. You give God your sin; He gives you Christ, and everything is a faith-deal for salvation.

But the more I studied, the more I came to see that for the ancient Hebrews, and in Sacred Scripture, a covenant differs from a contract about as much as marriage differs from prostitution. In a contract you exchange property, whereas in a covenant you exchange persons. In a contract you say, “This is yours and that is mine,” but Scripture shows how in a covenant you say, “I am yours and you are mine.” Even when God makes a covenant with us, He says, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” After studying Hebrew, I discovered that ‘Am, the Hebrew word for people, literally means, kinsman, family. I will be your God and father; you will be my family, my sons and my daughters, my household. So covenants form kinship bonds which makes family with God.

I read Shepherd’s articles, and he was saying much of the same thing: our covenant with God means sonship. I thought, “Well, yeah, this is good.” I wondered what heresy is involved in that. Then somebody told me, “Shepherd is calling into question sola fide.” What! No way. I mean, that is the Gospel. That is the simple truth of Jesus Christ. He died for sins; I believe in him. He saves me, pure and simple; it’s a done deal. Sola fide? He’s questioning that? No way.

I called him on the phone. I said, “I’ve read your stuff on covenant; it makes lots of sense. I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusions. But why is this leading you to call into question Luther’s doctrine of sola fide?” He went on to show in this discussion that Luther’s conception of justification was very restricted and limited. It had lots of truth, but it also missed lots of truths.

When I hung up the phone, I pursued this a little further and I discovered that for Luther and for practically all of Bible Christianity and Protestantism, God is a judge, and the covenant is a courtroom scene whereby all of us are guilty criminals. But since Christ took our punishment, we get his righteousness, and he gets our sins, so we get off scot-free; we’re justified. For Luther, in other words, salvation is a legal exchange, but for Paul in Romans, for Paul in Galatians, salvation is that, but it’s much more than that. It isn’t just a legal exchange because the covenant doesn’t point to a Roman courtroom so much as to a Hebrew family room. God is not just simply a judge; God is a father, and his judgments are fatherly. Christ is not just somebody who represents an innocent victim who takes our rap, our penalty; He is the firstborn among many brethren. He is our oldest brother in the family, and he sees us as runaways, as prodigals, as rebels who are cut off from the life of God’s family. And by the new covenant Christ doesn’t just exchange in a legal sense; Christ gives us His own sonship so that we really become children of God.

When I shared this with my friends, they were like, “Yeah, that’s Paul.” But when I went into the writings of Luther and Calvin, I didn’t find it any longer. They had trained me to study Scripture, but in the process, in a sense, I discovered that there were some very significant gaps in their teaching. So I came to the conclusion that sola fide is wrong. First, because the Bible never says it anywhere. Second, because Luther inserted the word “alone” in his German translation, there in Romans 3, although he knew perfectly well that the word “alone” was not in the Greek. Nowhere did the Holy Spirit ever inspire the writers of Scripture to say we’re saved by faith alone. Paul teaches we’re saved by faith, but in Galatians he says we’re saved by faith working in love. And that’s the way it is in a family isn’t it? A father doesn’t say to his kids, “Hey, kids, since you’re in my family and all the other kids who are your friends aren’t, you don’t have to work, you don’t have to obey, you don’t have to sacrifice because, hey, you’re saved. You’re going to get the inheritance no matter what you do.” That’s not the way it works.

So I changed my mind and I grew very concerned. One of my most brilliant professors, a man named Dr. John Gerstner, had once said that if we’re wrong on sola fide, I’d be on my knees outside the Vatican in Rome tomorrow morning doing penance. Now we laughed, what rhetoric, you know. But he got the point across; this is the article from which all of the other doctrines flow. And if we’re wrong there, we’re going to have some homework to get done to figure out where else we might have gone wrong. I was concerned, but I wasn’t overly concerned. At the time I was planning to go to Scotland to study at Aberdeen University the doctrine of the covenant, because in Scotland, covenant theology was born and developed. And I was eager to go over and study there. So I wasn’t particularly concerned about resolving this issue because, after all, that could be the focus of my doctoral study.

Then all of a sudden we got news that our change in theory about contraception had brought about a change in Kimberly’s anatomy and physiology; she was pregnant. And Margaret Thatcher was not interested in funding American babies being born in her great empire. So we looked at the situation; we realized that we couldn’t afford to go over to Scotland just yet. We’d have to take a year off, but what were we going to do as we were drawing close to graduation? We weren’t sure; we began to pray.

Becomes Pastor of a Church in Virginia

The phone rang. A church in Virginia, a well-known church that I had heard a lot of good about called me up and said, “Would you consider coming down to candidate for the pastorate here?” This meant preaching a trial sermon, leading a Bible study, interviewing with the elders who ran the session. I said, “Sure.” I went down, preached a sermon, led a Bible study, met with the session. They said, “That was great; we want you here. In fact we’ll pay you well enough so that you can study at least 20 hours a week in Scripture and theology. We want you to preach, however, at least 45 minutes each Sunday morning to open up for us the Word.” 45 minutes! Can you imagine what a priest would get if he preached for 45 minutes? The next week that sanctuary and the whole Church would be empty. Here they were asking me to preach at least 45 minutes. I said, “If you insist, you know, twist my arm. Sure.” And they said, “We want you to immerse us in the Word of God,” and so I began.

The first thing I did was to tell them about covenant. The second thing I did was to correct their misunderstanding of covenant as contract to show them that covenant means family. The third thing I did was to show them that the family of God makes more sense of who we are and what Christ has done than anything in the Bible. God is Father, God is Son, and God through the Holy Spirit has made us one family with Him. And as soon as I began to preach this and teach this, it just took off like wildfire. It spread through the parish; you could see it affecting marriages and families. It was exciting. The fourth thing I did, was to teach them about liturgy and covenant and family, that in Scripture the covenant is celebrated through liturgical worship whereby God’s family gathers for a meal to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ. I suggested in my preaching and teaching that maybe we ought to have the family meal, communion. I even used the word “Eucharist.” They never heard it before. I said, “Maybe we ought to celebrate being God’s covenant-family by communion each week.” “What?” I said, “Instead of being sermon-centered, why not have the sermon be a prelude and a preparation to enter into celebrating who we are as God’s family?” They loved it.

But one guy came up and said, “Every week? You know familiarity breeds contempt; you sure we should do it every week?” I said, “Well, wait a second. You know, do you say to you wife I love you only four times a year? After all, honey, familiarity breeds contempt. You know I don’t want to kiss you more than four times a year.” He looked and he said, “I get your point.”

As we changed our liturgy, we felt a change in our lived experience as a parish but also in our families as well. It was exciting to see, and as I taught them more about the covenant, they just hungered and thirsted for still more.

Meanwhile, I was also teaching part time at the local Christian high school that met there at the church. I had some of the brightest students I have ever taught, and they also responded with enthusiasm to this covenant idea. I began to teach a course on salvation history, and at first they were scared because it was so confusing, all those names and places that you can’t even pronounce much less make sense out of. So I showed them, “Hey, once you think of covenant as family, it’s really quite simple.” I took my students through the series of covenants in the Old Testament which led up to Christ. First, you have the covenant God makes with Adam; that’s a marriage, a family bond. The second covenant is the one that God makes with Noah. That’s a family, a household with Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their three wives; together they formed a family of God, a household of faith. Then in Abraham’s time you actually have God’s family growing to the extent where it becomes a tribal family. Then the next covenant God makes with Moses and Israel has twelve tribes that become one nation, but through the covenant they become God’s national family. Until finally when Christ establishes the new covenant. Instead of having God’s family identified with one nation, the distinctive greatness of the New Covenant, I taught them, was that now we have an international family, a world wide family a catholic family.

One of my students raised her hand and said, “What would this look like if we could actually redevelop it?” I drew a pyramid on the board and I said, “Think of it like a big extended family with father and mother figures at all these different levels, and all of us being brothers and sisters in Christ. I heard somebody murmur in the back, “Sure looks like the Catholic Church to me.” I said, “No, no, no! What I’m giving you is the solution to the problems, the antidote to the poison.” Well, Rebecca came up one day at lunch time. I was eating lunch and she said, “We took a little vote in the back of the class; it’s unanimous; we all think you’re going to become a Roman Catholic.” I choked on my sandwich, “Quiet, quiet. I don’t want to lose my job, but Rebecca, I assure you that what I’m giving you is not Catholicism; it’s the antidote to the poison of Catholicism.” She just stood there looking at me, “No, it’s unanimous, you’re going to become a Catholic.” And she turned around and walked away.

Well, I was stunned by that. I went home that afternoon, walked into the kitchen, saw Kimberly over by the refrigerator and I said, “You’ll never guess what Rebecca said today.” “Tell me what, another Rebecca story?” I said. “Well, she came up at lunch time and announced that they had taken a vote in the back of the class, and it was unanimous that I’m going to become a Roman Catholic. Can you imagine that, me becoming a Catholic?” And she wasn’t laughing one bit. She just stood there staring at me, she said, “Well, are you?” It was as though somebody plunged a dagger into my back. You know, “Et tu, Brute, Kimberly? Not you, too.” I said, “You know I’m a Calvinist, a Calvinist of Calvinists, a Presbyterian, an anti-Catholic. I’ve given away dozens of copies of Boettner’s book; I’ve gotten Catholics to leave. I was weaned on Martin Luther.” She just stood there and she said, “Yeah, but sometimes I wonder if you’re not Luther in reverse.” Whoa, wait a minute here! I had nothing to say.

I just slowly walked back in my study, shut the door, locked it, sank into my seat and really began to brood. I was scared. Luther in reverse. For me at one point that meant salvation in reverse. I was scared. Maybe I’m studying too much and praying too little, so I began to pray much more. I began to read more anti-Catholic books, but they just didn’t make sense anymore. So I began to turn to Catholic sources and read them.

Teacher at a Presbyterian Seminary

Meanwhile something dramatic occurred. I was approached by a seminary, a Presbyterian seminary, and asked if I would teach courses to the seminarians beginning with one Gospel of John seminar. I said, “Sure.” So I began to share from the Gospel of John all about the covenant, about the family of God, about what it really means to be born again. I discovered in my study that being born again does not mean accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord and asking Him into your heart although that is important and every believer, Catholic or otherwise, should have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and a living personal relationship with Him. But I discovered what Jesus meant in John 3 when He said that you’ve got to be born again. He turns around and says that you’ve got to be born of water and spirit. In the previous chapters He was just baptized with water and the Spirit descended upon Him. And as soon as He is done talking to Nicodemus about the need to be born from water and Spirit, the very next verse says that Jesus and the disciples went about baptizing. I taught that being born again is a covenant act, a sacrament, a covenant renewal involving baptism. I shared this with my seminary students; they were convinced.

Meanwhile I was preparing my sermons and some lectures ahead of John chapter 3. I was delving into John chapter 6. I don’t know how many of you’ve ever studied the Gospel of John. In many ways it’s the richest Gospel of all. But John chapter 6 is my favorite chapter in the fourth Gospel. There I discovered something that I think I read before, but I never noticed. Listen to it. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink His blood you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day, for my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.'” I read that; I reread that; I looked at it from ten different angles. I bought all these books about it, commentaries on John. I couldn’t understand how to make sense out of it.

I had been trained to interpret that in a figurative sense; Jesus is using a symbol. Flesh and blood really is just a symbol of His body and blood. But the more I studied, the more I realized that that interpretation makes no sense at all. Why? Because as soon as all the Jews hear what Jesus says, they depart. Up until this point, thousands were following him, and then all of a sudden the multitudes just simply are shocked that He says, “My flesh is food indeed, my blood is drink indeed” and they all depart. Thousands of disciples leave Him. If Jesus had intended that language to only be figurative, He would have been morally obligated as a teacher to say, “Stop, I only mean it figuratively.” But He doesn’t do that; instead, what does he do?

My research showed me that he turns to the twelve, and he says to them, what? “We better hire a public relations (P.R.) agent; I really blew it guys.” No! He says, “Are you going to leave me too?” He doesn’t say, “Do you understand I only meant it as a symbol?” No! He says that the truth is what sets us free, I have taught the truth. What are you going to do about it?

Peter stands up and speaks out; he says, “To whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life and we’ve come to believe.” Peter’s statement, “To whom shall we go?” implies that, “You know, Jesus, we don’t understand what you mean either, but do you have another Rabbi on the scene you can recommend? You know, to whom shall we go? It’s too late for us; we believe whatever you say even if we don’t understand it fully, and if you say we have to eat your flesh and drink your blood, then somehow you’ll give us the grace we need to accept your words at face value.” He didn’t mean it figuratively.

As I began to study this, I began to realized it’s one thing to convince Presbyterians that being born again means being baptized, but how in the world could I possibly convince them that we actually have to eat His flesh and drink His blood? I focused then a little bit more on the Lord’s supper and communion. I discovered that Jesus had never used the word “covenant” in His public ministry. He saved the one time for when He instituted the Eucharist and he said, “This cup is the blood of the new covenant.” If covenant means family, what is it that makes us family? Sharing flesh and blood. So if Christ forms a new covenant, that is a new family, what is He going to have to provide us with? New flesh and new blood. I began to see why in the early Church for over 700 years, nobody any place disputed the meaning of Jesus’ words. All of the early Church fathers without exception took Jesus’ words at face value and believed and taught the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was scared; I didn’t know who to turn to.

Then all of a sudden an episode occurred one night in a seminar I wasn’t ready for. An ex-Catholic graduate student named John raised his hand. He had just finished a presentation for the seminar on the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent, you’ll recall, was the Church’s official response to Martin Luther and the Reformation.

In about an hour and a half he had presented the Council of Trent in the most favorable light. He had shown how many of their arguments were in fact based on the Bible. Then he turned the tables on me. The students were supposed to ask him a question or two. He said, “Can I first ask you a question, Professor Hahn? You know how Luther really had two slogans, not just sola fide, but the second slogan he used to revolt against Rome was sola Scriptura, the Bible alone. My question is, ‘Where does the Bible teach that?'”

I looked at him with a blank stare. I could feel sweat coming to my forehead. I used to take pride in asking my professors the most stumping questions, but I never heard this one before. And so I heard myself say words that I had sworn I’d never speak; I said, “John, what a dumb question.” He was not intimidated. He look at me and said, “Give me a dumb answer.” I said, “All right, I’ll try.” I just began to wing it. I said, “Well, Timothy 3:16 is the key: ‘All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for correction, for training and righteousness, for reproof that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work….'” He said, “Wait a second, that only says that Scripture is inspired and profitable; it doesn’t say ONLY Scripture is inspired or even better, only Scripture’s profitable for those things. We need other things like prayer,” and then he said, “What about 2 Thessalonians 2:15?” I said, “What’s that again?” He said, “Well, there Paul tells the Thessalonians that they have to hold fast, they have to cling to the traditions that Paul has taught them either in writing or by word of mouth.” Whoa! I wasn’t ready. I said, “Well, let’s move on with the questions and answers; I’ll deal with this next week. Let’s go on.”

I don’t think they realized the panic I was in. When I drove home that night, I was just staring up to the heavens asking God, why have I never heard that question? Why have I never found an answer? The next day I began calling up theologians around the country, former professors. I’d ask them, “Where does the Bible teach sola Scriptura? Where does the Bible teach us that the Bible is our only authority?” One man actually said to me, “What a dumb question coming from you.” I said, “Give me a dumb answer then.” I was catching on. One professor whom I greatly respect, an Oxford theologian, said to me, “Scott, you don’t expect to find the Bible proving sola Scriptura because it isn’t something the Bible demonstrates. It is our assumption; it is our presupposition when we approach the Bible.” That struck me as odd; I said, “But professor, that seems strange because what we are saying then is that we should only believe what the Bible teaches, but the Bible doesn’t teach us to only believe what the Bible teaches. Our assumption isn’t taught by the Bible.” I said, “That feels like we’re cutting off the branch that we’re sitting on.” Then he said, “Well what other options do we have?” Good point, all right.

Another friend, a theologian, called me and said, “Scott, what is this I’m hearing that you’re considering the Catholic faith?” “Well, no, Art, I’m not really considering the Catholic faith.” Then I decided to pose him a question. I said, “Art, what for you is the pillar and foundation of truth?” And he said, “Scott, for all of us Scripture is the pillar and foundation of truth.” I said, “Then why, Art, does the Bible say in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the pillar and foundation of truth is the church, the household of faith?” There was a silence and he said, “Well, Scott, I think you’re setting me up with that question then.” And I said, “Art, I feel like I’m being set up with lots of problems.” He said, “Well, which church, Scott? There are lots of them.” I said, “Art, how many churches are even applying for the job of being the pillar and foundation of truth? I mean, if you talk about a church saying, ‘We’re the pillar and foundation of truth; look to us and you will hear Christ speak and teach’? How many applicants for the job are there? I only know of one. I only know that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it was founded by Christ; it’s been around for 2000 years and it’s making some outlandish claims that seem awfully similar to 1 Timothy 3:15.”

Well, at this point I wasn’t sure what to do. I got a phone call, though, one day from the chairman of the board of trustees at the seminar where I was teaching. Steve asked me out for lunch. I wasn’t sure why. I thought, “Word has reached the chairman of the board that I’m teaching things that are perhaps somewhat Catholic.” When I joined him for lunch, I was very scared and unsure. He proceeded to announce that the trustees had reached a unanimous decision. Because my classes were going so well, because so many people were signing up for my courses, they asked if I would consider becoming dean of the seminary at the ripe old age of 26. I couldn’t believe it. He said, “We will let you teach the courses you want. We will let you hire faculty if you need them. We’ll even pay for your doctoral program in theology.” I said, “Where is there a doctoral program in theology nearby?” He said, “Catholic University.” I thought, No, no, no. I don’t want to study there; I’m fleeing that perspective at present.” I really didn’t say that to him because I didn’t know what to say. In fact, he said, “Well, would you pray about it?” I said, “I will, but, Steve, I think I already know the answer. And oddly enough, I think I’m going to have to say no and I’m not going to be able to explain why because I’m not sure myself.”

When I got home, Kimberly was waiting for me. She said, “What did he want?” I said, “He asked me to become dean.” “You’re kidding!” I said, “No.” “What did you say?” I said, “No.” “I’m sorry, what did you say?” I said, “No.” “Why did you say no?” I said, “Kimberly, because right now I’m not sure what I would teach. Right now I’m not sure what Scripture is teaching, and I know that someday I’m going to stand before Jesus Christ for judgment and it is not going to be enough for me simply to say, ‘Well, Jesus, I just taught what I had been taught by my teachers.’ He has shown me things from Scripture that are true and I have got to be faithful to what He has shown me.” She walked right over to me, threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug. Then she said, “Scott, that’s what I love about you, that’s why I married you, but, oh, we’re going to have to pray then.” She knew what it meant: It meant not only turning down this offer; it also meant resigning from a booming job as pastor of a growing church. I loved both opportunities.

Administrative Assistant to the College President

We didn’t know what we were going to do. We were high and dry in July. After a lot of prayer, we decided we ought to move back to the college town where we met. When we moved back, I applied for a job at various places, but the college hired me as an administrator to be assistant to the president. For two years I worked there, and it was rather ideal because I worked during the day and it left me free in the evenings to pursue in-depth research. From around eight in the evening after putting our children down until around one or two in the morning, I would read and study and research.

In two years time I had worked through several hundred books, and I began for the first time to read Catholic theologians and Scripture scholars. And I was shocked at how impressive their insights were but even more, at how impressive their insights were which agreed with my own personal discoveries. I couldn’t believe how many novel, innovative discoveries that I had come up with they were assuming and taking for granted, and it bothered me.

At times I’d come out and read sections to Kimberly and say, “Hear this, name the author.” Because she was a theologian in a sense, and she was so busy with raising children that she really didn’t have as much energy. But she would sit there listening in, and I would say, “Who do you think that was?” She said, “Wow! That sounds like one of your sermons down in Virginia. Oh, I miss those so much.” I said, “That was Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes. That was the Catholic Church.” She said, “Scott, I don’t want to hear that.” I said, “Kimberly, this stuff about liturgy is so exciting. I’m not certain, but I think God might be calling us to become Episcopalians.” It’s a halfway house. She looked at me and her eyes filled up with tears and she said, “Episcopalian!” She said, “I’m a Presbyterian, my father’s a Presbyterian minister, my uncle’s a Presbyterian minister, my husband was a Presbyterian minister, my brother wants to be one, and I thought about it myself. I don’t want to be Episcopalian.” She felt so abandoned at this moment, so betrayed.

I remember that because a few months later after reading a lot more, one night I came out and said, “Kimberly, I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to think that God might be calling me to become a Roman Catholic.” This look of desperation came over her. She said, “Couldn’t we become Episcopalians? Anything but Catholic.” You don’t know what it’s like, you cradle-Catholics. You just don’t know the terror that comes over you when you think you might have to swim the Tiber, you might have to “Pope”, as my friends put it. Well, she was getting so desperate. She began to pray for somebody to rescue her husband some professor, some theologian, some friend.

Direct Journey to Catholicism

Finally it happened. I got a call one day from Gerry, my best friend from seminary. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar in classics and New Testament Greek. He was the only other student at seminary along with me who held to the old Protestant belief that the Pope was the anti-Christ. We stood shoulder to shoulder opposing all the compromises we saw in our Protestant brethren. He talked to me one night on the phone. I read to him a passage from a book by Father Bouyer. He said, “Wow, that is rich and profound. Who wrote it?” I said, “Louis Bouyer.” “Bouyer? I’d never heard of him, what is he?” “I said, “What do you mean?” “Well, is he a Methodist?” I said, “No.” “Is he a Baptist?” “No.” “I mean is he Lutheran? What is this, twenty questions? What is he?” I said, “Well, he’s a Cath – – – .” “I’m sorry I missed that.” I said, “He’s Roman Cath – – – .” “Wait a second, there must be a bad connection, Scott. I thought you said he’s Catholic.” I said, “Gerry, I did say he’s Catholic and he is Catholic, and I’ve been reading lots of Catholics.”

All of a sudden it started gushing out like Niagara Falls. I said, “I’ve been reading Danielou, and Ratzinger and de Lubac and Garrigou-Lagrange and Congar, and all these guys and man is it rich; you’ve got to read them, too.” He said, “Slow down.” He said, “Scott, your soul may be in peril.” I said, “Gerry, can I give you a list of titles?” He said, “Sure, I’ll read them, anything to save you from this kind of trap. And I’ll give you these titles.” He mentioned to me about ten titles of anti- Catholic books. I said, “Gerry, I’ve read every single one of them, at least one or two times.” He said, “Send me the list,” and I sent it to him.

About a month later, we arranged to have a long phone conversation. Kimberly couldn’t have been more excited; at last a Phi Beta Kappa knight in shining armor coming to rescue her husband from the clutches of Romanism. So she was waiting with bated breath when the conversation was done, and I told her that Gerry’s excited because he’s reading all this stuff and he’s really taking me seriously. She said, “Oh, great, I knew he would.”

Well, this went on for three or four months. We would talk on the phone, two, three, sometimes four hours long distance discussing theology and Scripture until three or four in the morning. Kimberly was so glad and grateful for him taking me so seriously.

One night I came to bed around two or three; she was still up. The light was out, but she sat up in bed and said, “How’s it going?” I said, “It’s great.” “Tell me about it.” I said, “Gerry is almost intoxicated and excited about all the truth from Scripture that the Catholic Church puts forth.” “WHAT!” I couldn’t see her face, but I could almost feel it sink as she just slumped back down into bed, put her face into her pillow and began to sob. I couldn’t even put my arm around her; she was just so wounded and abandoned.

A little while later Gerry called and said, “Listen, I’m a little scared. My friends are a little scared. We ought to really take this seriously. I talked to Doctor John Gerstner, this Harvard-trained Presbyterian, anti-Catholic theologian . He will meet with us as long as we want.” We arranged Gerry, Dr. Gerstner and me for a six hour session, going through the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and the council documents of Church history. At the end of six hours, Gerry and I expected to be completely blown out of the water by this genius. Instead, what we discovered was that the Catholic Church almost doesn’t even need a defense. It’s more like a lion; just let it out of its cage and it takes care of itself. We just presented the Church’s teachings and showed the text in Scripture, and we didn’t feel like he had answered a single one of our questions or objections. In the end we were like, “Wow, what does this mean?” Neither of us knew. The most anti-Catholic seminarians wondering whether God might be a Catholic we were terrified.

Meanwhile, I sent an application off to Marquette University because I had heard they had a few really outstanding theologians who were based on the covenant who were studying the Church and doing lots of good things. Right before I heard back from them that I was accepted, and I got a scholarship, I began to visit a few priests in the area. I was scared. I’d do it at night so nobody would see me. I almost felt dirty and defiled stepping into the rectory. I’d sit down and finally get some questions out and, to a man, each priest would say to me, “Let’s talk about something else besides theology.” None of them wanted to discuss my questions. One of them actually said, “Are you thinking of converting? No, you don’t want to do that. Ever since Vatican II we discourage that. The best thing you can do for the Church is just be a good Presbyterian minister.” I said, “Wait a second, Father…” “No, just call me Mike.” I said, “OK, Mike. I’m not asking you to break my arm and force me in. I think God is calling me.” He said, “Well, if you want help from me, you’ve come to the wrong man.”

After three or four or five encounters like this, I was confused. I shared it with Kimberly. She said, “You’ve got to go to a Catholic school where you can study full time, where you can hear it from the horse’s mouth, where you can make sure that the Catholic Church you believe in still exists.” She had a good point. So after a lot of prayer and preparation, we moved to Milwaukee where I studied for two years full-time in their doctoral program.

Those two years were the richest years of study I ever experienced and the richest time of prayer as well. I found myself in some seminars, though, where I was actually the lone Protestant defending the Church’s teaching against the attacks coming from Catholics. It was weird. John Paul’s teaching, for instance, which is so Scriptural and so “covenantal,” I was explaining to these people. But there were a few good theologians who made so much sense out of it all. I really enjoyed the time. But something happened along the way, actually two things.

First, I began to pray a rosary. I was very scared to do this. I asked the Lord not to be offended as I tried. I proceeded to pray, and as I prayed I felt more in my heart what I came to know in my mind: I am a child of God. I don’t just have God as my Father and Christ as my brother; I have His Mother for my own.

A friend of mine who had heard I was thinking about the Catholic Church called up one day and said: “Do you worship Mary like those Catholics do?” I said, “They don’t worship Mary; they honor Mary.” “Well, what’s the difference?” I said, “Let me explain. When Christ accepted the call from His Father to become a man, He accepted the responsibility to obey the law, the moral law which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. There’s a commandment which reads, ‘Honor your father and mother.'” I said, “Chris, in the original Hebrew, that word “honor,” kaboda, that Hebrew word means to glorify, to bestow whatever glory and honor you have upon your father and mother. Christ fulfilled that law more perfectly than any human by bestowing His glory upon His heavenly Father and by taking His own divine glory and honoring His Mother with it. All we do in the rosary, Chris, is to imitate Christ who honors His Mother with His own glory. We honor her with Christ’s glory.”

The second thing that happened was when I quietly slipped into the basement chapel down at Marquette, Gesu. They were having a noon Mass and I had never gone to Mass before. I slipped in. I sat down in the back pew. I didn’t kneel. I didn’t genuflect, I wouldn’t stand. I was an observer; I was there to watch. But I was surprised when 40, 50, 60, 80, or 100 ordinary folk just walked in off the street for midday Mass, ordinary folk who just came in, genuflected, knelt and prayed. Then a bell rang and they all stood up and Mass began. I had never seen it before.

The Liturgy of the Word was so rich, not only the Scripture readings. They read more Scripture, I thought, in a weekday Mass than we read in a Sunday service. But their prayers were soaked with Biblical language and phrases from Isaiah and Ezekiel. I sat there saying, “Man, stop the show, let me explain your prayers. That’s Zechariah; that’s Ezekiel. Wow! It’s like the Bible coming to life and dancing out on the center stage and saying, “This is where I belong.”

Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. I watched and listened as the priest pronounced the words of consecration and elevated the host. And I confess, the last drop of doubt drained away at that moment. I looked and said, “My Lord and my God.” As the people began going forward to receive communion, I literally began to drool, “Lord, I want you. I want communion more fully with you. You’ve come into my heart. You’re my personal Savior and Lord, but now I think You want to come onto my tongue and into my stomach, and into my body as well as my soul until this communion is complete.”

And as soon as it began, it was over. People stuck around for a minute or two for thanksgiving and then left. And eventually, I just walked out and wondered, what have I done? But the next day I was back, and the next, and the next. I couldn’t tell a soul. I couldn’t tell my wife. But in two or three weeks I was hooked. I was head over heels in love with Christ and His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. It became the source and the summit and the climax of each day, and I still couldn’t tell anybody.

Then one day Gerry called me on the phone. He’d been reading hundreds of books himself. He called to announce, “Leslie and I have decided that we’re going to become Catholics this Easter, 1986.” I said, “Now wait a second, Gerry. You were supposed to stop me from joining; now you think you’re going to beat me to the table? This isn’t fair.” He said, “Listen, Scott, I don’t know what objections or questions you’ve got left, but all of ours are answered.” I said, “So are mine.” He said, “Well, look, I’m not going to pry.”

When I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that delaying obedience for me was becoming almost like disobedience. God had made it so clear in Scripture on Mary, on the Pope, even on Purgatory from 1 Corinthians 3:15 and following, on the saints as God’s family, as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was explaining to friends of mine how the Family of God is the master idea which makes sense out of all the Catholic faith. Mary’s our mother, the Pope is a spiritual father, the saints are like brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is a family meal, the feast days are like anniversaries and birthdays. We are God’s family. I’m not an orphan; I’ve got a home. I’m just not there yet. I began to ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do? Gerry’s going to join. What do you want me to do?” And the Lord just turned the tables and said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “That’s easy. I want to come home. I want to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.” And I just had this sense that the Lord was saying to me, “I’m not stopping you.” So I thought, I’d better talk to the one person who wanted to.

So I went downstairs and I said, “Kimberly, you’ll never guess what Gerry and Leslie are planning to do.” “What?” She had already given up hope at this point. “They’re going to become Catholics this Easter, 1986.” She looked at me and with insight she knows me so well and she still loves me she said, “So what? What difference does that make? You gave me your personal promise that you wouldn’t join until 1990 at the earliest.” I said, “Yeah, you remind of that; that’s right, I did. But I could be dispensed from that if you felt…” “No, no, don’t….” “Would you pray about it?” “Don’t spiritualize away your promises, Scott.” I said, “But Kimberly, you don’t want to hear this, you don’t want to read this, you don’t want to discuss it. But for me to delay obedience to something that God has made so clear, it becomes disobedience.” I knew Kimberly loved me enough to never allow me or pressure me to disobey my Lord and Savior. She said, “I’ll pray about it, but I have to tell you, I feel betrayed. I feel abandoned. I have never felt so alone in my life. All my dreams are dying because of this.” But she prayed, and God bless her, she came back and she said, “This is the most painful thing in my life, in our marriage, but I think it’s what God wants me to do.”

That Easter vigil of 1986, she actually accompanied me to the vigil Mass where I received my what I like to call my sacramental grand slam: conditional baptism, first confession, Confirmation and then, God be raised, Holy Communion. When I came back I felt her crying, and I put my arm around her and we began to pray. The Lord said to me, “Look, I’m not asking you to become a Catholic in spite of your love for Kimberly, because I love her more than you do. I’m asking you to become a Catholic because of your love. Because you don’t have the strength to love her as much as I want you to love her, I’ll give you what you lack in Holy Communion.” I thought, “Well, try to explain that to her.” And I had this sense of peace slowly come when He said, “I will in due time; you just back off. You’re not the Holy Spirit; you can’t change her heart.” The next few days and the next few weeks and months she still wasn’t interested. It was hard.

I ended up taking a job down in Joliet teaching for a few years at a college there. Right before we moved something happened which the Lord did. We had a third baby, Hannah. When Hannah was conceived, I was really scared. Scared for lots of reasons but never so scared as I was one Sunday morning when Kimberly was only four months pregnant. We were standing in her church singing the last stanza of the last hymn, and she turned to me. She was white as a ghost and she said, “I don’t feel good, I’m hemorrhaging.” She sat down and laid in the pew while everybody just began to leave the sanctuary. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do; she was white as a ghost. I ran to a pay phone. I called up our O.B. I said, “Where is he?” “Well, we don’t know where Dr. Marmion is. It’s the weekend and he might be out of town.” “Could you page him?” “We’ll page him and he’ll call back if he’s around.” I hung up. I was in a panic. I began to pray to St. Gerard, to everybody. I just asked the Lord Jesus Christ to help us. Ten seconds, maybe fifteen went by and the phone rang. I picked it up and said, “Hello.” “Scott?” “Yes.” “Dr. Marmion here.” I said, “Pat, where are you?” He said, “Where are you?” I said, “I’m outside the city in this particular borough.” “Where?” “At this church.” “Where in the church are you?” “I’m right outside the sanctuary by the pay phone.” He said, “This is unbelievable. I just happen to be visiting that church this morning. I’m calling from the basement. I’ll be right up.” He ran up the stairs in four or five, maybe eight seconds. He said, “Where is she?” I said, “There she is.” He ran over and began administering help to her. She got in the car. We sped off to (thankfully) St. Joseph hospital and Kimberly’s life was spared, the baby’s life was spared, and eventually Hannah was born.

I just had this sense that the Lord was so much closer to us and to our marriage which seemed more broken down than I realized. I began to pray, “What are we going to do with a new baby?” Kimberly approached me right before Hannah was born, and she said, “I’m not sure exactly why, but the Lord has impressed upon me that Hannah is to be a child of reconciliation. I’m not sure what it means.” We hugged and we began to pray about it.

After Hannah was born, Kimberly approached me. She said, “I’m not sure why, but I I think the Lord wants me to have Hannah baptized in the Catholic Church.” I said, “What!” She said, “I’m not sure but yes.” We went through this baptism liturgy together. Monsignor Bruskewitz, the priest who brought me in, is just the noblest prince of a godly man. He’s now Bishop of Lincoln and he did this private liturgy so well, so filled with tradition and Scripture, that half way through it when he said, “Alleluia, alleluia,” in one of the liturgical prayers, Kimberly almost jumped out of her socks. She said, “Alleluia! Oh, I’m sorry.” He said , “No, I wish Catholics would do that; this is good.”

As a result of this liturgical celebration of baptism, she photocopied the baptismal liturgy and sent it to her family and friends. But she still wasn’t ready to go into these debates. She began to read and to pray. I just tried to back off more and more.

Trip to the Vatican in Rome

I want to insert one thing. My father passed away just last December (1990), the man who taught me to love calling God “Father”. In January my father-in-law invited me to join him and a very small group of people who are battling hard core pornography which is spilling into Eastern Europe over to the Vatican for a colloquium and a private audience with Pope John Paul II. My father-in-law, the Presbyterian minister, inviting me to meet the Pope? I said, “Yes.” So last January I not only met with the Pope in this small group, but I also was invited to join him in his private chapel for Friday morning Mass at 7:00 a.m. I was just a few feet away from him and I felt him praying. You could hear him praying with his head in his hands, carrying the weight of the Church with all of its burdens in his heart.

As he celebrated the Mysteries of the Holy Mass, I made a resolution, actually two of them: to enter more deeply each day into the Mass and into this ministry that he has to pray for him. But the second resolution was to share with my brothers and sisters in Christ about our Holy Father, and how Christ has graced us with an incredible family, with the Blessed Virgin Mary to be our own spiritual Mother, with Pope John Paul II to be a guide and a spiritual father-figure to lead all of us in worshipping our heavenly Father, with saints as brothers and sisters, to know ourselves as God’s family, but most of all, with the Holy Eucharist to know ourselves around the table as a household of God, His own children. What privileges we have; what graces He’s given!


Scott Hahn “The Scott Hahn Conversion Story.” St. Joseph Communications.


His wife, Kimberly’s, conversion story can be found here.