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How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps: Paperback – June 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"While showing appreciation and respect for his evangelical patrimony, Christian Smith offers a careful, clear, and thoughtful path to the Catholic Church for those evangelicals who are entertaining Catholicism as they seek to walk more authentically in Christ. This is a truly unique contribution to the growing literature authored by former evangelicals who have found their way to St. Peter's barque."
-Francis J. Beckwith
author of Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic

"Christian Smith is correct in describing why it usually takes a 'paradigm revolution' for an evangelical to become a Catholic. The 'anomalies' he describes for evangelical life are mostly accurate and his presentation of Catholicism is attractive. But this intriguing book would have been even better if it had paused to reflect on why there are so many paradigm shifts in the other direction--of people born Catholic who become evangelical. Anyone--Catholic, evangelical, or a convert in either direction--who responds thoughtfully to the arguments of this book will be a better Christian for having made the effort."
-Mark Noll
author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

"I expect that this book may turn out to be the definitive text (short of the Fathers only!) for evangelicals who are prepared to address themselves courageously to the ecclesiological question. Smith's writing is brisk, starkly clear, challenging, and exhaustive (not exhausting!); he leaves no stone unturned. This is the best book I've seen on the topic."
-Thomas Howard
author of On Being Catholic --Wipf and Stock Publishers

About the Author

Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of The Bible Made Impossible (2011), What is a Person? (2010), and Souls in Transition (2009).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610970330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610970334
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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It's a goofy title, but the content is clear, accessible, and systematic. Further, it is one of the only books I have seen that lays out what others only hint at through their narratives: that conversion is a paradigm shift. Failure to see conversion through this perspective (pun intended) is often at the root of confusion over conversion.

After explaining what that means, Smith takes the reader on a journey through the Evangelical paradigm, introduces some interesting anomalies within it, then more serious anomalies, then turns to the Roman Catholic paradigm (which would, BTW, nearly always work for other ancient Church traditions) and looks at how it can explain those anomalies better.

Whether one finds the book convincing or not is not so much the issue. This is not so much a polemic as an explanation of what one is going through when one experiences a religious paradigm shift.
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Format: Paperback
I started looking into the Catholic Church about six years ago, and joined about four years ago from a background of Methodist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational church experiences. So I've lived through the steps that Chris Smith writes about in his very good book. As the title of this review says, Smith seems to have "read my mail" in describing the experience of going from Evangelicalism to Catholicism. I found myself saying out loud on multiple occasions "yes, that's it exactly" because I could identify so closely with some of the steps.

I highly recommend this book to all who are contemplating "swimming the Tiber" and becoming Catholic, or those who are trying to understand why a friend or loved one has made the leap. Even those who simply want to understand what Catholics believe or why someone would want to convert will learn a great deal. The tone of the book is not scholarly or pedantic, but but is readable without being simplistic. In short, this book is an interesting, enjoyable, eye-opening read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Smith does a great job articulating the differences between orthodox theology and that of a Reformed Evangelical. I am a Protestant, but really enjoyed the book. He lays bare many of the unjustified stereotypes many Protestants have regarding Catholics. Moreover he uses specific quotes from scripture, the church fathers, and official teachings of the Catholic Church to prove his points.

He mainly focuses on the idea of sola scriptura (scripture alone) as opposed to the idea of scripture plus the tradition of the Church to interpret scripture. Most of his book focuses on the shortcomings of the doctrine of scripture alone. This would be the easiest argument to defeat amongst the three solae statements of the reformation that are: sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), and sola scriptura (scripture alone). I would really recommend the book for Evangelicals to learn more about Catholicism, but I'd also recommend the book to good Catholics looking to combat stereotypes they face from many Protestants. And no, you don't need to be a biblical scholar or theologian to read this. I'm a physician in training with no prior experience in this area and found it to be a great, quick read.
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Format: Paperback
Through a friend, I was able to get my hands on a manuscript of this book late in 2010 while my family and I were contemplating a "shift" (as Smith rightly and respectfully calls it in the Introduction) from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism. This short work was incredibly helpful, pitched perfectly in tone and content. At times, I felt as if Smith was anticipating my next question and was ready with a well-reasoned response.

The best compliment I can pay this book is that like Tom Howard's "Evangelical is Not Enough," many of us will be sure to have several copies on hand to give to friends and family. I believe this book will be useful for decades to come, not only for Evangelicals who are discerning their place in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but also for Catholics who want a clearly reasoned argument for why we have chosen the path we have.
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Format: Paperback
This book has really helped me to make sense of my own experience with converting to Catholicism after being a Protestant Christian for many years. I especially like that it's a very personal book but at the same time very smart. Dr. Smith is a professional sociologist, so he has a better understanding of the fundamentals of faith than most people. It really rises above the "I'm right/you're wrong" debate to look honestly at why we are (or choose to stop being) Protestants. He's also very honest about how difficult a transition this can be. This book is a good friend on the journey of investigating our faith roots as evangelicals.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Christian Smith is a sociologist who recently converted from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism. This book is principally an account of the causes, phases and processes he went through in making that move.

Because Smith is a sociologist, he organizes his book around the idea of a "paradigm shift" as adumbrated by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. To that end, Smith starts out with a discussion of the worldview that subsists in Evangelical Christianity, then he recounts the many minor, inexplicable discontinuities that he regularly encountered in Evangelical Christianity, then he builds up to the major problems for which he could not find an answer in Evangelical Christianity, and finally he pointed to the paradigm shift which allowed him to see the world through Catholic eyes.

I am a life-long Catholic, and I found it fascinating to hear many of the things I had observed - or seen but couldn't explain - through Smith's Protestant perspective. In this way, Smith's book is a work of ecumenism - bridging a gap that may be more cultural and epistemological than it is theological. I know that I have had many knock-down, drag-out debates that were never resolved; after reading Smith, I realize that because the problem is cultural, it can't be resolved simply by appealing to commonly accepted texts.

For example, I've noticed the following whenever I get told that Catholics won't get to Heaven because of their "misunderstanding" about "justification":

"18. Note your dissatisfaction with the heavily cognitive, often rationalist, nature of much of Protestantism.
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