Like most converts, becoming Catholic was the last thing on my mind. The first church I ever attended was Sunset Wesleyan Church in La Puente, California. I remember it like it was yesterday. My mom took my sister and me to church while my dad stayed home to watch football.
I wanted to stay home for football too, but when we walked through the doors of the church, something clicked. It was like I was supposed to be there. The piano started playing, the congregation sang hymns, and this was the first time I had ever heard the gospel message. Within a year I made a public profession of faith and was baptized. From the age of thirteen through high school, I read the Bible every day, was youth group president, went to many conferences, and was a member of my high school’s campus life club.
These groups always taught that once you proclaimed Christ as savior, your salvation was set, and to a certain extent I believed that. That is, until I read a passage such as Hebrews 6:4-6 which states:
For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.
In my adolescent mind, this brought up an apparent contradiction in the Once Saved Always Saved doctrine I had been taught. When I asked our adult leaders about it, I encountered an apprehension about answering this question directly. Some would just change the subject, or I would be told that they were not really saved to begin with.
In the summer of 1998 I joined the Army and served over six years as a Chaplain’s Assistant. This was a job I truly loved, and it allowed me to be exposed to many Chaplains of different denominations. This is where I first experienced a Catholic Mass. I was working the sound system and was intrigued by the altar boys lighting the candles, the reverence when scripture was read, etc. I was amazed at how much scripture was read in the Catholic liturgy.
Some of the Protestant services I worked during this time read only one verse – literally – at their services. I had heard all the standard anti-Catholic comments from a coworker who was a former Catholic. He would say things like, “Catholics do not read the Bible” and other myths. The irony was that this conversation took place as we were making the Catholic bulletin and typing in the readings for the week!