This past weekend was the Deep in History Conference sponsored by the Coming Home Network. Started because Marcus and team realized that the 500th anniversary of Luther's 95 Thesis was just around the bend, and they wanted to do something about it (not to mention fellowship, lots of former Protestant ministers in the group, who 'fellowship' well.)
Past conferences have focused on Church history discussions: the Early Church, the Continental Reformation, the English Reformation (get this series of tapes!), the coming to America and last year's 'Battle for the Faith' on the rise of Denominationalism, or however you spell that!
This year, since they caught up in history, they began a series on Authority in the Church, after all, this is a crux issue between Catholics and Protestants, even Orthodox. Begining this year with Petrine Authority and followed over the next two years by the Authority of Scripture and the Authority of Tradition.
A note should be made here. There were nine speakers over this past weekend giving ten talks (Dr. Ken Howell doubled up). Of the nine, 3 were born and raised Catholic; the other six are converts, mostly clergy converts, but I can't say that for sure. I bring this up, because they all have deep and profound respect for the traditions that they grew out of, and it still can affect how they present, but they all came to realize the shortfalls of their particular traditions and came to see the beauty that is contained in the Catholic Church. And realize that some of these men were in very adament anti-Catholic backgrounds that they had to overcome.
But, thankfully, overcome they did. What truly marvelous presentations! Of particular note for me as Dr. Brant Pitre's presentation on the Jewish roots of the Papacy. I had never thought of Peter in priestly language before. He's always imaged as a fisherman in my mind, for so he is. But Dr. Pitre had a great way of opening my eyes to the priestly dimensions, especially in discussing the Keys that were given, for only a Priest could have Keys to heaven, as modeled after the Temple. He built his discussion around something that we as Catholics take for granted, I think: he was it that Peter so quickly assumed authority in the Early Church and how was it accepted so quickly? This is never challenged, even though Peter certainly makes enough mistakes. Yet, Paul does not challenge him. (Yes, there is a confrontation, but not over who has leadership; I think this is an important distinction.)
Anyway, all the talks were great, and I even managed to stumble my way through Adoration with all these high powered speakers present.
Let us pray for the strength of conviction for those who are feeling drawn to the Catholic Church, even though it means the loss of so much that they hold dear. Let us be open to using their gifts in Church, however they might fit.