Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories Edited by Mark Gilbert
The road to Rome is paved with many people coming from a host of different backgrounds to the Catholic Church. In the day when even Scott Hahn hosts a show called Coming Home, we hear of lot of people including such notable people such as Francis Beckwith joining the Catholic church. Yet, we often don’t hear the stories of those who have been a part of the Catholic church and have stepped out in evangelical and Protestant communities. Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories is a collection of stories edited by Mark Gilbert that is a window into those coming out of the Catholic church into the Protestant faith. The stories are not designed to be anti-Catholic rants much less polemical diatribes, but more of the type of sharing a story around a dinner table. What comes out of these stories is the beautiful way God was leading them to embrace the gospel of God’s grace and a faith dependent upon grace.
In the first story told by Alex Morbelli we see the tender kindness of four women coming alongside Alex and her plight with her husband through cancer. She writes, “What made a deep impression in my somewhat dazed brain was that there was something special about the way they went about doing all this. I couldn’t quite explain it. They were full of kindness and compassion. They gave without counting the cost or expecting anything in return. I had never experienced that from people outside my family and very close friends.” (11) The body of Christ coming around Alex was instrumental in providing her with compassion, listening ears, and a kindness that is unsurpassed. In other words, the body of Christ through this four women was one way God showered his grace upon Alex. Alex mentions that she was given a Bible by a school mother and loved to study the Bible at the local Anglican church. She describes this wonderfully by writing, “..and I was free to learn and read God’s word. I had never been encouraged to do this…” (11) The ministry of the body of Christ alongside God’s Word pushed Alex to be a part of the Anglican community and also seek God’s truth in His Word.
We also see the strong power of the gospel at work in the lives of such as Tony Coffey. Tony writes, “Like many Catholics, I had a Christian vocabulary but didn’t have the reality in my heart. For example, I believed that Jesus died for me but I didn’t know what that meant. It was a lovely, pious story, but it never reached my heart or became real in my life. But here, in this evangelical church, the exposure to the living word of God grabbed my heart.” (37) There was an important element here missing for Tony, and this wasn’t a certain historical teaching or doctrinal point but the very heart of the good news itself. The appropriation of the gospel and what it means for me struck Tony like a lightning bolt as his time in an evangelical church became very fruitful. There is a common theme among these stories in the book that hinge upon the letting go of religion in its external actions and the embracing of a grace centered life that is bound by God’s Word and strengthened by God’s people.
Stepping Out in Faith is a wonderful book that invigorates the faith of Christian believers from all backgrounds. The book focuses on the forgiveness and grace found only in Jesus Christ and points to the Scriptures as God’s Word, practical for all of life. I cannot commend this book enough to those struggling with Catholic teaching, those wondering about grace, and those wanting to strengthen their faith through the stories of others.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Matthias Media for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.