My foreword to Mark Galli’s new book, With All the Saints: My Journey to the Roman Catholic Church


I am delighted to announce that Mark Galli’s new book, With All Saints: My Journey to the Roman Catholic Church, just released by Word on Fire. It is an autobiographical account of Galli’s spiritual pilgrimage. He was received into the Church in September 2020.

As some of you may know, Mark was editor of Christianity today for seven years until his retirement in January 2020. CT is the premier periodical of American Evangelicalism, founded in 1956 by Billy Graham.

I was honored to be invited to write the foreword to the book and gladly accepted the invitation. Here is an excerpt from my foreword:

Reading Mark Galli’s wonderful account of his own journey to Catholicism, I found myself thinking about the evangelical world from which we both started and what ultimately led us across the Tiber and into the Church. Because Mark and I are men of words – because we traffic in concepts, ideas and arguments, and are paid to do so – you would think that our reversals were purely a matter of intellect, that our choice to become Catholic was the result of choosing the Christian group that had the most intellectually convincing arguments in favor of its beliefs. There is, of course, a lot of truth in that, as Mark carefully explains in his story. After all, one cannot help but be impressed by the liturgical and doctrinal continuity of the Catholic Church with the early Christians, its unity and apostolicity even when it endures dissent and courts controversy, its uncanny ability to have in its ecclesial leadership both the wheat and the chaff while never abandoning the rule of faith, and his remarkable dexterity in remaining rooted in immutable truths while faithfully addressing the theoretical challenges and practical problems endemic to all times and all cultures.

But that can’t be the whole story. Becoming a Catholic is not like buying a car, choosing a health care plan, or picking out a pair of pants that fit your specifications. It’s not just about weighing the pros and cons and making a choice. It’s more like falling in love. Yes, you have your reasons, but you are also moved by something that is not directly under your control. It took me years after returning to the Church to realize this. I was initially under the illusion that I had made my decision solely as a result of the successful resolution of several theological issues which I was convinced stood in the way of my return: the doctrine of justification, apostolic succession, the sacrament of penance and the doctrine of transubstantiation. But in retrospect, I now see what was really going on in my soul. I was drawn to the Church, not just by a compelling argument or set of seemingly unassailable propositions, but by the whole shebang: the example of the matchless saints of the Church for two millennia; the beauty of the liturgy, even badly done; the testimonies of faithful friends and family members over many decades; the Church’s human and realistic account of the relationship between faith and reason; his down-to-earth, non-idealistic appreciation of the human condition; its scientific, humanitarian, charitable, artistic, civilizational and educational achievements; the effectiveness of the sacraments and their accessibility to everyone, from captains of industry to greasy diner cooks; the fact that Dorothy Day, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Kobe Bryant, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Saint Joan of Arc, Bob Newhart, Saint Martin de Porres, Edith Stein and Saint Francis of Assisi can all be done part of the same church without seeming to disagree with each other; To infinity. Mark Galli eloquently captures that moment when you first realize as an evangelical that you are not truly qualified to question the Catholic Church: the depth and breadth of Church teaching throughout the ages. (80)

Pride, of course, is an equal opportunity vice. Catholics show signs of this when they come to believe that the works and gifts of the Holy Spirit are limited only to those who are in full communion with the Church, which implies that non-Catholic Christians, such as evangelicals, cannot be recipients or conduits of the grace of God. The Church explicitly rejected this idea in its 1964 decree on ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio): “Some, indeed many, of the significant elements and endowments which together help to edify and give life to the Church itself, may exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God ; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the visible elements. All these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ” (3). As if to confirm this passage, Galli’s story is full of evangelical friends, family members, teachers and pastors who have truly shown “significant elements and gifts…. which come from Christ and lead back to Christ. I have no doubt that it was these very aspects of the gospel life that drew me away from the Church as a young man, but which nevertheless helped me to keep faith (even deficient) for decades.

You can buy the book here.


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