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Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic Paperback – January 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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From the Back Cover
"Frank Beckwith sketches vividly the sense of home that so many of us have found in the Catholic Church. It is the one place where we can have it all, where we can be both evangelical and catholic. Told with grace and wit, Frank Beckwith narrates life as it really is: a divine comedy. And he makes us all laugh with him as he tells a truly edifying story."--Scott Hahn, Franciscan University of Steubenville
"Moving, memorable, unblinkingly honest but always alive with charity, Beckwith's Christian story--leaving the Catholic Church, serving the Lord as a world class Evangelical scholar and teacher, then finally returning to his Catholic roots while treasuring his Evangelical journey--is an unforgettable witness. I highly recommend it."--Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Denver
"St. Augustine famously said that the word 'religion' is derived from reeligere, to choose again, perhaps over and over in the sense of a reunion. Here is that reunion story once again. Frank Beckwith takes us through some of the most interesting religious and intellectual terrain of the post-1960s generation of American Catholics. Far from being a rebuke of Evangelical Protestants, who nourished him deeply, Beckwith's 'confession' should be a wake-up call for Catholics."--Russell Hittinger, University of Tulsa
"Frank Beckwith's memoir is a remarkable act of evangelical charity. He recounts his reversion to Catholicism in ways that honor his Evangelical past, even as he shows how its riches are being transformed by his new life in the communion of Rome."--Ralph C. Wood, Baylor University
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Top Customer Reviews
As a former Evangelical who converted to Catholicism over 15 years ago, I was eagerly anticipating Dr. Beckwith's book. I was especially intrigued that he continues to consider himself both Evangelical and Catholic, designations I've retained as well. Then when I saw that two former professors of mine - Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, a prominent Evangelical, and Dr. Scott Hahn, a prominent Catholic convert - had both endorsed this book, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible.
I was not disappointed. It was difficult to put this book down: personal, humorous, and engaging, "Return to Rome" is a marvelous account of one man's journey back to the faith of his fathers. Nothing in the book is new when it comes to doctrinal debates, although Dr. Beckwith's erudite style admirably adds to the Protestant-Catholic discussion. The real value in this book comes from Dr. Beckwith's charitable attitude towards his non-Catholic brothers and sisters, and his continued admiration for (and attachment to) all that is true and right within Evangelicalism. The danger for the convert is that he rejects not only the errors of his past, but that he also rejects even those things that are good and beautiful about his former way of life. Dr. Beckwith does not fall into this trap.Read more ›
What is unique about this story is that Francis Beckwith wants to continue to be considered as an Evangelical even as he returns to his Roman Catholic roots.
How does that work? Isn't there a great divide that separates Evangelicals from Catholics?
Not necessarily, says Beckwith, and, one might add, a growing number of ecumenically minded Christians, from both sides of the aisle, so to speak. For example, from the Protestant side, you have Brian McLaren, with A Generous Orthodoxy, in which he claims that, as a Protestant Christian, he is free to adopt the Catholic liturgy (or at least portions thereof) as his rightful patrimony, as well as Mark Noll's interesting book, Is the Reformation Over?, not to mention D. H. Williams's exercise in Evangelical Ressourcement, Evangelicals and Tradition. From the Catholic side you have books like Louis Bouyer's Spirit and Forms of Protestantism and Word, Church and Sacraments, as well as Jean Guitton's great and irenic book, The Church and the Gospel.
What does all this mean?
For one thing, it means that the divided Church is a scandal, per se. In a sense, it doesn't even matter who's to blame: the mere FACT of the divided Church brings scandal to Christianity. The question is, how to get it back together?Read more ›
It was no surprise that the questions and issues that prompted Beckwith's reversion were the same as those of most other thoughtful Protestant converts and reverts. If that were all there was to this book, it would make a good read, but it would be just one more in a long line of conversion stories.
What makes Beckwith's story somewhat unique is that reading his story, you sense his love and appreciation for his evangelical friends and colleagues. Rather than emphasizing divisions between evangelicals and Catholics, he seems to be urging his Protestant friends to open their thinking to realize that Catholics, too, might be considered to be evangelicals. He urges Protestants to reconsider barriers they have erected against Catholics.
Of course, he argues for the correctness of Catholic theological conclusions, but he does so in a gracious manner that invites discussion. Because of that gracious tone, this is a book that I recommend to both Catholic and Protestant readers.
This book reads very much like an explanation. Not designed to be a thorough apologetic nor a complete rejection of another Christian tradition (like Geissler's uncharitable, bigoted, and failed attempt at a "rebuttal": Is Rome the True Church?: A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim) it is rather a compelling narrative that seeks to explain why the president of a prominent evangelical theological organization (the ETS) would return home to the Church of his youth.
The typical biblical proof-texts are not hammered home to excess and exegesis on them is not shared in great length, which is a good thing. As compelling as the old arguments are, protestants have proof-texts of their own, and one can only hear the same old Bible verses screamed at the top of one's lungs uncharitably so many times before one becomes convinced that Christian charity is absent on the part of the players in the argument. This book on the other hand is a level headed, clear, compelling story and pretty thorough explanation for the reasons for Beckwith's conversion, and it is told without acrimony and without a meanness of spirit. That says something about the quality of Dr. Beckwith as a man.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Catholic Church has a certain pizzazz that many other forms of Christianity lack. With ritual and art the Church seems to transcend its time and place. Read morePublished on December 13, 2013 by Frank Scoblete author of Confessions of a Wayward Catholic
Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic - This is a great resource for anyone studying this kind of materialPublished on August 2, 2013 by Lee T. Jirovsky
Francis Beckwith's "Return to Rome" does not set out to be an apologia for the Roman Catholic Church or an attempt at proselytization for this ancient faith. Read morePublished on July 10, 2013 by Doug Erlandson
I'm both a Protestant and an Evangelical and remained such after I finished Beckwith's book. That being said, if there ever were a Catholic that could convince me to become - in... Read morePublished on March 20, 2012 by Stephen N. Shields
Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic: Why the President of the Evangelical Theological Society Left his Post and Returned to the Catholic Church
by Francis... Read more
Beckwith is one of the more public examples of an evangelical converting to Roman Catholicism in recent years--after all, he was actually president of ETS! Read morePublished on April 25, 2011 by Kyle A. Dillon
I have seen the future of Catholicism and it is a cross between Bob Dylan boomerism and the arch fuddy-duddyness of Chesterton. Read morePublished on March 18, 2011 by Peter P. Fuchs
It would be redundant to churn over Beckwith's Evangelical pedigree and the shockwaves his "reversion" sent through the Evangelical world. Read morePublished on July 16, 2010 by J. Michael
Dr. Beckwith tells a compelling story of leaving the all-too-often flaccid Catholic Church of the late 1960s and 1970s for the energetic Evangelic region of American Christianity. Read morePublished on January 8, 2010 by Bob Lozano