This was an interesting book to read right after John Bright’s “The Kingdom of God“ and while listening to an audio version of World Visions USA president Richard Stearns‘ book “The Hole in Our Gospel.”
But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me summary the book real quick. Rome Sweet Home is the story of Scott and Kimberly Hahn‘s journey to Catholicism from their Presbyterian roots. The odd thing about their journey was that they were hard-core Protestant theologians schooled at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Scott – M.Div.; Kimberly – MA in Theology).
Their journey towards Catholicism started when they came to the realization that the Catholic Church had some good teachings on the issue of contraception. This knowledge shook up Scott as he had assumed that everything the Catholic Church taught was false. Being a scholar, he then spend several years researching and reading Catholic theology books before joining the church in 1986 (four years after the was ordained into the Presbyterian Church).
At first, Kimberly refused to follow him as she did not agree with a lot of the Catholic teachers. However in 1990, she officially joined the Catholic Church after a lot of prayer and studying.
All in all, Rome Sweet Home is a good book…yet there were a few things that…um….didn’t seem to fit right…or at least sit well with me.
The first item was the Hahn’s assumption that the “Catholic Church is not just another denomination – it is either true or diabolical” (:142). Having just completed John Bright’s book “The Kingdom of God”, this assumption did not make sense to me as the Bible is full of warnings against assuming that a particular group/institution/nation on the earth is equal to the Kingdom of God. Instead, the prophets of old constantly told the people of Israel that it was those who follow God as King and do His will who are in the Kingdom.
In modern terms, this means that no one particular church denomination, institution, group or theological mindset is equal with the Kingdom of God. God’s rule and reign is bigger then that. As such, it is possible for the Catholic Church to reflect God’s glory just like the Presbyterian, or the Southern Baptist, or the Vineyard, or the Eastern Orthodox, or any of the hundreds of Christian organizations.
The second item that I found odd was the lack of compassion and mercy ministries within their story – an item highlighted by the fact I was listening to Richard Stearns’ “The Hole in Our Gospel.” I don’t know if this was because there was too much to tell and they had to leave something out… or if it was because they just didn’t spend much time loving and caring for the poor and downtrodden (being a pastor and seminary teacher does not equal ministering to the poor and downtrodden as one is effectively removed from their pain and suffering by a pulpit).
This gap really jumped out at me when I read about the time Kimberly’s decided to quit her job where she was interacting and being challenged by non-Christians to join Scott at seminary. My heart was crushed – why didn’t Scott join her? The study of theology is worthless unless you combine it with love and action towards one’s fellow man….